A boat sails down the Brazos River with the skyline of Waco, Texas sitting behind.

6 Best Attractions to Visit in Waco, Texas

Waco is a big city situated along the Brazos River and Interstate 35 Highway in McLennan County in the US State of Texas. This city is known to most primarily as the place where the bloody Waco siege occurred between February 28 and April 19, 1993, when the US Federal Government, supported by the Texas state law enforcement and the US Armed Forces, surrounded the Branch Davidians. Nevertheless, despite this tragic incident, Waco has far more to offer and is a vibrant city with a myriad of history and attractions to see. Placed midway between Dallas and the state capital Austin, Waco has an estimated population of 138,486 inhabitants, making it the state's 22nd most populous city. 

McLane Stadium

McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas
McLane Stadium prepares for College Gameday ahead of the 12th ranked Baylor Football Team's home rivalry game against the Oklahoma Sooners. Editorial credit: davisdeatonphotography / Shutterstock.com

The McLane stadium is a massive stadium owned by the famous Baylor University and is primarily used as the home field of the Baylor Bears football team. Having a capacity of 45,140 spectators, this stadium was named in honor of the well-known American billionaire businessman and Baylor alumnus Drayton McLane Jr. in December 2013. Located on the Brazos River's northern banks, this stadium is also used for hosting concerts and cultural gatherings in addition to sporting events. The stadium's position at the banks of the Brazos River means that some fans can arrive by boat or watch the game from the said boat. Moreover, the McLane stadium also has a multitude of modern amenities, including 39 suites, a big high-definition LED video board, 74 loge boxes, 6,700 total student seats, 1,200 outdoor club seats, and 3,000 seats for the Baylor Line student group.

Cameron Park Zoo

Group of meerkats standing at Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas
Group of meerkats standing at Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas. Editorial credit: Giorgia Basso / Shutterstock.com

Cameron Park Zoo is a natural habitat zoo occupying an area of 52 acres, within the Cameron Park, adjacent to the Brazos River in the city of Waco. Filled with lush native vegetation, splashing waterfalls and scenic pond and lakes, this zoo houses a diverse collection of more than 1,731 animals representing about 300 species from all over the world. Initially established as Central Texas Zoological Park in 1955, the zoo was redeveloped and once again opened to the public in 1993. The zoo features wild animal species from various countries such as Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South Americas

Texas Ranger Hall Of Fame And Museum

Texas Rangers Museum
Texas Rangers Museum. Image Credit: Pi3.124, via Wikimedia Commons

This museum is situated close to Interstate Highway 35 Exit 335B and is a state-designated official historical center of the well-known Texas Ranger law enforcement agency. This organization enforced the laws of the newly independent nation of Texas in the mid-1800s and later the US State of Texas. They have been instrumental in the history of Texas, and one can get into more detail about them at this museum.

Waco Mammoth National Monument

Mammoth remains at the Waco Mammoth National Monument
Mammoth remains at the Waco Mammoth National Monument. Image Credit: Larry D. Moore, via Wikimedia Commons

Waco is home to the largest collection of mammoth fossils in the world. This paleontological site contains fossils of about 24 Columbian Mammoths and many other mammals from the Pleistocene Epoch. The Waco Mammoth Foundation worked in collaboration with the city of Waco as well as Baylor University in order to preserve this site and build a museum around it. Designated a national monument on July 10, 2015, the site is at present managed by the National Park Service in association with Baylor University and the city of Waco. 

Waco Suspension Bridge

The historic suspension bridge over the Brazos River in Waco, Texas
The historic suspension bridge over the Brazos River in Waco, Texas.

The Waco Suspension Bridge is a single-span suspension bridge across the Brazos River in the northern part of downtown Waco. Having a main span of 145m, the bridge connects the Dorris D. Miller Park on the river's northeastern side with the Indian Spring Park on the river's southwestern side. Designed by architect Thomas M. Griffith, this suspension bridge was opened to the public on November 20, 1869. 

Magnolia Market

Aerial view of the Magnoila Silos in Waco, Texas
Aerial view of the Magnoila Silos in Waco, Texas. Image Credit: Editorial credit: Tallmaple / Shutterstock.com

Magnolia Market is a large shopping complex that covers two city blocks in downtown Waco. The market has historical value as it is marked by two high grain silos built by the Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Company in 1950. Currently owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines, the grounds of the shopping complex includes a retail store, food truck parks, bakeries, a garden store, and a lawn area. It is estimated that the market complex attracts over 30,000 visitors per week.

Therefore, we must remind ourselves that we should never judge a book by its cover. The tragic event in 1993 should not define a diverse and resilient city like Waco, which has proven to be one of Texas' most excellent spots. Despite the presence of other bigger metropolises in the state, Waco holds its own and is a recommended visit for those looking to explore the Lone Star State.


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