24 Brilliant Things to do in and around Belton, TX

Published By Ketki

Last Updated

Belton, Texas is most famous for three things: rich history, Miller’s Smokehouse, and Chalk Ridge Falls! However, this charming city has many other treasures to explore including a Neoclassical style courthouse, Victorian architecture, and plenty of lakes nearby. The famous American banjo player Danny Barnes is also from Belton!

Belton Mural outside Cochran Blair & Potts Department Store
Belton Mural outside Cochran Blair & Potts Department Store

Belton is settled on the banks of the Nolan Creek in Central Texas. The city is conveniently located between the bustling metropolitan areas of Austin and Waco and an easy day trip in the region. We visited Belton on a sunny day in January while driving from Dallas to Austin and fell in love with its cozy vibe. 

History of Belton

Modern day Belton’s history is deeply rooted in the founding of the Republic of Texas and the days of early pioneers. However, the first human inhabitation occurred here around 6000 BCE. Remains of native settlement and burial mounds have been found in the area around Belton. Native American tribes such as the Tonkawa, Comanche, and Apache lived here before the pioneers came to Texas.

Courthouse as seen from Main Street of Belton
Courthouse as seen from Main Street of Belton

The city was established in 1850 and was named after former governor Peter Hansborough Bell, who played a significant role in the region’s development. It became the county seat of Bell County, a distinction it still holds today.

Fun fact: Belton was originally named Nolanville because of its location on the banks of Nolan Springs. It was renamed to Belton (Bell-town) after being declared the county seat of Bell County. 

During the Civil War, Belton served as a crucial center for Confederate forces and played a role in the defense of Texas. Post war, it grew in prominence due to its location on the Chisholm Trail. The city’s historical legacy is palpable as you stroll through its well-preserved downtown district, where Victorian-era architecture and historic landmarks tell tales of days gone by. To read more history about Belton, check here.

Downtown Belton is a very charming town in Central Texas
Downtown Belton is a very charming town in Central Texas

Things to do in Belton, Texas

You’d be surprised to know that there are plenty of top attractions in what seems like a sleepy old town. Belton might be a lot smaller than nearby Temple, but that does not stop it from being an attraction in its own right. Historic buildings have made place for modern cafes and rarely-visited museums have started drawing crowds by hosting modern-day escape games. 

A diversity of eateries ensure that you won’t need to leave town, whether you crave a hearty steak or fusion Asian cuisines. Belton also has many green spaces and parks such as Live Oak Ridge Park, Heritage Park, and White Flint Park in the surrounding area. A significant number of visitors are naturally drawn to the two lakes around Belton. 

Statue of Peter Hansborough Bell at the Bell County Courthouse
Statue of Peter Hansborough Bell at the Bell County Courthouse

All in all, the town has come a long way from its slump in the Great Depression Era and is a destination worth visiting in Central Texas for a great time. Here are the best things to do in Belton on your next trip.

Downtown Belton

Downtown Belton is a beautifully designed town with many historic buildings just a few blocks away from the centrally located Bell County Courthouse. The Courthouse public square is a place for gathering and events on warm weekends throughout the year. 

Victorian architecture in Historic Downtown District of Belton
Victorian architecture in Historic Downtown District of Belton

The buildings around the Courthouse Square display Victorian architecture and several are on the National Register of Historic Places. Take a walk and you can explore cafes, eateries, book stores, theaters, and boutiques. Belton’s downtown commercial district is one of my favorite places to go for a stroll. You can get a walking map of the Historic Downtown area here.

Bell County Courthouse

The Bell County Courthouse, located in Belton, Texas, stands as a majestic symbol of justice and history. This historic courthouse, built in 1884, boasts an imposing Romanesque Revival architectural style with intricate details and a clock tower that graces the city skyline. 

Bell County Courthouse is in Belton, Texas
Bell County Courthouse is in Belton, Texas

Its beautiful façade and ornate interiors pay homage to the region’s rich heritage. The courthouse serves as the heart of the county’s legal proceedings, housing courtrooms, administrative offices, and providing a backdrop for important civic events. It is not only a functional center of justice but also a beloved architectural landmark that preserves the legacy of Bell County. See more photos plus history of the courthouse here.

Bell County Museum 

Bell County Museum is a captivating destination offering a diverse array of exhibits that showcase the rich history and cultural heritage of the region. The museum is located in a Historic Carnegie Library building close to the Bell County Courthouse. The building was built in 1904 and is a commanding structure. In front of the museum entrance, you will find a fascinating Chisholm Trail Sculpture that narrates life on the trail.

