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21 Best Things to do in Waco TX

Texas

When you think of things to do in Waco, TX, Magnolia Market at the Silos is one of the first things that come to mind. Chip and Joanna Gaines created the uber-popular shopping and dining space. As for things to do in Waco for college students, there are several attractions located on the Baylor University campus, including the Mayborn Museum Complex.

If you’re searching for things to do in Waco, Texas tonight, head to the Hippodrome Theatre. One of the most romantic things to do in Waco, TX, is to enjoy a movie here with full-service dining and drinks. Here are many more things to do in Waco this weekend.

Magnolia Market Silos
Sebastian Ruzycki / Shutterstock.com

1. Magnolia Market Silos

Fans of HGTV’s Fixer Upper will have undoubtedly heard of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ masterpiece, Magnolia Market at the Silos. Marked by two huge silos, thousands of people flock to Magnolia Market every week. It’s home to a 12,000 sq ft retail store inside a historic barn, a food truck park, a nursery, a large lawn area, and a bakery. Magnolia Market also hosts popular events throughout the year, including Christmas at the Silos.

Waco Mammoth National Monument
Courtesy of nps.gov

2. Waco Mammoth National Monument

The Waco Mammoth National Monument is one of North America’s most important paleontological sites. It’s dedicated to the 14 foot tall and 20,000-pound Columbian mammoths, which roamed across present-day Texas thousands of years ago. The National Monument’s Dig Shelter is where mammoth fossils are in situ. Join a guided tour to learn more about the Ice Age and how the fossils were found. Sitting on over 100 acres, there are also several scenic trails.

Dr Pepper Museum
Courtesy of Wikipedia

3. Dr Pepper Museum

The Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute is located inside a former Dr Pepper bottling plant from 1906. Some of the attractions inside the museum include the old-fashioned Soda Fountain, where you can pick up your free Dr Pepper with admission or an ice cream sundae. Then there are presentations in the Liquid Laboratory and several galleries (and informative gallery talks). Don’t leave without popping into Peggy Pepper’s Emporium – the onsite gift shop.

Cameron Park Zoo
Courtesy of Wikipedia

4. Cameron Park Zoo

One of the most family-friendly things to do in Waco, TX is to visit the Cameron Park Zoo. Set on 52 acres, it is home to nearly 2000 animals from 300 different species. Living in surroundings similar to their natural habitats, explore the African Savanna and see giraffes, elephants, and rhinos. Then there’s the American black bear, cougars, and jaguars in The Brazos River Country. The zoo also has a playground and a splash pad.

Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum
By Frank Bodden

5. Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum

The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum is the State-designated official historical center for the renowned Texas Rangers Law Enforcement Agency. It is home to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, the Texas Ranger Research Center, and various galleries displaying historic Ranger and Texas-related artifacts from the 19th century to today. One of the most interesting exhibits is the Pop Culture Gallery, which has displays on Texas Rangers in film, television, books, and radio.

Waco Downtown Cultural District
JohannMG / Shutterstock.com

6. Waco Downtown Cultural District

Downtown Waco is officially a State of Texas Cultural District. It is home to a selection of museums, art galleries, public artworks, entertainment venues, and restaurants and bars. The downtown district also has a popular farmers market, annual community festivals, and plenty of live music venues. Top places to visit include Balcones Distillery for a drink; Cultivate 7Twelve for art exhibits and work by local artists; and Clay Pot, which is Waco’s only Vietnamese restaurant.

Mayborn Museum Complex
Courtesy of Wikipedia

7. Mayborn Museum Complex

Located at Baylor University, Mayborn Museum Complex is a massive 142,000 square foot natural science and cultural history museum dedicated to life in central Texas. Visit Governor Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village, which features nine wood-framed buildings that give a glimpse of local life in the 1890s. Then there’s the two-story family-friendly Jeanes Discovery Center, Strecker’s Cabinets of Curiosities, the Hall of Natural History, and an exhibit from the Waco Mammoth National Monument.

Waco Suspension Bridge
By Denise Mattox

8. Waco Suspension Bridge

Completed in 1870, the Waco Suspension Bridge is a single-span suspension bridge crossing the Brazos River. An iconic symbol of the community, the 475-ft bridge connects Indian Spring Park to Doris D. Miller Park. Today, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to foot traffic only. Locals congregate on the suspension bridge every Independence Day, as it is one of the best places in town to watch the annual fireworks.

Lake Waco
By BrianKhoury

9. Lake Waco

Lake Waco is a reservoir and artificial lake located on the Bosque River. With 10 boat ramps, fishing is definitely one of the most popular things to do on the lake. There are over 50 different species waiting in the lake’s waters. Lake Waco also has plenty of picnic areas, campsites, and hiking trails available across its five main parks. Check out Koehne Park, Airport Park, and Midway Park for the area’s best walking trails.

Baylor University
Courtesy of Wikipedia

10. Baylor University

Baylor University is a nationally-ranked private Baptist Christian university. It’s the state’s oldest continuously operating university, and one of the country’s first universities west of the Mississippi River. Over 16,000 students attend Baylor University every year. Top attractions on the university’s campus include the aforementioned Mayborn Museum Complex, the Armstrong Browning Library, McLane Stadium, and the Martin Museum of Art. The museum displays both selective student artwork and temporary exhibitions from contemporary artists worldwide.

