There is more to Texas than just BBQ, rodeos and country music. Sure, you’ll find that at the annual rodeo events held in Belton but you can also enjoy a nerdy convention or visit the Dr. Pepper Museum. Outdoor activities abound with fishing and hiking galore or tee off at the challenging Stonecreek Golf Course in Killeen. If you make it through the first nine holes, you’re golden.. Don’t miss the Central Texas State Fair in Belton or the three-day air show in Temple. And be sure to indulge in a wine tasting or two on the Texas Wine Trail.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that goes for the fun too.
Residents of central Texas have dozens of annual events, festivals and community gatherings at their fingertips.
4th of July Celebration and PRCA Rodeo
Since 1850, people from all over Texas have come to Belton to celebrate the 4th of July. The celebration lasts all week, drawing more than 50,000 visitors annually, and features one of the best parades in the country, the Festival on Nolan Creek, a carnival, Patriotic Program, and Kick-off BBQ, with the rodeo being the highlight of the celebration.
Bell County PRCA Rodeo
The second weekend in February is set aside for the annual Bell County PRCA Rodeo at the Bell County Expo Center. The rodeo boasts both PRCA and WPRA World Champions and the crowd pleaser mutton bustin’. Other events include bareback bronc riding, bull riding, cowgirl barrel racing, steer wrestling and more rodeo fun!
Central Texas Airshow
This three-day event at the Draughon-Miller Central Texas Regional Airport will keep your eyes to the sky as the aircraft provide entertainment for spectators of all ages. Don’t miss the Friday night show filled with smoke, pyrotechnics and an astonishing fireworks display.
Central Texas State Fair
Finish out the summer with a bang by attending the annual Central Texas State Fair at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton. It is the place to go for concerts, bull riding, mutton bustin’ for kids ages 4-7, livestock shows and carnival rides, games and attractions.
Christmas on the Chisholm Trail
Join Belton-area residents during the Christmas season for shopping, a variety of food truck vendors, bounce houses for the kids and the coveted visit with Santa.
Epically Geeky Expo
Formerly known as CTC Geekfest, the annual con begins its second decade with a new name. The mission remains the same: to foster creativity and a sense of community while raising funds for Central Texas College student scholarships and programs. Held in mid-May at the Mayborn Science Center in Killeen, this convention isn’t your typical con. It focuses on a variety of programs that encourages participation, not just observation.
Four Winds Powwow
Four Winds Powwow is an annual two-day celebration of Central Texas’ Native American culture that occurs at the Bell County Expo Center in late September. Gourd dancing, arts and crafts (including silver and stone jewelry), music, and delicious food are all part of the festival experience.
Holiday Under the Stars
Get into the spirit of the holiday season at Holiday Under the Stars in Killeen, a two-day event that features a Christmas Parade, a lighting of a 50-foot silhouette Christmas tree and a market to purchase holiday gifts.
Texas Monthly BBQ Fest Weekend
Texas Monthly BBQ Fest provides the opportunity to sample from the Top 50 BBQ joints in Texas, as named by Texas Monthly. The first weekend in November brings people from all around to Austin to enjoy cold beer, cocktails, live music and, of course, BBQ!
Artistic opportunities from theater to music to dance and more are no strangers to Central Texas residents.
5 Hills Art Guild
336 Cove Terrace
Copperas Cove, TX 76522 254-345-9030
The 5 Hills Art Guild is an organization of local artists and art enthusiasts from the Copperas Cove, Lampasas and Fort Hood areas of Central Texas, who volunteer their time and talents to help beautify the city and to encourage creativity, showcase local talent and educate people about the importance of art. Most of the volunteers have regular daily jobs but are still accomplished painters, novelists and poets; others, are disabled vets, musicians and aspiring metal artists.
3009 Industrial Terrace, Suite 100
Austin, TX 78758 512-472-5992
With critically acclaimed productions and the highest artistic standards, Austin Opera has inspired Central Texans for more than 30 years with extraordinary music.
Austin Symphony Orchestra
1101 Red River St.
Austin, TX 78701 512-476-6064
The Austin Symphony Orchestra’s season includes a number of concerts, including a holiday favorite, the family fun Halloween Children’s Concert and the Sarah & Ernest Butler Texas Young Composers Concert. The Austin Symphony Orchestra also performs a selection of free concerts throughout the year for the Austin community, such as the Christmas in the Community, July 4th Concert & Fireworks and the Hartman Foundation Concerts in the Park.
