Located between three major arteries, Austin, Dallas, and Houston, Waco is a destination point for fans of the HGTV show, Fixer Upper who will travel thousands of miles to visit Magnolia Market. But you will be surprised to discover there are lots of fun things to do in Waco with kids!
Of course, kids will love getting a taste of Joanna Gaines famous cupcakes at the Silos, but families will also discover a zoo, a national monument, and even a museum dedicated to a famous soda pop brand!
The Best Things to do in Waco with Kids
Start Your Day at Magnolia Table
Start the day with the famous biscuits with strawberry butter along with other breakfast and brunch fares at Magnolia Table. Formerly known as the Elite Café, the 100-year-old diner-style eatery reached its end and closed down in 2016. The Gainses believed there may be more to this Waco icon.
The renovation took one year to complete (see Season 5 of Fixer Upper) and the revived restaurant continues the tradition of feeding locals while starting a new tradition of feeding visitors.
It’s a two-and-half mile drive from Magnolia Market to the restaurant. Upon our arrival a little before noon, the hostess said they were booked up until closing. They calculate the wait time and turn people away to be sure the kitchen closes by 3pm.
Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations so make sure you get there early! Closed on Sundays.
Head to Magnolia Market
An expansive green lawn with corn hole games greets visitors to Magnolia Market. The games are played under the backdrop of two giant silos built in 1950 as part of the Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Company.
Let the kids play while you visit Magnolia Market which sells select kitchenware like copper measuring spoons and rustic wooden cheese boards. The shelves stocked with décor pieces that define HGTV star Joanna Gaines’ signature style where modern meets country meets farmhouse. Hours: 9am-6pm, Mon through Sat. Closed on Sundays.
Did you know you stay in a VRBO designed by Joanna Gaines right on the Silos property?
Silos Baking Company
Before hitting the next shop, grab some goodies at the Silos Baking Co. The line can wrap around the entire block, especially during summer. The selection of sweet goodies included gluten-free options, a savory bacon and cheddar biscuit, cupcakes, cookies, and Elderflower lemonade drinks.
The feeling of reaching the front after waiting for so long is a lot like getting to the front of the line for Space Mountain at Disney World or Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal Orlando. As we opened our sleek black box, I was glad we opted for the seasonal cupcakes instead of vanilla-flavored, endearingly named, Shiplap.
We dove into the freshly baked Campfire, Wonderland, and strawberry cupcakes, the cinnamon roll, and the gingerbread cookie pie. Stars opened before us. Closed on Sundays.
Visit Magnolia Seed and Supply & Have Lunch at the Food Trucks
At the far corner of the property, a little garden shop known as the Magnolia Seed and Supply carries a line of tea towels, garden supplies, and plants. Items inspired by Joanna’s greenhouse and the garden located just outside the shop. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, the shopping is where the fun begins.
The food truck park, just adjacent to the garden, includes the Magnolia Table Food Truck and Silos Baking Co. Airstream. The various trucks offer Southern food, BBQ, pizza, burgers, crepes, and pressed cold drinks.
Before departing the grounds, don’t forget to pose in front of the #milestomagnolia sign to log in how many miles you traveled to touch the hallowed grounds of Magnolia Market.
Of course, the green lawn and black-and-white bean bag chairs are an inviting space to stay a while and play. Now that the shopping is done, kick the ball around or toss the bean bags. For a fun, free ride through the town, take the Silo District Downtown Trolley located just outside of the bake shop.
Follow the Magnolia Trail
Still can’t get enough of Magnolia? Then head to to the Little Shop on Bosque. This was the original Magnolia shop until it moved into the sprawling 12,000 sq. ft. location at the Silos in 2015.
The quaint, little shop now sells out-of-season wares in Magnolia’s signature style for a great deal. If you enjoy bargain shopping, then this is the place for you. Be sure to save the receipt of purchases from Magnolia Market at the Silos to get an additional 10% off at the Little Shop on Bosque.
Note: As of 1/17/23 the Little Shop on Bosque is temporarily closed.
