Ever wondered what’s the buzz about Waco, Texas? With its rich history and varied attractions, it’s no surprise that this city is a hidden gem in the heart of Texas.
In today’s review, we’re taking you on a virtual tour of the top things to do in Waco Texas. It’s your ultimate guide to exploring Waco and experiencing everything from historical monuments to unique shopping destinations.
Ready for some Texan adventure? Let’s dive in!
- Visit the must-see attractions in Waco, Texas, such as the Waco Suspension Bridge, Cameron Park Zoo, Dr Pepper Museum, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, and Magnolia Market at the Silos.
- Enjoy outdoor activities in Waco like walking or biking along the Brazos River, hiking at Cameron Park, playing golf at Cottonwood Creek Golf Course, and visiting the gardens at Armstrong Browning Library.
- Explore historical and cultural sites in Waco by visiting the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, touring the Baylor University campus, checking out the architecture in Heritage Square, and learning about Texas history at the Texas Ranger Museum.
- Experience unique activities in Waco by shopping at Magnolia Market, taking a paddle boat ride at Cameron Park, and seeing a show at Waco Civic Theatre.
1. Top Attractions in Waco, Texas
The top attractions in Waco, Texas include the:
- Waco Suspension Bridge
- Cameron Park Zoo
- Dr Pepper Museum
- Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum
- Magnolia Market at the Silos.
Waco Suspension Bridge
Waco Suspension Bridge at Indian Spring Park
The Waco Suspension Bridge is a must-see spot in Texas. Created in 1870, it once held the record for the longest single-span bridge west of the Mississippi River. It has a span that reaches 475 feet and was first used as a toll road.
Now free to all, this bridge pulls in lots of visitors each year into Texas. It is one of Waco’s top spots people love to visit.
Cameron Park Zoo
Cameron Park Zoo is a must-see spot in Waco. It covers 52 acres and first opened its doors in 1993. Since then, it has grown to be home to over 1700 animals from around the globe. You can see all sorts of creatures here.
This zoo sits right inside Cameron Park. Along with animals, you’ll also find waterfalls, lakes, and ponds inside this zoo’s walls. The park is rich with green plants that make it even more beautiful.
New spots like Lemur Island and the African lion exhibit add extra fun to every visit.
Dr Pepper Museum
Dr Pepper Museum
The Dr Pepper Museum is a fun stop in Waco, Texas. It sits in an old 1906 building that once bottled the drink. This museum tells the story of Dr Pepper, the oldest major soft drink in the country.
You can see three floors full of things from the world of soft drinks. There are many rare items to look at that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s a great place for both kids and adults to explore.
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Waco, Texas. It is the official historical center of the Texas Rangers Law Enforcement Agency. The museum’s purpose is to collect, preserve, and share information about the Texas Rangers.
They document the service of Texas Rangers in the past. The museum is ranked as one of the top three museums in “H.O.T.”.
Magnolia Market at the Silos
Magnolia Market at the Silos, owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines, is a popular attraction in Waco, Texas. It draws about 30,000 visitors every week. The property features six shops with different themes and carefully chosen products like clothing, toys, bath supplies, and paper goods.
People love Magnolia Market for its beautiful surroundings and well-planned design.
2. Outdoor Activities in Waco, Texas
– Walk or bike along the Brazos River.
– Go hiking at Cameron Park.
– Play golf at Cottonwood Creek Golf Course.
– Visit the gardens at Armstrong Browning Library.
Walk or bike along the Brazos River
- The Brazos River in Waco, Texas offers a beautiful location for walking or biking.
- Enjoy the natural beauty of the river as you stroll or ride along its banks.
- The Waco Riverwalk is a 7-mile paved path that allows for leisurely walks or invigorating bike rides.
- Take in the scenic views and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere as you explore the area.
- The riverwalk connects several city parks, providing plenty of opportunities to stop and relax along the way.
- Keep an eye out for sculptures of Longhorns and Vaqueros at the end of the bridge.
- The Waco Riverwalk is a well-maintained trail that is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.
- Experience the beauty of nature while getting some exercise on this multi-use trail.
- Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll or an active bike ride, walking or biking along the Brazos River is a must-do activity in Waco, Texas.
Go hiking at Cameron Park
Cameron Park in Waco, Texas is a great place for hiking. Here are some things you can do at the park:
- Explore the 20-mile trail system that offers stunning views of the Brazos and Bosque Rivers.
- Enjoy the beautiful handcrafted bridges and cliffs that reach up to 100 feet high.
- Take in the natural beauty of the park, which spans across 416 acres and features towering trees.
