Planning a road trip through Central Texas? Begin your voyage by scouring all the best things to do in Waco, Texas. The “City with a Soul,'” Waco sits alongside the banks of the Brazos River and I-35 and is a mandatory stop while exploring the Lone Star State.
From the historical hotspots like Dr. Pepper Museum and the Texas Ranger Museum to relishing cuisine prepared by world-renowned chefs, the top tourist attractions in Waco cover it all. As you wander the city, you can check out arts & crafts, enjoy a one-of-a-kind shopping experience, or indulge in endless incredible dining options.
Can’t decide what to do in Waco? Knock off a compelling itinerary with this complete guide to the best places to visit in Waco, TX.
Best places to visit in Waco, TX
Cameron Park Zoo
Traveling to Waco with kids? Head straight to the Cameron Park Zoo. Spanning several natural habitats, this 52-acre zoo is home to over 1,700 animals, representing more than 300 species.
Your kids will love the beautiful sight of white-handed gibbons from Gibbon Island. You wouldn’t want to miss the African Savannah, including giraffes, white rhinos, and elephants, at Cameron Park Zoo.
Climb up the Treetops Deck and get a feel of enjoying an African safari. If you’ve got spare time, visit the Brazos River County area inside the zoo. You’ll be amazed to discover a 50,000-gallon aquarium brimming with one-of-a-kind aquatic creatures.
Dr. Pepper Museum
Need a blast from the past? Stop by the Dr. Pepper Museum to feel its nostalgic vibes. Located in the heart of downtown, the museum features a 20,000-pound concrete ad, built-in 1940. You can look at the original Dr. Pepper delivery truck from 1940. Sit inside and take a few clicks.
On the ground floor of the Dr. Pepper Museum, you’ll come across an old-fashioned soda fountain. Order a Dr. Pepper float from this vintage fountain and savor its sweet taste.
Climb up to the first and second floors to take a look at several interesting exhibits, including a working replica of the original Dr. Pepper Bottling Plant.
Waco Mammoth National Monument
Love fossils? Include the Waco Mammoth National Monument on your list of places to see in Waco, Texas. This national monument is home to the remains of 24 Columbian mammoths, dating back to the Ice Age.
The mammoths here were discovered in 1978 by two miners while boring a water well. Take the 1-hour tour of this National Monument and watch paleontologists working on excavating fossils.
The Waco Mammoth National Monument also has a dedicated picnic area, carved out beautifully to make you feel as if you’ve time-traveled to ancient times.
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum
Love learning about the history of law & order? Grasp it Texas-style at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum. At this fun museum, you’ll sort through artifacts and exhibits depicting the history of Texas’s most famous rangers.
On your visit to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum, you can see a gun that belonged to Bonnie and Clyde, two infamous outlaws shot dead by rangers in 1934. Explore the exhibits, showcasing the weaponry, gear, and uniforms used by these rangers throughout history.
Visiting Waco with the kids? Download the activity sheets to help them partake in fun activities like exploring the museum, a treasure hunt, or a search for outlaws.
Want to explore some rugged paths in nature on your Waco trip? Hit up the hiking trails of Cameron Park. Covering 416 acres, the green space is among the largest municipal parks near downtown Waco.
As you walk through the beautiful wooded area, you’ll spot a few waterfalls and creeks. If you’re traveling with family, friends, or your partner to Cameron Park, plan out an aesthetic picnic by the side of the Brazos River. Rent a bike and travel down the path for some adventure, or go for a stroll on the trails to unwind.
The suspension bridge crossing the Brazos River is also worth checking out. Use the bridge as a backdrop and click some vintage-style photos.
For an even more active outing, play golf or disc golf at Cameron Park. Love fishing? Bring your rod and lures and reel in some fish on the banks of the Brazos River.
Texas Sports Hall of Fame
Sports fans visiting Waco can’t miss the memorabilia-packed Texas Sports Hall of Fame. You’ll discover 6,000 items of sports at this first-of-its-kind hall of fame for sportspersons from the United States. Head to the theater and watch the movies and rare sports footage, as well as programs on coaching sports management or research.
The main auditorium of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame teems with timeless sports souvenirs, including the golf clubs of Mildred Didrikson Zaharias, the Olympic gold medal of Bobby Marrow, and the riding boots of Willie Shoemaker.
After completing this section of the museum, visit the Southwest Conference Gallery and Cotton Bowl Exhibit. Both are laid out like a football field and separated into various rows of exhibits.
Want to relax after all your adventures? Take a stroll on Waco Riverwalk, hugging the banks of the Brazos River. The multipurpose trail follows the Brazos River for about seven miles in downtown Waco.
Along the scenic trail, you can go for a run or a stroll, or ride a bike. Walking along the river, you’ll pass several bridges, including the historic Waco Suspension Bridge.
Waco Riverwalk is also known as the Cameron Park Zoo Trail as it passes by the popular zoo. If you visit during the festival season, you can catch some cultural events and functions here, too. While passing through The Chisolm Trail, a significant route for cattle drives after the Civil War, you’ll see a pair of bronze sculptures enriching the riverwalk charm.
Waco Downtown Farmers Market
Need the perfect way to launch your day in Waco? Spend your morning exploring the Waco Downtown Farmers Market. At the market, you can buy vegetables, fruits, meat, and dairy products straight from the farms.
