Located in the Central Texas, Temple enjoys a prime location within the state. It’s situated between two major metropolitan areas, Austin and Waco, making it easily accessible for travelers. The city is set amidst the beautiful landscapes of the Texas Hill Country and offers visitors stunning views, rolling hills, and opportunities for outdoor adventures.
Visitors to the city can check out several cultural attractions that offer informative glimpses into Temple’s history. When it comes to entertainment, you can enjoy the historic cinemas, movie houses, and boutique shops in downtown. Eateries and art galleries round up the experience.
Temple’s proximity to Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Lake provides excellent options for boating, fishing, and camping, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The city’s parks and recreational areas also offer hiking trails, picnicking spots, and serene environments for relaxation.
Also Read: 28 Best Things to do in Texas Hill Country
History of Temple, Texas
Temple’s roots can be traced back to 1881 when the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railway Company selected this location as a division point and a junction for its rail lines. The city was named after the chief engineer of the railroad, Bernard Moore Temple. This strategic railway junction brought an influx of settlers, establishing the foundation for the city.
Temple was officially incorporated as a city in 1882. Its central location in Texas, coupled with its railroad connections, led to rapid growth in both population and economic activity. During World War II, Temple became significant for its proximity to Camp Hood, a massive military training facility. Renamed Fort Hood, it has since become one of the largest military installations in the United States.
Fun fact – Did you know, in 1927 Temple became the first Texas city to have an aircraft manufacturing company? The Texas Aero Corporation was formed here and their Temple Monoplane was the first plane to be manufactured here. Today, the site of the factory is an I-Hop but you can still see a historical marker in front of it, detailing the history of the company.
Things to do in Temple, TX
Located in Bell County, this railroad town is known for its diverse culture and vibrant downtown scene. With a historic art district at its heart, visitors can explore superbly-maintained buildings depicting the region’s rich and varied history. Here are the best things to do in Temple, TX on your next visit.
Take a stroll through Downtown Temple
Temple’s historical significance is palpable as you explore its Historic Downtown District, where historic architecture and landmarks tell the story of its past. This area is full of interesting shops, historical buildings and eateries that are sure to keep you entertained.
The Santa Fe Plaza is the center of activity and a popular spot among locals, especially families. Adjacent Santa Fe Gardens with its gazebo is great for people watching. The Temple Visitor Center is also located here and great place to begin your trip.
The downtown area offers pretty architecture and community events for culture and history buffs. Throughout downtown, you will find artwork and murals that celebrate Temple’s railroad history.
See railroad memorabilia at Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum
Railroad played a big part in developing Temple and you can learn about it all at the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum. The museum is housed in the 1907 Santa Fe Depot, a beautifully restored train station, adjacent to the BNSF and Amtrak Station. The exhibits offer incredible insight into the city’s railroad heritage.
The museum has plenty of artifacts including maps, photographs, and tools that were used to build and maintain the railroads. Especially fascination is the collection of vintage railroad equipment.
The museum has many old trains on display outside on the tracks as a part of its rolling track collection. You can see the ATSF 3423 steam locomotive, Santa Fe diesel engine, railcars, sleeper cars, a Union Pacific boxcar, and plenty of cabooses. The indoor model train exhibit has plenty of small trains to keep kids busy.
The museum also organizes special events and activities for Temple families and is one of the best small town museums we have been to in Texas. The entry fee is nominal and well worth the time.
Also Read: 9 Best Train Rides and Museums in Texas
Understand the city’s European roots at the Czech Heritage Museum and Genealogy Center
Temple is well known for its rich Czech past, and the Czech Heritage Museum and Genealogy Center is a great place to explore this heritage. This museum features exhibits that tell stories of the Czech settlers who arrived in Central Texas in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
You can also explore an archive of genealogical records and view artifacts that have been passed down from these early immigrant settlers. Visitors will learn about the customs, culture and lifestyle of these immigrants. The museum also celebrates the cultural contributions of early Czech settlers in the region.
