13 Top-Rated Things to Do in Killeen, TX
When you drive into the Central Texas city of Killeen, you are likely to notice the military aircraft flying overhead and an occasional U.S. Army vehicle driving next to you on the road. Killeen is home to the Fort Hood U.S. Army Base, and its presence is the undercurrent of the city experience in the attractions and things to do.
The museums and exhibits on the Fort Hood Base are just some of the top places to visit in Killeen. There are a number of parks in the area, like Temple Lake Park, that have nice outdoor recreation areas, and the city itself has a bike path that you can ride to see some of the local tourist attractions.
If science and research interest you, the Mayborn Science Theater on the Central Texas College campus is a nice venue where you can watch planetarium shows.
Killeen is also located close to a number of places that you might not make a special trip to see otherwise, and they can easily be incorporated into your visit. The Gault Archaeological Site and the city of Belton are both a short drive from Killeen.
While Killeen is known as a military town, it was once a thriving railroad town. Legend has it that Killeen got its start in 1882, when a cowboy named "Wild Bill" Scoggins impressed a crowd of onlookers, and used his cowboy lasso to wrangle the steam engine of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad as it rolled into town, marking the beginning of another Texas railroad town. The city derived its name from Frank Killeen who worked for the railroad, and while some believe that he may have arrived with the same train that was stopped in 1882, others say he never stepped foot in the town that was named after him.
Today, the city revolves around the Fort Hood military base. As you plan your trip, see our list of the top things to do in Killeen.
1. National Mounted Warrior Museum
One of the newest attractions in Killeen is the National Mounted Warrior Museum located just outside the gates of Fort Hood. The 28,700-square-foot museum honors mounted soldiers. The exhibits tell the stories of the soldiers who served and are often overlooked for their contributions to national security.
The compelling stories in the museum explain how many of the mounted warriors bravely went into battle on horseback, fighting alongside military police, artillery, and infantrymen in past conflicts. The museum brings to life the kind of support and influence that the mounted warriors bring to U.S. military operations.
The museum sits on 17 acres of land and is located just outside the Fort Hood military base, so access for visiting is easier than for other attractions located inside the base parameter.
Address: Fort Hood, Killeen, Texas
2. Central Texas Theatre
Central Texas Theatre, operating previously as Vive Les Arts, is a performing arts attraction that has year-round performances in Killeen. Central Texas Theatre has been in the Killeen community since 1976, with regular community shows and offering workshops in performance skills like dance, vocals, and costume design.
Visitors can buy tickets to the current main stage performances. Look at the show schedule ahead of your visit and plan for an evening out on the town. There are additional Children's Theatre productions, with family-themed performances like Aladdin and The Lion King featuring youth performers.
Address: 3401 South WS Young Drive, Killeen, Texas
Official site: https://vlakilleen.org/
The rolling landscape around Killeen is prime for playing golf. One of the most accessible golf courses in Killeen is the Stonetree Golf Club. It is an 18-hole public course that was built in the 1970s and has been renovated to accommodate non-military visitors to the city.
The Stonetree Golf Club accommodates all skill levels and has a variety of terrain to navigate, with scenic lakes and fountains. There are golf carts available to use and a clubhouse for relaxing after a round on the course.
There are several public golf courses just outside Killeen and some on the base of Fort Hood, but they are not as easy to access.
4. Fort Hood Attractions
There are several museums and small military attractions available to see on the Fort Hood military base that have historical significance. The 1st Calvary Division Museum has a number of galleries and exhibits dedicated to horse regiment troops that were established in 1921. These troops supported military efforts through several significant U.S. war efforts.
The 3rd Armored Calvary Museum is an outdoor display of army equipment and vehicles. The museum features information and insight into one of the Army's most elite regiment of Strykers. There is a children's exhibit and a 3rd Calvary Regiment gift shop on-site. Both the 1st Calvary Division Museum and the 3rd Armored Calvary Museum will eventually be folded into the new National Mounted Warrior Museum.
While on the Fort Hood base, you can stop by the 4th ID Monument for Occupation Iraqi Freedom. The memorial site is dedicated to the 81 division members who were killed in Iraq in 2003-2004. The statue is located at the Headquarters of 4th Division on the base.
It is important to note that if you want to see any of the memorials or museums located within the Fort Hood base perimeter, you must first stop at the Marvin Leath Visitor Center and provide information to the agents for a visitor's access pass.
Address: 69004 T.J. Mills Blvd., Fort Hood, Texas
5. Mayborn Science Theater
Science-minded visitors to Killeen will enjoy seeing the Mayborn Science Theater on the Central Texas College campus. The multi-million-dollar facility uses state-of-the-art digital light and sound technology to create an immersive planetarium experience. Enjoy one of the 3D shows on topics of space and science beneath the 60-foot dome.
The immersive experience takes you under the Milky Way as the advanced technology and 4K digital system projects more than 16,000 stars onto the dome at once. Check out the website calendar for upcoming shows and for other events that take place at the Mayborn Science Theater, like yoga under the stars.
Address: 6200 W Central Texas Expressway., Killeen, Texas
Official site: https://www.starsatnight.org/
6. Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area
Families looking for unique outdoor recreation near Fort Hood should look into the activities at the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area (BLORA). The vast outdoor landscape feels remote, but the open space is what makes it appealing for those looking for a more aggressive outdoor experience.