Then follow the Magnolia Trail, a self-guided tour for fans of Chip & Joanna Gaines, and their home improvement show, HGTV’s Fixer Upper. Young kids might not be as thrilled with this adventure but teens and tweens who have watched the show are sure to love it.
Stop by to see the amazing designs of craftsman Clint Harp at Harp Design Co. He’s got those famous wooden candle holders plus he makes custom tables.
Be sure to visit Jimmy Don Holmes at JDH Iron Designs to create some eye-catching signs. And don’t forget Laverty’s Antiques and Furnishings for one-of-a-kind pieces.
Heading north? Read our picks for the Top 10 things to do in Dallas with kids.
Things to do in Waco with Kids Beyond Magnolia
Homestead Craft Village
If you love hands-on learning, make sure you visit Homestead Craft Village. Opportunities to try a variety of crafts abound at this working village. Enjoy the leisure walk through the woods to the various shops including woodworking, forge, basket, and fiber arts.
The craftsmen and women are clad in colonial dress and readily answer questions. At the Potter’s House, make your own pinch pots for $5. Be sure to stop by the restored 1760 working gristmill and taste their finely ground biscuits. All of the shops sell original handcrafted or custom-made wares.
There are hay rides on Saturdays and a lovely garden showcasing a variety of grown foods and methods of growing them. There is also livestock on site in a variety of heritage breeds. If you get hungry, Cafe Homestead serves homemade baked goods and natural beef do not disappoint.
Note: This attraction is closed on Sundays.
Spend Some Time Outside at Cameron Park
Named after the late philanthropist William Cameron, Cameron Park is a sprawling 416 park filled with playgrounds, hiking trails, and place to picnic. Two rivers wind through this lovely park shaded by cedars and oaks.
In the summer, kids will definitely want to spend time at the splash pad and older kids will love playing disc golf on the park’s course. This is also the home of the Cameron Park Zoo.
Cameron Park Zoo
The Cameron Park Zoo is a great little surprise. Its main attraction is how up close you can get to see the animals -and there’s plenty of them. The lions, tigers, and bears are staples, of course, but there’s also the Komodo dragons, antelopes, and jaguars.
See the local animals residing in Brazos River Country which include otters, bobcats, coyotes, and bison. The pristine herpetarium for reptiles and the marine and freshwater aquariums are enjoyable for visitors to walk through. Neither too large nor too small, it is the perfect place for the family to visit for a few hours.
Waco Mammoth National Monument
Ever wonder what animals looked like in the Ice Age? A nursery herd of Colombian mammoths once roamed across Texas some thousands of years ago, each of them 14 ft tall and 20,000 lbs. Discovered in 1978, their fossil specimen can be seen at this monument site.
Waco Mammoth National Monument visitors can hike the park’s 108 acres and glimpse the habitat for roadrunners and raccoons along the river. Don’t forget to pick up a Junior Ranger booklet at the Welcome Center. Complete the activities and your kids can earn a badge!
Attend a Sporting Event at Baylor University
Baylor is one of the top universities in Texas and home to the Baylor Bears, a great Division 1 sports program. Their baseball and basketball teams are always solid, but if you want the true Texas experience, try to time your visit during football season; football is basically a religion in the Lonestar State.
Mayborn Museum Complex at Baylor University
Tucked inside Baylor University, the Mayborn Museum Complex offers engaging learning opportunities for the entire family. The natural and cultural history exhibits are a must-see as are the fun, hands-on discovery rooms with interactive learning centers. There is even a historic Texas village set in the 1890s which make for a rich learning discovery.
Dr. Pepper Museum
Did you know Dr. Pepper is the nation’s oldest major soft drink? The Dr. Pepper Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the soft drink, how it’s made, distributed, and marketed. Peruse through the memorabilia including its bottling caps and equipment.
Grandparents will wax poetic about the good old days while the little ones will want to zoom in and out and go straight to the gift shop and soda fountain where they can ejoy a Dr. Pepper float or try one of many varieties of the drink.
Ready to explore the rest of the state? Discover the Top 10 Things to do in Texas.
Lead Image via Flickr