Situated in the heart of Texas, the city of Waco boasts a population of more than 100,000, making it large enough to find plenty of options for kids. About an hour south of Dallas and an hour north of Austin, it rests along the Brazos River and is home to Baylor University.
For kids who are into sports, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame (tshof.org) educates young ones about all the exceptional Texas athletes through self-guided tours. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame Museum (texasranger.org) tells the stories of the Rangers who served enforcing the law. Kids can join a Junior Ranger program teaching them honor and character modeled after the Rangers. The Dr. Pepper Museum (drpeppermuseum.com) guides young visitors through the history of the company and features tasting and creation.
Amusement and Game Centers
Lion's Park (no website; 1716 North 42nd St.; 254-772-3541) has kiddie rides, carousels, a train, putt-putt golf and go-karts. Covered picnicking areas and indoor party rooms are available for use as well. Skate World Family Entertainment Center (skateworldwaco.com) offers roller skating and indoor laser tag along with a full-service snack bar. Skate Country (skatecountrywaco.com) is the sister company of Skate World and has roller skating, a large indoor playground and a snack bar. Special theme nights such as Neon Nights Blackout Skate and Retro Night are frequently on the calendar.
Waco has five free splash pad parks for kids to cool off in the heat. Cameron Park (no website; 2200 Cameron Park Drive; 254-750-5980) has this feature along with three playgrounds, open playing fields and climbing rocks. Dewey Park (no website; 925 N. Ninth St.; 254-750-5980) also has a splash pad as well as fire pits, basketball courts and playgrounds. Brazos Park East (no website; 2000 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard; 254-750-5980) provides something different situated along the river. It has docks for fishing, disc golf, horseshoe pits and picnic areas.
Art and Wildlife Education
The Art Center of Waco (artcenterwaco.org) provides children-oriented tours of the art exhibits educating them in art appreciation. Also available are art classes for kids using a variety of mediums such as clay and paint. In summer, the center offers an art camp for kids. Cameron Park Zoo (cameronparkzoo.com) boasts 52 acres of natural habitat for animals creating an up-close experience with nature's most exotic creatures. Residents of the park include giraffes, rhinos, tortoises, gibbons, lions, tigers, orangutans, Komodo dragons, lemurs and meerkats.