- Have fun at the playgrounds and take advantage of the multi-use National Recreation Trail System.
- Take a break and have a picnic at one of the scenic overlooks or designated picnic spots.
- Try your luck at fishing in the riverfront areas.
- Visit the award-winning zoo located within Cameron Park.
Play golf at Cottonwood Creek Golf Course
Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco, Texas is a popular outdoor activity. This 18-hole course offers a fun and challenging experience for golfers of all skill levels. Here are some key features of the course:
- Pristine greens and landscaping
- Well-groomed fairways
- Par 72 course
- Suitable for both beginners and experienced players
- Offers leagues and tournaments
- Located in a vibrant city with shops and restaurants
Visit the gardens at Armstrong Browning Library
The Armstrong Browning Library in Waco, Texas has beautiful outdoor gardens.
- Surrounded by stained glass, wood details, statues, and paintings.
- The gardens are a peaceful setting for outdoor activities.
- Open to the public and free.
- Located on the campus of Baylor University in Waco.
- Visitors can enjoy the scenic backdrop while exploring the library and gardens.
3. Historical and Cultural Sites
Explore the rich history of Waco at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, tour the Baylor University campus, and admire the stunning architecture in Heritage Square. Experience the fascinating stories and traditions that have shaped this vibrant city.
Read on to discover more hidden gems in Waco!
Visit the Texas Sports Hall of Fame
The Texas Sports Hall of Fame is a must-visit attraction in Waco, Texas. It opened its doors in 1993 and has since become a popular destination for sports fans. Inside the museum, you’ll find over 6,000 pieces of sports memorabilia that showcase the remarkable athletic history of Texas.
The museum spans an impressive 35,000 square feet and offers a fascinating glimpse into the state’s sporting heritage. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just curious about Texas sports history, a visit to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame is sure to be an enjoyable experience.
Tour the Baylor University campus
Baylor University is a renowned educational institution in Waco, Texas. The campus offers beautiful surroundings and state-of-the-art facilities. Prospective students and their families can schedule in-person campus tours to explore everything Baylor has to offer.
During the tour, visitors can see landmarks like McLane Stadium, home to Baylor football games, and the Martin Museum of Art. It’s an excellent opportunity to get a feel for the vibrant atmosphere on campus and learn about Baylor’s academic programs.
So if you’re interested in pursuing higher education at a top-tier university, touring the Baylor University campus is definitely worth considering!
Check out the architecture in Heritage Square
Heritage Square in Waco, Texas is a park that showcases beautiful architecture. You can admire the stunning buildings and religious sanctuaries that are part of the Waco Downtown Historic District.
These buildings were important social and cultural centers in the past. The square also has a water feature and a small garden for you to enjoy. Don’t forget to check out the public parking lot where many events take place.
Learn about Texas history at the Texas Ranger Museum
At the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, you can discover the fascinating history of the Texas Rangers. This museum is located at Fort Fisher in Waco and is the official historical center of the famous Texas law enforcement agency.
Inside, you’ll find a vast collection of artifacts, photographs, books, and archival items that tell the story of the Rangers and their impact on Texas history. Whether you’re interested in learning about their contributions to law enforcement or simply exploring this important part of Texas’s past, a visit to the Texas Ranger Museum is a must.
4. Unique Experiences in Waco, Texas
Shop at Magnolia Market, take a paddle boat ride at Cameron Park, see a show at Waco Civic Theatre, and tour the Osborne-Hannaford House mansion.
Shop at Magnolia Market
Magnolia Market at the Silos is a popular shopping destination located in Waco, Texas. It is part of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ empire and offers a unique shopping experience. When you visit Magnolia Market, you will find six boutique shops offering a variety of products such as women’s clothing, children’s toys, bath supplies, and paper goods.
This market originally began in Spice Village, another local Waco shopping spot. So if you’re looking for some trendy and unique items to buy during your visit to Waco, be sure to check out Magnolia Market at the Silos!
Take a paddle boat ride at Cameron Park
Experience the serenity of nature by taking a paddle boat ride at Cameron Park in Waco, Texas. This 416-acre park is a peaceful oasis with towering trees, two rivers, and breathtaking cliffs.
One of the best ways to explore this beautiful park is by renting a paddle boat and cruising along the calm waters. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, there are options for everyone.
The Waco Paddling Trails, specifically Bosque Bluffs, offer paddling trips that cater to different skill levels. So hop on a paddle boat and enjoy the tranquility as you glide through the picturesque scenery of Cameron Park.
