Central Texas Vacation Guide [y]

[y] Central Texas Visitors Guide

Central Texas is located west of Houston, east of Austin and south of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Defined by prairies and lakes, the environment of Central Texas offers vistas and activities unique to this area. Museums and other cultural venues present visitors with opportunities for learning about Brazos County and the rich heritage that helped to form present-day Texas. Waco is the largest town in the area and features the Cameron Park Zoo, an animal facility with a variety of flora and fauna from around the world. Flea markets are a part of the local lifestyle, with shoppers able to browse the seemingly endless tables and booths in search of bargains. Bastrop State Park is also located in Central Texas, offering campsites, picnic spots, and other visitor services. Another major draw to the area is the city of College Station, home to Texas A&M University.

Bryan TX

Founded by farmers in 1859, Bryan began as a small-town stop along with the expanding state railway system. Established in 1871, the all-male Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas quickly grew too large to accommodate its students. As a result, AMCT professors developed College Station 6 mi (10 km) from Bryan. College Station and Bryan have been given the title of twin cities since they are often referred to collectively. Bryan predominantly serves as an agricultural supply center while College Station accommodates students of Texas A&M University, which has a 5,200-acre (2104 ha) campus and more than 42,000 students in several faculties. Supporters of the university and its football team refer to themselves as Aggies, short for agriculture. In Bryan, numerous intimate bed and breakfast accommodations offer direct access to Lake Bryan. In addition to providing recreational spaces and equipment rentals, this lake also hosts the Bryan Bluegrass Festival.

Lake Bryan

Lake amenities include camping and RV areas, a boat ramp, lake events, and private rentals. On-site activities include water skiing, jet skiing, fishing, swimming, and hiking. Address: 8200 Sandy Point Road | Bryan, TX | 77807. Telephone: 1 979 361-0861

Messina Hof Winery

Messina Hof Winery offers daily tours of the winery. The on-site restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.  Address: 4545 Old Reliance Rd. | Bryan, TX | 77808
Telephone: 1 979 778-9463

College Station

Home to Texas A&M; University, the third-largest public university in the United States, College Station boasts a broad diversity of cultures and people that draw visitors for more than just academic reasons. Located in the heart of the state, this city offers over 1,100 acres (445 ha) of park space that includes everything from bike paths to golf courses to picnic areas. There are several research facilities in the vicinity of College Station that have become major local employers and have created a strong industrial base in this part of Texas. The Wolf Pen Creek Amphitheater is a local venue for live performances, such as the Starlight Music Series, an annual schedule of free concerts in College Station. The wine industry is represented in the area as well with the Messina Hof Winery, a vintner located in Bryan.

George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum

The library boasts a collection of 38 million pages of official and personal papers and one million photographs documenting George Bush’s political career. The museum features 70 thousand items, including a film of the president’s first steps recorded in 1925. A section of the museum is dedicated to former First Lady Barbara Bush. Address: 1000 George Bush Drive West | College Station, TX | 77845

Columbus, TX

Columbus is a town known for its location on the Colorado River, a body of water used for a variety of recreational activities. Bird hunting is a popular pursuit that has earned nearby Eagle Lake the moniker of Goose Hunting Capital of the World. Naturalists also flock to the area for the outstanding bird watching opportunities in this natural habitat, which features some 300 species of migratory birds. A rich history awaits visitors to Columbus as well, and every Christmas several historical venues are opened to the public with docents relating local history. The Live Oak Festival is an annual event each May that brings live entertainment, food concessions, and more to the community in celebration of spring. Another interesting Columbus attraction is the Mary Elizabeth Hopkins Santa Claus Museum, which features over 2,000 representations of jolly St. Nick.

Alley Log Cabin and Antique Tool Museum

Built in 1836 toward the end of Texas’ War for Independence from Mexico, this is one of the last structures linking Columbus to its distant past. Built by Abram Alley, a member of Stephen F. Austin’s “Old 300” Colony. Cabin open for viewing year-round. Address: 425 Spring Street | Columbus, Texas | 78934. Telephone: 1 979 732-5135

Mary Elizabeth Hopkins Santa Claus Museum

Includes over 2,000 representations of the jolly elf, many dating back to the early 1900s. Includes Haddon Sunbloom and Thomas Nast figurines and prints. A treat for individuals of all ages! Address: 425 Spring Street | Columbus, Texas | 78934. Telephone: 1 979 732-5135

Killeen

Killeen is not only the home of Fort Hood, one of the largest military residences in Texas but also a haven for arts, nature and history. The Fourth Infantry Division Museum journeys through the area’s past with pictures and other artifacts. One of Killeen’s biggest attractions is the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area, which allows for fishing, boating, swimming and picnicking. Another popular place is Vive Les Arts Theatre, which has five different productions each year ranging from musicals to comedies to children’s theater and even ballets. The performances take place at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, which also holds exhibitions and other city events. For something more fast-paced, the Texas Thunder Speedway holds demolition derbies, stock-car races and other events.