Bell County Museum in Belton, Texas
Bell County Museum in Belton, Texas

One of our favorite exhibits is on the Gault Site. The exhibit delves into the archaeological wonders of this significant prehistoric site. Visitors can explore artifacts, fossils, and interactive displays that provide insights into the lives of early inhabitants. The museum also features exhibits on local history, including pioneer days, military contributions, and the growth of Bell County. It also hosts many rotating exhibits and events.

The Beltonian Theatre 

The Beltonian Theatre, a historic gem in Belton, Texas, is a charming movie house offering a nostalgic cinematic experience. With its vintage ambiance, classic films, and live performances, it’s a beloved cultural hub for locals and visitors alike. The theater’s timeless charm and community spirit make it a must-visit destination for those seeking a touch of nostalgia in modern times.

Cochran Blair & Potts and The Beltonian Theater next to it in Belton
Cochran Blair & Potts and The Beltonian Theater next to it in Belton

Grand Avenue Theater

The Grand Avenue Theater in Belton, Texas, is a modern cinematic gem, offering state-of-the-art screens and sound systems. With its comfortable seating and a wide range of movie choices, it provides a top-notch movie-watching experience for residents and visitors alike. Enjoy the latest blockbusters in a stylish and inviting atmosphere at the Grand Avenue Theater in Belton.

Cochran Blair & Potts 

Cochran Blair & Potts has a unique claim to fame: it is the oldest operating department store in the state of Texas! The store was started in 1869 and is still operated by the Potts family.

The oldest department store in Texas is also fun to shop
The oldest department store in Texas is also fun to shop

The building has historical markers on the outside, narrating the story of this store run by seven generations of the same family. Take the time to shop at the store and check their in-house museum.

The Belton Depot

The Belton MK&T Depot was built in 1899. Today, this historic building has been refurbished and houses several eateries and cafes. It can be easily spotted by the iconic red caboose outside the building.

Go inside and you will find amazing food here. One of my favorites was 100×35 Latin Cuisine. What started as an authentic Puerto Rican food truck now has its one first brick and mortar location! They serve a delicious Cuban sandwich and fried plantains. 

Belton MKT Depot
Belton MKT Depot

Another spot I loved was Blackbird Books & Spirits. As their name suggests, they have an excellent book selection as well as cocktails. Add in the large comfy chairs for reading and what a great place to be! The store warmed my book loving soul. Warm Cookie Co. is another popular store. Be sure to visit this trendy spot in Belton on your next visit. 

Musick Alumni Center & Museum

The Musick Alumni Center & Museum in Belton, Texas, is a captivating destination that celebrates the rich history of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Showcasing memorabilia, photographs, and artifacts, it offers visitors a glimpse into the university’s heritage and the accomplishments of its alumni. This charming museum is a must-visit for those interested in the university’s legacy.

Belton has several great parks and green spaces to enjoy the outdoors
Belton has several great parks and green spaces to enjoy the outdoors

Heritage Park

Belton is home to several parks and green spaces but the largest and most famous is Heritage Park. Located on the banks of the Leon River, this park has everything from sports fields such as soccer fields and basketball court to fishing overlooks and picnic tables. Heritage Park also has a disc golf course that is popular with families.

The park has beautiful nature trails and big mature trees providing shade. The kids play area is very well-maintained with lots of equipment to choose from. Dog parents would love to know that Heritage Park has a fenced small and clean dog park. You will find several food trucks located outside the park as well.

Yettie Polk Park in Belton, Texas is an excellent park
Visitors love Yettie Polk Park in Belton, Texas – an excellent park to enjoy outdoors

Yettie Polk Park

Yettie Polk Park is a scenic park on the banks of Nolan Creek. It is popular for its scenic Nolan Creek Hike and Bike Trail that weaves through the park. The path is paved, lit up at night, and generally well-maintained. The path is well-shaded by trees and there are benches along the way. The trail goes under bridges and has plenty of interpretative signs along the way.

Kids love this park because of its abundance of ducks, geese, and even turtles in the creek. You can feed the ducks – they really love bread but will eat anything from biscuits to fallen popcorn! At the end of the trail, you will find a splash pad and play area for the kids.

