McAllen is in Texas' lush lower Rio Grande Valley, noted for its subtropical climate, access to Mexico and tourist facilities catering to thousands of summer and winter visitors. McAllen is a great destination for birders and other nature-oriented visitors. Many Midwesterners and Canadians spend the entire winter here, strolling amid blossoming citrus groves. Mobile home parks and tourism organizations cater to visitors with planned daily activities such as dances, tours, bridge, domino and shuffleboard tournaments, shows and concerts.
The economy is based on tourism, citrus, vegetables, oil, gas, international trade with Mexico and conventions that enjoy extensive facilities. Outdoor activities are enjoyed year-round due to the subtropical climate. Golf is very popular and there are numerous courses available. This area is one of the best birding locations in the entire country. Several wildlife refuges and state parks offer excellent bird watching activities. The McAllen Marsh on Idela Street is a popular place for birding when the ponds are full. Birders often see grebes, black terns, and black-necked stilts. Flocks of red-crowned parrots and green parakeets are frequently seen and heard throughout the city, including the unique setting at La Quinta Mazatlan. Debate ensues over whether the birds are escapees or have been pushed to the northern reaches of their habitat. Nonetheless, they are thriving in McAllen. The best time to find them is at dusk. Several citrus groves and fruit and vegetable growers offer tours. The McAllen Information Center can provide the information and location.
Shoppers find La Placita a great place to shop in renovated historic houses in the downtown area at 301 South Main Street. Antique hunters enjoy several good antique stores sprinkled throughout the city, many specializing in Mexican antiques and furnishings.