Listacles are the way to go. Simple, descriptive and to the point. We all know the big boys: The Magnolia Silos, Baylor events, Lake Waco and such. This list brushes the surface of “Things to do in Waco?” Here’s our first list.
A preface: This list could easily be subdivided into multiple different categories and we fully want to explore those categories. In the meantime, we’ll give you our personal 10 most favorite things to do in Waco.
Waco has a surprising amount of places to hike. Firstly, and very importantly, there’s Cameron Park. You’ve heard about it, you’ve read about it, you may or may not have explored it, but you should. Cameron Park does not feel like Texas. With overarching trees, steep hills and abundant greenery, it’s not only a cooler option in the heat but a wonderful escape from ‘flat’ Texas. Whether you’re looking for trails to hike, tables to picnic at or playgrounds to play on, Cameron Park literally has all of it. And then some cliffs. Some awesome, limestone cliffs.
Beyond Cameron Park you get places like Mother Neff State Park which is an outdoor oasis of multiple different terrain classifications. You go from grassland to woodland to caves to a castle tower. It’s awesome.
If beautiful pavement is what you seek, Cotton Belt Trail is a well paved trail that is surrounded but nature, but has the luxury of a smooth surface. Speaking from experience, this is an excellent place to rollerblade. There are a couple of hills that give you just the right kind of momentum…but take caution and use your brake to avoid falling flat on your butt. (also, unfortunately, speaking from experience.)
Pro Tip: If you want to run but hate running in 100 degree weather (honestly who doesn’t) run along the Cameron Park river trail! The river and shade make it feel at least 15 degrees cooler (give or take) and the scenery is much more exciting than running on pavement.
Waco has a lot of live music to offer, and most people aren’t fully aware of this little factoid. Common Grounds is a no brainer. Their venue brings bigger named artists like All Sons & Daughters, Ben Rector and many many others. Places like Klassy Glass, Dichotomy and The Grape host local artists from around Texas and beyond while providing a relaxed, conversational environment. The Backyard Bar Stage and Grill brings in artists like Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen. Concerts like the Margarita and Salsa Festival bring in even bigger named artists, and big concerts like Brazos Nights offers free listening for the whole family.
Pro Tip: If you want to stay in the know, follow all these people on social media and they’ll be sure to let you know when and where they have their events. Social media is the bomb. We’re biased.
The best way to end a date, whether that be a coffee date with a friend or a romantic date with a potential significant other, there is no better way to end the date than with good dessert. Hey Sugar, a new candy store, just opened up a whole new category of desserts for Waco. You can go get fudge, old school candy or ice-cream and everything is vibrantly painted.
If you haven’t had Pokey-O’s you’re wrong.
Heritage Creamery is the perfect old school ice-cream shop that makes their own ice-cream from locally sourced ingredients. It’s gourmet without the barrier of houtie-toutie. It’s wonderful.
McGregor is a nice little dessert hotspot with Cuppicakes, a cupcake place that is wonderfully old-school and fresh, and the Coffee Shop Cafe has the best pies you will ever encounter.
There are so many snow-cone shops in Waco. Bahama Bucks is always a crowd pleaser, Coco’s is a Waco classic and Mr. Snows is newly renovated and looks freaking awesome. Plus eating flavored ice is always a phenomenal way to cool off in the summer.
Pro Tip : The Grape on Valley Mills has the best cheesecake we’ve ever encountered. It’s made from scratch, it pairs nicely with a Rose and it is gone fast.
4. Boutique Shopping:
Every town has their niche, and one thing that we see Waco settling into is boutiques. Since Fixer Upper and Magnolia happened, Waco has developed this persona of vintage finds and refurbished goods. When you go down to La Salle and see all of the antique stores like Junque in the Trunk, The Findery, Spice Village and many… many other stores you can see this niche is definitely true.
Beyond home stores, clothing places like Roots Boutique, Grae Apparel, Plum, Mainstream Boutique, Prefontaine and many others give great clothing options to shop around at. You can find brands from Free People to Umgee to wonderfully unknown brands that keep other people from wearing the same clothes as you.
Pro Tip: The only place in Waco to sell Kendra Scott is a little store by Hobby Lobby called Coreopsis. It’s not opened Mondays, it’s off the beaten path, and it’s chalk full of the latest Kendra goodies.
We would just like to say that we think the movie watching industry is VASTLY underrated in Waco. Firstly- going the the movies here will cost you seven bucks. $7. SEVEN DOLLARS. Compared to the rest of the country this is insanely cheap and we should be taking advantage of it. Secondly- We have options. The Hewitt theatre is $.25 more than the Franklin theatre, but has nicer finishes. The Franklin theatre is older but has seats that recline better, and they have Blue Bell Ice-cream.
Aside from the mainstream theaters, we have The Hippodrome. The Waco Hippodrome is quite possibly one of the most exciting things to come to Waco. It’s a beacon of development on Austin Avenue and it’s a cornerstone location to be entertained downtown. The ability to eat, drink and watch a movie all at the same time is American innovation and efficiency at its finest. The throwback feel of the Hippodrome is its greatest asset. If you haven’t been yet you can’t call yourself a Wacoan.
Contrary to popular belief, Waco does actually have a bar scene.
Muddle offers the trendy Austin feel of a rustic building with lot of lights and lively music. Drink of choice: Muddle Pucker, duh.
Dichotomy is the swanky bar to meet your millennial friends at and talk about how to solve all our economic problems. Drink of choice: The Dichotomy Old Fashioned. Arguably the best drink we’ve ever consumed.
Barnetts is the perfect Irish pub to gather groups of people in and have and an all around great time. Dink of choice: Guinness. It’s only fitting.
