When the Marriott Dallas/Plano Legacy Town Center opened in 2000, few anticipated the number of shopping and dining options that would mushroom around the hotel. The Shops at Legacy has grown into a 2,600-acre master planned development of more than 80 boutique retail stores and restaurants, business headquarters, condominiums and four other hotels.
Last week, Visit Plano gave Smart Meetings a tour of Plano’s meeting venues, as well as local attractions and activities for groups visiting Greater Dallas. Mexican Sugar is one of the many restaurants at The Shops at Legacy, and serves upscale Mexican cuisine and small-batch cocktails. For wine tastings afterward, stroll down to Cru Food & Wine Bar to sample one of the popular wine flights of pinot noirs, chardonnays and more. Visitors can look forward to more dining, shopping and nightlife options in Legacy West, a $2 billion project that will complete the other half of the complex.
If groups are craving an authentic experience of a Texas ranch, they can head to Southfork Ranch, which may look familiar to fans of the hit television series Dallas. Exterior scenes from the show were shot on the sprawling 300-acre grounds, including the infamous Ewing Mansion. Visitors can witness the crime scene in which one of the main characters, J.R. was shot. Southfork Ranch also offers 63,000 sq. ft. in its event center, which regularly hosts special events and corporate functions.
Historic downtown Plano is equally charming, with quaint eateries and old brick buildings. Our group dined on thin-crust pizza at Urban Crust. The multi-level restaurant offers private dining and a buzzy rooftop ice bar. Further down the road, ArtCentre of Plano features art galleries from local artists as well as national shows. Groups can also visit Courtyard Theater and Cox Building Playhouse—two stages where various theater companies perform.
Not many convention centers look like Irving Convention Center, which could be mistaken for a modern art museum with its geometric facade and industrial copper patina. To avoid appearing like a traditional convention center, the building was designed as two boxes stacked and rotated on top of each other to provide shaded outdoor areas and lots of natural light inside.
While visiting Irving, many business travelers choose to stay at The Four Seasons Resort & Club at Dallas Las Colinas, the only AAA Five Diamond resort in the state. The TPC 18-hole par-70 golf course is a main attraction of the four acre property and is where the AT&T Byron Nelson tournament is annually held. Health and wellness are also a big focus—the resort recently unveiled a $6 million upgraded fitness facility. It’s also one of the few places to offer aerial or anti-gravity yoga, a trendy new exercise that includes various poses within the confines of a sash hanging from the ceiling. Yogis should be prepared to check their fears of being suspended midair at the door.
Visit Irving showed our group two different dining experiences that are popular with locals. The Ranch at Las Colinas prides itself on locally-sourced menu items with a distinct Texas bend. Try elk tacos, fried gulf oysters or a juicy farm-raised steak. The restaurant has three event facilities that can hold between 100-150 people in each space. During the week and on Saturdays, there’s also live music from the best up-and-coming bands around the state.
On the other side of town, Big State Fountain Grill is a throwback gem that serves up retro burgers and malted milkshakes and plays 1950s jukebox hits all day long. Colorful tiles, kitschy decor and old photographs line the walls and keep the regulars coming since it opened in 1948. Diners can take home souvenirs of old-fashioned candy bars, such as Coconut Long Boys, Sugar Daddies and Slo Pokes.
Yesteryear continues next door at Texas Musicians Museum, a dedicated facility that pays tribute to the likes of Willie Nelson, Janice Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Holly and many more renowned performers. Stroll through the various exhibits, which display gold records, old handwritten letters and iconic outfits worn by the musicians. The museum reopened in the new facility earlier this year and has an outdoor theater for up to 600.