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For the Birds



A chachalaca samples the bird buffet at Quinta Mazatlan.

 


It would be too easy to say that McCallen is for the birds and it would sound demeaning. Truth is, though, if you’re interested in birding, this is the best place in the United States to go. And it’s great for other reasons, too. Just ask the thousands of snowbirds who trek down from cold climes to enjoy the sun, citrus and shopping. McAllen, Texas is a great winter destination.
 

More accurately, through binoculars is the way to see some of the area’s best features. The Rio Grande Valley is home to the World Birding Center, which encompasses nine sites throughout the valley–including Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, where the WBC headquarters is located.

This area is ideal for bird watching because two major flyways, the Central and the Mississippi, converge here. It’s also far enough south that colorful tropical species can often be seen. Nearly 500 species have been sighted in the area.

The WBC McAllen site is Quinta Mazatlan, an urban oasis centered on a 1930s mansion. The home was built by Jason Chilton Matthews, an eccentric composer, writer and adventurer. In Spanish Revival style, it features a clay tile roof and beautiful decorative tile accents throughout the house. He claimed that he built the adobe walls of the house from a secret formula based on the one used to build King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace in ancient Babylon.

Quinta Mazatlan is an historic Spanish Revival adobe hacienda.

The house is surrounded by trails through native woodland and thorn forest. Bird feeding stations dot the property, so you’re bound to see wildlife. And you can’t miss the raucous call of the eponymous chachalaca.

Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park offers seven miles of trails through a variety of habitats. A two-story hawk tower (with a handicap-accessible ramp) provides a great lookout spot for raptors. Bikes and binoculars can be rented at the headquarters and there are regularly scheduled tram tours for those who prefer to ride.

Just north of McAllen, the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands site attracts not only birds but butterflies and dragonflies.

Birders take advantage of a blind in the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park site of the World Birding Center.

You absolutely won’t go hungry in McAllen – there are over 600 restaurants within the city limits. El Pato is a Valley tradition. Years ago, a Mrs. Gonzales opened a tortilleria but when she noticed her customers were eating the tortillas immediately, she started cooking beans to sell with them. Today there are 13 locations throughout the Valley, including three in McAllen. This is fast food with a fresh, Mexican twist – great anytime, but I like it for breakfast. The pato is sort of like a burrito but not so neatly tucked. Choose from 16 different fillings to go in your corn or flour tortilla.

My favorite fancy food place is Frida’s – fantastic food with the most elegant presentations ever. Although they tout their steaks, I can’t get enough of their Mexican specialties. As the name implies, the décor includes homage to Frida Kahlo. Live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights make it a great evening out.

For steaks, you can’t beat Lansky and Brats. They serve prime Allen Brothers steaks in a décor that recalls elegant supper clubs of an earlier day.

Owner Sergio Luna displays an appetizer masterpiece at Frida’s.

Hankering for sweets? Make a stop at the RGV Cupcake Factory. Owned by three Latina women, two sisters and a friend, the Cupcake Factory gained fame winning a $10,000 grand prize on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” You won’t find that creation on the regular menu, but you can’t go wrong with any of the choices.

Shopping is a major sport in McAllen. Within a 60 mile radius of the town, there are four million people – many on the south side of the border. The city is the number one shopping destination for Mexico, with shoppers flying in just to visit the many stores in the area.

Piñatas, maracas, paper flowers – all the traditional Mexican souvenirs can be found here plus some more unusual offerings. Stop by the Yerberia for incense and candles designed to remove jinxes, stop gossip, protect against envy and any number of other conditions.

Because of the popularity of quinceañeras in the Hispanic community, shop windows billow with ruffles and lace of all colors, looking a lot like cotton candy factories. The quinceañera celebrating a young girl’s 15th birthday may have its roots in the 15th century Aztec culture – but today’s celebrations are pure 21st century with limousines or party buses, DJs and dancing.

For beautiful high-end items, Jones and Jones, a four-generation department store, is a great stop. From Baccarat butterflies to designer fashions for men and women and beautiful decorator items, you can’t beat this store.

