Things to Do in Waco: In 2013, Chip and Joanna Gaines launched “Fixer Upper” on HGTV, and the success of the show breathed new life into the city of Waco, Texas. As he revamped old homes around Waco and showed breathtaking results on national television, the city became an extension of his home and lifestyle brand. Real estate prices soared, and other businesses appeared due to renewed interest in this once-sleepy college town.
Previously, Waco’s only other claim to fame was the 1993 raid and fire at the Branch Davidian compound, so city leaders have been eager to embrace the city’s new image as a home renovation hotspot. While the show ended in 2019, Chip and Joanna Gaines still run thriving home decor and real estate businesses in Waco. The city is also home to Baylor University, the Dr. Pepper Museum, and a wealth of outdoor entertainment venues. Read on for the top things to do while in town.
Top 7 Things to Do in Waco, Texas
- Shop, Eat, and Play Games at Magnolia Market at the Silos
Built on the site of an old cottonseed mill, Magnolia Market is a classic representation of the “shabby-chic” design aesthetic of Chip and Joanna Gaines. Two rusty silos tower over the sprawling development, which includes a mix of old and new buildings, food trucks, and an expansive lawn. You can buy everything from candles to throw pillows to framed art pieces at the airy, beautifully designed market.
At the Silos Baking Company, you can sample Joanna’s own recipes, which include her famous Bacon-and-Cheddar Biscuits. At Magnolia Seeds & Supplies, you can pick up stylish pots, gardening tools, and kid-friendly flower-growing kits. The expansive lawn is also a big hit with kids. Cornhole and other lawn games are available to play for free. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you can head to the food trucks.
Magnolia Table Truck usually has a long line, but it’s worth the wait if you want to sample some of the new fare available across town at Chip and Joanna’s restaurant of the same name. Other popular food trucks include Little Brisket, Cheddar Box Gourmet Grilled Cheese, and 900 Degrees Pizzeria. If possible, schedule your visit on a weekday as Magnolia Market is packed every weekend.
- Take a Tour of Fixer Upper Homes
Brazos Tours takes visitors throughout Waco to see the homes displayed at the “Fixer Upper” show and other historic homes. There are several stops for photo opportunities along the way, and sometimes one of the homeowners will invite people inside their restored home. Heart of Texas Tours also offers a tour similar to the show’s houses, with stops for lunch and a little shopping.
- Feel Small at the Waco Mammoth National Monument
In 1978, two hikers found a giant bone that was the femur of a Colombian mammoth on the banks of the Bosque River. After several years of slow and careful excavation, workers have discovered a whole herd of giant ice age mammals that perished in a horrific event. While some remains were transferred to Baylor University, many fossils remain at the site, and excavations continue. Guided tours are organized every 30 minutes starting from the Welcome Center. The tour then leads to Digg Shelter, where guides will teach you about the discovered animals, the Ice Age, and the ongoing scientific work at the site.
- Explore “Pop” Culture at the Dr. Pepper Museum
Housed in an old bottling plant, the Dr. Pepper Museum tells the story of the origins of the soft drink in a small pharmacy in Waco. When the local soda fountain could not keep up with demand, a company was formed and mass production began in this building. You can view vintage memorabilia, buy T-shirts, watch vintage TV commercials, and enjoy hand-mixed Dr. Peppers at the on-site soda fountain.
- Get Wild at the Cameron Park Zoo
Cameron Park Zoo features large, well-designed animal habitats and prime viewing spots for human gawkers. The medium-sized zoo houses a surprisingly large number of animals, including giraffes, rhinos, bears, and bison. Be sure to visit the orangutan family, which welcomed a new baby in early 2019. The zoo solicits donations from the public, seeking items ranging from waffle balls to catnip – all to provide engaging activities for the animals. This past Easter, the Komodo dragon was supposed to have its own Easter egg hunt with colored eggs. The bald eagle habitat is another must-see with the ever-popular tigers and otters.
- Dig into History and Science at the Mayborn Museum
Affiliated with Baylor University, the Mayborne Museum has exhibits designed to get kids excited about history and ecology. Kids love Strecker’s Cabinet of Curiosities, an area modeled after early natural history museums that focused on the outdoors and the weird. The exhibit features a giant humpback whale skull and other fascinating curiosities. The museum has an abundance of marine fossils since this part of Texas was once submerged under an ancient sea. In the Natural History Hall, there are the skeleton and fossils of a giant sea turtle from the nearby Waco Mammoth National Monument. Governor Bill and Wara Daniels Historic Village explore human history in the area, with homes and other structures dating back to the 1890s.
For kids seeking constant stimulation, make sure your first stop is at the Jeans Discovery Center. Each room has a different theme and interactive features, from playing a giant piano to experimenting with colorful lights and eerie sounds. Jurassic Augmented Reality allows kids to see themselves alongside Tyrannosaurus Rex and other dinosaurs. In the Design Den, kids can explore their creativity, from building skyscrapers out of cardboard to creating their own stories.
- Take a Stroll in Cameron Park
Located right next to downtown Waco, Cameron Park offers 400 acres of nature trails and wide open spaces. Several locations along the trail offer beautiful views, such as Lover’s Leap, which sits atop steep cliffs, and Emmons Cliff, which is dotted with towering oak trees and overlooks the river. At the mouth of the Bosque River, you can see both the Bosque and Brazos rivers at once. For the kiddos, there are also several playgrounds and splash pads around the park.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Waco
Q. What is Waco famous for?
A – The city is the birthplace of Dr. Pepper, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Waco also houses the Waco Mammoth National Monument, a more than 100-acre area of wooded parkland along the Bosque River.
Q. Is the movie Waco a true story?
A – The series details the life of the Waco Siege through interviews with both sides of the conflict. Each episode runs between nine and thirteen minutes in length.
Q. Is Waco Texas a Good Place to Live?
A – There are many reasons why an easy commute, affordable housing, year-round outdoor recreational activities, a wide selection of schools and churches, great shopping and dining options, and a central location in the heart of Texas can’t be beaten. Consider making Waco your home, too.
Q. Is Waco worth seeing?
A – It really is a great place and it makes for the perfect weekend trip—especially if you’re a fan of amazing things like antique shops and delicious food.
Q. What’s Inside a Magnolia Silo?
A – The site of the silo houses the sprawling Magnolia Market, which sits inside the property’s renovated 12,000-square-foot grain barn. There is also a large, public green space, the Silos Baking Company, a food truck park with picnic tables, a Magnolia Feed + Supply store, and a small garden.
Q. Do Branch Davidians still exist?
A – The Branch Davidians fell out of public view after the devastating raid of their campus, but they still exist in Waco, Texas, and around the world. The Branch Davidians fell out of public view after the devastating raid of their campus, but they still exist in Waco, Texas, and around the world.
Q. What is the racial makeup of Waco Texas?
A – The 5 largest ethnic groups in Waco, TX are White (Non-Hispanic) (43.3%), White (Hispanic) (27.2%), Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) (20.8%), Other (Hispanic) (3.14) Huh. %), and Asian (non-Hispanic) (2.03%). 0% of households in Waco, TX speak a non-English language at home as their primary language.
Q. What is the best time of year to visit Waco Texas?
A – The tourism score favors clear, rainless days with perceived temperatures between 65°F and 80°F. Based on this score, the best times of year to visit Waco for general outdoor tourist activities are from early April to early June and from mid-September to late October, with peak scores in the first week of May.