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Sponsored: Want a fun, easy day trip? Visit Waco

Lisa Ogle
The Mayborn Museum Complex includes a Children’s Discovery Area.

With the kids out of school and airfares skyrocketing, some families may need a fun-filled, low-cost day trip. The solution is Waco & the Heart of Texas!

“Waco is accessible, affordable and chock-full of things that will appeal to all members of the family,” said Lori Kasparian with the Waco Convention & Visitors Bureau.

After a mere hour-and-a-half drive from Austin, you can start off the day by hitting the Cameron Park Zoo or the Hawaiian Falls Water Park. The award-winning natural-habitat zoo celebrates the spirit of wild animals with its free-form surroundings and progressive attitude, while the water park boasts Central Texas’ first football field-sized wavepool; two, six-story slide complexes with a six-lane racer slide, tube slides, speed slides and a raft ride; and an 800-foot lazy river.

Next, you’ll be ready for a bite to eat. Visitors may want to join locals at George’s, particularly on Game Day. Another favorite is Vitek’s BBQ, home of the famous Gut Pak, winner of ‘Best College Eats.’ Or stop in at Poppa Rollo’s Pizza, which has big-screen TVs, a secret room and games for the kids.

Afterwards, tour the Dr Pepper Museum and enjoy a Dr Pepper float. Or skip on over to the Mayborn Museum Complex, which features Natural Science and History on one side, a Children’s Discovery Area on the other and a Historic Village outdoors.

Need another place to cool off? Waco & the Heart of Texas has skating rinks, a gaming center and seven free spray parks.

Speaking of free, before your trip, check out the calendar at to search for free concerts, theatre, events and more while you’re in town.

Finding a lot you want to do? Stay a while — Waco is the perfect weekend getaway. Accommodations range from no-frills motels to bed and breakfast inns to higher-end hotels. And other family-friendly sites include Homestead Heritage Traditional Crafts Village, Art Center Waco and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

“Waco has its own personality and its own style,” Kasparian said. “It’s not Austin, and not Dallas. But Waco is changing and always evolving with the times. Waco’s downtown is hopping with great restaurants, retail, entertainment and living quarters.”