Waco, Texas is located in the middle of the Lone Star State. Although it’s a smaller town than its southern neighbor Dallas or Austin has many great attractions and activities. It also offers some unique stops that will make your visit memorable.
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Magnolia Market in Silos
One of Waco’s highlights is the Magnolia Market at Silos. The TV celebrities Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines own the complex. They are also hosts of HGTV’s fixer Upper TV series. It is easily visible from any location in town, thanks to the historic grain silos of 120 feet that tower above many local buildings.
Magnolia Market is an elegant outdoor venue. It has sections that include small shops in a village-like atmosphere, outdoor sitting space, and a bakery. There’s also a home store within a renovated grain building.
This area was home to the Brazos Valley Cotton oil Company in the 1950s. The market area is currently being renovated. You can also plan a day shopping or grab a cup of coffee at the spot.
Visitors can entertain their children with activities such as softball and cornhole. You can find food trucks and picnic tables throughout the complex so you can stay awhile and grab something to eat.
Address: 601 Webster Avenue in Waco, Texas
Dr. Pepper Museum
As you stroll through downtown Waco’s Dr. Pepper Museum, you might be singing the Dr. Pepper song ” I’m a Pepper, You’re a Pepper ” The building’s exterior is just as fascinating as its interior. You can see Dr. Pepper’s murals on the grounds, as well as a concrete advertisement sign that weighs 20,000 pounds. This sign was originally painted in 1940 and then saved and moved to the museum.
Outside, you will find a 1940s Dr. Pepper delivery truck as well as one of the few remaining neon signs from a Dallas manufacturing plant. The Dr. Pepper Museum is home to three floors of memorabilia and collections that cover the history of the iconic soft drink.
In Waco, a pharmacist discovered the soft drink at the Old Corner Drugstore on the 4th Street. It is still a prominent presence in the city. The gift shop stocks a wide range of novelty items, including Dr. Pepper-flavored Jellybeans and retro T-shirts.
Address: 300 South 5th Street in Waco, Texas
Official site: https://drpeppermuseum.com/
Waco Mammoth National Memorial
It was home to Columbian mammoths in the Ice Age, long before Waco became a prosperous Texas city. Waco Mammoth National Monument is a fascinating place to visit because of the fossils and relics that have been found in the area.
Two main buildings house information and artifacts from archaeological digs at the National Park Service site. It is a working paleontological site. You can view the mammoth bones from a suspended view in one of the climate-controlled buildings.
It is possible to see bones of other animals, which were either found in the area or were present during the Ice Age. These animals include saber-toothed cat, ground sloths and even camels who once roamed North America.
In 1978, two men discovered a bone near the Bosque River and made the first archaeological discovery. Ever since then, efforts have been made to preserve the largest concentration of mammoths found from the Pleistocene Epoch.
The site has several short walking trails, the Eagle Trail being the longest. For younger visitors, a kid-friendly dig site allows them to discover the thrill of digging for fossils.
Address: 6220 Steinbeck Bend Road, Waco, Texas
Official site: https://www.nps.gov/waco/index.htm
Waco Suspension Bridge, Branding the Brazos sculpture
The iconic Suspension Bridge is a photo-worthy stop in Waco’s heart. It was constructed in 1870, and is one the most prominent symbols of Waco. It was the longest suspension bridge west of the Mississippi at the time it was built.
Waco’s suspension bridge, which is a marvel of architecture and design, is worth a visit. Three cowboys and 25 cattle are featured in the towering sculptures, which were created for an artistic and real-life cattle drive.
The suspension bridge is surrounded by two parks: Indian Spring Park west and Martin Luther King Jr. Park east. These parks are connected to the Waco Riverwalk that runs along the Brazos River. This allows for a view from below of the suspension bridge. The Riverwalk runs along both banks.
Address: 101 N University Parks Dr Doris Miller Park Waco, Texas
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum
Many people are familiar with the Texas Rangers, but they have little to no history or importance in law enforcement in America. The Texas Rangers are one of the most respected law enforcement units in the country and have been serving the public for almost 200 years. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum is a tribute to some of America’s most prominent rangers. It also offers an educational tour through many centuries of their service.
You can also visit the Hall of Fame and view inductees. Also, you can browse the collection that is related to Texas Rangers. There are many other related exhibits at the center that feature more than 20,000 artifacts.
It’s a great experience for children to be Junior Texas Rangers, and to make Texas history.
Address: 100 Texas Ranger Trail, Waco, Texas
Official site: https://www.texasranger.org/
Cameron Park Zoo
For families, the Cameron Park Zoo is a highlight of Waco. The Cameron Park Zoo is a natural habitat zoo. This means that the enclosures have natural elements that mimic native habitats. Cameron Park is the location of the zoo, making it easy to make a full-day out of your visit. Spend half the day at the Zoo and the remainder of the day exploring the recreation areas outside.
More than 300 animals can be found in the 52-acre zoo. As you enter the park, pay attention to the gibbons that call out from Gibbon Island. Visit the African Savanna to see giraffes and white rhinos as well as elephants. Take the Treetops Deck to get the best photo position. It will make you feel like you’re on an African safari.
Stop by the Brazos Valley Country area of the zoo for a look at the 50,000-gallon aquarium, and to learn more about wild animals living in and around the river. Cameron Park Zoo offers many other sections with animals from North America, South America, and Asia.