501 W. Third St.
Austin, TX 78701 512-476-2163
Established in 1956, the nonprofit organization has a rich history, featuring original, acclaimed productions and a commitment to creating access to programs. Ballet Austin owns and operates a combined training facility in the heart of downtown Austin and is among the 15 largest classical ballet companies in the country.
Vive Les Arts Theatre
3401 S. W.S. Young Drive
Killeen, TX 76542 254-526-9090
The nonprofit organization puts on popular musical and dramatic productions, including a children’s theater. Vive Les Arts Theatre has been an established community organization since 1976 and continues to enrich the community with cultural arts.
Learn about Texas’ history and cultural contributions by visiting any one of the many local museums.
Bell County Museum
201 N. Main St.
Belton, TX 76513 254-933-5243
The Bell County Museum is your source for Bell County history, archaeology, culture, and interactive activities. Visit the museum to learn about life on the Chisholm Trail, explore life 16,000 years ago in the Gault Site exhibit, or enjoy one of the constantly rotating traveling exhibits.
Coryell Museum and Historical Center
718 E. Main St.
Gatesville, TX 76528 254-865-5007
Occupying several buildings in downtown Gatesville, the Coryell Museum and Historical Center claims to house one of the largest spur collections in the world as well as a double-walled log jail built in 1854. Artifacts tell the stories of the early settlement and development of Central Texas, beginning in the days of the Republic of Texas and continuing through today.
Czech Heritage Museum and Genealogy Center
119 W. French Ave.
Temple, TX 76501 254-899-2935
The Czech Heritage Museum and Genealogy Center is a small niche museum located on the border of the central business district and the historic residence district in Temple. The museum houses artifacts and produces programs centered on the history and culture of the Czech lands; the story of Czech immigrants who came to Texas from 1850 through the early 1900s; and the story of Czech-Americans connecting with their families during the Cold War.
Dr. Pepper Museum
300 S. Fifth St.
Waco, TX 76701 254-757-1025
The Dr. Pepper Museum includes the original 1906 bottling plant, a newly renovated courtyard and parking lot, and the historic Kellum-Rotan building. The Kellum-Rotan building was built in the 1880s, making it one of the oldest buildings remaining in downtown Waco. The Dr. Pepper Museum holds one of the finest collections of soft drink memorabilia in the world. The items are not just Dr. Pepper-related.
National Mounted Warfare Museum
207 S. Third St., Suite 100
Copperas Cove, TX 76522 254-213-5014
The National Mounted Warfare Foundation is building a world-class museum next to Fort Hood to honor mounted soldiers and to tell their untold story. Projected to open in 2021, Phase I of the museum will be a 28,700-square-foot structure including 13,000 square feet of interactive and immersive permanent exhibit galleries and over 7,000 square feet of temporary exhibit space.
Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum
315 W. Avenue B
Temple, TX 76501 254-298-5172
The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is housed in Temple’s historic Santa Fe Depot. The permanent exhibits explore working and traveling on the railroad with an emphasis on the Santa Fe Railway. The museum also hosts a range of changing temporary exhibits, as well as education programs, and special events. The museum’s collection of railroad equipment is displayed on the grounds, next to an active railroad yard where rail-fans can observe daily operations and traffic of the BNSF and Amtrak.
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame
100 Texas Ranger Trail
Waco, TX 76706 254-750-8631
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas, is the state-designated official historical center of the famed Texas Rangers law enforcement agency. The museum’s collections hold more than 300,000 items, including the personal and case files of Texas Rangers, reference books on Ranger history and the firearms and equipment used by Texas Rangers, photographs and pop culture items.
Central Texas has a multitude of parks and recreational areas. Check your community’s parks and recreation listings to see more of what your local area has to offer.
Andy K. Wells Hike and Bike Trail
2201 E Veterans Memorial Boulevard
Killeen, TX 76541 254-501-6390
The Andy K. Wells Hike and Bike Trail is the first ever of its kind within the city of Killeen. It is 2.5 miles long and the project was made possible through the generosity of Kenny Wells, who donated 9.115 acres of land. The City elected to name the trail after Kenny’s father the late Andy K. Wells. The trail is part of the region’s vision to eventually complete a series of trails linking two surrounding lakes, Lake Belton and Still House Hollow Lake.
Chisholm Trail Park
3115 Dunns Canyon Road
Belton, TX 76513 254-933-5860
Chisholm Trail Park is located behind Belton High School. It features baseball fields, soccer fields, basketball courts, a large covered area, a butterfly garden and nearly a mile of walking trails. It is Belton’s second-largest park at 34.19 acres.
