McAllen, the City of Palms, is in the southern plains of Texas, USA. It is the largest city in Hidalgo County and the second largest city in the Rio Grande Valley, after Brownsville. It is near the Rio Grande River on the border with Mexico.
McAllen, with a population of 130,000 at night and 180,000 during the day, is a fast-growing, dynamic city with an energetic vibe. It is the unofficial capital of the southernmost region of Texas, commonly referred to as the Rio Grande Valley, and acts as the social, financial, entertainment and shopping hub for the region which boasts 1.3 million residents. McAllen's vitality drives the city's tourism, business, education, shopping, and health advances, often placing it ahead of Texas and the nation. McAllen is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, and is rated as one of the best U.S. places to do business and one of the top 8 safest U.S. cities.
The city has grown rapidly over the past century. In 1910 the population was about 150. The city now has a population exceeding 130,000, but serves the 4 million people within a 60-mile radius. Over 85% of the city's population is Hispanic or Latino; almost everyone in bilingual to some degree.
McAllen is the most popular U.S. shopping destination for Mexican residents. The city hosts millions of Mexican shoppers per year, and therefore accommodates a much larger number of retail stores and restaurants than other cities of its size. Many of the Mexican tourists and shoppers in the area come from Monterrey, a highly technologically advanced city and the third most populous in Mexico, with a population of about 4 million. A brief glance at a mall parking lot, however, will reveal shoppers from almost all 32 states of Mexico.
McAllen is renowned for its warm winter weather and low cost of living. In the winter months, large numbers of retirees live in the McAllen area. Affectionately called Winter Texans, they come predominantly from the midwestern United States and Canada and stay in RV parks, apartments, second homes and extended-stay hotels. Winter is "season" for McAllern, and the time with most of the social activities, many planned especially for Winter Texans.
McAllen is also the hub of the Rio Grande Valley for birding. 2.3 million birders visit the McAllen region every year. There are literally dozens of birding spots in the McAllen area, including the World Birding Centers, a complex of 9 sites dedicated to wildlife watching. 528 bird species and over 300 butterfly species have been recorded in the area, making it the most productive birding location in North America. Go to www.visitmcallen.com and www.southtexasnature.com for more information.
The first real development in the area that would later become McAllen occurred in the 1850's. That development was led by John McAllen. In 1904, he established a town site then known as West McAllen. In 1907, a separate group of developers established a town known as East McAllen. Eventually, the two towns merged and the City of McAllen was incorporated in 1911.
McAllen is surrounded by several medium size towns and cities. These cities are so interconnected that they sometimes appear to be one larger city. For census purposes the federal government includes all these areas under the heading McAllen–Edinburg–Mission Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The MSA has been in the top 10 for several positive categories many times--that dynamic growth and change making every visit unique. Always, some new stores open along with new places to eat.
Valley International Airport located in Harlingen, TX is about a 45 min drive east of McAllen. This airport is serviced by United, Southwest, and Sun Country. Offers regular direct flights to Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Offers seasonal direct flights to Minneapolis, MN.
There is no passenger rail service to McAllen. However, you can take Amtrak to San Antonio and connect via bus to McAllen.
The bus station is located at 1500 West Highway 83 in downtown McAllen. It is serviced by Greyhound, which connects McAllen to cities throughout the United States. Additionally, there are several Mexican bus companies which connect McAllen to cities throughout Mexico such as Autobuses Americanos and Turimex Internacional. These carriers also create many times and opportunities to go by bus to Houston or other cities in the USA as well. In many cases, these companies cover the southeastern USA with their schedules.
The best way to get around McAllen is by car. There are several rental car services located in Mcallen: Hertz, Alamo, Budget, Enterprise, and others. Many of these can be found at the airport.
Several taxi companies serve McAllen. Customers should call ahead to arrange a pick up.
Metro Mcallen is the bus system that serves McAllen. These buses run from 6:00AM to 11:00PM Monday through Saturday, and 8:00AM to 8:00PM on Sunday. The bus system covers only limited routes but also interfaces with RioTransit buses, which connect to other towns in the Rio Grande Valley. For complete information on routes, schedules, and fares check the Metro website: http://www.mcallen.net/metro/default.aspx.
McAllen has several hike and bike trails that run north and south.