The rapids at the park are a favroite in summer
The rapids at the park are a favroite in summer

The park has two small man made rapids that are very popular with kayakers and tubers in the summer. You can also find people swimming in the creek on hot days. Fishing at the park is also popular year round.

Miller’s Smokehouse 

Miller’s Smokehouse, a beloved Belton, Texas institution, combines history and mouth watering barbecue. Established in 2008, it’s steeped in the tradition of slow-smoked meats. Their menu is a symphony of flavors, featuring succulent brisket, tender ribs, and flavorful sausages. The pitmasters’ expertise and commitment to quality have made it a local favorite. 

Miller's Smokehouse in Belton is a must visit spot for bbq lovers
Miller’s Smokehouse in Belton is a must visit spot for bbq lovers

Sides like jalapeño cheddar grits and homemade banana pudding complement the barbecue perfectly. A visit to Miller’s Smokehouse is a journey into the heart of Texan barbecue heritage, where each bite tells a story of flavor and tradition.

Schoepf’s BBQ

Schoepf’s BBQ in Belton, Texas, is a legendary barbecue institution with a storied history dating back to 1992. Known for its slow-smoked meats, this family-owned gem has been tantalizing taste buds for decades. Popular menu items include their succulent brisket, fall-off-the-bone ribs, and savory sausage links, all lovingly prepared with time-honored techniques. 

Schoepf’s also boasts a famous salad bar and delectable sides like mac ‘n’ cheese and coleslaw. With its rustic charm and commitment to quality, Schoepf’s BBQ continues to draw BBQ enthusiasts from far and wide, making it a must-visit for those seeking authentic Texas barbecue. Schoepf’s BBQ also hosts live music events and concerts throughout the year.

The Gin at Nolan Creek is a great place to eat while in Belton
Gin at Nolan Creek is a great place to eat while in Belton

The Gin at Nolan Creek

The Gin at Nolan Creek is a historic gem offering Southern charm and culinary delights. Once a cotton gin, this venue has been transformed into a beloved restaurant. Its history resonates in the exposed brick walls and rustic ambiance. 

Popular menu items include savory Chicken Fried Steak, delectable Shrimp and Grits, and the signature Gin Burger, showcasing the flavors of the South. Whether you’re drawn by the history or the mouthwatering dishes, The Gin at Nolan Creek offers a taste of tradition and hospitality in the heart of Belton.

Cadence Bank Center (Bell County Expo Center)

The Cadence Bank Center, formerly known as the Bell County Expo Center, is a prominent venue in Belton, Texas. Located at 301 West Loop 121, it hosts a diverse range of events, including concerts, rodeos, trade shows, and sporting competitions. The center’s spacious facilities, including an arena and conference spaces, make it a hub for entertainment and community gatherings. 

Cadence Bank Center (formerly Belton County Expo Center)
Cadence Bank Center (formerly Belton County Expo Center)

Visitors can enjoy thrilling rodeo performances, live music concerts, and various exhibitions throughout the year, making the Cadence Bank Center a dynamic destination for entertainment and cultural experiences in Belton. If you are in the area for a longer time, you really need to attend an event here!

Chalk Ridge Falls Park

Chalk Ridge Falls Park in Belton, Texas, is a nature lover’s paradise. This scenic park boasts a network of well-maintained trails, with a main loop trail covering approximately 4 miles. Along the way, hikers are treated to the mesmerizing sight of Chalk Ridge Falls, a picturesque waterfall cascading gently into a serene pool. The highlight of the park is the breathtaking suspension bridge that spans the creek, offering panoramic views of the surrounding natural beauty. 

Also Read: 17 Breathtaking Waterfalls in Texas

Chalk Ridge Falls Trail in Texas
Chalk Ridge Falls Park in Texas

Miller Springs Nature Center

Miller Springs Nature Center in Belton, Texas, is a serene oasis nestled along the shores of Lake Belton. Located at 1800 FM 2271, this 260-acre natural gem offers hiking trails that wind through rugged terrain, providing breathtaking views of the lake and opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife observation. Visitors can explore the diverse ecosystems, discover native flora and fauna, and revel in the tranquility of this pristine natural setting. 

Belton Lake

Belton Lake, north of Belton, has 136 miles of shoreline! It is one of the most popular water recreation spots in the Killeen-Temple metropolitan area. It is located on the Leon River and formed by the building of Belton Lake Dam. 

