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Nicknamed the "Heart of Texas," Waco is a charming mix of American history, natural beauty, and family-friendly recreation. The city, built around the Brazos River, is the birthplace of Dr Pepper and home to the Waco Mammoth National Monument. You can explore the history of the city and Texas state in the many museums around town, or spend leisure time with the family in Waco's green spaces and water parks. The city is also the hometown of Chip and Joanna from HGTV's Fixer Upper, and the pair's Magnolia Market shop is a destination for design lovers around the country.
Waco has come a long way since its founding in 1856. The city is home to major institutions like historic Baylor University and has its share of cultural treasures just waiting to be discovered.
Built around the Waco Suspension Bridge, Downtown Waco is the cultural hub of the city. Explore the Cultural District, which spotlights local art and entertainment through galleries, performance venues, and public art installments. The Dr Pepper Museum, where you can learn about the origins of the drink, is also located in Downtown.
One of the largest city parks in Texas, Cameron Park is a beautiful green space where families can go to relax. Spread over 416 acres (168 ha), the park sits on the Brazos River and features trails for walking or biking, a disc golf course, and the Cameron Park Zoo.
The Silos is located near downtown and is home to Magnolia Market, the farmhouse-style design mecca created by Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna. When you're not browsing for unique interior décor in the market, grab a bite from the on-site local food trucks or the Silo Baking Co. before sprawling out or playing games on the lawn.
Waco is rich in both natural beauty and manmade wonders, from the calm currents of the glassy Brazos River feeding into Lake Waco to the historic Waco Suspension Bridge, opened in 1870. When visiting the city, stop by the Cameron Park Zoo to see over 1,731 animals representing more than 300 species from around the world, including African lions, Sumatran tigers, and the underwater critters of a saltwater reef aquarium. Be sure to see the Waco Mammoth National Monument, a paleontological site and museum that houses the fossils of 24 Columbian mammoths from the Pleistocene Epoch.
There's something for everyone in Waco. Sports fans should head to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, which recognizes players and coaches who have made contributions to Texas athletics. The Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum is ripe for history buffs, as it showcases and honors the history of the Texas Rangers law enforcement agency. Kid-friendly activities include the Dr Pepper Museum, whose Liquid Lab gives interactive demonstrations about the science of soda and how to use it in everyday cooking. The slides, pools, and rivers at Hawaiian Falls Waterpark are an exciting way to spend an afternoon for the whole family. If you have an eye for design, Magnolia Market is the place to be with staged home scenes that aim to inspire.