Texas is known for a lot of things, and millions of people visit the state each year, including Waco. And while Waco is known for a lot of things too (and a lot of famous people), what a lot of people don’t realize is how family friendly the city of Waco is.
In this article we’ll be focusing specifically on the family friendly attractions, and all the fun things to do in Waco with kids.
As a family, we have taken our kids to almost every place on this list. Some places, we’ve visited with the kids many times over.
I would never recommend taking your kids anywhere if my own kids did not enjoy visiting it themselves. For reference, my kids are 13, 8 and 4. Hopefully that helps you gauge where to take your own kids based on our family experiences in Waco as detailed below.
And, if you’ve somehow exhausted this list of things to do IN Waco, then there are plenty of things to do near Waco TX as well!
1. Cameron Park Zoo
We have visited many zoos across the United States, including the beautiful Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, CO, and the San Diego Zoo, in San Diego, CA. We were hesitant to visit this small zoo in Waco, especially after the negative experience that we had at the San Antonio Zoo (another story for another time).
However, it was a pleasant surprise to find that, for being such a small city, the Cameron Park Zoo is an incredibly beautiful zoo. Many of the animals at the zoo (over 1,300) are also extremely rare and/or endangered.
The kids experience at the Cameron Park Zoo
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Waco with kids, then the Cameron Park Zoo is definitely a recommended activity!
Cameron Park Zoo is small enough so that the 7-year-old was able to walk through the zoo without complaining, and the 3-year-old only asked to be picked up a few times along the way. They do have red wagon rentals available inside, which we did take advantage of since we figured the 3-year-old wouldn’t make it on her own two feet.
Aside from being able to see some really neat animals, there are also a few fun things for the kids to do along the way, including “swimming” with otters. It’s a transparent slide that the kids can get on that take them down through an otter swim-tank. The otters and the kids all had a wonderful time!
There are also a few places to get a reprieve from the hot Texas sun if you go during the summer months, as well as plenty of shade provided by mature, towering trees as well as the sky-high bamboo that’s prevalent throughout the entire zoo.
If you’re visiting with kids in Waco, I’d highly recommend checking out the Cameron Park Zoo.
2. Cameron Park Playscape(s) & BBQ / Picnic Areas
What in the world would a list of fun things to do in Waco with kids be without including a playscape on it?!
The Cameron Park Playscape (officially known as Pecan Bottom Park) is a pretty large playscape located in Cameron Park, right next to the river, and one of the multiple bridges that cross it. You’ll find picnic tables, covered pavilions, park grills, a disc golf course and the Riverwalk all right there, with convenient parking located all along the park road, as well as in the parking lots under the bridge, and on the other side of the bridge.
The only time that you may have a challenging time finding parking is on a holiday when everybody is out and about.
Even then, you’ll find parking, you just may have to walk a little further from where you parked.
Just be careful if there are high winds. One time I was at the park on a very windy day, and one of the branches from one of the mature, towering trees in the park fell off and almost landed right on top of me!
The kids experience at the Cameron Park Playscape
Our kids will never say no to a playscape. The Cameron Park Playscape is definitely one of our kids favorite playscapes in the Waco area, so we tend to stop and let them play there on a regular basis.
But there’s not just one playscape at Cameron Park. If you take the drive up into the hills where the cliff begins to rise above the river, there are actually two other small parks with playscapes that you can stop at along the way. The other playscapes in Cameron Park are located at Anniversary Park Playground and Northern Gateway Park (also features water misters for those hot summer days).
There is also a splash pad located right next to the Pecan Bottom Park playscape, as well as a covered pavilion that you can reserve for special occasions such as your child’s birthday.
Our kids have played at all the playscapes in Cameron Park, and we enjoy spending time there as a family. I would say it’s one of our favorite things to do in Waco with kids. In fact, we were just there today!
3. Katy Ballpark at The Silos
Chip & Joanna Gaines recently finished their expansion project at The Silos, and that expansion included some pretty incredible additions. One of the coolest additions to Magnolia is the Katy Ballpark where the kids can play whiffle ball on a significantly sized field right in the heart of the Magnolia district.
