Waco, Texas, offers families a surprising amount of family fun for a weekend getaway. Find a National Park Service site, a museum dedicated to soda and a top zoo in Texas. Located in Central Texas, it makes an easy getaway from Austin or the Dallas area. Read on for things to do in Waco with kids.
Things to do in Waco with Kids
Head to the Brazos River and the heart of Waco. It’s the home to the Waco Suspension Bridge and the sculpture Branding of the Brazos. Since it’s a weekend away with kids, grab some burgers and shakes for dinner.
Branding of the Brazos
TheBranding of the Brazossculpture depicts the epic journey of cowboys and their cattle along the Chisholm Trail. With larger-than-life depictions of cattle and cowboys, it’s a favorite among kids.
Located in the Indian Spring Park along University Parks Drive between Washington and Franklin Avenues. Open from dawn to dusk. Free.
Waco Suspension Bridge
As the first suspension bridge built east of the Mississippi River in 1869, walk across its wooden deck with the kids. Madewith 3 million bricks, it spans 475 feet over the Brazos River.
Originally conceived as a toll bridge to cross the river with cattle since the Chisholm Trail went through Waco. The legendary trail that cowboys used to herd cattle from South Texas to Abilene, Kansas, for the train to the East Coast.
Located in the Indian Spring Park along University Parks Drive between Washington and Franklin Avenues. The bridge and the surrounding park are free and along with the street parking. Open from dawn to dusk.
Head for a burger joint from the 1940s for a quick bite. Opening in 1948, Health Camp is a classic with made-to-order burgers with some of the best onion rings around. The malts and shakes are another menu item not to miss.
Dine in the small dining area or get them to-go. Health Camp is a favorite with locals, families and college students.
Located at 2601 Circle Road on the Waco Traffic Circle. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday. $
Start the day early and when it’s nice and cool. And learn about the animals of Waco, past and present.
Cameron Park Zoo
Waco packs a big city zoo with lots of animals in a zoo that’s easy to explore in half-a-day. Since animals like to nap in the afternoon, a morning visit is best.
The zoo features three main sections, an Asian Forest, an African Savanna and the Brazos River Country. The Brazos River bisects Waco and the animals in this section of the zoo are native to this area of Texas. Find the following animals:
- Bald Eagles
- Galapagos Tortoises
- American Black Bear
- Komodo Dragons
All the exhibits are easy to find with wide paths and gentle inclines, perfect for grandmas and strollers.With a map full of pictograms kids can read it alone and lead the way. And the zoo is laid out in a large circle–nothing to be missed.
Located at 1701 N. 4th St. Open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission (13+) is $10, kids 4 to 12 $7 and under 3 and under are free.
Dubl-R Old Fashioned Burgers
Since it’s the weekend, time for another burger. Another old school burger joint, Dubl-R Old Fashioned is just a few blocks away.
Served inred baskets, I take a moment to smell my burger, hot off the flat top. It’s the combination of a grilled hamburger patty mixed with the aroma of buttered and toasted buns that I love. Each burger is served with lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions, mustard and mayonnaise. I order the onion rings since I am a fan, equally as satisfying.
Located at 1810 Herring Ave. Open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Sunday. $
Dr. Pepper Museum
This museum is dedicated to Dr. Pepper, the soda invented in Waco. Learn how soda was made inthe manufacturing room. And find lots of nostalgic Dr. Pepper items on the tour that covers three different floors. You can even watch commercials through the decades.
Located at 300 South 5th Street. Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5:30 p.m.,. Adults admission is $10, students and kids $6 and free for 4 and under.
Waco Mammoth Site National Monument
Texas offers 15 National Park Service sites across the state. And this site was declared a national monument on July 10, 2015 by President Obama.
The first mammoth bone was discovered in 1978 by a couple of young men out fossil hunting. After the pair dug up the large bone, they took it to Baylor University for identification.
Baylor University staff identified it as the femur bone of a Columbian Mammoth from the Ice Age. Columbian Mammoths, named after Christopher Columbus, inhabited the more temperate areas of North America including Alaska all the way to Costa Rica.
Columbian Mammoths could grow to 14-feet-tall and weight more than 20,000 pounds. They are larger and less furry than their distant relatives the Wholly Mammoth.
This exhibit preserves a nursery herd, a group of mothers and their babies, buried in mud. It’s unknown why they were covered in mud. To view the mammoths, take a guided tour inside of the protective building. And don’t forget to earn a Junior Ranger Badge.
Located at 6220 Steinbeck Bend Dr. Open Sunday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guided tour prices: Adults $5, students 7th grade through college $4, kids 4 to 6th grade $3 and kids 3 and under free. Your America the Beautiful Pass does not include tours.
Day 3 Museum Day
Spend the day exploring the museums of Waco with your family.
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum
The Texas Rangersis the oldest state law enforcement agency in the U.S. Unofficially created by Stephen F. Austin in 1823 to protect the early settlers from Indian raids and they served as surveyors to settle property disputes.
This museum is geared towards adults, especially men of all ages, yet my boys loved it. Learn about the history of the Texas Rangers along with a extensive display of weapons.It’s not the best for families with small children due to the subject matter.
Located at 100 Texas Ranger Trail. Adult admission is $8 and kids from 6 to 12 it’s $4 and kids 5 and under are free. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
The Mayborn Museum
Located on the Baylor University Campus the Mayborn Museum is part natural history museum and children’s museum along with a bit of living history. And it’s an excellent place to explore with kids.
The natural history part of the Mayborn Museum features interesting skeletons and life-sized walk-through dioramas. They even have a casting of theWaco Mammoth Sitethat the carful of kids visited on our second day in Waco.
Since my kids are school-aged I let them walk around and discover at their own pace. After they ran from room-to-room doing experiments and never seemed bored.
The Outdoor Historic Village includes a one-room school house, a church, an office, a general store, and the planter’s house along with a cook’s house. All the buildings are furnished and some are open so you can experience life 100 years ago.
Located at 1300 South University Parks Dr. Adult admission is $8 and kids 2 to 12 is $6. Open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m to 5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.