This article is a part of the 2024 Summer Travel Guide, a sponsored collection brought to you by our travel advertising partners. You can find more summer travel destinations and events here.

Driving between Austin and Dallas, it’s easy to think about Waco as just being that town off I-35. Back in the day, you may have been right. But, this town has blossomed into one of the must-visit destinations in Texas, if not the country. Sitting alongside the banks of the Brazos River, Waco, Texas, has maintained its small-town hospitality while embracing modern trends and culture. If you’ve been contemplating a visit to this charming city, make this the year you visit Waco.

No mention of Waco is complete without highlighting the iconic Magnolia Market at the Silos. This bustling marketplace is a mecca for home decor enthusiasts, foodies, and anyone seeking a taste of Texas charm. Stroll through the expertly renovated grounds, shop for unique treasures in the artisan market, and savor mouthwatering treats from food trucks that offer everything from gourmet cupcakes to savory BBQ. If you want to get a few more steps in while exploring another fascinating destination, you’ll want to plan a visit to the Cameron Park Zoo. This lush oasis is nestled within Cameron Park, one of the largest municipal parks in Texas. Home to over 1,700 animals representing 300 species, this AZA-accredited zoo provides a captivating experience for animal lovers of all ages. From playful primates to majestic big cats, the zoo’s diverse exhibits showcase wildlife from around the globe, making it a must-visit destination in Waco.

An aerial view of Downtown Waco and Cameron Park along the Brazos River.

For those who are more fascinated by prehistoric wonders, the Waco Mammoth National Monument promises an unforgettable journey back in time. This archaeological site preserves the remains of Columbian mammoths and other Ice Age creatures, offering a rare glimpse into the ancient past. Take a guided tour to learn about the fascinating discoveries made here and marvel at the well-preserved mammoth fossils that continue to captivate scientists and visitors alike. History buffs and admirers of law enforcement heritage will find the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum a captivating destination. Discover the storied legacy of the Texas Rangers, legendary figures known for their frontier justice and unwavering dedication to upholding the law. Browse artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that chronicle the Rangers’ iconic history, from their frontier days to modern times, showcasing their enduring impact on Texas and beyond.

After all that walking, you’ll want to quench your thirst, and there’s no better place to grab a drink and tap into nostalgia than at the Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute, a tribute to America’s beloved soft drink and the entrepreneurial spirit. Step back in time as you explore the museum’s exhibits detailing the history of Dr Pepper, from its humble beginnings as a local soda fountain concoction to its status as a cultural icon. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample a refreshing Dr Pepper float at the museum’s old-fashioned soda fountain.

Good eats are available at local food trucks.

Beyond these top attractions, Waco offers a tapestry of experiences waiting to be explored. Indulge in delectable dining options ranging from down-home barbecue joints to trendy eateries serving farm-to-table fare. Embark on a stroll along the scenic Riverwalk, where the tranquil waters of the Brazos River provide a serene backdrop for relaxation and reflection. Art enthusiasts will find inspiration in Waco’s burgeoning arts scene, with galleries showcasing works by local and regional artists. From contemporary pieces to traditional crafts, the city’s art scene reflects its dynamic spirit and creative energy. As you plan your visit to Waco, consider the city’s vibrant events calendar, which features festivals, concerts, and community celebrations throughout the year. Whether you’re attending the annual Texas Food Truck Showdown or catching a live performance at the historic Waco Hippodrome Theatre, you’ll discover that Waco’s allure extends far beyond its charming facade.

From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, this city invites you to immerse yourself in its warm hospitality and discover the magic that makes Waco a destination worth exploring. Pack your bags and prepare for an unforgettable journey into the heart of Texas charm.

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