Also Read: 23 Best museums in Texas
Photograph the murals in Downtown Temple
Downtown Temple is full of stunning murals, depicting the city’s unique history and culture. The historic walls of downtown buildings have been transformed into works of art that tell stories about the town’s past. You will find murals honoring Czech heritage, railroad history, and other facets of the town’s past.
Some of the famous murals include the colorful Hub Alley murals, icons of Temple mural on ExtraCo Bank building, and the local businesses mural on 1st Street. You can also spot several beautifully decorated steam train engine miniatures throughout downtown. They all are part of the Temple Art Train Project.
Watch a play at the Temple Civic Theatre
The Temple Civic Theatre is a performing arts organization that puts on plays and musicals of all genres throughout the year. This theater has provided entertainment for local audiences since decades, and there are several shows each season to choose from. The small theatre has u-shaped seating with the stage in the center.
The theater also offers classes and workshops in acting, singing, dancing and more. This is one of the best places to visit in Temple for culture lovers. The city’s commitment to the arts provides ample opportunities to immerse yourself in local culture.
See the performances at Cultural Activities Center
Cultural Activities Center in Temple has everything from concerts and dance performances to art exhibits and classes. The art shows here are really good – local artists display their art work and you can talk with them and listen to their stories. The center also has summer camps for kids.
Attend a live music program of the Temple Symphony Orchestra
The Temple Symphony Orchestra offers spectacular performances of classical and contemporary music. This group is composed of amateur and professional musicians who come together to create extraordinary musical experiences. You can see them perform at Temple College at the Mary Alice Marshall Performing Arts Center.
Tour the Historic Ralph and Sunny Wilson House
The Historic Ralph Sr. and Sunny Wilson House is a hidden gem in Temple, Texas. Built in the late 1950s, this ranch-style home once belonged to Ralph Wilson Sr., the owner of Wilsonart Laminates. He used his residence to experiment with laminates produced by his company – a kind of private testing lab!
In 1997, the Wilson House was bought and carefully restored to its original condition by the company Wilsonart. Today, it is on the National Register of Historic Places. The company offers tours of the house by appointment, including a look at the original furnishings, artwork and other artifacts. On the tour, you will find laminate being put to surprising uses throughout the house.
Shop ‘til you drop at the Hub
The Hub is Temple’s premier shopping destination. This large shopping space features almost 40 stores for the whole family to enjoy. You will find everything from clothing boutiques to home decor shops. The Hub Alley has an amazing collection of murals and is a popular Instagram spot in the city.
Dine at the local restaurants in Temple
Temple boasts a diverse and vibrant culinary scene that caters to a wide range of tastes and preferences. Pignetti’s Italian Restaurant is a beloved gem in Temple, offering a delightful culinary experience reminiscent of Italy. For those in search of authentic, wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, Treno Pizzeria is a great spot.
Meebon Thai is a family-owned restaurant with a menu brimming with authentic Thai dishes, prepared with fresh ingredients and an emphasis on bold, aromatic spices. Craft beer enthusiasts will find solace at Bird Creek Brewing Company.
Spend the day at Miller Park
Miller Park is a great place to take the whole family for some outdoor fun. The park features a wide variety of activities and amenities including walking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds and sports fields. The Miller Splash Zone is one of the most popular attractions at the park with its interactive water fountain area. The splash pad is especially popular in the summer when kids can play and cool down in the scorching heat.
Visit the Hindu temple of Central Texas
The Hindu Temple of Central Texas in Temple stands as a serene oasis of spiritual devotion and architectural splendor. This sacred place of worship is a testament to traditional Indian architecture, featuring intricate carvings, vibrant colors, and a stunningly detailed façade that transports visitors to the mystical temples of India.
Within its walls, devotees gather to celebrate rituals, festivals, and cultural events, fostering a sense of unity and spirituality. The temple’s ornate design, with its domes and spires, offers a visual feast, inviting all to experience the beauty of Hindu culture and faith in the heart of Texas.
