Waco is located 86 miles south of Fort Worth and about 100 miles north of Austin, along I-35 in central Texas. Travelers access Waco Regional Airport via connection in Dallas-Forth Worth or Houston. More adventurous tourists may drop in, literally, with help from Waco Skydiving, where options include Tandem Skydiving and Accelerated FreeFall jumps.
Once on the ground, first on the list of Waco tourist attractions is the Dr Pepper Museum on Fifth Street in Downtown. Dr Pepper is the oldest major soft drink in the world, and Waco has played home to the legendary soda pop since 1885, when pharmacist Charles Alderton invented the drink and sold it at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store.
Morrison’s has been re-created for those visiting Waco today and stands ready to welcome museum guests on the first floor of the museum. From the drug store, tourists embark on Dr Pepper’s journey to success, learning about every aspect from bottling to free enterprise. Shoppers should be sure to browse the unique selection of Bloom and Bee Swanky’s, next door to the museum, where vintage meets Texas charm.
Caffeinated kids of all ages love Waco’s Cameron Park, one of the largest municipal parks in Texas. There is plenty to do with 416 acres to explore near Downtown, including 20 miles of hiking trails and river paddling available on the Brazos and Bosque Rivers. Cameron Park also hosts the 100-acre Waco Mammoth Site, which chronicles the lives of the huge Columbian-era mammoths.
Another of the top Waco tourist attractions is the Mayborn Museum Complex on University Parks Drive. Those visiting the Downtown museum experience the Crossroads of Texas by walking through replicas of the various homes that have housed Waco residents through the centuries. Starting with a Native American grass hut and continuing through the wood-frame buildings of an historic village, tourists gain a first-hand look at Texas living. A particularly awe-inspiring exhibit, Strecker’s Cabinets of Curiosities, is modeled after early natural history museum displays in which items were unlabeled to increase visual stimulation. Also on site, 16 Discovery Rooms excite kids and adults with interactive, hands-on activities.
Tourists leaving the museum have direct access to another major area attraction, the Waco Suspension Bridge. Built in 1870, the bridge acts as an epicenter for locals, with a Riverwalk along the west bank and concerts and festivals at its foot throughout the summer.
Hungry for more Waco history? History buffs adore the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. The establishment depicts the history of the star-wearing Texas Rangers, North America’s oldest state law enforcement agency. Famished sightseers fill up on the legendary cuisine native to this region, Tex Mex, served at Ninfa’s in nearby RiverSquare Center. Locals rave about the restaurant’s fajitas, but the carne asada and burritos are epic as well.
When the sun sets in Waco, there is no better place for entertainment than the historic Waco Hippodrome. Opened in 1913, the theater hosts a variety of live shows and film festivals annually.