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Best Of 2023: Hidden Gem

There's no shortage of surprises hiding in plain sight in North Texas

There’s so much great stuff to eat and do in North Texas. But what’s the best? Just as the year ends, here’s a moment for us — and you — to look back at the best of the best for 2023. Local Profile voted internally on its favorites and, over the past year, let you do the same. While readers’ choice isn’t for every category, hundreds of y’all replied, letting us know what your favorites were. And for that, we thank you. 

Best Hidden Gem

Little Elm Beach

704 W. Eldorado Parkway, Little Elm, TX 75068

Home to one of the largest open swim areas in Collin County, Little Elm Beach never seems too crowded. We love the sandy beach and appreciate the kayak and paddleboard rentals, as well as the 10 volleyball courts. 

Readers’ Choice: Historic Downtown McKinney 

111 N. Tennessee St., McKinney, TX 75069 | 972.547.2660

Historic Downtown McKinney offers some of the top places to eat, drink, shop and play. Whether you enjoy strolling through a farmers market or discovering mom-and-pop shops, the downtown area is the perfect place to spend the day. 

“Walking around the square in Downtown McKinney is always a great option for a night out, whether it is a first date, 50th date or family night out with the kids!” — Deidre W. 

Best Park For Climbing on a Tank

Liberty Park

1200 Mill Valley Drive, Plano, TX 75075

An M41A3 Walker Bulldog tank — complete with a nonoperational 76-millimeter gun — has a second life at Liberty Park in Plano. Weighing 23.5 tons, the tank is 26.9 feet long and 8.9 feet wide. Made in the 1950s at the Cadillac plant in Ohio, the tank could travel up to 45 miles an hour.

Best Sandwiches in a Liquor Store

Mr. G’s

1453 Coit Road, Plano, TX 75093 | 972.867.2821

Head into the Spec’s (you read that right, Spec’s) on Coit and W. 15th St., pass the bottles of Johnnie Walker and behold sandwich heaven. Mr. G’s has been around for decades, and you can’t go wrong with a Reuben or a hot Italian, but dangit, this is the Lone Star State, so order the Tex-Mex Reuben (roast beef, pepper jack, coleslaw, spicy pepper mix and Russian dressing on rye bread). Mr. G’s only serves soft drinks, but you can pick up a bottle of Tito’s on the way out. 

Best Statue of a Movie Star

Benji Statue

Corner of Virginia St. and Tennessee St., McKinney, TX 75069

Children of the ’70s will remember the huge impact of director Joe Camp’s hit film Benji. And it was shot right in McKinney. The dog is now immortalized on the town square. 

Best Texas-Shaped Attraction

The Texas Pool

901 Springbrook Drive, Plano, TX 75075 | 972.881.8392

What’s better than beating the Texas heat in a Texas-shaped pool? Recently designated as a historic landmark, the Texas Pool holds a prestigious position on the National Registry of Historic Places and even garnered attention from National Geographic Kids. 

Best T-Rex Statue in a Public Library

Frisco Public Library

8000 Dallas Parkway, Frisco, TX 75034 | 972.292.5669

In how many places can you read under a giant dinosaur? The new Frisco Public Library is not only the sixth largest public library in the state, but it is also home to a 22-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex statue. Called “Rexy,” the T. rex skeleton statue measures 42 feet long and is the centerpiece of the $60 million-plus library.