Are you moving to Allen? This is for you. Do you live here and are just looking for something new to do? This guide to Allen, TX, is also for you! We started our search north, not really knowing what would find us. We knew we needed a bigger footprint, a backyard, and multiple bedrooms for the children we knew we wanted. Fast forward almost five years and we couldn’t be more pleased with the North Dallas suburb of Allen. From a Dallas high rise to the suburbs, we chose Allen to build a home and raise a family. Knowing little about the area when we first arrived in 2012, Allen has provided our family of four with a community that thrives on the importance of nature and the outdoors, activities, learning, and fun.
Nestled in between two major highways (121 and HWY 75) to get into the big D, we knew it was the right place as far as commute was concerned. My husband still worked in and around the city, so 20 miles without traffic is a breeze. I won’t lie—during high traffic times, it is brutal; however, if your neighborhood is close to the highway, which many in Allen are, it saves you some time and some headache. Plus, Frisco, McKinney, Plano, and even Lucas and Wylie are just a hop away, opening up our radius just a bit when we are looking for something to do.
Getting the kids outside becomes a priority when we’ve been cooped up all winter and Allen prides itself on conservancy and outdoor spaces. With too many parks to list them all, here are some of the best parks in Allen:
The cutest little park equipped with fire trucks, police cars, chutes, ladders, swings, and more. Bring a lunch to sit on the newly added picnic tables under the pavilion. This park is nestled right next to Allen Fire Station #4 and most days, kids can get a glimpse of a big red truck pulling in or out of the station.
Probably the biggest park we have as far as play space, we love Celebration Park for its splash park (spray ground) during the warm Texas summers. Complete with a playground, walking trails, fields, courts, and covered pavilions, it is the perfect family date, play date, or birthday party setting.
Nice, clean park with a fun playground on 10 acres located next to Story Elementary School.
Allen Station Park
For the older, daredevil kiddos, this park features a concrete skate park, a BMX track, and roller hockey rink.
Bethany Lakes Park
Picnic, bike, and fish on this gorgeous 40-acre community park.
Village Express Caboose/The Grove
Located right behind The Kid Salon in the Shops at Allen, I bribe my son with the train park for a haircut. The Grove consists of a Texas-shaped maze and a few little play houses. There’s a pavilion with outdoor fireplace and seating. Did I mention there’s an ice cream shop AND cupcakery across the parking lot? Connected to the Grove is the Village Express Caboose. A real-life red train with all of its doors and handles, buttons and even toys and seating inside is a toddler’s dream. It can even be rented out for parties!
Schools, Schools, and More Schools
Perhaps the reason Allen was ranked #2 in Money’s annual list are the schools, and there are plenty of them. Here we have church preschools, private kindergartens, public kindergartens, in-home kindergartens, Montessori schools, Reggio Montessori schools, and more. If you’re looking for a school, it will most definitely be here and be amazing in both quality, curriculum, and care. Allen ISD is ranked one of the best in Texas and is home to 18 elementary schools, three middle schools, one freshman center, one high school, and a Collin County Community College Campus. According to Money Magazine, “The school system has been ranked as one of the best in the state of Texas and Allen students routinely outperform the state averages in both reading and math.”
Play Date Spots in Allen
Sensory buckets, playhouses, train tables and more, Play Street Museum Allen features the theme, “On The Go.” My son loves anything with wheels or wings and he loves going in and out of the playhouse airplane, tinkering with the trains on their tracks, and more. The perfect spot for playdates, parties and the occasional rainy day.
Indoor trampoline park that is separated into different age groups so even the smallest gymnasts can come out to safely play. Arcade games and food and beverage lines the perimeter of the park, and it is a favorite birthday location for a lot of the toddlers we know.
Watters Creek Watters Creek is probably my favorite spot here in Allen. It’s a little suburb, a little city, lots of shopping, and the grounds are impeccably taken care of with events bustling around every season. Music fills the air during Christmastime, where carriages ride and lights twinkle. During the spring and summer, painted pianos are scattered throughout the outdoor shopping center and the kids have made such good memories there. It’s the home of retail, restaurants, a playground park, and the location of girls night outs, date nights, play dates, and more.
The Green at Watters creeks hosts concerts, carriage rides, holiday crafts and events, and many community charity events. For a list of details, visit their website here. Click here for full list of shopping and dining directory.
Entertainment For Date Nights & Whole Family
Cinemark Allen just upgraded their theaters with huge, leather recliners. Check out CAMP Cinemark, a kid-friendly auditorium with giant murals on the walls and tiny red recliners.
IPic Theater (technically Fairview)
This has become more of a date night spot for us. Enjoy a bite to eat with a glass of wine as you sit in ginormous recliners. Theaters are spacious and provide a more private movie experience.
Allen Event Center
Allen Event Center is home to our very own Allen Americans hockey team. Concerts, comedians, kid shows, and community events such as graduations also take place here throughout the year. For a full list of the AEC schedule, click here.