Have a picnic at Temple Lake Park
Located on the shores of Lake Belton, Temple Lake Park is a great spot for a picnic and some outdoor fun. This park features acres of grassy grounds, walking paths, plenty of shaded picnic spots, and a large playground area. The lake provides plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing and boating.
Spend a day at Miller Springs Park & Nature Center
Miller Springs Nature Center, located between the Lake Belton Dam and Leon River in the city of Belton, is a nature lover’s delight. The park sprawls for over 260 acres in the Tennessee Valley settlement on the banks of the Leon River. The nature preserve and center is free to visit.
The park has over 10 miles of hiking trails through stunning scenery. They are popular for hiking, running, jogging, and biking. Some trails even lead to amazing views of the Belton Dam and spillway and have picnic sites to enjoy views. The center has several dog-friendly trails. However the hikes are not very well-marked so be careful when you’re out there.
The center is an excellent place for birding and wildlife viewing, and there are interpretive panels along the trails to learn more about the park’s history. You can also explore the nature center and enjoy educational programs about wildlife and natural history. You can find trail map here.
Hike Friars Creek Hiking Trail
Friars Creek Hike and Bike Trail is a popular trail located in Temple, Texas. The trail is 4.5 miles long and begins in South Temple Park, adjacent to Lions Junction Water Park. It ends at Silverstone Park.
The paved trail follows the wooded Friar Creek and is beautifully maintained. You will spot native birds and animals on the trail as well as interpretative signs about the wildlife and ecology of the creek.
Adjacent to this trail, you will find the Georgetown Railroad Old Wooden trestle bridge which the city plans to convert into a hike and bike trail in late 2024. Friars Creek Trail is a great respite from the busy city life.
Or Pepper Creek Trail
If you enjoy walking, running, or cycling, the Pepper Creek Trail is another excellent choice. This scenic trail winds through natural landscapes and along Pepper Creek. It’s a great place to reconnect with nature and get some exercise.
Check out the many parks in Temple
Temple is home to many parks and green spaces for those wanting to spend a day out in the sun.
Lions Park is a local favorite and offers a wide range of recreational activities for all ages. It has softball fields, disc golf course, playground, pavilions, and a scenic walking trail along the creek.
Ferguson Park is another great choice and so is Silverstone Park with its basketball courts. West Temple Park is a spacious and well-maintained park with amenities for everyone. Leona Park is also a good park to get the sun.
Play golf in Temple… Or play disc golf in the parks!
Golf is a great way to spend your time in Temple, Texas. Sammons Golf Course is a beautiful public golf course located around Lake Polk. For those wanting a more lavish experience, the Wildflower Country Club is the perfect place.
If you’re not a fan of golfing then try your hand at disc golf. Temple has 3 disc golf courses at Crossroads Park, Lions Park, and South Temple Park. They are very well-maintained and plenty of fun.
Hike to the waterfall at Chalk Ridge Falls Park
Chalk Ridge Falls Park is a nature lover’s paradise, located just outside of Temple in Belton. This expansive park features hiking trails that wind through beautiful woodlands.
The most popular is the one leading to cascading Chalk Ridge waterfalls. This trail has wooden stairs, stream crossings, and a suspension bridge at the very end. It’s an ideal destination for hiking, birdwatching, and photography.
Go bird watching at Mother Neff State Park
Mother Neff State Park is a great spot to see a variety of birds in their natural habitat. This park is home to over 200 different species of migratory birds from all over the world. The park also offers a variety of activities like camping, fishing and hiking, as well as educational programs about the local wildlife.
Visit the Bell County Museum in Belton
The Bell County Museum is located in the historic downtown district in nearby Belton, TX and offers visitors a glimpse into the past. This museum features a variety of interactive exhibits, such as antique typewriters, which are sure to pique your interest.
Other notable displays include Native American artifacts, early-day tools and weapons, and exhibits relating the history of Bell County. The museum also features an impressive library and archives filled with historical records and documents.