My favorite art gallery is Nuevo Santander. The stone building looks like a Spanish church with three bells mounted in openings in the façade. The elaborately carved wooden doors date back to the 1800s. Inside you’ll find not only beautiful artwork but outstanding vintage pieces including guns, spurs, Native American beadwork and religious artifacts.

Nuevo Santander Gallery is internationally noted for collectibles and art.

Sun? Though December and January are cloudier than most months, the temperatures are generally in the 60s and low 70s. The beach at South Padre is just an hour and a half away. Citrus? January is prime time for the Valley’s famous Ruby Red grapefruit and oranges are available as well – try Klement’s Grove. Shopping? Yep, ’til you drop. Where to stay? Lots of choices – but I love the Renaissance Casa de Palmas, a restoration of a historic hotel. For more information, contact the McAllen Convention and Visitors Bureau, mcallencvb.com.

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Calendar

April 2019

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Celebrate Easter with a trip to Andy Alligator’s Fun Park! On Saturday and Sunday, get $5 off an All-Day Pass with our Eggcellent Easter Special. All-Day Passes include Go-Karts,...

Cost: $23.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The OSU Symphony Orchestra will conclude the 2018-19 season with Schubert's monumental and majestic Symphony No. 9 in C ("The Great"). The concert opens with The European Anthem,...

Cost: General Admission: $10; Students & Seniors: $7

Where:
Oklahoma State University Department of Music
132 Seretean Ctr
Stillwater, OK  74078
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Sponsor: Oklahoma State University Department of Music
Telephone: 405.744.6133
Contact Name: Dr. Thomas Dickey
Website »

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Potbelly Sandwich Shop is giving back to the local neighborhood with Feed Your Smile, a fundraiser supporting Concordia Life Care Community.  Show this flyer on your smartphone or...

Cost: Free

Where:
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
8500 N Rockwell Ave
OKC, OK  73132
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Sponsor: Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Telephone: 405-792-5112
Contact Name: Katy Fabrie
Website »

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

"Deliberately silencing the internal chatter and not overthinking. Conscious, but not over-trying. With this approach, things just seem to happen—it’s where all the substance is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Individual Artists of Oklahoma
706 W. Sheridan Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Individual Artists of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.412.2541
Contact Name: David Smith

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Shop over 200 vendors at this indoor event with everything from vintage furniture, retro and mid-century decor to handmade goods, antiques, industrial finds and architectural salvage!

Cost: $5 at the door, 13 and under free

Where:
Heritage Place
2829 S. MacArthur
Oklahoma City, OK  73128
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Sponsor: Junk Hippy
Contact Name: Kristen Grandi
Website »

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A Sporting Chance will host the 25th annual Track and Field Meet at Branson Junior High in Branson, Missouri. A Sporting Chance provides year-round sports and recreation programs designed for those...

Where:
Branson Junior High
263 Buccaneer Boulevard
Branson, MO  65616
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Sponsor: A Sporting Chance
Telephone: 404-314-2188
Contact Name: Hannah Schachinger

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

This one-day festival is rooted in the printing of large-scale woodblocks carved by local Oklahoma artists. We bring in a 5-ton steamroller and print pre-carved blocks throughout the day on Tyvek...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Contact Name: Evan
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Andy Alligator's is celebrating teachers! On Saturday and Sunday, teachers with a valid ID will receive a FREE All-Day Pass and $5 off for each family member! An All-Day Pass includes...

Cost: Teachers receive a FREE All-Day Pass; family members get $5 off

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
View map »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

Get a sample of the nightlife of Spain at Tulsa Botanic Garden's "Viva La Vida." The Garden is bringing star chef Jamie Bissonnette (Toro restaurants in Boston, NYC, Bangkok and...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Dr
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

2nd annual gathering of "The Big Lebowksi" fans at The Dude Abides OKC All Oklahoma City Urban Achievers, Abiders and Coen Brothers fans are invited to join us at Fassler Hall OKC and...

Cost: Free, contests have entry fee

Where:
Fassler Hall
421 NW 10th
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Revolve Productions
Telephone: 405.810.6977
Contact Name: Tobi Coleman
Website »

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