The City of McAllen has 25 city parks.
Things to Do
Art Walk - The McAllen Art Walk is a self-guided tour of art galleries along Main Street between Business 83 to the south and Pecan Avenue to the north. These events take place on the first Friday of every month from September to May from 6PM - 10PM. In addition to viewing the galleries visitors will find vendors selling food and other items, and live street performances. The Art Walk is free and open to the public.
Birdwatching - McAllen and the rest of the Rio Grande Valley are great places to enjoy birdwatching. 528 species of birds have been spotted in the area, making it the most productive and popular birding destination in the country. Visit South Texas Nature Marketing  and the World Birding Center websites to find great birdwatching locations, and visit the McAllen Chamber of Commerce  at 1200 Ash Avenue for free brochures, maps and other birding information.
BorderFest - This is an annual celebration which takes place during the month of March at the Dodge Arena in nearby Hidalgo, TX. There are live performances, car shows, amusement rides, food and drinks. Each year there is a different theme for BorderFest. In 2008 the theme was 'Celebrate China.' 
PalmFest - This is an annual festival that celebrates the unique culture and history of Deep South Texas. Takes place every October at the McAllen Convention Center.
Texas Citrus Festival takes place every January in nearby Mission, TX. Celebrates the area's citrus crops. Contact the Mission Chamber of Commerce for more details (800) 580-2700
Valley Symphony Orchestra & Chorale has concerts throughout the year. Concerts usually held at the McAllen Convention Center. http://www.valleyorchestra.org/]
McAllen International Travel Show the first week in January, with booths from around the world, live entertainment. .
Music After Hours- free outdoor music concert series featuring local talent. Held in Archer Park every first Friday September through May, and in Bill Schupp Park second Fridays during summers. 
Candlelight Posada- Annual Christmas celebration held the first weekend in December. Live music, food booths, special areas for children and for teens, Christmas parade, official City Christmas Tree lighting, traditional "posada"- a live reinactment of Mary and Joseph's search for an inn.
Universities and Colleges
University of Texas - Pan American (UTPA) is in nearby Edinburg, TX. 
South Texas College (STC) has five campuses in the Rio Grande Valley. Three of them are located in McAllen.
McAllen has three public libraries, including the main library and two branch libraries.
Convention Center District at the corner of Ware Rd and Expressway 83. Large number of shops and restaurants surround the convention center.
Downtown has lots of shopping available especially along Main Street.
La Plaza Mall at 2200 S 10th St. This is a large, very popular mall near the airport. Department stores include Dillard's, Macy's, JCPenny, Joe Brand, and Sears.
Rio Grande Premium Outlets: the outlet mall located in nearby Mercedes, TX.
10th Street is a designated retail street with many shops both near downtown and the North 10th area from Dove to Trenton and the surrounding area. 10th Street near downtown has many eclectic and locally owned stores, and as you go north, these mix with more national retailers: Lowe's Kohl's, Target, HEB, Home Depot, and so forth.
With over 600 dining establishments in the City, excellent dining choices is one of McAllen's strengths. Tex-Mex is of course very popular, as is Chinese, barbecue, seafood and sushi, among others. McAllen offers dozens of popular chains such as Macaroni Grill, PF Chang's, and Johnny Carino's, and also excellent local favorites, many with chefs who have studied in the world's finest schools. Many restaurants serve meals featuring organic, locally grown products, and you will find a variety of live music featured in many establishments. High churn rate in some locations and concepts- check for new ones for your trip.
McAllen has a lively entertainment district in downtown along 17th Street. Multiple bars and nightclubs have recently opened in the area. 
Other Downtown Spots
Other Night Spots
McAllen has 40 hotels and over 3,300 rooms, ranging from full-service to budget. Please visit www.visitmcallen.com for a complete listing along with amenities.
Get on US 83 and go east 30 mi to Harlingen, TX.
Get on US 83 and go east 56 mi to Brownsville, TX.
Get on US 83 and go east 43 mi until you get to TX 100. Then, take TX 100 east about 27 mi to South Padre Island.
Get on US 281 and go north about 94 mi. Turn right on TX 141 and go east 15 mi to Kingsville, TX, and visit the historic King Ranch.
Get on US 83 and go west 145 mi to Laredo, TX.