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What To Do In Waco: Visiting Smaller Cities With Big Attractions

When traveling though Texas you might gravitate toward the larger cities like Houston, Dallas or Austin, but what if you were to look at one of the smaller cities? Often known as a lesser city, Waco, is a hub of action just waiting to be discovered. Numerous museums, local shopping opportunities, a sizable zoo and a chance encounter with an HGTV Celebrity or two rest within the bounds of the town known for college sports and Dr Pepper.

Waco Mammoth National Monument

In 1978 a hunt for arrowheads near the Bosque River led to the largest discovery of Mammoths in the United States and the only known Columbian Mammoth herd. It was later designated by President Obama to be a site of historic significance and declared a monument.

In present day, visitors can travel though the active dig site and learn about the find, the ongoing works to preserve findings and hear stories of the Mammoth which once roamed the grounds and the area. Junior Ranger programs are offered as well as other special programs.

Admission to this exhibit is $5.

Dr Pepper Museum

As of the beginning of February some changes have been made to this unique museum including a FREE drink with the price of admission. What better way to enjoy the rich history of the signature brand than by sipping your own beverage straight from the soda fountain which once served up history.

Originally opening as a museum in 1997 the exhibit telling the history of the popular soda has become known world wide. Expanding from the 1906 building which is registered on the Historic Places list and known as the “Home of Dr Pepper” to an additional adjoining building the expansion of the museum has continued throughout the years and echoes the appeal of the ever changing times.

Admission to this exhibit is $10.

Cameron Park Zoo

Spanning 52 acres and housing over 1,000 animals, a visit to this zoo is one filled with charm. Walking around the park you will find wide paths, a variety of viewpoints including those through glass as well free of blockages. Indoor aquariums with unique under and above water views welcome you to sit back and enjoy the view of natural habitats.

For those feeling a bit more adventurous, giraffe feedings, Keeper for the day programs, Zoo Camp and story time are available. Something for the entire family or for the solo traveler wanting to take in some beautiful views and peaceful animals.

Admission to the zoo is $10.

Magnolia Market

Have you heard of Chip and Joanna Gaines? Well HGTV changed the face of Waco by introducing this loving couple to the world with their unique renovation style, bringing ship lap into homes everywhere. Magnolia Market is an extension of their passion for style and interiors.

Now people from across the world flock to the silos of Magnolia and find items ranging from jewelry and cupcakes to large interior features. But possibly the most notable reason for some of the traffic, a hope to have a chance encounter with dynamic couple themselves, which are often at the market.

Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum

Long standing is the history of the Texas Ranger. From their beginnings wrangling the old west and helping settle the restless borders of the state of Texas before becoming a part of the United States to the present day helping investigate some of the most ruthless of crimes in the state, the group has become some of the most noted law enforcement in the world.

Waco, holds the history of the group along with one of the most coveted wall of fame amongst law enforcement. With a small museum including Ranger artifacts, collections, photos and contributions of the group to popular culture this is a place which will shed new light on Texas past in a unique way.

Like a challenge? A scavenger hunt is available to add a little extra spice to your visit, great for children or adults. Special events are held throughout the year at this locations, just off the Brazos.

Admission is $8.

Mayborn Museum Complex

Located on the Baylor Campus, this museum is a little science and a little history. Offering educational programs, highlighting special rotating exhibits (usually very child friendly) and showcasing a large walk through village, the complex is a glimpse into some of the brightest topics.

Natural and Cultural Exhibits will leave visitors in awe of the large crustaceans, whale bones and a glass walk over mammoth exhibit. Popular exhibits such a the Design Den and Discovery Center allow you to stop and play in the moment while learning more about science though a more hands on approach.

Admission is $8.

Texas Sports Hall of Fame

Through 9 section, a visit to this location will walk you through Texas sports both amateur and professional. Exhibits include a Tom Landry theater, Tribute Room, Cotton Bowl, Health and Fitness Area, Dave Campbell Zone and a tribute to High School Sports in Texas.

If you are a sports fan, this will be a must stop. Just remember if visiting not to try to visit Baylor Bear football game days, the museum is closed on these days in true Texas football style.

Admission is $7 to this exhibit.

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