Beautiful Belton Lake is an outdoor paradise in the Hill Country near Temple
Beautiful Belton Lake is an outdoor paradise in the Hill Country near Temple

Belton Lake is characterized by the beautiful limestone bluffs surrounding the deep blue water. It is incredibly scenic and draws nature lovers like a magnet to its shorelines. You will find 11 public parks maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers on the banks of the lake. These parks provide access to the lake and provide a variety of recreational amenities such as hiking trails, picnic tables, play areas, boat ramps, and swimming beaches. 

But the best way to explore the lake is by a boat. You can enjoy a day fishing or enjoying water sports. You can also explore a hidden waterfall on the lake near Westcliff Park from your boat.

Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area

Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area or BLORA as it is famously known is located in Fort Cavazos. It is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can explore miles of scenic trails, enjoy watersports on the lake, or simply relax by the water’s edge. 

This sprawling recreational spot offers a diverse range of activities, including horseback riding, paintball, and the excitement of an outdoor climbing wall. Sierra Beach, nestled along the lake’s shores, beckons visitors for swimming and relaxation.

Stillhouse Hollow Lake is a beautiful lake near Belton, Texas
The Stillhouse Hollow Lake is a beautiful lake near Belton, Texas

Stillhouse Hollow Lake 

Stillhouse Hollow Lake is a reservoir on the Lampasas River. This water body was formed when the Stillhouse Hollow Dam was constructed. 4 public parks on the shores are maintained by the US Army Corp of Engineers. 

These parks are perfect for enjoying sandy beaches and swim areas on the lake and for launching boats and other private watercraft. They also have hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, as well as campsites for overnight stays.

Summer Fun Water Park 

Summer Fun Water Park is a local water park in Belton. Dive into adventure with thrilling water slides, splash around in the wave pool, or relax on the lazy river. Little ones can enjoy a safe and fun play area. It is perfect for those looking for fun things to do in Belton when it’s scorching hot outside.

This family-owned business allows visitors to bring their own coolers full of food and drinks – meaning you can keep costs low. They also offer season passes and events like Adult Nights which are perfect for romantic dates. The cost is pretty economical compared to bigger water parks such as Six Flags.

Belton Market Days in front of the Bell County Courthouse
Belton Market Days in front of the Bell County Courthouse

Belton Market Days 

Bell Market Days is a monthly event that transforms the streets of Belton into a bustling market. Visitors can explore a variety of stalls offering handmade crafts, artisanal foods, and unique treasures. Live music and entertainment add to the festive atmosphere, while food trucks serve up delicious treats. It’s an excellent opportunity to support local businesses, shop for one-of-a-kind gifts, and enjoy a day of family-friendly fun in this Texas town. 

Bell County Rodeo

The Bell County Rodeo in Belton, Texas, is a thrilling annual event that showcases the heart and soul of Texan rodeo culture. Located at the Bell County Expo Center, it brings together cowboys and cowgirls from near and far for a spectacular display of rodeo skills and traditions. 

Visitors can witness exhilarating events like bull riding, barrel racing, and calf roping, all set against the backdrop of the Lone Star State’s vibrant cowboy heritage. Beyond the rodeo action, the event offers delicious food, live music, and shopping, making it fun for all ages.

Eat variety of fair foods at the Rodeo
Eat variety of fair foods at the Rodeo

4th of July Parade and Celebrations

Belton is pretty famous for its Historic 4th of July Parade. The parade takes place in the morning on Main Street and goes around the Bell County Courthouse. Following the parade, you can enjoy celebrations at Yettie Polk Park which feature live music, a petting zoo, food and craft booths, and off course fireworks.

Central Texas State Fair

The Central Texas State Fair takes place in the heart of Texas in Belton every September. The fair offers a fun carnival with a variety of rides from thrilling roller coasters to ferris wheel. The fair also has live entertainment, agricultural exhibits, and rodeo shows. No fair experience is complete without indulging in delicious fair food. From classic cotton candy and funnel cakes to savory barbecue and unique culinary creations, the fair is the perfect place to indulge your taste buds.

Central Texas State Fair
Central Texas State Fair

Its rich heritage, scenic beauty, cultural offerings, and welcoming community make Belton a destination worth exploring. Add in the many special events and outdoor activities, and you’ll understand why Belton is one of the best places to visit in Central Texas!

Looking to explore nearby areas? Check out our suggestions for short day trips from Belton in this post where we cover 21 amazing ideas including Dublin and Fredericksburg.

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