See a show at the Waco Civic Theatre
The Waco Civic Theatre in Waco, Texas is a non-profit organization that offers a variety of shows and events for people to enjoy. Located at 1517 Lake Air Drive, the theatre showcases local talent by staging regional productions of well-known musicals.
From youth theatre shows to special events, there is something for everyone here. Whether you’re a visitor or a local, the Waco Civic Theatre provides unique and entertaining experiences that you won’t want to miss.
Tour the Osborne-Hannaford House mansion
Explore the rich history of Waco, Texas by taking a tour of the Osborne-Hannaford House mansion. This historic home offers visitors a glimpse into the lives of past residents as they walk through its beautifully preserved rooms.
Located in Waco, this mansion is part of a larger tour that showcases the city’s historic houses. Gain insights into Waco’s fascinating history and discover how its former residents lived.
The tour provides an opportunity to learn about Waco’s past and immerse yourself in its unique heritage.
5. Food and Wine in Waco, Texas
Try Vitek’s BBQ for mouthwatering smoked meats, indulge in delectable desserts at Poppa Rollo’s Pizza, sample award-winning wines at Balcones Distillery, and savor a fine dining experience at 1424 Bistro.
Try Vitek’s BBQ
Vitek’s BBQ is a must-visit restaurant in Waco, Texas. This family-owned and operated establishment has been serving delicious barbecue since 1915. Located at 1600 Speight Ave, Vitek’s BBQ is famous for its original Gut Pak dish.
The Gut Pak includes smoked sausage, chopped beef, beans, Fritos, cheese, pickles, onions, and jalapenos all piled together for a flavor explosion. Whether you’re a meat lover or just looking to try some authentic Texas barbecue, Vitek’s BBQ is the place to go in Waco.
Grab dessert at Poppa Rollo’s Pizza
Poppa Rollo’s Pizza is a must-visit spot in Waco, Texas when you’re craving something sweet. Their homemade desserts are absolutely delicious and will satisfy any sweet tooth. With its zany atmosphere and friendly staff, it’s no wonder why this restaurant has been a favorite among locals and visitors for many years.
Whether you’re enjoying a slice of pizza or indulging in one of their mouthwatering desserts, Poppa Rollo’s Pizza offers a unique and fun dining experience that shouldn’t be missed during your trip to Waco.
So make sure to save room for dessert and head over to Poppa Rollo’s Pizza for a truly delightful treat!
Sample wines at Balcones Distillery
Head over to Balcones Distillery and treat yourself to a tasting of their award-winning whiskies and spirits. With over 40 internationally recognized awards under its belt, including from Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whisky, Balcones is known for its exceptional craftsmanship.
Don’t miss the chance to try their newest offerings, like their rye whiskey, Mirador, and Peated varieties. Make sure to sample their flagship spirit, the True Blue Cask Strength. Whether you’re a whiskey connoisseur or simply curious about spirits, sampling wines at Balcones Distillery is a must-do activity in Waco, Texas.
Enjoy fine dining at 1424 Bistro
1424 Bistro is a fantastic restaurant in downtown Waco where you can have a fancy and delicious meal. This privately owned restaurant specializes in Mediterranean cuisine, especially Greek dishes.
They are known for their fresh seafood options that will satisfy your taste buds. It’s best to make reservations beforehand to secure a table at this popular spot. Many people have given positive reviews on Tripadvisor, giving it an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars.
So if you’re looking for a delightful dining experience in Waco, be sure to check out 1424 Bistro.
6. Tips for Visiting Waco, Texas
Plan your visit to Waco at the best times to enjoy the weather, avoid large crowds, and catch local events. Find out how to get to Waco with helpful information on airports and driving distances.
Discover the best ways to get around town, whether it’s by public transportation, walking, or using Uber/Lyft. Explore recommended hotels and accommodations in downtown Waco, near Baylor University, or by the river.
Plus, find essential travel tips for what to pack, accessing wifi, and staying safe during your trip. Don’t miss out on these helpful tips for a memorable visit to Waco!
Best times to visit (weather, crowds, events)
The best times to visit Waco, Texas are during the mild seasons of spring and fall. The weather is pleasant and comfortable, making it ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the attractions.
Summers in Waco can be hot, so if you prefer cooler temperatures, plan your trip accordingly. To avoid crowds, it’s recommended to visit popular places like Magnolia Market early in the day or just before closing time.
Additionally, checking for any upcoming events or festivals in Waco can enhance your visit by providing unique experiences and entertainment options.
Getting to Waco (closest airports, driving distances)
Waco, Texas is accessible through the Waco Regional Airport (ACT), which is the closest airport. However, many visitors prefer to fly into the Austin or Dallas airports, which are approximately 90-100 miles away from Waco.
