Most of us recognize Waco, Texas, as home to Magnolia Market and HGTV’s two favorite DIY-ers. Texas Traveling Mom Jill considers herself a super-fan of the show Fixer Upper but her recent visit to this tiny town in Central Texas opened her eyes to all the other family-friendly activities to do there. She’s excited to share with you eight things to do in Waco Texas (besides the Magnolia Market).
8 things to do in Waco Texas (besides the Magnolia Market)
I completely get that the thing that’s put Waco in your travel plans is probably Magnolia Market. Waco is an easy side trip from Dallas or Houston. Since you’ve already committed to the drive, why not make a weekend of it? Taking some time to explore the rest of the town is worth doing.
1. WACO MAMMOTH NATIONAL MONUMENT
If you do one thing in Waco, do this. We spent about three hours at the Waco Mammoth National Monument and honestly, we could have stayed longer. We had to pry our kids out of the dig pit as it was.
The Waco Mammoth National Monument is an active dig site and park managed by the National Parks Service. A herd of Chilean Mammoths (kind of like a warm-weather and larger version of the Wooly Mammoth) died in what is presumed to be a flood and their fossils are still being uncovered, along with some other surprises.
Admission is free but spring for the guided tour. They last about 30 minutes and include history of the site and entry into the active dig site. The fee is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, military, educators and students, and $3 for children pre-K to sixth grade. Kids under three are free.
2. TEXAS SPORTS HALL OF FAME
The Texas Sports Hall of Fame is located on the Baylor University Campus and it’s a great place for kids and for people who love Texas sports. There are exhibits dedicated to the Southeast Conference, high school football (hey, it is Texas and we’re all about our Friday night lights, right?) and to noteworthy Texas athletes of all types. There’s also an interactive children’s area with an electronic soccer game, jump ropes and other exhibits dedicated to youth physical fitness.
The Texas Sports Hall of Fame is open Monday through Saturday from 9 to 5. Admission is $7 for adults $6 for seniors and $3 for students in 1st – 12th grade. Active military are free.
Note: The Waco area is close enough to both San Antonio and Killeen to have a substantial military connection in the community, so ask about military discounts if that applies to you.
3. MAYBORN MUSEUM
The Mayborn Museum Complex is located on the Baylor University Campus.
Here you will find hands-on discovery rooms, interactive natural science and cultural history galleries, including outdoor exhibits. There are also traveling exhibits, and we got the opportunity to experience Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Secrets of the Sewer, available through May 6th.
If your kids complete the Junior Ranger Program at the Waco Mammoth National Monument, they’ll get free admission to the Mayborn. There is also a Mammoth exhibit at the Mayborn that ties into what your kids (and you!) will learn at the Waco Mammoth National Monument.
For more fun with kids in Texas, check out Fredericksburg. For more fun in Texas without the kids, check out Fredericksburg.
The Mayborn museum strikes a nice compromise between being interactive and being informative. My kids found plenty of hands on fun and I learned a lot about Texas that I didn’t know, which is saying something since I’ve lived in this state for most of my life.
Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for kids 2-12 and $7 for Seniors 65+. Check their website for hours.
4. DR PEPPER MUSEUM
If you’re ever been curious about the history of Dr Pepper and 7-Up (come on, you know you are!) and love a good dose of quirky nostalgia, the Dr Pepper Museum is worth a visit.
The Dr Pepper Museum is open Monday – Saturday from 10:00-5:30 and on Sundays from noon to 5:00. Adult admission is $10, military and seniors is $8 and kids and students is $6.
I recommend visiting after lunch. It doesn’t take a ton of time to go through and there’s a fun ice cream shop/soda fountain at the end where you can get a treat.
5. TEXAS RANGER MUSEUM AND HALL OF FAME
The Texas Ranger Museum and Hall of Fame is open from 9:30-5:00 Monday through Sunday. Admission prices are $8 for adults and $4 for children. Allow two to three hours to see everything. Ask about senior and military discounts.
6. CAMERON PARK ZOO
The Cameron Park Zoo is a lovely, lush, small zoo. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00-5:00 and Sundays from 11:00-5:00. Admission prices are $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and $7 for kids. Ask about military discounts.
7. SUSPENSION BRIDGE AT INDIAN SPRING PARK WITH CATTLE DRIVE MONUMENT
Want to get great Waco pictures or just let your kids burn off some energy? This is the place.
8. HOMESTEAD CRAFT VILLAGE
Homestead Craft Village is 16 miles outside of Waco. It’s full of shopping, learning and beautiful scenery. It’s also free.
The food at Café Homestead is a don’t miss but you can easily spend three hours walking around and talking to the artisans, who are super friendly and willing to talk to you about their craft. We visited with the ladies who make pottery and baskets and a man who made beautifully handcrafted furniture. There was a working mill with an adjoining shop where you can buy bread and pancake mixes, plus other fun kitchen things.
TravelingMom Tip: Check in at the restaurant to reserve your place in line before you start browsing and exploring. Wait times will easily be a hour or more. This is the kind of place where people line up at opening time. WORTH. THE. WAIT. I recommend the sweet potato and jalapeno soup.
Homestead Craft Village has quilts, soaps, candles, pottery and all kinds of pretty things. Most of these gift items are pretty pricey, but the craftsmanship is the real deal.
Don’t skip the Magnolia Market! The food trucks out back make this an A+ lunch spot. There are plenty of goodies, from loaded dogs to gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Magnolia Market and Silo Baking company are closed Sundays.
I hope you enjoy all that Waco has to offer. If you go, say hi to Chip and Joanna for me. Just kidding. Sightings of these famous DIY-ers at the Magnolia Market are pretty rare.