Believe it or not, the humongous Allen Outlet Mall that already lines the entire length of Stacy & 75 is undergoing an expansion. Take a morning and walk the 100 name-brand designer stores like Nike, Polo, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, and more.
Panera at Watters Creek
We always find ourselves here for a healthy meal with a park right outside. It’s one of my favorite things to do with the kids on those days where lunch options at home are limited and you need some fresh air.
Loud, fun atmosphere and there are families everywhere. We love eating here because it doesn’t matter if a tantrum is thrown or half of our food ends up on the floor. The staff has seen it all before and is always so helpful and kind. Overlooking the park, dine here in the evening to see the globe lantern and twinkly lights in the trees. Did I mention the amazing pizza?
Village Burger Bar
We love taking our kids here from time to time because they love burgers and Village Burger Bar makes some amazing burgers. They also have mimosas and the best sangria I’ve had in Allen.
Perfect spot for a baby shower or luncheon, I love this place for its quaint atmosphere and also its French bakery.
These are the ones we rotate; however, you won’t really find yourself anywhere too family-unfriendly here in Allen. That being said, here are a few of my favorite date night spots sans kids. Take note that on Friday nights when we have no sitter, we call and make a reservation for 4:30 and enjoy just the same!
Probably the best meal you can have in Allen can be found at Mio Nonno. It’s a gorgeous, rustic space off of Stacy Road, always packed and always delivers. The service is great, the wine selection is vast, and best of all, it’s romantic.
When my OB said no tuna towers, I was devastated. It was the thing I craved most during pregnancy and the first item I ordered upon delivery. It was perfection. It’s a fun, sexy atmosphere and we love coming here whenever we are in the mood for sushi but not in the mood for driving to the city.
Cru Wine Bar
Cozy and romantic, we love sitting on the patio at Cru Wine Bar to enjoy one of their 300 different bottles of wine. They also have those cute little wine flights and wine by the glass.
Frogg Coffee Bar & Creperie is my favorite sweet spot. I love bringing the whole family, even the canine kind, as dogs are welcomed on their patio, to the Frogg Coffee Bar. They’re kid-friendly with board games available to use in the back. From time to time there is a barista who makes some really cool latte art. Imagine a latte coupled with a Nutella crepe that consists of bananas, strawberries, and warm Nutella. Yes, please.
Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt
My kids love coming here for the toppings and the stickers. It’s a cute little yogurt shop where they put entirely too much fro-yo into their cups, and leave sopping wet and chocolate-stained, but I love it just the same.
Southern Red Velvet, Wedding Bliss, Snickerdoodle, Italian Cream, and more. Is your mouth watering yet? Bliss Cupcakes is my favorite go to for birthdays, events, or just one of those special days that deserves a cupcake. They also have a park right outside (See Village Express Caboose and The Grove above).
Other Cool Spots
Free programs daily as well as story times, thousands on books and online resources for kids, the Allen Public Library offers resources to children and parents. For young children, the library offers music and movement classes, sensory play dates, gymnastics, and more. Get the whole family involved with story time, movie night, and Lego Family Fun Day in April. For a full list of scheduled events and activities, see the Allen Public Library website.
Gyms with Childcare in Allen
Kids activities include childcare, birthday parties, community events, and camps. Kids can learn how to swim, play sports, learn, and more while Mom or Dad get some “me time” with a yoga class, followed by some lunch at the Life Cafe and a pedicure at the Life Spa. It’s a clean space with a caring staff.
Don Rodenbaugh Natatorium
Affordable and convenient, the Nat offers community classes, fitness equipment, childcare, swim instruction, and more. I don’t have personal experience with the childcare here but have friends who rave about the staff and are pleased with their childcare and amenities.
Swim Lessons in Allen
Emler offers classes for babies as early as six months to get them acquainted with the water. I started my son at Emler right at six months and met a wonderful, friendly group of moms. It was a bit pricey once he moved up into the next class but well worth the skills and ease he had in the water. (At 18 months, he could swim underwater for about 8-10 seconds.) Classes go up to the Swimmers class which is ages five and up. Private instruction is also available at this location.
LifeTime Fitness & The Natatorium both offers swim lessons to members.
Village at Allen
Home to The Grove & the Village Express Caboose, the Village at Allen offers shopping, dining, a dog park, wine store, and more. Oh, and did I mention this is where Super Target, Top Golf, and Cabelas reside? If you’re new to the area, I guarantee you will find yourself here just as much as we do. Click here for a full list of events and offerings.
Fairview Town Center, formerly the Village at Fairview
Ok, so technically this isn’t Allen but it shares a street with the Villages at Allen so I thought it worth mentioning. Home to Whole Foods, Old Navy, Polka Dot Party & Play, Dillard’s, Macy’s & more, it’s another shopping, dining, and entertainment destination right next door to Allen.