This is a list of things to do with kids in Waco.
Thanks to the ever-growing popularity of the Gaines family and their Magnolia brand, Waco has become quite a fun tourist spot. From museums to river cruises, there are so many things to do in Waco with kids. Here is a list of 16 things to do with kids in Waco, TX!
THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN WACO
Visit The Mayborn Museum Complex
The Mayborn Museum is easily my favorite on this list of things to do with kids in Waco. It is a fun, interactive museum located on the Baylor University campus designed especially for kids.
Visitors can play with everything from sound to light to bubbles. There are even small animals there in the museum! Be sure to check out the historic village outside to get a glimpse into life in Texas during the 1890s.
Check out the Bear Habitat to see the Baylor Bears
Did you know Baylor University has actual bears living on campus? The school considers the Baylor Bear to be the patron saint of all Baylordom. So it is no surprise that the campus provides an elaborate habitat and play structure for two adorable American black bears to call the campus home. Visit Judge Joy Reynolds and Judge Sue Sloan [yes, that’s actually their names] in their open-air habitat right in the heart of Baylor University campus.
Tour Baylor University
I know many people don’t consider college tours to be a tourist attraction but this had to be included on the list of things to do with kids in Waco. Not only is Baylor University campus absolutely gorgeous but it’s home to a lot of Texas history [it’s the oldest university in Texas]. Stop by the Mayborn Museum, take pictures at one of the fountains, walk along the lake, and introduce the kids to collegiate life.
Cheer for the Baylor Bears at a Sporting Event
If you’re looking for things to do with kids in Waco, attend a Baylor University sporting event. Tickets can be purchased from their official website. Take your pick from over 15 athletic programs and cheer for the Baylor Bears like a true local.
Check Out the Magnolia Silos
The Magnolia Silos are arguably the most notable landmark and thing to do in Waco with kids. There is, of course, a market there where you can buy all kinds of wares from Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia line. The Magnolia Silos also features a garden with gardening-related items for sale, including growing kits designed for kids.
But there is a ton to do there just for kids! There is a big, green lawn in front of the silos where kids can run and play freely. The property was expanded this year in 2021, so there are even more food trucks at the silos serving family-friendly fares like BBQ, hot dogs, cupcakes, and more. In addition to the lawn games [and the most adorable striped lawn chairs you’ve ever seen], there is a complete baseball diamond there. Let the kids play an impromptu round of softball while visitors cheer and clap with as much enthusiasm as an MLB game.
Explore Homestead Heritage
Homestead Heritage is an agrarian-and craft-based Christian community located on the edge of Waco and is a must-do for things to do in Waco with kids. The residents in Homestead Heritage live here [so please be mindful] but they offer plenty of attractions open to visitors:
- Homestead Craft Village – Once a year, on the weekend after Thanksgiving, Homestead Heritage opens its doors to the community to allow visits to witness their way of life. They have everything from woodworking demos, musical performances, craft shops, food booths, and more. They even have petting zoos, hayrides, and other activities designed specifically for children. Throughout the rest of the year, you can go for a self-guided tour around the craft village. If you do nothing else on this list of things to do with kids in Waco, please do this one.
- Cafe Homestead – Homestead Heritage has a restaurant on-site that serves homemade southern comfort food. Many of the items they serve or organic and some of the items [like their cheese] are even made by the community itself. While we did not get to eat there this visit, the reviews of this place are phenomenal. If it’s anything like the food we had at the Homestead Fair, then you’re in for a treat!
- Homestead Heritage Market – You can probably tell from our other Spring Break Family trips that we are suckers for a nice food market. The Homestead Heritage Market is a little on the small side but features plenty of local treats including freshly baked bread.
Quench Your Thirst at the Dr. Pepper Museum & Free Enterprise Institute
Fun fact: Dr. Pepper was created in Waco, TX in 1885 and is the oldest soft drink in America. The beverage was originally called “Waco” because it could not be found outside of the city.
Learn even more about Dr. Pepper by including the Dr. Pepper Museum on your list of things to do with kids in Waco. There are exhibits detailing the history of the soft drink and how it came to be the brand we know now. It’s peppered [see what I did there?] with lots of cool tidbits about all the products owned by Dr. Pepper including Keurig, Big Red, and more. There are even live demonstrations and treats for sale in the museum’s soda fountain. Most importantly, every admission comes with a free handcrafted Dr. Pepper!
If you want an additional treat, sign up for one of their exclusive experiences. During our visit, we made our own soda and did a soda flight tasting. Both experiences lasted about 30 minutes, required a reserved appointment, and were an additional cost on top of admission. But dare I say it was worth it? My favorite was the soda flight tasting and the girls absolutely loved the make your own soda experience.
Traveler’s note: parking is not included with admission. However, there is a parking lot across the street that [at the time of this post] was $10. There is also a public parking lot across the train tracks. If you visit on a Sunday like we did the public parking lot is free.
Become a Jr. Texas Ranger at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame
If you have a kid that loves law enforcement, then you’ll definitely want to visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame in Waco, TX. They have lots of exhibits explaining the history of the Texas Ranger program and information about past day rangers that have had a huge impact.
Kids are also able to sign up for their Junior Ranger program! For a $35 donation, kids receive an official certificate [signed by a ranger], a badge, their name on the Junior Ranger website, and a family four pass to the museum.
Traveler’s note: this museum is located near the Baylor University campus. On football game days, the parking lot is not available for visitors to the museum.
