Now that the South Texas weather is finally palpable, it’s time to get outdoors and celebrate the arrival of autumn. Outdoor events centered around art, music, food and culture can be found every weekend in McAllen, and best of all, they’re free. Here’s your round up of fall fun that won’t break the bank.
Friday Food Park Fun
Go for the food, stay for the music. Since opening in June 2015, the McAllen Food Park has continued to flourish, growing from six food trucks to nearly a dozen on special event nights. It’s safe to say the food truck craze is here to stay, and thanks to its free music-centered events, food lovers have even more reasons to visit the city’s first mobile eatery. The Food Park hosts its Unplugged concert series third Friday of every month, where patrons can enjoy live acoustic sounds as well as a smorgasbord of mobile eats. If you’re brave enough to take the stage yourself, you can flex your tone-deaf, shower-singing skills at Karaoke night, which happens on the fourth Friday of the month. Whether you’re a reincarnation of Frank Sinatra or an American Idol wannabe, it’s the ideal setting to try out your public karaoke chops.
Sunset Live Outdoor Concert Series
The ever-popular Sunset Live is a McAllen mainstay, and concertgoers can expect the same high-quality production and musical talent as years past. Happening in the Convention Center District’s Oval Park, the pet and family-friendly free concert series offers live music, local artisans, and food trucks every second Saturday of the month from April to December. Grab a blanket, a lawn chair and your favorite friends, both two and four-legged, and head to this lively community event before it goes into hibernation during the winter months.
Bonus: The concert is free, but the booze is extra. Make sure to take some cash if you want an adult beverage or three.
Art Walk & Music After Hours
The longstanding art-centric event inspires thousands of art enthusiasts to flock to McAllen’s Art District the first Friday of the month from September through May. The free community event is the perfect low-key way to kick off your weekend if you want to admire art and take in the local culture. The move here is to start at McAllen’s Creative Incubator where local artists display their works before making your way south on Main Street, where a string of art galleries showcase artful offerings along the way. End your night at historic Archer Park, where you’ll find live music and local craft vendors displaying their one-of-a-kind wares.
Farm-fresh products and locally sourced goods have become part of the mainstream culinary culture in McAllen, and the best places to support local growers are at the local farmer’s markets. If you’re seeking out a greenmarket, McAllen has two popular produce-filled oases for locally sourced options. The McAllen Farmers Market sets up shop at the McAllen Public Library on Saturdays from 10am-1pm, where locavores can find fresh fruit and vegetable offerings as well as handmade crafts and other organic inventions. The Farmer’s Market at the public library is the perfect place to nourish the body, mind and soul. Another outdoor, nature-friendly market is the Growing Growers Farmers Market at Firemen’s Park. The year-round market opens Saturdays from 9am-12pm, and offerings include everything from fresh produce to gluten-free and vegan-friendly everything. Both Markets offer an exciting, early-morning experience, where home made and hand picked are common phrases seen on packaging.
Pro Tip: Get there early for the freshest picks.
Whether you’re celebrating the creative arts, taking in a free show, browsing the farmer’s market or channeling your inner Tony Bennett, McAllen’s season-long schedule of wallet-friendly fun is the perfect excuse for urbanites to take in some outdoor activities without breaking the bank.