These airports offer a wide range of rental car services for convenient transportation to Waco. If you’re coming from out of state, there are four airports within 100 miles of Waco.
So whether you fly directly to Waco or make your way from Austin or Dallas, there are plenty of options to get you to this charming Texas town.
Getting around Waco (public transportation, walking, Uber/Lyft)
Waco offers various options for getting around the city. You can use the city’s shuttle service to explore downtown and LaSalle areas easily. If you prefer public transportation, there is a city bus system available.
Additionally, rideshare services like Uber and Lyft operate in Waco, making it convenient to travel around the city. For those visiting the Baylor University campus, Waco Transit has a pilot program similar to Uber or Lyft that provides transportation on campus.
With ample public transportation options and helpful signage throughout the city, navigating Waco is a breeze for visitors.
Where to stay (hotels, B&Bs, AirBnBs)
There are plenty of options for visitors to stay in Waco, Texas. From hotels to bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) and even Airbnbs, there is something for everyone. If you’re a fan of the show “Fixer Upper,” you can even stay in one of the vacation rental homes designed by Joanna Gaines herself.
These homes have been featured on the show and offer a unique and stylish place to rest your head. There are also many other hotels and B&Bs available throughout Waco, suitable for families, groups, or couples.
One popular choice is the Magnolia Hotel, known for its charming ambiance and excellent service. So whether you prefer the comfort of a hotel or the coziness of a B&B or Airbnb, you’ll find plenty of options in Waco to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable.
Travel tips (what to pack, wifi access, safety)
When planning your trip to Waco, Texas, it’s important to pack appropriately for the weather and activities. Be sure to bring comfortable shoes for exploring attractions like Magnolia Market and Cameron Park.
Additionally, don’t forget sunscreen and a hat for outdoor activities along the Brazos River or at Lake Whitney State Park. As for Wi-Fi access, many hotels, restaurants, and cafes in Waco offer free wifi for visitors.
However, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan or portable hotspot if you need reliable internet access during your stay. In terms of safety, Waco is generally a safe city but it’s still wise to practice common sense precautions such as keeping an eye on your belongings and being aware of your surroundings.
7. Nearby Activities and Day Trips
In addition to the many attractions in Waco, there are also plenty of nearby activities and day trips to enjoy. If you’re looking for some excitement, Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington is just a short drive away.
You can have a thrilling time on the roller coasters and other rides. Another option is visiting the Fort Worth Stockyards, where you can experience cowboy culture and see live rodeo action.
For those who love nature, Lake Whitney State Park offers beautiful scenery and opportunities for camping, hiking, fishing, and boating. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Clifton Wine Walk is another day trip worth considering if you’re interested in wine tasting. You can stroll through this charming small town while sampling wines from local wineries.
Overall, there are plenty of options for nearby activities and day trips that cater to different interests in Waco’s surrounding area. Whether you prefer thrills at an amusement park or relaxation by the lake, there’s something for everyone nearby to make your visit even more memorable.
Six Flags Over Texas (Arlington)
Six Flags Over Texas is a popular amusement park located in Arlington, Texas. It is known as the thrill capital of Texas and has been operating for over five decades. The park features 14 world-class roller coasters and offers over 100 attractions, including dining options, games, and other rides.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of thrilling experiences and family-friendly entertainment throughout the day. Additionally, Six Flags Over Texas also offers a steam engine tour for those who want to explore the park in a unique way.
Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping adventures or fun-filled activities for the whole family, Six Flags Over Texas is a must-visit attraction in Arlington.
Fort Worth Stockyards
The Fort Worth Stockyards is a historic district in Fort Worth, Texas. It has a lot of interesting things to see and do. One cool thing about the stockyards is that you can find famous boot-making companies and western-themed stores there.
There are also stagecoach rides and museums for you to explore. If you’re looking for some entertainment, they even have cattle drives and rodeos! The Fort Worth Stockyard is really special because it has a long history and is connected to the cattle industry.
Lake Whitney State Park
Lake Whitney State Park is a popular destination for water activities like swimming and fishing. The park offers detailed information about fishing and the lake itself. It’s also a great place to go camping in an RV.
Visitors can enjoy boating, swimming, fishing, and more at Lake Whitney State Park.
Clifton Wine Walk
The Clifton Wine Walk is a popular activity for visitors in Waco, Texas. This tour takes participants to some of Waco’s top attractions, including Baylor University, Cameron Park, and historic neighborhoods.
One of the stops on the Wine Walk is Valley Mills Vineyard, where visitors can stroll through the vineyard and enjoy a glass or bottle of wine. It’s a great way to explore the city and experience its vibrant wine culture.