McLane Stadium
Courtesy of Wikipedia

11. McLane Stadium

As mentioned, McLane Stadium is an American football stadium located on the Baylor University campus. Opening in 2014 with a capacity of just over 45,000 spectators, one of the best things to do in Waco, TX is to see a Baylor Bears game at McLane Stadium. The Baylor Bears are the university’s college football team. Found on the north bank of Brazos River, fans can “tailgate” in the Baylor Basin before attending a game.

Homestead Craft Village
Courtesy of Heritage Barns

12. Homestead Craft Village

For a fun family outing, you can explore the Homestead Craft Village – A one-of-kind community of craftspeople where you visit unique shops and restaurants run by members of the Homestead Heritage community. The shops are full of home-made items such as furniture, home goods, pottery, decorative ironwork, and much more. In addition to the unique shopping experience, you can watch various craftsmen give live demonstrations throughout the village and can be quite educational and entertaining to watch. We think a visit to the Homestead Craft Village is a fun thing to do in Waco TX with kids.

Valley Mills Vineyards
Courtesy of valleymillsvineyards.com

13. Valley Mills Vineyards

Valley Mills Vineyards is a local boutique winery that produces quality wines in-house using only Texas-grown grapes. Their wine selection strays a little from the pack, as it includes varieties like tempranillo, grenache, viognier, and Vermentino. Pop into the tasting room at Valley Mills Vineyards to sample some of these interesting wines. The winery is also known for its frequent live jazz nights and its Wine Club, which has members located across the United States.

Armstrong Browning Library
Courtesy of Wikipedia

14. Armstrong Browning Library

The Armstrong Browning Library is both a research center and museum located on the Baylor University campus. It houses the world’s largest collection of works by renowned 19th-century English poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It’s also said to be home to the world’s largest collection of secular stained glass. Visitors will find artworks, manuscripts, and rare 19th-century books lining the walls of Armstrong Browning Library, which is free and open to the public.

Carleen Bright Arboretum
Courtesy of Carleen Bright Arboretum

15. Carleen Bright Arboretum

The Carleen Bright Arboretum is home to a selection of beautiful gardens and plants that thrive in the central Texas environment. Spread over 16 acres, eight acres are purely dedicated to botanical gardens. The arboretum also has a pond with a waterfall, a spectacular rose garden, and two McLennan County Master Gardener demonstration gardens. Strolling through the Carleen Bright Arboretum is one of the best things to do in Waco, TX on a sunny day.

Earle-Napier-Kinnard House
Courtesy of Wikipedia

16 Earle-Napier-Kinnard House

The Earle-Napier-Kinnard House is a Greek revival-style home constructed with pale pink handmade bricks. Built in the 19th century, it features an Ionic portico, cypress shutters, ornamental wooden banisters inside, and the Victorian Teeling Playhouse. Named after its successive owners, the Earle-Napier-Kinnard House is now a living history museum open to the public on weekdays. Stop by for a guided tour and to learn more about the house, its original features, and its interesting inhabitants.

Waco River Safari
Courtesy of wacoheartoftexas.com

17. Waco River Safari

Waco River Safari and Tours is a local company offering a selection of land-based tours and scenic cruises along the Brazos and Bosque Rivers. Their most popular tour is the historic sunset cruise through downtown Waco, where you can learn more about the city’s history and enjoy a meal on board. They also organize a Fixer Upper tour, which takes visitors passed homes featured on the TV series, and an all-inclusive Micro Brewery Tour downtown.

Waco Hippodrome Theatre
By Waco Hippodrome Theatre

18. Waco Hippodrome Theatre

Waco Hippodrome Theatre is one of the city’s most iconic and beloved landmarks. Located downtown, it’s home to a live performance venue, three movie theaters, The Raleigh Diner, and The Hightop rooftop bar and patio. What makes the Hippodrome Theatre experience unique is that there are full-service dinner and drinks menus available for cinema guests to enjoy from their comfortable reclining seats. Their entertainment schedule also includes live music performances, stand-up comedy shows, and more.

Hawaiian Falls Waco
Courtesy of wacoheartoftexas.com

19. Hawaiian Falls Waco

If you’re searching for family-friendly things to do in Waco, TX, head to Hawaiian Falls water park. Some of Hawaiian Falls’ most popular attractions include Breaker Bay, central Texas’ first wave pool; Keiki Kove, a water playground for “little Kahunas”; Kona Kooler, a lazy river that has you floating through the trees of the Brazos River Valley; and the four thrilling slides at the Tempest Tower complex. It’s also home to cabanas and Sharkey’s Cafe.

Waco Convention Center
Courtesy of Waco Convention Center

20. Waco Convention Center

Waco Convention Center underwent a $17.5-million renovation in 2012 and now offers 144,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space. As the city’s premier event venue, it has several small meeting rooms, two exhibition halls called the Chisholm and McLennan Halls, the Bosque Theater and two adjacent ballrooms. The ballrooms feature the Brazos Balcony, which conveniently offers Brazos River views. The convention center hosts everything from Dr Pepper conventions to celebrity chef cook-offs.

Richland Mall
By Jessica Padron

21. Richland Mall

If you’re in need of some retail therapy while visiting the city, head to Richland Mall. The regional shopping mall is home to 95 retail stores, as well as plenty of dining options. Its three anchor department stores are Dillard’s, JCPenney, and Gordmans, but there are also popular shops like H&M, Hollister, and Victoria’s Secret PINK. As for food, Richland Mall houses family favorites like Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Auntie Anne’s freshly-baked pretzels.

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