Towne Lake Recreation Area
1405 Wilson Creek Pkwy., McKinney
Paddleboat rentals: 972/542-4865
Reserve pavilions: 972/547-2690
Hours: 6am–11pm daily. Paddleboats are available for reservation on Saturday and Sunday from approximately noon–7pm, depending on the weather.
Admission: Free admission. Paddleboat rentals are $20 for 30 minutes; cash only.
On days when a trip to your neighborhood park fails to excite the kids, but an official family outing requires too much energy, McKinney’s centrally-located Towne Lake Recreation Area fits just right as a destination for a casual respite.
This city park just five minutes from Historic Downtown McKinney boasts a peaceful atmosphere and a combination of amenities that others don’t: a stroller-friendly trail that loops around the 22-acre lake, the city’s only disc golf course and the only swan paddleboats you’ll find in Collin County.
A small fleet of white swan boats and yellow ducklings (both two-seaters) are available for half-hour excursions on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, but call in advance to reserve your bird of choice. For the kids who deem themselves too old for the whimsical vessels, the non-avian shaped boats seat up to four. To get a closer look at the boats’ real life counterparts, come armed with a loaf of bread to toss to the dozens of ducks and geese.
Let your kids pick any spot on the lake’s edge or fishing pier to cast a line. Before reeling in a fish, they may spot a few turtles swimming in the shallow water or perching on partially submerged branches.
Thick shade trees cover picnic tables and benches all across the park, so any place is a good place to stop for a snack, especially the stone pavilions next to the concession stand, restrooms and playground. Wherever your kids may roam first, a trip around the entire lake is a must-do. Load up the kids’ bikes or simply take a stroll on the easy, 1.2-mile paved trail along the water’s edge.