Waco is showing no signs of slowing down as a meeting and tourist destination that caters to both business and leisure visitors. The extended-stay Element Hotel by Westin opened in August 2022, offering 105 rooms, event space and a full bar and restaurant onsite, and a half-dozen hotels are actively under construction that will add over 29,000 square feet of meeting space and 600 rooms. The city’s attractions – Waco Mammoth National Monument, Texas Ranger Museum and Magnolia Market, among others – saw over 1.8 million visitors in 2022. And thanks to popular demand, the Magnolia Trail was created so that fans of Chip and Joanna Gaines and HGTV’s Fixer Upper can go on a self-guided tour to visit locations mentioned on the hit TV show. Eclectic art and décor, boutique shopping, dining and historical sites abound on this tour!
Experience West Texas hospitality, history and culture in Abilene. There’s a lot happening in its booming downtown – restored historic landmarks, performing arts centers and live music venues, and award-winning restaurants serving up local flavors. Abilene is designated a Music Friendly Community by the State of Texas, so visitors know they’ll have a long list of musical acts to discover. It’s also home to the first museum dedicated to children’s literature as well as the largest public collection of storybook characters in the U.S., making the city the Storybook Capital of America. Meeting and convention goers will appreciate the DoubleTree by Hilton Abilene Downtown Convention Center Hotel, which opens June 2023 and will feature 200+ rooms, 17,000+ square feet of public conference rooms and meeting space, and a full-service restaurant.
Killeen is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country but retains a small-town feel. Those with an interest in military history should visit the 1st Cavalry Division Museum as well as the new 3rd Armored Cavalry Museum at Fort Hood. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Museum is part of a campus that includes an impressive outdoor display of equipment and tells the story of America’s longest-serving armored cavalry regiment, organized in 1846. Killeen’s association with Fort Hood, one of the largest military bases in the world, brings great diversity, which provides an array of delicious dining options from African to Vietnamese. Outdoor enthusiasts can spend all day at the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area. And for a truly unique experience, Killeen is well within the path of totality for the next solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.
San Angelo, located along the Concho River, is proud of both its West Texas heritage and its journey into the future as a frontier filled with arts and culture. The Fort Concho National Historic Landmark holds 23 original and restored fort structures of the frontier army post built in 1867. Travel back in time even further at the newly constructed, 32,000-squarefoot Mayer Museum at Angelo State University, which presents the majesty of the Concho Valley starting with its prehistory in the age of the dinosaurs. San Angelo is a certified Music Friendly Community and a Visual Arts Capital of Texas, so visitors are sure to find charming shops and art galleries and catch a live performance. The San Angelo River Walk offers numerous amenities for residents and visitors alike to enjoy, including parks, concerts and golfing.
Sources: Waco Convention & Visitors Bureau, Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau, Killeen Convention & Visitors Bureau, Discover San Angelo