Best Short Road Trip to a Small Town that Isn't Really Anymore - 2002
When we were a kid, last month, used to be a drive up Central Expressway to McKinney lasted a week; 75 was one lane north and south, and it wasn't so long ago. Now it takes 20 minutes, without much traffic, to head up to this Collin County town that's growing every day without losing much of its charm. In fact, it still looks like it did when Joe Camp shot his first Benji up there--giant old homes with rustic front porches, a town square anchored by an old courthouse. That it's slowly been populated by big-city folk in search of small-town charm hasn't harmed McKinney; they came not to speed up the city but to slow themselves down. So they opened quaint restaurants (from cheap diners to gourmet eateries), charming antique stores, homey clothing boutiques, inviting used bookstores and beckoning bed-and-breakfasts. It's a place Doc Hollywood would love, a town where it's Groundhog Day every day, and in the fall and winter we can be found here celebrating "A Dickens Christmas" (the weekend after Thanksgiving, locals dress up in Victorian garb to welcome visitors in the holiday spirit) or drinking hot cocoa in the old county jail that's now a hot dining destination. We hate gentrification as much as the next guy who can't afford it, but at least the yuppies live on the other side of Central, in El Dorado--ya know, where the Starbucks went in.