It’s not really an “addition” as much as it is a “restoration”. Similar to the historic church that they also restored and relocated to the Magnolia property, this baseball field was an actual baseball field where the New York Yankees played against the Waco Cubs baseball team in 1929.
You can stand in the same place where Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig took their batting stance at home plate in Waco, TX.
Katy Ballpark is one of the many places in Waco that is specifically designed for families, because both kids and adults alike will have an incredibly fun time in a relaxing game of whiffle ball.
Go ahead, give it your best swing and see if you can knock the ball out of the infield!
Don’t worry if the kids get hungry after a solid game of whiffle ball. There are plenty of food trucks – as well as an old-school concession stand – right by the baseball field.
If you are interested, the Gaines family also restored a historic church and it is located right next to the baseball field. If nothing else, it’s a great way to get the kids out of the sun for a few minutes!
The kids experience at Katy Ballpark at The Silos
Even though the historical significance of the place may have been lost on them, our kids thoroughly enjoyed playing with other kids at the Katy Ballpark. After they played for an hour or so, we ended up getting some soda and cotton candy at the concession stand before making our way back to the car and heading home. They were all sound asleep on the way back!
If you’re visiting Waco, and your kids enjoy sports, then make sure this is on your list of fun things to do in Waco with kids, because they’ll enjoy every minute of it. Especially if you throw in some cotton candy at the end!
If you really wanna take the day to the next level, you can stop at The Sweet Station candy shop across from Magnolia at The Silos, or one of the many other delicious dessert places in Waco.
Note: I would recommend bringing your own whiffle ball (and bat, too) because the whiffle ball there was near its last breath as it had clearly been smashed to pieces throughout the day. If we had stayed there much longer, we probably would have flagged down some of the Magnolia staff, and I’m guessing they would have been able to bring out a new ball.
4. Magnolia Market at The Silos
While many people think of the Magnolia Market as a place primarily designed for adults to visit and get an up close and personal experience with the internationally famous Gaines family, the Magnolia Market is designed with the whole family in mind.
This is evident by the massive green space with artificial grass where adults can spend time together in the shade, or sit on huge bean bags while the kids play with the various games and balls that are put outside by the Magnolia team each day.
My wife tends to enjoy visiting all of the various shops in peace, so whenever we’re visiting The Silos in Waco, I usually bring the kids to the green space and let them frolic around while she does her thing.
The kids experience at Magnolia Market at The Silos
The last time we were there, they were visibly upset that we had to leave. So, I’m going to say that means that they enjoyed spending time on the massive green square (or rectangle?). That’s understandable because over the span of 45 minutes or so, the kids were kicking bouncy balls around, building stuff with over-sized wood blocks, playing Jenga blocks, and having fun with all the other kids that were also there.
I think it’s safe to say that Magnolia Market is a fun place for the whole family, especially if you’re visiting Waco with kids.
5. Mayborn Museum Complex
I’ll admit that we have yet to explore this entire place. But the parts that we have explored were enough to take up several hours of our time, and every time we go here, we always end our Waco visit with very happy, entertained kids.
Whether it’s the discovery center with a myriad of fun activities that involve exercise, sensory exploration, and experimentation, there’s something fun to do for every kid at the Mayborn Museum Complex.
There are also temporary exhibits that change on a regular basis, so even if you’ve been to the Mayborn Museum before, there will always be new stuff to see and do every time you go.
The Mayborn Museum is located in the heart of the Baylor College Campus on the West side of I-35, so if you’re looking for things to do in Waco with kids, this is a wonderful place to go in between visiting other adult-related activities and destinations such as the Texas Sports Hall of Fame or the Martin Museum of Art.
The kids experience at the Mayborn Museum Complex
The last time we were there, they enjoyed driving the outer space and moon simulators where they got to be the pilot of a space shuttle and drive around in a rover on the moon. They also had a blast with the activities center playing the various larger-than-life musical instruments as well as playing science and sensory based games with water, bubbles and sound.
We need to go back to the Mayborn Museum soon. The temporary exhibits have changed several times since we were last there, and the kids are always talking about how much fun they have when we visit.