Explore the Texas Sports Hall of Fame
The Texas Sports Hall of Fame features more than 300 sports legends who have had an impact on Texas sports. From baseball to tennis to football and the old Southwest Conference, so much is covered here. We enjoyed perusing the exhibits looking for teams and sports we recognized [our local high school was even featured]. It also has an educational learning center with interactive exhibits that focus on the importance of physical activity and health.
Traveler’s note: this museum is located near the Baylor University campus. On home football game days, the museum is closed.
Hop Over to the Cameron Park Zoo
The quirkiness of the Cameron Zoo is one of the main reasons it is included on this list of things to do in Waco with kids. They call it the happiest surprise in Texas. Perhaps that is because this 52-acre zoo is smack dab in the middle of the city and has over 1700 animals. The Cameron Park Zoo puts a strong emphasis on making sure each animal is featured in a habitat similar to their home. You’ll see everything from elephants in the African Serengeti to fish in a 50,000-gallon tank. The Cameron Park Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums [AZA] and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums [WAZA].
Dig for Fossils at the Waco National Mammoth Monument
Thousands of years ago, real mammoths crossed through Waco. Check out their fossils at the Waco National Mammoth Monument in the nation’s first [and only] recorded evidence of an Ice Age Colombian mammoth herd.
Since this is a National Park Service site, kids can participate in a special program to become a Junior Ranger. All they have to do is complete the Waco Mammoth Junior Ranger Activity Book to be sworn in by a Ranger and presented with a badge.
The Waco National Mammoth Monument is more than just a museum. There are also several nature trails surrounding the museum. Visitors are encouraged to explore the 108 acres surrounding the monument and imagine the Ice Age.
Explore the Brazos With Waco Tours
Get an entirely unique view of Waco by taking a tour with Waco Tours. Their Waco River Tour will cruise you and the family down the Brazos River on a scenic safari experience while learning about the history of Waco. The boat is fully shaded [hello, Texas sun] and lasts a little over 2 hours. The boats are staffed with a captain to drive but also a knowledgeable guide that can point out everything from the local wildlife to the city’s landmarks.
It isn’t included in this list of things to do with kids in Waco but Waco Tours also offers a tour by van to see all the local gems in the city. It’s about 3 hours and takes you everywhere from east Waco to Harp Design to learn all about the city’s history. Out of the two, the boat is more kid-friendly but this would be an awesome option for older kids too!
Cross the Waco Suspension Bridge
I know, I know. It’s just a bridge. But when making a list of things to do in Waco with kids, the Waco Suspension Bridge has to be included. The bridge itself is decorated with statues and is home to a ton of history. It’s located within Indian Springs Park so you can also feed the ducks or walk along the Waco Riverwalk.
Cool Off at Hawaiian Falls
If you happen to be visiting Waco with kids in the middle of the summer, consider a visit to Hawaiian Falls. The 10-acre park is packed with fun water activities like the 800 ft long lazy river, the six-lane water slide, and the water fortress with the ever iconic splash bucket. There’s even a spray ground for the little ones. The park is seasonal and only open during the summer though so be sure to check their website prior to your visit. [Don’t forget all your water park essentials!]
Explore Waco’s Street Art Scene
We are huge fans of street art and Waco has this in spades. If murals are your thing, they have several throughout the city including the quintessential City With a Soul mural near downtown. Luckily, the city keeps a list of where to find all the murals in Waco. But it doesn’t just stop with street art, they also feature sculptures throughout the city especially on the Riverwalk. If your kids are into local art scenes like ours, this is definitely one to add to your list of things to do with kids in Waco.
Eat Til Your Heart is Content in Waco’s Local Food Scene
We love to eat and Waco’s food scene did not disappoint! Here are some of our favorite kid-friendly restaurants in Waco:
- Magnolia Table – This infamous restaurant is owned and operated by Chip and Joanna Gaines. Their website says they often use eggs from the Gaines’ own farm. Whatever the case, the food here is absolutely delicious! In addition to the restaurant, there is also a small bakery [with Magnolia souvenirs] and a coffee shop. Just be warned, there is a bit of a wait. Kids can play with lawn games in the small green space while you wait.
- Magnolia Silos – Several small food trucks surround the green space at the Magnolia Silos which gives it a unique eating experience. Eating at the Magnolia Silo food trucks was the highlight of our things to do in Waco with kids. Take it from us – definitely try the Alabama sweet tea. Check their website for a complete food truck listing.
- Rudy’s BBQ – What list of things to do with kids in Waco, TX would be complete without including at least one BBQ joint? Um, hello, this is Texas we’re talking about here. While you’re there, purchase a bottle of their sauce to go.
- Cajun Craft – We didn’t get to eat here during our visit but it came highly recommended by some of the locals. They serve cajun favorites like boudin, crawfish, fried chicken, and po-boys.
- Twisted Root Burger – Twisted Root Burger is another local restaurant that came highly recommended. If you like artisan burgers in a friendly atmosphere this is the place for you. This is also a good place to watch a Baylor game without going on campus [if that was included in your list of things to do in Waco with kids].
- Health Camp – Health Camp is a local restaurant that has called Waco home since 1948. It’s been in its current location selling hamburgers and malts since 1949.
- Union Hall – This dining hall is relatively new to the Waco dining scene but hits it out of the park. There are 20+ spaces with everything from pizza, ramen, hamburgers, and noodles to raw cookie dough, herbal tea, and divine coffee. We liked the food options here so much that we ate here 3 times during our visit.
Have you been to Waco with kids? Let us know in the comments if you have any recommendations on things to do in Waco with kids!