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Heart of Texas

Central Texas serves up adventure, history and wildlife.


With the state capital, small towns, swimming holes and the wooded Hill Country, Central Texas has a little bit of everything. The many rivers and lakes can satisfy water lovers, and hikers and bikers can find plenty of places to hit the trail. Here are six things to do in Central Texas.

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 John C. Abbott and Kendra K. Abbott

Bracken Bat Preserve

Home to more than 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats, Bracken is the largest bat colony in the world. In a remarkable display, the bats spiral out of the cave at dusk on their nightly hunt for insects. The bats help stave off farm pests like the corn earworm moth, tons of which are consumed each night. Joining Bat Conservation International is the best way to attend a viewing.

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 Earl Nottingham | TPWD

Waco Mammoth National Monument

More than 70,000 years ago, Columbian mammoths (a relative of the better-known woolly mammoth) roamed the Texas landscape. Just north of Cameron Park along the Bosque River in Waco, you can see the remains of 24 of these ancient creatures that stood as tall as 14 feet and weighed as much as 20,000 pounds. 

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 Sonja Sommerfeld | TPWD

Buggy Barn Museum

Take a step back to the good ol’ days at the Buggy Barn Museum in Blanco. With more than 200 unique coaches from as far back as the 1860s, you can spend the day learning about covered carriages, snake oil wagons and more. If wagons don’t turn your wheels, there is also a replica Western town to be used for anything from movies to weddings.

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 Maegan Lanham | TPWD

LBJ State Park and LBJ Ranch

Born and raised in the Hill Country, Lyndon Baines Johnson became our 36th president. He never forgot his roots. There’s a lot to see in a visit to the state park and adjacent national historical park: the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm, LBJ’s birthplace, the Texas White House and more. Visitors can see bison and longhorns, too.

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 Chase Fountain | TPWD

Texas State Cemetary

A few blocks east of the Capitol, the Texas State Cemetery serves as the final resting place for many of the esteemed Texans who made this state what it is today. Graves of state officials and notable Texans can be found there, including founding father Stephen F. Austin, groundbreaking lawmaker Barbara Jordan and football coach Darrell Royal. 

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 Chase Fountain | TPWD

Spider Mountain

There isn’t a whole lot you can’t do in Texas, but our climate does limit some activities, like anything involving snow. Texas’ only chairlift resides at Spider Mountain, where visitors descend via mountain bike, not skis. Featuring 10 downhill mountain bike trails with 350 feet of elevation change near Lake Buchanan, Spider Mountain lets you use gravity to your advantage.



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