6. Waco Mammoth National Monument
As I’m typing this, I’m extremely disappointed in us. Why? Because we haven’t actually been to the Waco Mammoth National Monument yet!
BUT! Based on the feedback of everybody we know who has gone, it’s a really neat place to visit with the whole family. We are planning a trip there soon, so I will update this with the kids experience after we’ve visited this really cool mammoth fossil place!
Needless to say, I’m 99.9% sure that at least the seven-year-old will be completely in awe considering how much she loves to learn and talk about historic creatures that no longer roam the earth.
So don’t be like us. If you are visiting with kids in Waco, DEFINITELY go check out the Waco Mammoth National Monument! We’ve heard nothing but great things about it!
7. The River Walk & Waco’s Historic Suspension Bridge
I’m a complete sucker for a nice walk along a beautiful riverside, especially when it’s so accessible from downtown Waco. But river walks aren’t necessarily something that every kid enjoys, and that is what makes the Waco River Walk unique. The kids have a lot of fun checking out all the various animal sculptures that artists from around the world were commissioned to create and install along the riverside.
While the adults get to enjoy a peaceful and relaxing walk along the river, the kids enjoy exploring and playing around with all of the animal sculptures along the way.
No matter what route you take on the river walk, even if you cross to the North side of the river, there are things to stop and do or see along the way. Whether it’s murals, kids parks, restaurants, cafes, war memorials, or historic sites, there’s something along the river for everybody to enjoy – not just the kids!
The kids experience at the River Walk and Waco’s Historic Suspension Bridge
One of their favorite animal sculptures is the elephant. It’s sitting in an amusing pose on a bench where the kids decided to do funny imitations with the river in the backdrop. But other sculptures captured their attention to, including the bats, the lions, and the mischievous bear cub climbing up a tree limb.
On the West end of the river walk is the historic Waco Suspension Bridge with even larger sculptures of Texas Longhorn’s and cowboys driving them across the bridge. The kids enjoyed that, as well as the short walk across the bridge itself.
Note: The historic suspension bridge is currently going through restoration efforts and will likely be closed through 2022.
8. Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream Shop
Since the historic suspension bridge is currently going through a restoration process, you can substitute the walk across that bridge with a stop across the street at the Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream shop.
Here, your kids can select their own custom ice cream or slushy flavors and watch them turn it from a liquid into ice cream right before their very eyes. It’s a frothy, icy, misty experience that the kids love and are enamored by every single time we go.
The kids experience at the Sub-Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream Shop
This is the perfect way to end the day on a hot, Texas afternoon. Or, maybe it’s just a half-way stop to cool off and get reenergized for the next half of the day. Either way, be sure to stop in for a break from the heat.
Our kids love when we start the morning off at the Cameron Park Zoo, and as we leave the zoo, stop at the Cameron Park Playscape (there are also grills and a disc golf course), then afterwards we take a walk East on the Riverwalk to enjoy the various animal sculptures, and end up at the Waco Suspension Bridge where you’ll find the Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream Shop across the street. It’s a terrific way to spend a relaxing day in Waco as a family with kids.
There are also other restaurants available near the ice cream shop, including barbeque, tacos, etc.
9. Urban Air Adventure Park
One of my kids favorite things to do in Waco is go to the Urban Air Adventure Park.
Especially when it’s hot outside, which is like… 90% of the year.
Urban Air Adventure Park features about 10 different activities inside ranging from trampoline basketball to a ball pit obstacle course that reminds me of a kid’s version of “American Ninja Warrior”, to a massive 2-story playscape.
In terms of cost, it’s pretty expensive to just buy day-passes. You’re actually much better off just purchasing the monthly pass, even if you’re only going one time (just remember to cancel the monthly subscription).
For example, here are the one-time ticket prices:
- 5 & Under: $11.99 per kid
- Deluxe Ticket: $20.99 per kid
- Ultimate Ticket: $25.99 per kid
Whereas the monthly prices are:
- Parent Membership: $3.99/mo (if you want to bounce around too)
- Deluxe Membership: $8.99/mo per kid
- Ultimate Membership: $11.99/mo per kid
You can save 60% or more by doing the monthly rate, even if you’re only going one time.