While filtering through the Waco Downtown Farmers Market, relish some delicious food like kolaches, tacos, and artisanal cheese. The market also holds a few arts & crafts stalls, selling jewelry, paintings, and other creative artsy items.
What’s unique about Waco Downtown Farmers Market is that it operates all year-round. No matter which month you visit, you’ll find the local vendors selling products with smiles on their faces.
Lake Waco Wetlands
Love birdwatching and secluded places? Pick up your binoculars and head straight to Lake Waco Wetlands. The remote research center is a hidden Eden on the Central Texas Flyway. This peaceful setting offers majestic sky views and a glimpse of beautiful and rare to witness migratory birds. Regular sightings include American coons and great egrets.
You can also gather a wealth of information about the local plants, animal species, and facility’s water research at the Lake Waco Wetlands.
Take the three-mile loop trail through the marshes to gaze at wildlife and vegetation. Or bring your food and picnic mat to savor food with an awesome view.
In the mood for shopping? The Magnolia Market awaits with a fantastic collection of branded and local products. This Waco highlight is owned by Chip & Joanna Gaines, the stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper TV series. Browse the shops, divided into sections in a village-like setting, or take a look around while sitting in the outdoor pavilion.
Feeling hungry on your Magnolia Market shopping adventure? Hop into a bakery and relish some sweet dishes or enjoy a cup of joe at a coffee shop. Savor street food at the food trucks or sit at a picnic table to enjoy the food you brought. Through the market, you’ll stumble upon many picturesque corners where you can click a few pictures for your IG feed.
Mayborn Museum Complex
Looking for something fun and informative for the kids? Take them to the Mayborn Museum Complex on the Baylor University campus. At the museum, your kids will learn about archaeology, natural science, geology, and paleontology at this natural history museum. You’ll cover 16 discovery halls, each with a fascinating theme.
Visit the interactive section of the Mayborn Museum Complex and take a close look at giant dinosaurs. Your kids will relish the stories of dinosaurs and their extinction displayed along the corridors.
Next, take kids to Governor Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village. You’ll see a close-to-life reconstruction of the historic scenes of this community, from the era of the 1890s.
Hawaiian Falls Waco
Feeling the heat of Texas? Pack your swimwear and jump into the pool at Hawaiian Falls Waco. Found five miles north of the city, this 10-acre water park features a variety of water slides, wave pools, a lazy river, and more.
If you’re visiting with friends, take the Tsunami Slide, rated 5 on Shaka Meter; it’s the most thrilling ride at the park!
When visiting Hawaiian Falls Waco with children, take them to Keiki Love. The Keiki Love water playground is designed especially for kids aged 12 and younger.
Other attractions at Hawaiian Falls Waco include shaded cabanas and a miniature golf course.
Want to try some of the world’s most fantastic whiskey? Look no further than Balcones Distilling, known for its amazing whiskey and rum. The award-winning spirits are distilled using unique pot stills. The most famous of them is Baby Blue Corn Whiskey, with a fruity, citric, and chocolatey taste.
Balcones Distilling is jam-packed most of the time. Make sure you reserve your spot on tour in advance. On the tour, you’ll see the distilling facility and learn about the distilling process and sample many different spirits before leaving with a keepsake tasting glass.
Homestead Craft Village
Love admiring arts & crafts? Drive down to the Homestead Craft Village and witness artisans carving out unique wood furniture. The craft village features a lovely collection of artisan boutiques, selling jewelry, clothes, pottery, and more. You can also buy organic grains, flours, baking mixes, and meat and produce.
If you’re traveling to Homestead Craft Village with children, check out the livestock, let them explore the gardens, or take them on a hayride. If you’ve got some spare time, participate in some of the interesting kid-friendly do-it-yourself activities.
When hunger strikes, enjoy meals prepared with fresh loaves of bread, award-winning cheese, and pasteurized beef at Café Homestead.
Got time for some live music? Head over to Waco Hippodrome, an independent theater holding long-standing live music nights. Sip on a cold beer while watching talented local musicians performing on stage. If you feel like singing yourself, the stage is always open for you to showcase your talent to the world.
The Waco Hippodrome features a diverse range of musicians, including blues and jazz performers, country singers, and tribute bands.
You can also visit the nearby Backyard Waco to enjoy lawn games and pool tables. Even when a band isn’t playing, Backyard Waco is a fantastic place to unwind.
Fans of American football need to pencil in a visit to McLane Stadium, home of the Baylor Bears football team. The football stadium has a horseshoe shape that offers viewers a delightful vista of the Brazos River.
McLane Stadium also hosts many musical concerts throughout the year. When you travel to Waco, make sure to check out the events schedule and book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.
You’ll find plenty of things to eat & drink inside McLane Stadium. You can also grab some souvenirs for your loved ones back home from one of the many gift shops in the stadium.
How about ending your day with some beer tasting? Make your way to Brotherwell Brewing. You can sample a wide range of beers, including lagers, IPAs, fruit beers, and lots more, at this family-owned brewery.
When traveling with friends, indulge in the best of Brotherwell Brewing beers: the Balance Beam IPA. The popular craft beer offers a perfect balance of malt and hops that’ll tantalize your taste buds.
The taproom at Brotherwell Brewing is perfect for relaxing and socializing with friends. You can also play games like giant Jenga, darts, or cornhole while sipping on your favorite beer.