Take the kids to Whistle Stop Playground
Whistle Stop Playground is a great spot for kids to burn off some energy. This playground features a wide variety of slides, swings, monkey bars, and climbing gyms for hours of fun. Whistle Stop Park also offers amenities like picnic tables and restrooms so you can relax and enjoy the day with your family. It is conveniently located in Downtown Temple, close to the Railroad Museum.
Go bowling at Spare Time Texas
Spare Time Texas is a fun entertainment spot for all ages in Temple. It combines several attractions like bowling, laser tag, arcade games, go karts, batting cages, and more in one place. When we went, our kids had a great time at the arcade playing everything from classic pinball to Donkey Kong.
Bowling and arcade games can work up an appetite and Spare Time has you covered. The facility features a restaurant offering standard American fare. The destination is popular for celebrating birthday parties and events.
Learn to shoot a gun at Hawkeye Shooting Academy
Hawkeye Shooting Academy in Temple, Texas, is a great place if you want to shoot some firearms. You can rent guns or even take a lesson. The instructors are friendly and patient, ensuring a comfortable learning experience.
For anyone in the Temple area looking to hone their shooting skills or simply enjoy a day at the range, a visit to Hawkeye Shooting Academy is highly recommended.
Grape stomp at 3 Texans Winery and Vineyard
3 Texans Winery and Vineyard, located in Temple, Texas, is a hidden gem for wine enthusiasts. Set against the backdrop of the Texas Hill Country landscape, this family-owned winery offers a unique and intimate wine-tasting experience. It is also one of the few female owned wineries in Texas.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of wines, from rich reds to crisp whites, while taking in the serene vineyard views. The welcoming atmosphere and friendly staff make it a perfect destination for wine lovers looking to savor the flavors of Texas in a relaxed setting.
The winery often has live music and food truck on their heated outdoor patio on Saturdays. They also have many events on site including the popular Harvest Party / Grape Stomp event which are popular to visit.
Enjoy the water slides at Lions Junction Family Water Park
Lions Junction Family Water Park is one of the best water parks in Central Texas. The park offers a variety of slides and attractions, such as lazy rivers, wave pools, splash pads and waterfalls. It is the perfect spot for a hot summer day with your family.
See the wildflowers in spring
Temple, Texas, is celebrated not only for its rich history and warm hospitality but also for its vibrant display of wildflowers. As the self-proclaimed “Wildflower Capital of Texas,” Temple is a place where the landscape comes alive with a breathtaking display of flowers each spring.
The Texas wildflowers, including the iconic bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, and vibrant coreopsis, burst into bloom with an explosion of colors. The meadows, roadways, and fields are blanketed in hues of blue, red, yellow, and purple, creating a mesmerizing vista. Take road trips around Temple to enjoy this nature’s bounty.
Attend the fall festival at Robinson Family Farm
Robinson Family Farm in Temple is famous for its Fall Festival. This fun family event features pumpkin patches, cute picture opportunities, corn maze, hay ride, petting zoo, a play area with slides and inflatables, and even activities for adults such as axe throwing!
They also have other seasonal events such as Easter egg hunt on the farm, picking tulips and sunflowers, summer movie nights, and more!
Visit Temple Buc-ee’s
Did you know that Temple is home to Buc-ee’s – the iconic Texan gas station brand known for its massive snack selections, immaculate restrooms, and ample gas pumping stations!
Hungry travelers will be in heaven at Buc-ee’s Temple. The store features a wide array of snacks, from the famous Beaver Nuggets (caramel-coated corn puffs) to jerky, fudge, and freshly baked pastries. Don’t forget to grab a bag of Buc-ee’s branded snacks as a souvenir while in Temple.
Temple, Texas, is a city that invites visitors to step back in time, immerse themselves in its rich history, and connect with the warmth of its community. With its central location, cultural attractions, and beautiful surroundings, Temple offers a delightful blend of experiences for those seeking a memorable Texas adventure.
What are your favorite fun things to do in Temple, Texas? Let us know below!