Waco– Family Friendly Activities
One of Texas major cities, Waco retains the flavor of its past when the five “Cs”—cattle, cotton, corn, collegians and culture—were its support. Springs on the Brazos River were long popular with the Native American Waco tribe. The first non-natives to see the area were remnants of De Sotos band in 1542. A Texas Ranger fort was established near the Native American village in 1837, and the first white settlers came 12 years later. After the Civil War wrecked the areas plantation economy, renewed Western movement and the Chisholm Trails path through Waco brought another boom—and frontier wildness that branded the town “Six-Shooter Junction.”
Today, Waco is known for its educational, cultural and recreational facilities. Institutions of higher learning are Baylor University, McLennan Community College and Texas State Technical College. A scenic river walk meanders along the Brazos River from Fort Fisher Park past the suspension bridge and through Cameron Park to Herring Avenue. The Heart O Texas Fair and Rodeo, held the first week in October, offers professional rodeo action and live entertainment.
Waco and the Heart of Texas region offer a variety of sights, sounds, and activities. Waco has a thriving arts scene, one-of-a-kind shopping centers, a dizzying array of dining options, a plethora of outdoor activities, and attractions that any big city would be proud of.
Waco is a treat for all senses, surrounded by the natural beauty of central Texas and home to two picturesque rivers. Below are just a few of our favorites!
Magnolia Market at the Silos
HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines have their shop and headquarters at the Magnolia Silos right here in Waco. Come visit the Magnolia Market, where you can shop, play, and eat, all while being inspired about how to spruce up your own home!
On the grass in front of property are plenty of lawn games for families to make memories! Cornhole, potato sack races, football and more.
On the northwest corner of the property is the Garden with a wooden tepee to play under, children’s books for the kids to read, and flowerbeds filled with seasonal plants and flowers. And who knows, you may even run into a goat or two!
This company will take you on a tour of Waco and all that the city has to offer. You can select a Classic Tour, a River Cruise, or a Private Tour for your family or group. You get to see many Fixer Upper homes as well as the locations from the TV show that helped put Waco on the map. Most importantly, they have a local crew that is well-versed in the city and enthusiastic about their work!
Waco Mammoth Site
In 1978 the bones of 25 prehistoric Columbian mammoths were discovered in the woods alongside the Bosque River. After several decades of preparation and excavation, the site is now open to the public where everyone can enjoy the largest single concentration of mammoths in the world.
The site includes a covered elevated walkway that gives visitors an up-close view of the mammoths. The 100-acre site also features a scenic trail way and gift shop.
Waco Suspension Bridge and Riverwalk
Waco’s historic Suspension Bridge has served as an icon for the city since 1836 when the bridge was completed, then the longest single-span suspension bridge west of the Mississippi. On the east and west side of the bridge are Martin Luther King and Indian Spring Parks, respectively, and accessible on either side is the Riverwalk which begins at Ft. Fisher Park, extends past the suspension bridge, and ends at the Herring Ave. Bridge.
The historic Suspension Bridge was built in 1870 and has become a legendary symbol of downtown Waco. The cable used for the bridge was supplied by the John Roebling Co., which also built the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. It is worth a look!
Art Center Waco
The Art Center Waco is located on the grounds of McLennan Community College and since 1972 has been the home to numerous local and nationally-renowned artists as well as a training ground for the next generation. Weekend workshops, classes and demonstrations are regularly offered.
Of particular interest is the Sculpture walk, featuring 35 sculptures on a path overlooking the Brazos river. The walk is freely accessible to the public at all times.
Cameron Park Zoo
Cameron Park Zoo is noted for its attention to natural surroundings, providing its residents and visitors alike with a true feeling of being in the wild. In addition to the standard lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), the zoo features numerous endangered species as well as extensive exhibits on the wildlife and history of the Brazos River which comprises seven separate habitats over its 840-mile span.
Homestead Heritage Village
The Homestead Heritage Village is a 510-acre agricultural settlement dedicated to traditional craftsmanship, with working blacksmith shop, bakery, woodworking, pottery, and more. Visitors are welcome to tour the village, purchase handmade products, and even take classes to learn these timeless crafts.
Dr. Pepper Museum
No Dr. Pepper lover has lived without a pilgrimage to the famed Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco. An old-fashioned soda fountain, antique bottling equipment, and memorabilia shop are just a few of the many exhibits at the museum. In addition to its look at the past, the museum also houses the Free Enterprise Institute, where children are taught the values of innovation and free enterprise.
Waco is jam-packed with exciting sights and attractions ranging from the artistic to the historic, and from the sporty to the unusual.
There are HGTV-famous locations, museums with specific historical facets, natural areas for relaxation and exploration, and numerous shopping and dining options.
There will be plenty to enjoy and discover here, so buckle up. With any luck, this list has helped you decide which of the top things to do in Waco, Texas you’ll be including on your next vacation itinerary!