TrueLove is an interesting juxtaposition of trendy with a hint of nerd. They were the first place to utilize Pokemon Go in Waco, and for that we are grateful. Drink of choice: White Russian or the Dollar Sangria on Wednesdays.
Dancing Bear is the place to test your intellectual conversation abilities. On any given night you can walk in on people playing “Settlers of Catan” in a booth, trivia night, or an invigorating conversation. Drink of choice: This changes all the time because their beer choices change constantly, always giving you a reason to come back. This is the place we do a lot of our writing, to be completely honest. We try to get the last booth (because of the plug and we will fight you for it.)
Trojan Cork and Keg is where to go after a long week and you just want a fishbowl. So obviously the drink of choice is the Fish Bowl.
Klassy Glass is a wine bar that frequently has live music. It’s a great date night spot to test the sophistication of your tannin tastes. Drink of choice: They have chianti and it’s hard to find ergo it is our favorite.
Waco Wine Shoppe makes you feel like you’re as artsy as you want to be. Drink of choice changes here as well, but if you catch a tasting opportunity you’ll end up drinking something wonderfully unexpected and if you get there soon enough you get to sit on the yellow couch.
I’m going to have to stop here because this bullet point alone is taking up half the article…so be looking for a full article on this topic soon. Haven’t even gotten to The Grape, Crickets, Valley Mills Vineyard, The Backyard, Halftime, Hippodrome, Scruffs (HA) or many of the other restaurants that have great bars in them yet.
Pro tip: Happy hours are obviously wonderful, but if you utilize things like “Whiskey Wednesdays’ and “Martini Mondays” it’s even better. (more details in the next article)
This is another highly underrated aspect of Waco. The Mayborn Museum is spectacular. If you haven’t been you’re wrong. It’s a great way to spend time indoors and still be active. It’s a very “hands on” museum so it’s a great place to take the family, take a date or just take your friends. Favorite exhibit is the bubble exhibit despite the fact that no matter how carefully I tried, I could not fully put myself in a human sized bubble.
The Dr Pepper Museum is historical, trendy and awesome. The fact that Dr Pepper originated in Waco is a crowing jewel of an achievement that we should be very proud of.
The Texas Sports Hall of Fame museum is a great place for sports junkies, and the Texas Rangers Museum is a wonderful ode to Texas.
And lastly, nbd BUT The Waco Mammoth site is now a NATIONAL MONUMENT. It’s an extremely big deal.
Pro Tip: Knowing what days to go can help you save a lot of moola. For example, if you go to the Mayborn on the first Sunday of every month, it’s free!
Don’t know how it happened but all of a sudden Waco became a little hub of home brewed coffee and their shops. Its awesome.
Common Grounds gives you delicious coffee in delicious concoctions like cowboy coffees, frozen coffees and hot chocolates and lattes and all great things under a hip and earthy roof. They stay on top of their seasonal drinks so there’s always something new to look forward to.
Dichotomy serves APEX coffee (brewed in Waco) and gives it to you strong. The latte art is beautiful and the coffee flavor is rich and strong.
Pinewood Roasters brews their own bean as well and has a store front attached to Alpha and Omega, a Mediterranean restaurant. Their coffee is bold and their social media is beautiful.
Bru is a new bean that is served out of an old elevator. Next to a swanky home goods store, the marble covered hallway serves espresso shots, Americanos and many other things you won’t be able to pronounce, but you’ll still be able to order because they have a nice graphic posted for you on their wall.
Pro Tip: Many restaurants serve their special blends as well. Our personal favorite is the 254 blend in the Olive Branch. It’s wonderful.
9. Group Activities
This is very broad, sorry. But we didn’t know how else to fit in our three favorite activities that we could not have left off of this list.
Firstly- Waco Escape Rooms. It’s awesome. Bring your closest group of friends and bond together under the challenge of getting out of a locked room on a time limit. Check it out.
Secondly- $2 bowling on Tuesdays at AMF Lanes. Everything is only $2. Shoes, games, beers…it’s the best. Grab your friends, loser buys dessert. (see number 3 for options)
Thirdly- Lunar Golf. Putt-Putt finally made its way to Waco, and it stepped up its game. Pro number one- it’s indoors. Pro number two- it’s conducive to multiple people playing together.
This is a loose category but we couldn’t leave those three things out.
Pro Tip: Never forget socks when you’re bowling and try to wear white while golfing. It’ll glow and you’ll feel awesome.
10. Food Trucks
Another niche that Waco is really honing in on is food trucks. Not only do we have a strip right by the river that produces the coolest place to take you work lunch break, but the Magnolia Silos have a whole slew of food truck option.
Milo is all locally sourced and we’ve never felt better about eating burger.
CoTown Crepes is delicious and if you can catch the cookie butter crepe you are #winning for the week.
Dave’s Burger Barn is honestly phenomenal. The burgers are simple and fantastic.
There are so many options that we haven’t even scratched the surface of (yet) but that’s for another article.
11. The Farmers Market
To be fair, this is in every “things to do in Waco” article, but for a good reason. The Dowtown Waco Farmers Market is wonderfully holistic way to showcase everything that is locally sourced in the Waco area.
Personally, our favorite aspect of the farmers market is the whole “bring your dog” concept. Everyone and their mother has a really cute dog in Waco and it’s fun to watch them all being showcased.
But the Farmers Market is a great place to get fresh produce, flowers. coffee. honey, crepes, jewelry, wine, grilled cheese and so many other locally produced things.
The amount of new booths growing at the Farmers Market is almost directly proportional to the growth in Waco. You want to see a healthy city? Look at their local Farmers Market.
That’s a very, very brief overview of a few ways to entertain yourself in Waco. There are so many more things we haven’t fully explored yet, but when we do we’ll write about it and let ya know how it goes.