Just keep in mind that you HAVE to wear Urban Air socks (special socks with grips on them), so if you don’t have some already, you’ll need to buy them. They keep them in stock at the trampoline park so you can pick them up when you go.
Last time I had to buy some it was around $3.50/pair.
When it’s 100 degrees outside, this will quickly become one of your favorite things to do in Waco with kids.
10. Main Event
One of the newest things to do in Waco with kids is to play at the brand-new Main Event location. Main Event is located right next to the newest Cinemark location, and Top Golf (another fun place to go with kids in Waco).
It features all kinds of fun activities for kids like laser tag, mini-golf, arcade games, bowling and much more.
Main Event is located in a new entertainment district in Waco, and more entertainment options are being built over the next couple of years. So, stay tuned for lots of other fun things to do with kids in Waco as that new entertainment district is developed.
11. Fabled Bookshop & Café
Where can you find a delicious local coffee shop that also happens to be an incredible bookstore with a designated kids nook complete with a magical wardrobe (re: Narnia) and floor to ceiling shelves of books for kids of all ages?
Well, at the Fabled Bookshop & Cafe of course!
In case you can’t tell, we’re pretty big fans of this local coffee shop/bookstore and so are our kids. While we are there, we let them sit in the designated kids room and peruse through some of the books, while sitting on the kids chairs, before letting them each pick out a book (their books are very reasonably priced) to buy.
While they were having fun in the kids room, we got some delicious coffee and checked out some of the other sections of books which are all very carefully and thoughtfully laid out.
The kids experience at the Fabled Bookshop & Café
My seven-year-old was reading her latest book that we purchased from the Fabled Bookshop & Café last night, and when she’s done with it, we’ll go back and let her get another one. They definitely enjoy spending some time there in the kids room exploring hundreds of children’s books. They especially like the furniture specifically designed to accommodate smaller humans. The three-year-old liked the rocking chair in particular.
12. Cameron Park Trail System + Disc Golf
If you’re kids are a little older and your family enjoys hiking, biking, or just exploring trails, then you’ll LOVE the Cameron Park Trail System. The Cameron Park Trail System features 20+ miles of twisting, multi-use trails. It was designated as a National Recreational Trail by the US Department of the Interior in 2009.
Fun fact: You can ride horses on many of the trails in Cameron Park.
Just be aware of which trails are beginner, intermediate, advanced, or expert because the trails at Cameron Park can get pretty extreme. Other points of interest in Cameron Park’s Trail System are Jacob’s Ladder (a series of steps straight up the side of the hill), and Lover’s Leap – the park at the top of the trail system at the top of the cliff overlooking the river(s) and the valley down below.
There also happens to be a 23-hole disc-golf course located in Cameron Park as well. It spans acres and acres of park land and is free to the public to play. You do need to bring your own disc-golf gear. If your kids enjoy disc-golf, then this is a wonderful place to take your kids whenever you’re in Waco.
If you’re in Waco with the whole family, then the Cameron Park Trail System is absolutely one of the most fun things to do in Waco with kids, and better yet? Everything you can do in Cameron Park is all FREE!
13. The Waco Trolley
Waco is a city with a rich culture and history that most people are not aware of. Much of the history is something that kids also find fascinating. Waco is also full of really cool stuff like beautiful wall mural art throughout the city, incredible Christmas light decorations, and award-winning breweries throughout the city.
And while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a brewery tour as something to do in Waco with kids, the Waco Trolley does offer some great history and art tours throughout the city that I most certainly WOULD recommend to someone visiting the city with kids!
In fact, Waco has intentionally worked to cultivate public art throughout the city by working with a bunch of local, independent artists to create beautiful works of art. And Waco Trolley gives you a grand tour of many of the best works featured throughout the city of Waco on their tour called, “Mural Selfie Tour“.
Even better, for $500 you could have the bus all to yourself for a whole two hours to do just about anything you want with your family.
You can check out all that the Waco Trolley has to offer, and pick an adventure of your own choosing. No matter what you pick, it will be a great way to make your way around Waco with the kids!