We spent three days exploring Waco on our winter Texas adventure and we wish we’d had more time since there was much more to discover. We loved Waco’s city environment–it had a very approachable and hometowny feel to it, which made it a great place to explore with kiddos in tow. If you are planning a visit to Texas, read on for 5+ family-friendly, can’t miss stops in Waco. (And for full details on where we scored a REALLY cheap full hook-up site near the heart of Waco, check out our post about Midway Campground.)
At first glance you might think Magnolia Market is just a store where rabid Fixer Upper fans go to load up on Joanna Gaines-inspired home goods. But Magnolia Market is more than a store: It’s an experience meant to be enjoyed with family and friends. Joanna Gaines has designed the whole venue to create a space where people can fellowship, sit back and relax to soothing music while enjoying simple pleasures like swinging with the kids, kicking around a ball on the green, or eating biscuit sandwiches with friends under a trellis canopy.
We hear this place gets crazy during peak times (like weekends and breaks) so in order to enjoy Magnolia Market at your leisure, try to plan for an off-peak day when the sun is shining so you can enjoy the green. (There is not a lot of parking immediately near the market, but across from the Dr. Pepper Museum we found a free public parking lot that was about four blocks away.) Also consider visiting over meal time to savor yummy fare from the food trucks on site. And before you go, be sure to satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to the Silos Baking Co. (I want to go back just to get more cupcakes!)
Waco Mammoth National Monument
Waco Mammoth is one of the National Park Service’s newest sites and features a unique cooperation with the city of Waco and Baylor University. These entities work together to maintain the prehistoric mammoth dig site, which you can tour for a small fee. Getting to see the bones was a highlight for our kiddos because they are science nerds like their dad. 🙂 They also got to work on another Junior Ranger Badge.
1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment
We had planned to attend the Mounted Demonstration and tour, but then we discovered the cavalry wasn’t scheduled to perform the week we were in Waco. (We were so disappointed. ???? ) We have read wonderful reviews about this presentation, however, so it’s definitely on our list to do for a return visit!
Dr. Pepper Museum
Stop in for a visit at the historic home of the nation’s oldest major soft drink: Dr. Pepper. After taking a self-guided tour of the exhibit and watching some of the vintage commercials, you can visit the old-fashioned soda shop and savor a classic Dr. Pepper. Admission is a bit pricey for a whole family, but watch for reduced-price ticket deals on Groupon. Free parking is located right across the street from the museum.
The Mayborn Museum is a great spot for families to explore while letting the kiddos run off steam. It features natural history and science exhibits and lots of hands-on opportunities for kids of all ages. The Jeanes Discovery Center includes Play Waco, a specially designed area for children 5 years of age and younger to engage in imaginative play. Also on-site is the outdoor Historic Village, which includes buildings that provide a glimpse into frontier life of the 1890s.
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum
Guests visiting the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum will discover artifacts and memorabilia related to the storied history of the Texas Rangers, the oldest state law enforcement agency in the nation. For a unique experience, kids will be delighted with the opportunity to become (for a donation) official Junior Texas Rangers.
Baylor University Library
If you have a lit lover among you, then be sure to visit the Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor. Constructed in the Italian Renaissance-style, it features 62 beautiful stained-glass windows and has one of the largest collections of books, manuscripts, and artifacts related to poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
So that’s a quick round-up of 5+ can’t-miss stops in Waco, Texas. Any places you would add?