Disclaimer: This post was scheduled to go live pre-coronavirus. While many of the businesses are reopening in Waco, be sure to check their status prior to making plans.
Whether you’re looking for a pit-stop to get some energy out on a longer road-trip to South Texas, or want a quick turn-around adventure, we’ve found a few kid-friendly spots in Waco worth passing along.
Mayborn Museum Complex
Located at Baylor University, the Mayborn Museum Complex has two floors of kid-friendly learning activities. Each room has a variety of hands-on exhibits. There are permanent exhibits, like Natural and Cultural History, Water and Bubbles, SpaceX, and Simple Machines; as well as limited edition Special Exhibits. The current special (through May 10th) is Disney Junior’s “The Lion Guard”.
The Mayborn Museum Complex features a natural science and cultural history museum focusing on Central Texas with walk-in dioramas including one on the Waco Mammoth Site, and exploration stations for geology, paleontology, archaeology, and natural history. In addition to the natural history exhibits, there are two floors of themed discovery rooms which encourage hands-on learning for all ages and a historic village located on the banks of the Brazos River.
We spent about 2 hours during our visit to Mayborn Museum Complex. We would have stayed longer, but we made a toddler-parent fail and didn’t bring snacks. The only food on-site was a very high-tech ice cream machine. That’s on our list for next time!
Bonus: there is a designated “5 and under” area if you are traveling with little ones.
Check out a map of all of the activities. (Click for a larger view)
Admission: Children (2-12yrs) $7 / Adults $9
Hours & Directions
Waco Mammoth Site
The Mammoth Site was our first stop on our most recent trip to Waco. We opted for an early morning guided tour (with a group of 30ish). I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, my preschooler or my info-junkie husband. They were both listening intently to the facts delivered by the Paleontologist. It was a chilly day when we visited, so we were glad to learn a large portion of the tour was in a climate-controlled building. There was a group of Boy Scouts on the tour with us. I always enjoy seeing activities that include my 3-year-old as well as 9-year-olds.
The public is welcome at the Waco Mammoth National Monument anytime during regular operating hours. We conduct guided walking tours every 30 minutes, so just show up and join the fun, no reservation needed! Tours last 45 min – 1 hour.
One of our excellent tour guides will lead you from the Welcome Center, down a 300 yard paved path to our Dig Shelter where our mammoth fossils are in situ. During your tour, you will learn about the Ice Age, how our fossils were discovered, and why we are one of the most important paleontological sites in North America.
Bonus: They offer group discounts for 20 or more
One negative: The only restroom is at the beginning of the tour, which is quite a walk. That proved difficult for a newly potty trained dude.
Admission: Infants (3 and under): FREE / Children (PreK-6th grade) $3 / Students (7th grade thru college) $4 / Adults $5
6220 Steinbeck Bend Drive | Waco, Texas 76708 (Hours & Directions)
Cameron Park Zoo
We have a family membership to the Dallas Zoo, and learned that would get us a discount into the Cameron Park Zoo. Located along the Brazos River, Cameron Park Zoo is 52-acres. While smaller than the Dallas (106-acres) and Fort Worth (64-acres) counter-parts, we didn’t find any shortage of animals to interact with during our visit. We met friends there for a few hours, as a stop during a longer road-trip, and all 3 kids had a fun time. We will make a point to go again next time we find ourselves in the Waco area.
Cameron Park Zoo rests on 52 acres adjacent to the Brazos River in Waco, Texas. Lush native vegetation surrounds splashing waterfalls, a picturesque lake and ponds. And in the midst of all this beauty, visitors see that the wild ones not only survive in their natural habitat, they flourish.
With natural habitats and close-up encounters, the animal collection housed at Cameron Park Zoo includes more than 1,731 animals, representing 300 species. In August of 2009, Cameron Park Zoo opened the Asian Forest, featuring critically endangered Orangutans, Sumatran tigers, and Komodo Dragons.
photo credit: @capturingcookus
Check out a map of all of the activities. (Click for a larger view)
Bonus: You can bring in your own cooler with food and drinks some restrictions here)
Admission: Children (3-12yrs) $9 / Adults (13+) $12
1701 North 4th Street | Waco, Texas 76707 (Hours & Ticket Purchase)
Waco Suspension Bridge & Riverwalk
Having a little boy who LOVES all things trains, roads, and bridges walking across a giant bridge may have been the highlight of his day! The whole bridge makes for a great photo op. If the weather is nice, there’s plenty of areas nearby to let the kiddos run.
If you do a little exploring, you’ll find walking paths along the Waco Riverwalk, a mural dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr., a playground, several statues, and several wide-open fields for running and jumping.
The historic Suspension Bridge was completed in 1870 and remains a legendary icon of downtown Waco. For years, the bridge served as a Chisholm Trail crossing, and at the time of its completion, it was the longest single-span suspension bridge west of the Mississippi. The bridge was built with cable supplied by the John Roebling Co., who built the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.
The bridge is flanked by two great Waco parks — Indian Spring Park on the west side, and Martin Luther King, Jr. park on the east side. The bridge is the centerpiece of many community festivals and events, and serves as a great venue for parties and special events.
The Waco Riverwalk includes approximately seven miles of multi-use, lighted trail that loops along both banks of the Brazos River. The scenic riverwalk stretches from Baylor University to Cameron Park and passes underneath the Suspension Bridge. The riverwalk is accessible from various points throughout downtown Waco and captures the natural beauty of the Brazos River Corridor.
Bonus: There’s a cute little playground not far from this bridge, that we stumbled upon.
Magnolia Lawn & Garden at the Silos
Am I going to lose my native-Texan card if I say Magnolia Market isn’t super kid-friendly? Hello room full of beautiful, yet breakable items! We did enjoy the lawn games, garden, and food trucks. Sadly we did not, however, have the patience to stand in line for the bakery with a toddler. Honestly, I think you should take Dallas Mom Amanda Hunter’s advice and make Magnolia a girl’s trip.
photo credit: Missy Lane
Joanna’s vision for the garden is a space where the family can learn and explore together. There’s a wooden teepee to adventure under, and beds filled with seasonal produce and flowers. It’s also home to MAGNOLIA SEED + SUPPLY, our little garden shop that sells gardening tools, flower-growing kits for the kiddos, fairy garden supplies, and unique vessels to plant in. We hope you leave feeling refreshed and inspired to grow in your own soil!
Magnolia Market & Silos Baking Co. |
601 Webster Ave., Waco, TX (Location & Hours)
Summer Fun Water Park
Although not technically located IN Waco, Summer Fun Water Park in Belton, TX surprised us! From the parking lot it looks like it might be the size of a small neighborhood pool. But turns out there were several slides, a lazy river, and various pools. There is also a designated “kiddie pool” for littles under two. They just celebrated their 25th anniversary, so maybe we are the only Dallasites who didn’t know about this spot.
Pro-tip bring goggles and an underwater camera! We bought a digital, waterproof camera for less than $50.
Bonus: You can bring in your own cooler with food and drinks (no glass containers).
As of this posting, they have not updated their Summer dates yet, but they should open in June. Check here for the exact dates.
Note: they are only open on the weekend.
Admission: Infants (0-2) FREE / Children (3-12yrs) $13 / Adults (13+) $16
1410 Waco Rd, | Belton, TX 76513 (40 miles south of Waco) – Hours
Did we forget any of your go-to Waco spots?
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