Fourth Infantry Division Museum

The Fourth Infantry Division Museum in Killeen tells the military history of the area, which is home to Fort Hood. Various artifacts, photos, vehicles and other displays are available for visitors to guide themselves through. The museum is open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm. It is found west of Killeen on US Hwy 190. Address: US Hwy 190 | Killeen, TX. Telephone: 1 254 287-8811

Texas Thunder Speedway

For demolition derbies, stock car races, contests, and other race track events, visit the Texas Thunder Speedway. Races run from late-March until late-September.
Address: 3408 W. Stan Schlueter Loop | Killeen, TX | 76542. Telephone: 1 254 628-2888

Temple, TX

Built in 1881 from a railroad plan blueprint, Temple has grown into one of the premier vacation destinations in Texas. Its location, just an hour north of Austin between San Antonio and Dallas, means visitors can reach a variety of amenities within a two-hour drive. Spring is famous for the wildflowers that cover the rolling Black Land Prairie region, while talks in the summer turn to the temperature that averages a balmy 95°F (35°C). The city is just minutes from Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area, where nature lovers can enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, and hunting. Temple has a variety of visitor attractions including two golf courses, the Railroad and Heritage Museum, the SPJST Czech Heritage Museum, the Temple Symphony Orchestra, and the Cultural Activities Center. Whether looking for a golf getaway, a relaxing lake vacation or a central hub to visit the surrounding cities, Temple welcomes all visitors.

Czech Heritage Museum & Genealogy Center

Where Czech Culture meets Texas history and becomes an all American experience. Also, home to the largest Czech genealogy collection in the State of Texas.
Address: 119 W French | Temple, TX | 76571. Telephone: 1 254 899-2935

Railroad and Heritage Museum

Located in Temple, the Railroad and Heritage Museum was founded in 1973 to preserve the history of rail transportation in Texas. Address: 315 West Avenue B | Temple, TX | 76501. Telephone: 1 254 298-5172

Waco

Situated in central Texas, Waco is just 95 mi (153 km) south of Dallas and 101 mi (163 km) north of Austin. Frequently a target of American Indian and Mexican raids in the 1800s, the city of Waco has long been patrolled and protected by the Texas Rangers, making it a fitting location to house the Texas Ranger Law Enforcement Hall of Fame and Museum. The Dr. Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute are also located in this city, as the soft drink was invented and initially distributed here. Various outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and picnicking, can also be enjoyed at municipal parks such as Cameron Park and Lion’s Park. Historic Waco homes, such as Fort House and McCulloch House, provide visitors a taste of the city’s past. From rodeos to home and livestock shows, Waco’s Heart O’ Texas Fair Complex plays host to a range of events throughout the year.

Armstrong Browning Library Waco

This museum features a large collection of the work of Victorian poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Dr. Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute

Dr. Pepper Museum exhibits the original Dr. Pepper bottling plant, historic soft drink bottles and other Dr. Pepper-related antiques. The history and invention of the soft drink is also one of the featured exhibitions of this museum. Address: 300 S. 5th St. | Waco, TX

Fort House

Built circa 1868, Fort House is a Greek Revival-style home that showcases Victorian furniture and artifacts. Visitors do not want to miss the home during the holiday season, as it is decorated with lights, presents, and ornaments. Address: 503 S. 4th St. | Waco, TX. Telephone: 1 254 753-5166

McCulloch House

This historic 19th-century Greek Revival-style home belonged to the McCulloch family and once served as the epicenter of Waco’s social scene. Visitors have the opportunity to tour the home and see a number of family heirlooms. Address: 407 Columbus Ave. | Waco, TX. Telephone: 1 254 753-5166

Texas Ranger Law Enforcement Hall of Fame and Museum

Showcasing the long history and accomplishments of the world-famous Texas Rangers, this museum provides a variety of exhibits used by early and current Rangers. Address: 100 Texas Ranger Trail | Waco, TX | 76702

Waco Regional Water Park

This water park has two 22 foot water-slides, a competition pool and various playscapes suitable for people of all ages.

Cities in Central Texas

Bellmead
Bellville
Belton
Brenham
Bryan
Buffalo
Burton
Caldwell
Calvert
Cameron
Carmine
Centerville
Clifton
College Station
Columbus
Copperas Cove
Corsicana
Crawford
Cuero
Eagle Lake
Fairfield
Fayetteville
Flatonia
Franklin
Gatesville
Giddings
Gonzales
Groesbeck
Hallettsville
Harker Heights
Hearne
Hewitt
Hillsboro
Independence
Industry
Jewett
Karnes City
Kenedy
Killeen
La Grange
Lampasas
Leona
Madisonville
Marlin
Marquez
McGregor
Mexia
Navasota
Robinson
Rockdale
Round Top
Salado
Schulenburg
Sealy
Somerville
Tehuacana
Temple
Waco
Weimar
West
Whitney
Woodway