Belton is a small Texas city between Austin and Waco and the county seat of Bell County since 1852. There are many reminders of the town’s cotton-growing and shipping past, such as the historic, beautifully renovated cotton gin on the Nolan Creek, now a location of several great restaurants. Belton is home to the University of Mary Hardin–Baylor and of Bell Country Museum that preserves the local heritage and history. Nearby Belton lake reservoir provides water and flood control but also plenty of opportunities for recreation, especially boating and fishing. Hours/availability may have changed.

1.Bell County Museum

Bell County Museum
© Bell County Museum

Bell Country Museum in Belton, Texas, is a regional heritage and history museum established in 1991 with the goal of preserving and interpreting the historic and prehistoric heritage of the Bell County region. The museum has several fascinating permanent collections, organizes occasional temporary exhibits and provides traveling exhibitions to other communities. The museum is located in the beautiful 1904 Carnegie Library on the Main Street in downtown Belton. The Bell County Museum houses an expansive lithic collection with prehistoric stone tools and arrows from both amateur and professional collectors. Other permanent collections are The Moustache Tea Cup Collection, The Miriam A. Ferguson Collection that chronicles the life of the first female Governor of Texas and one of Texas’ First Ladies, and C.O. Buckellew Miniature Home Collection.

201 N Main St, Belton, TX 76513, Phone: 254-933-5243

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2.Belton Lake, Belton, Texas

Belton Lake, Belton, Texas
© Reagan/

Belton Lake is a reservoir on the Leon River in the Brazos River basin, about five miles from Belton, Texas. The reservoir was impounded in 1954 in order to provide flood control and drinking water for Temple, Belton and other surrounding communities. Belton Lake is a popular recreational destination, especially for boaters and fishermen, who come for largemouth, white and smallmouth bass, hybrid striped bass, sunfish, bluegill, catfish, crappie, and other species of fish . In 2018 Lake Belton hosted the annual “Lonestar Throwdown” kayak fishing tournament. There are five parks around the lake: Live Oak Ridge Park, Cedar Ridge Park, Winkler Park, White Flint Park, and Westcliff Park. More than 11 miles of hiking and biking trails run through prairie, upland, canyon and riparian habitats.

Belton, Texas

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3.University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Belton, TX

University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Belton, TX
© University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

The University of Mary Hardin–Baylor is a Baptist Christian co-educational institution of higher learning in Belton, Texas. The university was chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas as Baylor Female College, the female department of today’s Baylor University. It has grown since to a co-educational institution with 3,914 students. The university awards degrees at the baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral levels. It is affiliated with the Texas Baptist General Convention. The university is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its first doctoral program started in 2007, leading to the doctor of education degree. It had 21 students in the class. Today the university also awards the doctor of nursing practice and doctor of physical therapy and degrees.

900 College St, Belton, TX 76513, Phone: 254-295-8642

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4.The Gin at Nolan Creek, Belton, Texas

The Gin at Nolan Creek, Belton, Texas
© The Gin at Nolan Creek

Located in a 1927 brick cotton gin that has been meticulously restored and converted into a restaurant complex, The Gin at Walnut Creek serves succulent mesquite-grilled meats and Texas-inspired comfort food such as burgers, enchiladas and fried catfish. The restaurant shares the vast high ceiling space with a cluster of casual eateries that includes a Mexican joint, pizza place, wine bar and yogurt shop. The history of the place is big part of the popularity of the restaurant. Much of the original building has been preserved. The original wooden doors still have pencil marks left by farmers calculating their yield. The original scale that weighed cotton is now in the restaurant’s waiting area. The lovely breezy back patio was once a space for wagons waiting to be loaded. The patio leads to the creek’s restored waterfront. The restaurant is a perfect destination for everything from business lunches to happy hour and special occasions.

219 S East St, Belton, TX 76513, Phone: 254-613-4446

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5.Miller's Smokehouse, Belton, Texas

Miller's Smokehouse, Belton, Texas
© Miller's Smokehouse

Miller’s Smokehouse, located in downtown Belton, Texas, is a small family-owned smokehouse and no-nonsense counter-serve restaurant that serves arguably the best BBQ brisket, sausage and ribs you will find anywhere. Officially, they are among the 50 Best Barbecue Joints in the country. The meat is smoked, seasoned and cooked so perfectly that you do not need any sauce, although they offer home-made sauces, classic sides such as home-made beans, fantastic desserts and Texas wine and craft beer. The business went through some tough times but now the word is out and today they sell around five hundred pounds of pork-and-beef sausage each week - regular, jalapeño and cheese, and a pre-smoked hot link. On the way out, don’t forget to take some sausages to cook at home later.

300 E Central Ave, Belton, TX 76513, Phone: 254-939-5500

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5 Best Things to Do in Belton, Texas

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