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25 Awesome Things to do in Waco: A Local’s Guide

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Are you looking for things to do in Waco, Texas? Well there is a lot to do in this small city. Read on to find out more!

About Waco

Waco has a checkered history and has continued to struggle and survive through many things such as: racial injustice – the lynching of Jesse Washington, the 1953 tornado, the David Koresh and Mount Carmel Siege, and Baylor rapists. We’ve had to rebuild our city, rebuild our reputation, and through it all we came out stronger. It is important to remember the past and realize that you are visiting and experiencing a small part of American History and culture. Though we are a blip on the tv screen, or a footnote in history books, we are here and we are thriving in this city we call home. There’s even a National Monument here! The Woolly Mammoth site. And although we have a checkered past, we have many kind loving peaceful and helpful people in this town. People of all race, creed, and color.

Waco is somewhat of an island in the middle of Texas. It takes at least 4 hours to get out of the state driving from Waco. We are literally trapped in the middle of Texas. We can go north 2 hours or south 2 hours to our bigger better fellow Texas Cities – Dallas and Austin. For that reason it is hard to get in and hard to get out of this town. But once you are here you are home!

Here are some of my favorite things to do in Waco. Here goes!

25 Things to do in Waco

  1. Go through the secret door at Poppa Rollos – If you’re from Waco, you’ve probably heard of Poppa Rollos Pizza. It is a local pizza restaurant that is sort of a hole in the wall type of restaurant. Its really cool and really popular though. It is located in an old building on Valley Mills Drive and has been there since the 70’s or 80’s I believe. For the decor think: 1930’s parlor. The cool thing about it is that it has secret rooms and secret doors. There is one door to the party room/ bathroom that looks like a brick wall. There is another door to the bar that looks like a phone booth. They used to have a bunch of hallways full of chalk boards when I was a kid, but I don’t know what happened to that part because its not there anymore. PLUS THEIR PIZZA IS AMAZING. And their ranch dressing and their beer….its just a cool place. Oh I almost forgot. they play three stooges and little rascals on a big screen.
  2. Stand on top of Lover’s Leap – If you dare! There is a cliff at Cameron Park called lover’s leap. Legend has it an Indian couple jumped to their death there trying to escape from bad guys, which is why it is called lover’s leap. Learn more at the Waco History Project.
  3. Drive down Valley Mills (the Valley) on Friday Night – If you are the race car driving type, Valley Mills Drive (AKA: the Valley) turns into a drag racing strip on Friday and Saturday night. I kid you not. This has been going on since the 90’s. Its a local tradition that just hasn’t let up. I haven’t been down there lately but I think it is still going on. People show up in their decked out cars and race up and down the street.
  4. Wander Around Downtown – Downtown Waco is interesting to say the least. Right now it is a mix of forgotten old buildings, office space, and new restaurants, bars, and shops. There are lots of murals downtown and other cool things to look at. There’s a lot of alley ways too if you are interested in urban exploration. Just be careful not to go at it alone.
  5. Drive across the I-35 Brazos River Bridges at night – You have to do this if you come to Waco! Drive down I-35 at night around Baylor and you will see the Brazos River Bridges lit up. It is a sight to see. They were built in 2014 and are a new landmark for the City of Waco. We all love them and think they are amazing. (SORRY SUSPENSION BRIDGE)
  6. Walk across the suspension bridge – The Suspension Bridge is the original bridge that goes across the Brazos River. You can walk across it. No cars allowed. It was built in 1870, so it is a very historic bridge and has been the iconic landmark of Waco for a very long time. It helped transform Waco from a frontier town to a commercial city.
  7. Hike or Bike through the trails of Cameron Park – There are lots of cool forest trails in Cameron Park. They are used by bikes, pedestrians and people on horses. Here is a link to a map of the trails.
  8. Paddle Boat on the Brazos – Yes you can now ride a paddle boat or canoe down the river. They never had this while I was growing up…. This just started a few years ago. CRAZY. Here is a link to the Waco Paddle Company if you want to go for an adventure down the Brazos.
  9. Go to the Downtown Farmer’s Market – Waco has a cool farmer’s market in heritage square that is open EVERY SATURDAY! You can go there from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. It has local produce and artisan vendors from within 150 miles of the city.