The area has fishing, horseback riding, scuba diving, and paintball. With a gate fee, you can access the area's beach, mountain bike trails, hiking trails, and climbing wall. There are events throughout the year at BLORA, like Nature in Lights, which takes place from November to January, when visitors can drive through 5.5 miles of roads to see illuminated displays showcasing the park's 800 acres of land.
The drive along the roads through BLORA's open landscape is scenic. You will see a combination of longhorns, dirt trails, wildflowers, military training exercises, and an occasional military aircraft flying overhead given its proximity to Fort Hood.
Address: Cottage Road NAF 126
Official site: https://www.hoodmwr.com/lake-activities-blora/
7. Gault Archaeological Site
A truly unique facility just 10 minutes from Killeen is the Gault School of Archaeological Research. The site is where active archaeological research is taking place, uncovering relics of the Clovis culture and inhabitants of the area 16,000 years ago.
The site has been under study since 1929, when a University of Texas Anthropologist and his team uncovered evidence and relics from the Clovis culture that led to more extensive research. Since then, several million artifacts have been recovered and preserved.
The research facility opens its doors to the public during certain days, so you will want to review the events calendar before your visit to Killeen and block out time for a rare opportunity to see archaeological research in process. You will learn about the geology and history of this Central Texas region, gain insight into primitive technologies, and see some of the recovered finds from the dig site.
Address: 3439 FM2843, Florence, Texas
Official site: www.gaultschool.org
8. Birding at Stillhouse Hollow Park
One of the best birding opportunities near Killeen is at Stillhouse Park. The day-use park sits along Stillhouse Hollow Lake, which draws many types of bird species to the area. Pack your binoculars and walk the grounds to see species like great blue herons, bald eagles, ruby-crowned kinglets, yellow-rumped warblers, and the Carolina chickadee.
Birding is one of the most popular activities at this park, but there are many other things to do. There is 58 miles of shoreline, making for ample fishing opportunities for bass and catfish. Open grass areas are available for picnics and frisbee games. There are also boat rentals nearby if you want to canoe or kayak on the lake. A day-use fee applies to visit the park.
Address: 4050 Simmons Road, Belton, Texas
9. The Andy K. Wells Hike and Bike Trail
A great way to get some exercise during your visit to Killeen is along the Andy K. Wells Hike and Bike Trail. The 2.5-mile trail starts at the Killeen Community Center, so it is easy to park your car and hit the trail. The trail is the first phase in Killeen's efforts to create a network of trails throughout the region that will connect the city, Lake Belton, and Stillhouse Hollow Lake.
If you do not want to ride the full length of the trail, or if you are traveling with children who need a shorter route, the bike trail is split into several sections that range from a quarter of a mile to three quarters of a mile, connecting the community center, playgrounds, gazebo, and amphitheater. It is a convenient trail that stays within the vicinity of the community center.
Address: 2201 E Veterans Memorial Boulevard Killeen, Texas
A night at the rodeo will make you feel like a true Texan as you witness the agility and strength of the cowboys in the arena and the broncos they ride.
Rodeo Killeen is dialed into the community beyond just offering local entertainment. They emphasize giving back to the people of Killeen, so you might see a canned food drive underway or another charitable effort taking place at the rodeo that supports the local community.
Address: 3301 South WS Young Drive, Killeen, Texas
Official site: https://www.killeenrodeo.com/
11. Temple Lake Park
Temple Lake Park is a day-use park near Belton Lake that is great if you are wanting to enjoy a picnic outside in nature. The park has more than 60 picnic sites with barbecue grills and shelters available for groups. You can plan a day by the water enjoying boating, swimming at the beach, and fishing.
Playgrounds at the park make it comfortable for families that are traveling with children. The volleyball and basketball courts add to the range of activities that you can do for a day. The park facilities are convenient, with flush toilets and showers available. A day fee is required to visit Temple Lake Park.
There are several nearby campgrounds if you want to make an outdoor weekend out of your visit.
Address: 14190 FM 2305, Belton, Texas
12. Outdoor Concerts at Killeen Amphitheater
Just behind the Killeen Community Center is the Killeen Amphitheater. The outdoor amphitheater is small, but it is the centerpiece for local concerts, festivals, and movie nights on the lawn. The hillside seating makes for a comfortable front-row spot to see live entertainment on stage.
Before your trip to Killeen, look at the city's events calendar to see what concerts and performances are taking place at the amphitheater. If you want to extend your time here, you can book ahead of the concert to walk along the trails around the community center, or pack a lunch or dinner picnic.
Address: 2201 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Killeen, Texas
13. Experience the City of Belton
A nice day trip while you are staying in Killeen is in the neighboring town of Belton. It is just a 20-minute drive from Killeen, and it is a historic town that is great for adding in some additional activities, like museums and outdoor recreation.
The small town of Belton has the Bell County Museum, which showcases some of the important history of the area, from an extensive lithic collection to unique antiques that include hundreds of mustache cups.
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is a great campus for walking on its manicured 340 acres of grounds.
Belton has plenty of outdoor recreation at Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Lake, from boating and kayaking to fishing and hiking. Miller Springs Park is a beautiful small nature preserve with several walking paths through the wooded landscape, with overlooks and wildlife viewing.