Location: Waco, Texas
Type of Venue: Off-site, museum
Capacity: 500 guests
Nearby Accommodations: Hotel Indigo Waco-Baylor
The mighty Brazos River whispers past the stone exterior of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, where nearly 200 years of Texas law enforcement stories are waiting to be heard. Located off the Texas Ranger Trail in Waco, Texas, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum exists to educate and inspire visitors in the ways of the Texas Rangers through a vast array of artifacts and archives that help honor the service and legend of these Texas icons.
There was no such thing as a Texas Ranger before the 1820s, when American and European immigrants had just begun settling in the Mexican territory of Texas. The immigrants were promised land in exchange for adopting their new country’s language and ways, and in 1823, Stephen Austin formed a company of men to help protect the settlers against raids from hostile tribes nearby. The men became known as the Texas Rangers, and the company would go on to help serve the people of Texas for nearly two centuries, eventually falling under the banner of the Texas Department of Public Safety in 1935, where it stands today.
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame honors the “Ranger Ideal,” which puts the common good above self and believes that “right” will always win out over “wrong.” The Ranger badge has become a symbol for the state of Texas over the years, and today’s Rangers still don the same circle star badges made from Mexican coins that the first generation of Rangers wore. Visitors of the museum can view badges from years past, and at times, children are awarded a badge of their own, often by a Texas Ranger.
The museum features exhibits that help tell the story of the Texas Rangers as well as a state-run memorial Hall of Fame that honors 31 Rangers who have made a name for themselves in what has often been called “one of the most effective investigative law enforcement agencies in the world.” The museum offers guided tours for groups and is available for events or meetings with advance notice.
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum is a special place to hold events and represents one of the most iconic elements of Texas history. The building offers a dedicated banquet space called the John Knox Memorial Center that overlooks the Brazos River and holds up to 500 guests. Smaller groups with nonprofit and governmental agencies can rent out the Texas Ranger Education Center on the property; it holds up to 80 guests, and its classroom-only space is excellent for volunteer trainings and speaker presentations. Groups must meet requirements to be approved, and there are limited food capabilities in this space.
Food and beverages are not generally allowed in the museum during business hours, but during events, groups can enjoy an array of delicious meals and drinks while in the John Knox Memorial Center. Although the museum does not offer in-house catering, groups are encouraged to choose from a list of approved caterers that are staffed and equipped to bring everything from Texas barbecue for a midday meeting to passed hors d’oeuvres during formal evening gatherings. Alcohol is available during meetings or events in the John Knox Memorial Center, although it must be provided by the caterer with licensed bartenders.
The entire party will receive museum access when planners book the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum for a meeting or event. Guests are free to wander the exhibits throughout the six galleries, taking in everything from fine-art depictions of the Rangers to authentic Lipan Apache arrows and vintage Lone Ranger lunchboxes. During regular hours, groups of 10 to 50 can book a private guided tour of the museum, which lasts around 45 minutes. Groups can also request a presenter to come and teach the group more about the history of the Texas Rangers or even what a day in the life of a Texas Ranger looks like.
The town of Waco has seen a resurgence in recent years due in part to the wildly successful HGTV show “Fixer Upper” that was filmed there from 2013 to 2018. New businesses have come in, and award-winning restaurants have opened, making the town one of the most sought-after destinations across Texas. While in town for the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum, groups can stop in at the Magnolia Market at the Silos, visit the Homestead Craft Village or take a stroll across the Waco Suspension Bridge high above the Brazos River to see the cattle drive sculptures.