  10. Check out the Food Truck Scene – Waco has a vibrant food truck scene. Its been growing and growing. We love food trucks around here. You can find them in various spots. There is a food truck row downtown by the river off of Franklin. There are also a bunch of food trucks at Magnolia Market. If you want to go to a real mexican food truck you can find these scattered throughout town. There is one on Bosque near the old Magnolia shop, one in South Waco on Bagby, and one on Dutton Avenue in South Waco. You can get amazing street tacos all of these food trucks.
  11. Check out the flea market – Waco has a cool flea market on LaSalle Avenue at an old drive in theater. There are mexican vendors, people selling their old stuff, furniture, car items, tools, clothes, toys, home decor, you name it. If you are lucky you will find a treasure. One time I found an old children’s wooden chair there for $1…. YES A KID’S WOODEN ROCKING CHAIR FOR A DOLLAR. I have used it ever since to take photos of my kids with. Those chairs cost at least $60 new.
  12. Visit magnolia market – You can’t come to Waco without visiting the Magnolia Market…DUH! It is an awesome MECCA of architectual and interior design magic. It is the HGTV holy land. So go see it!
  13. Watch the sun set at Lake Waco – Waco has amazing sunsets. They look even more amazing against the Lake Waco waters. You can watch the sunset really good at Woodway Park. They have a hillside next to the lake that you can sit on and watch the sunset.
  14. Watch a movie at the Hippodrome – The Hippodrome is Waco’s oldest theater. It was built in 1914. They have food and select movies. It has also been the sight of paranormal investigations as some say it is haunted. It used to be free standing but whoever maintains it tacked on an UGLY RESTAURANT literally onto the side of it and put a digital sign on the marque, which I think is BLASPHEMY. They should have just left it alone. It is on the national register of historic places for goodness sake. Who allowed these people to build an UGLY restaurant on the side of it?? They also put a big ugly restaurant sign that says Raleigh right in front of the WACO Marquee which is F*cking Stupid (pardon my french).
  15. Get some Coffee at Common Grounds – Common Grounds is Waco’s go to local coffee shop. It is featured on fixer upper and is located near Baylor. They have an outdoor area with a stage too! Its a cool place to hang out, whether you are a tourist or a local or a college kid.
  16. Shop at Spice Village – Shop Village is another locally owned treasure. This is a shopping village/market at the stop of the 2 story old building that looks like an old train station. All of the shops inside are locally owned and curated. It is a unique shopping experience to say the least. Check out my trip to Spice Village.
  17. Take a photo with Chip and Jo at the Convention Center – There is a cardboard cut out of Chip and Joanna Gaines at the entrance of the Waco Convention Center. Stop by and take a selfie with the 2 media darlings!
  18. Go to the Waco Mammoth Site – Can you imagine that 20,000 years ago, Waco was experiencing the Ice Age and Woolly Mammoths Roamed the land? Oh and the Waco Mammoth site is a NATIONAL MONUMENT. Yes, a national monument exists in Waco Texas. Thank you Barack Obama!!
  19. Go horse back riding – There are several different places to ride horses in Waco. When in Rome, am I right?
  20. Take a picture next to a Mural – You have to document your trip to Waco with a selfie next to one of our wonderful murals. I have listed several of them on my blog about waco murals.
  21. Do the River Walk – Did you know that there is a paved sidewalk that goes down by the Brazos River? There sure is. So if you need some fresh air, go down by the river and take a walk! You can get there from the suspension bridge and it goes by Cameron park.
  22. Drive down Austin Avenue and look at the pretty houses – This street near downtown Waco has many beautiful old houses. You can also see the Cottonland Castle house that Chip and Joanna Gaines recently purchased at 3300 Austin Avenue. I believe this is the Castle Heights Historic District which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
  23. Take a fixer upper tour – There are several companies that offer tours of Waco homes that were featured in the HGTV show Fixer Upper. You will also get to see the Harp Design Co. shop which is also features on Fixer Upper.
  24. Get an authentic Dr. Pepper from the fountain at the Museum – If you go to the Dr. Pepper museum, not only will you be able to explore Dr. Pepper’s history in a historic landmark, but you will get a free cup of Dr. Pepper at the end of the tour. It is made the old fashioned way. They put syrup in a cup and then add the soda water to the syrup to make Dr. Pepper.
  25. Catch a game (or event) at McLane Stadium – McLane Stadium is our magnificent football stadium built for the Baylor Bears. They have other Waco community events there too and even high school football games.

Conclusion – 25 Things to do in Waco

Wow, that was a long list! I feel like I’m not even scratching the surface of things to do in Waco. I may have to create a list of 25 more things to do in Waco. Stay tuned!

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