8. Where to Stay in Waco, Texas
In Waco, Texas, there are several great options for accommodations. If you prefer to stay downtown, there are many hotels and bed & breakfasts to choose from. These places offer a convenient location close to the city’s attractions and restaurants.
Some recommended hotels include Hilton Waco, Hotel Indigo Waco-Baylor, and Courtyard by Marriott Waco Downtown.
If you’re visiting Baylor University or want to stay near the campus, there are also options available. The Residence Inn Waco is a popular hotel that offers spacious suites with kitchenettes.
Another option is the Homewood Suites by Hilton Waco, which provides comfortable accommodations within walking distance of the university.
If you’re looking for a more scenic place to stay, consider staying by the river. There are vacation rentals along the Brazos River that offer beautiful views and a peaceful atmosphere.
You can also find campgrounds and RV parks if you prefer camping.
Whether you’re traveling as a couple or with kids, there are plenty of options in Waco to suit your needs. From luxurious hotels to cozy bed & breakfasts and family-friendly resorts, you’ll find something perfect for your stay in this charming Texas town.
Recommended hotels and B&Bs in downtown, near Baylor, by the river
If you’re looking for a place to stay in downtown Waco, near Baylor University, and by the river, there are several highly recommended options. La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Waco Downtown – Baylor is located right near Baylor University and offers comfortable accommodations.
Hotel Indigo Waco – Baylor is another great choice, with its close proximity to the university. Both of these hotels offer convenient access to downtown attractions and the Brazos River.
If you prefer a hotel with great views, consider The Hilton in Waco. It not only provides stunning views of Baylor University but also offers easy access to the Brazos River. WoodSpring Suites is another highly rated option in Waco if you’re looking for a more extended stay or budget-friendly accommodations.
Most romantic places to stay
For couples looking for a romantic getaway in Waco, Texas, there are several charming accommodations to choose from. The Hotel Indigo Waco – Baylor is highly recommended for its romantic ambiance and cozy rooms.
Another option is the Bed and Breakfast on White Rock Creek, which offers a serene and picturesque setting. Spencer House Bed and Breakfast is known for its romantic atmosphere and attentive service.
Hymnsinger House is also a great choice, offering a peaceful retreat for couples. For those seeking a historic charm, Colcord House is listed as one of the best romantic hotels in Waco.
Best places for families to stay
Families visiting Waco, Texas have several great options for places to stay. One highly recommended choice is to find a hotel near Magnolia Market and the Silos. This area offers a central location with easy access to attractions like the Dr Pepper Museum and Cameron Park Zoo.
Another option is to look for accommodations near Baylor University, which provides a family-friendly atmosphere with nearby parks and gardens. And for families who enjoy being by the water, staying in hotels or rental homes along the Brazos River can provide beautiful views and opportunities for outdoor activities.
Whatever their preference, families are sure to find comfortable and convenient places to stay in Waco that will make their trip enjoyable.
Wrap-Up – Best Things to Do in Waco Texas
Waco, Texas offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. From exploring historical and cultural sites to indulging in delicious food and wine, there’s something for everyone in Waco.
Whether you’re interested in outdoor adventures, unique experiences, or simply taking in the local charm, this vibrant city has it all. Plan your trip to Waco today and discover the many things this Texas gem has to offer!
1. What are some fun things to do in Waco, TX?
You can visit the Waco Mammoth National Monument, enjoy food trucks and tours around the city of Waco, or spend a day at Lake Waco.
2. Are there any great places to eat in Waco?
Yes! One top place is Magnolia Table inside a historic 1906 bottling building in downtown Waco. Another good spot is Silos Baking Co., run by Joanna and Chip Gaines.
3. What museums can you visit while in Waco?
The Mayborn Museum Complex is worth visiting while you’re in town. You might also want to check out the legendary Texas Rangers exhibit at the Texas A&M Museum.
4. Does Waco provide options for outdoor activities?
Absolutely! There are plenty of fun activities like swimming at Hawaiian Falls Water Park or shopping in a craft village; you could even take part in one of our fun events held regularly!
5. Can I go on any guided tours of landmarks in this city?
Certainly! The best thing would be taking the classic tour that includes stops such as India Spring Park lying near Suspension Bridge – the first ever bridge built over the Brazos River; then end it with gazing upon well-known grain silos owned by Joanna and Chip Gaines!
6. Is there anything special for kids to do when we are visiting?
Your kids will love visiting the Kove For Kids play area or enjoying the park’s facilities which let them experience natural beauty up-close still within safe borders located throughout Central Texas.