Address: 1701 North 4th Street in Waco, Texas
Official site: https://www.cameronparkzoo.com/
River Cruise on the Brazos River
The Brazos River is a central feature of Waco. It makes sense to plan a river cruise to discover more about the area’s history and importance to the city.
Two-hour boat ride down the river on the Waco-Tours Brazos River Cruise. You’ll see native wildlife and be able to view some iconic Waco landmarks in a new way. The beautiful topography of the Brazos River, including cliff sides, lush forests, will be revealed during the day.
Evening boat tours offer the chance to see the most popular sights, such as the suspension bridge. River cruises are seasonal tours that do not run in winter.
Official site: https://www.waco-tours.com/our-tours/all-tours/river-cruise-tour
Birding in the Lake Waco Wetlands
The Lake Waco Wetlands Research Center is a great place to enjoy a free outdoor experience, especially for birding in Waco. It is a small, hidden paradise on the Central Texas Flyway. Many migrating bird species stop here. The area has been home to more than 186 bird species, including the American coon and great egrets.
Although the man-made wetlands aren’t associated with Lake Waco they do have a name. Its name comes from an effort to restore wetlands after Lake Waco water levels rose in 2005. The project caused the destruction of natural wetlands, so it was necessary to relocate, restore and re-home wildlife that depended on them.
The North Bosque River supplies water for the wetlands. The wetlands are spread over 180 acres. The remaining 300 acres are forest and tree farms.
Information about local animal and plant species can be found at Lake Waco Wetlands. It also provides details about water research conducted at the facility. To see wildlife and plant life, you can take the 3-mile loop trail through the wetlands.
The wetlands are regularly stocked with rainbow trout so anglers can fish there.
Address: 1752 Eichelberger Crossing Road, Waco, Texas
Official site: www.lakewacowetlands.com
A great place to take kids is the Mayborn Museum, located on Baylor University’s campus. Many hands-on exhibits are available at the natural history museum that cover Central Texas elements such as archaeology and geology.
The museum encourages discovery. This is evident in the engaging exhibits like the large dioramas that can be found throughout the museum. The 16 discovery rooms are fun and interactive, with each room sharing a theme through interactive exhibits such as walking alongside a dinosaur.
The Governor Bill, Vara Daniel Historic Village is one of the highlights of the museum. It’s located on the banks the Brazos River. The historic village contains several buildings that recreate the life of this community in the 1890s.
Address: One Bear Place #97154 Waco, Texas
Official site: https://www.baylor.edu/mayborn/
Cameron Park is a large part of Waco so it’s not surprising that you will be spending time there. It covers 416 acres and is the largest municipal park in Texas. Cameron Park is well-designed and has ample signage to make it easy to find.
The Waco Riverwalk is located alongside the Brazos River. It has seven miles of multi-use trails. Cameron Park offers a variety of outdoor recreation options, including fishing and hiking. You will find many play areas for children, fitness areas and paddling areas along the river.
Enjoy a walk along the river and take a look at the Waco Sculpture Zoo’s animal sculptures. The 28 sculptures are the work of various artists from across the United States.
You can enjoy a stunning view from Lover’s Leap, which is located at the top of the Brazos River cliffs. If you are looking for a scenic drive, the park has many areas to explore, and the roads wind through them.
Texas Sports Hall of Fame
Any sports fanatic should plan a visit to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. It is the only Hall of Fame dedicated exclusively to American sports, boasting more than 6,000 pieces of memorabilia.
The Hall of Fame section recognizes more than 300 sports personalities, including Tris Speaker, the first Inductee, and K.S. The founder of the Tennessee Titans, “Bud” Adams Jr. You can choose from several galleries to explore the museum, depending on your interests.
Some of the most impressive sections include the Southwest Conference Gallery and Cotton Bowl. The museum is laid out in a football field style with many rows of exhibits. The museum also has galleries dedicated to Texas tennis, and Texas high school athletics.
Address: 1108 S. University Parks Drive in Waco, Texas
Official site: https://www.tshof.org/
Branch Davidian Memorial
The Branch Davidian Memorial Site is a must-see on any Waco visit. It’s located just outside downtown. This site is privately owned. It was the site of the 1993 Waco siege at the Branch Davidian compound. 82 people were killed.
Although this was an awful time in American history it is something that can be relived by those who visit the spot where the compound once stood.
The memorial, located just beyond the front gate, gives an insight into the large number of casualties, including many children and women who were Branch Davidian leaders David Koresh. Although a few people are still living on the site, it is mostly a place to reflect on the terrible events that took place there.
The property’s backside is home to a rebuilt church and a few other remnants like an abandoned swimming-pool. You will find small memorials and markers along the dirt roads, which point out the remnants of dirt. Except for the occasional visitor, you won’t see many people here.
The gates of the complex can be accessed during specific hours and a $5 donation is requested. It is peaceful and encourages contemplation. It is an impressive and powerful site to visit. It will be worth your time to research the events surrounding the siege before you visit.
Address: 1781 Double EE Ranch Road Waco, Texas
Outdoor Recreation at Lake Waco
Lake Waco is an ideal place to plan a day in water sports or outdoor recreation. This reservoir, which was created by man, is located at Waco’s western border. It is a popular spot for bird-watching and kayaking. Twin Bridges Beach has sandy beaches, as does Airport Beach.
You can rent paddleboards or inflatable kayaks at the Lake Waco Marina. You can walk around the lake and see local wildlife or stop by one of the shelters to have a picnic. If you are looking to spend a weekend at Lake Waco, there are many camping spots.