City Park Complex
1206 W Avenue B
Copperas Cove, TX 76522 254-542-2719
This 88-acre park is filled with picnic areas, grills, children playscapes, soccer fields, baseball and softball fields, outdoor basketball and volleyball courts. City Park features the main public swimming pool in Copperas Cove which features a circular slide and a zero entry in the children’s play area with a mushroom fountain.
1502 Park Ave.
Belton, TX 76513 254-933-5860
Heritage Park is Belton’s largest park, at 155 acres. It boasts athletic fields, picnic tables, grills, a community garden, two pavilions, a fishing dock, an accessible playground and more.
Barton Springs Pool
2201 Barton Springs Road
Austin, TX 78704 512-974-6300
Within Zilker Park's 358 acres lies one of the crown jewels of Austin — Barton Springs Pool. The pool itself measures three acres in size, and is fed from underground springs with an average temperature of 68-70 degrees, ideal for year-round swimming. Over the years, Barton Springs Pool has drawn people from all walks of life, from legislators who have concocted state laws there to free-spirited, topless sunbathers who turned heads in the 1970s. Today, Barton Springs still attracts a diverse crowd of people and has seen record setting numbers of visitors nearing 800,000 in recent years.
300 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, TX 78205 210-225-1391
Perhaps the most historical site in all of Texas, the Alamo is world-renowned as a symbol of historic courage in the face of death and struggle of oppression. Before it was launched into its current place in history, it was a simple Spanish mission visited by many significant people throughout its time. Thousands of people each year visit the landmark where 189 defenders, including Davy Crockett, held out for 13 days against 4,000 troops. Since this famous battle, it has not only become a symbol of Texas but also a symbol of American independence and fortitude. The chapel, one of the most photographed facades in the nation, and the Long Barracks are all that remain of the original fort. Walking tours are available for visitors.
From malls and major department stores to unique boutiques and souvenir shops, there’s something for every taste and budget.
2509 N. Main St
Belton, TX 76513 254-939-0856
H-E-B Plus is more than just groceries. The upscale, privately held supermarket is a Texas institution and has been in business since the 1905s. It is the place to go to get everything from electronics to a new smoker to make some of that famous Texas BBQ.
2100 S. W.S. Young Drive
Killeen, TX 76543 254-699-2211
Killeen Mall is a 557,418-square-foot shopping mall located on 63.1 acres. The mall opened in 1981 and currently has more than 60 stores and a dozen eateries. The original anchors were Bealls, Sears and O. G. Wilson Catalog Showroom, owned by Zale Corporation.
3111 S. 31st St.
Temple, TX 76502 254-778-4847
Temple Mall is a regional shopping mall and trade area. It contains four major department store anchors, and a total of 57 tenants across approximately 555,400 square feet.
SPORTS AND RECREATION
Whether you are looking to take in a game or cool off with a trip down a waterslide, you will find what you are after in Central Texas.
10808 Rawhide Trail
Austin, TX 78736 512-288-1490
At Austin Zoo, children and adults alike can appreciate the Hill Country setting and enjoy a close-up experience of rescued animals. Austin Zoo is a private, nonprofit zoo, with over 300 animals across a hundred different species. A concession stand and gift shop where you can purchase food for some of the animals are on-site as well.
Golfing fans can play through on some of Texas’ best golf courses in this region. Public and country club courses are available in Central Texas, including quite a few private spots in the Austin area, such as the 18-hole Great Hills Country Club, The Hills of Lakeway Country Club and the semi-private Bluebonnet Hill golf courses. Copperas Cove boasts the challenging Hills of Cove Golf Course, expanded to an 18-hole course in 1999, while Killeen is known for Stonetree Golf Club. Temple has two courses to choose from, Wildflower Country Club and Sammons Golf Links. For a list of public and private courses in Central Texas, visit http://www.golftexas.com/golf-courses.
Summer Fun Water Park
1410 Waco Road
Belton, TX 76513 254-935-3774
This outdoor amusement spot offers fun for the whole family, including a 900-ft. slide, a lazy river, pools, snacks and pavilions on 7 acres. For hours and ticket prices, visit the website.
Texas Wine Trail
Central Texas, or Hill Country, has been dubbed the “second Napa” with its growing wine offerings. With over 50 unique and visually stunning wineries scattered throughout the Hill Country, from Austin to Fredericksburg and Lampasas to New Braunfels. There are four hosted trail events every year, with grape stomping, wine pairings and live music part of the fun.