The Getaway
The Best Things to Do in Waco, Texas

Waco is among the top 25 cities in Texas in terms of population, ranking 21 with a 2024 population of 147,434. This Texas city is beautiful and welcoming, although it's underrated in terms of its offerings. Waco is a vibrant destination that caters to adventure seekers of all ages, with a mix of iconic landmarks, scenic outdoor attractions, and rich cultural experiences. Whether you're into outdoor activities, exploring history, or immersing yourself in local culture, Waco has something exciting for everyone to enjoy. Read on to explore some of the best areas to visit in Waco and the exciting activities you can engage in.

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01 Photography at the Waco Suspension Bridge

Historic Waco Suspension Bridge in Texas

The Waco Suspension Bridge is among the oldest bridges currently found in Texas. It was built in 1870 and was the first bridge to stretch across the Brazos River. Now pedestrian-only, the bridge forms part of the Waco Riverwalk and offers a breathtaking view of the river. You can take a short stroll over the bridge and take in the natural beauty of Indian Spring Park and Martin Luther King Junior Park, which flank the bridge on either side of the river. Alternatively, the bridge's photogenic charm makes it an excellent place for photography for Instagram enthusiasts and tourists.

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02 Taste a soda at the Dr. Pepper Museum

Dr. Pepper was created by Dr. Pemberton before Coca-Cola, making it one of the oldest and most iconic soft drinks in the world. The building that currently serves as a three-story museum was previously used by the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company from 1906 to the mid-1960s.The museum is filled with memorabilia showcasing the history of the soft drink brand, and visitors can purchase souvenirs at the gift shop to take home a piece of this iconic brand's legacy. Moreover, visitors to the museum can participate in various activities such as making a soda, tasting different sodas, experiencing extreme pepper flavors, exploring paranormal encounters, and joining guided tours and field trips. The field trips include a one-hour tour of the historic building and a fun make-a-soda program.

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03 Bird watching at Lake Waco Wetlands

An aerial view of Lake Waco Wetlands and the surrounding landscape

Are you a fan of birdwatching? The thrill of spotting a rare species is a hobby enjoyed by many. During the late 1990s, the water level of Lake Waco experienced a significant rise of almost ten feet, which eventually stabilized at an increase of seven feet. The wetlands were established in 2001 to provide a habitat for various plant, insect, and animal species. The site also features an education center and a research facility. The wetlands have since grown to almost 200 acres and now feature a plant nursery, raised walkways, hiking trails, and great opportunities for bird watching, photography, and hiking.

Hundley_Photography / Getty Images

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04 View exhibits at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame

Waco offers a variety of activities for sports enthusiasts, with the Texas Sports Hall of Fame being a must-visit attraction. In 1951, Texas became the first state to establish a Hall of Fame to honor its athletes, with baseball player Tris Speaker being named as the first inductee. The Hall of Fame, which was relocated to Waco in 1993, celebrates over 300 iconic Texas sports figures. Visitors have the opportunity to explore the hall and see a collection of more than 6,000 sports memorabilia items.

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05 Visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum

This tour will not feature baseball legend Nolan Ryan but rather a tribute to the famed law enforcement group, the Texas Rangers. The Rangers, established in 1835, started their operations before Texas became a state in the United States. Presently, the 30-acre grounds serve as a memorial to those who had sacrificed their lives in service to Texas, honoring their contributions both during the time when Texas was a republic and as a state. The museum is a significant historical site for the state police department, offering educational opportunities for school groups, scouting organizations, and event hosting such as weddings and business meetings.

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06 Shop at the Magnolia Market

The iconic silos at the Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas

The Magnolia Market was created by Chip and Joanna Gaines, well-known reality TV personalities from the Homes & Garden television network. Magnolia Market is known for its iconic silos that mark its two-block location in Waco. Events held here feature live music performances, various vendor booths, and engaging activities suitable for all ages. The market is Waco's most prominent tourist attraction and a must-do on the weekends, which includes some of Waco's best bites with its famous food truck park. Additionally, the area is dog-friendly, allowing pet lovers to shop with their furry companions.

Crystal Bolin Photography / Getty Images

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07 Biking at the Cotton Belt Trail

The Cotton Belt Trail is an 11-mile hiking route located near Waco, Texas, that offers a scenic journey through neighborhoods, creeks, and forested areas, making it a great place to unwind. The path is smoothly paved, gently sloped, and generally at least six feet wide throughout most of the places. All skill levels recommend it for easy wheelchair accessibility. It also features several road crossings and a railroad crossing. Activity options on the trail include running, walking, biking, and inline skating, all accessible year-round. Visitors are welcome to bring their dogs, but they must wear a leash.

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08 Watch the Waco BlueCats minor league baseball

A baseball and baseball bat laying on the field

Texas is well-known for its passion for football at all levels, from the high school level through the professional leagues, but baseball remains America's favorite pastime. Waco's BlueCats play in one of the grandest minor league ballparks in the nation. The fantastic $12 million park, which opened its doors in early 2018, is the perfect destination for sports enthusiasts as it hosts 56 home games through the summer. However, minor league baseball remains one of the most cost-effective nights out, allowing you to spend quality time with your loved ones while enjoying the baseball games of the pros.

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09 Explore the Armstrong Browning Library

Did you know that Baylor University's campus houses the largest collection of works by the famous poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning? The library primarily showcases the Brownings but also houses what is considered the largest collection of secular stained glass globally, making it a must-visit for tour and travel enthusiasts interested in art and history. The library offers a variety of exhibits, including permanent displays and several temporary exhibits each year, and is free to all visitors. You can plan an interactive library tour, which offers the opportunity to explore the facility and discover unique exhibitions.

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10 Check out the actual Baylor Bears

A Baylor bear climbing up a tree in a jungle

The Baylor Bears mascots can be seen relaxing in their natural habitat, thanks to the support of Bill and Eva Williams. Visitors can observe the bears lounging near waterfalls and fallen trees, providing a unique and authentic experience. Joy and Lady are two black bear sisters who enjoy entertaining visitors by playing and frolicking around. Visitors can enjoy watching the bears from morning until night. It is recommended to bring apricots, peanut butter, smoothies, and dried fruits to feed the bears for added entertainment.

Daniel Friend / Getty Images

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11 Field trips through the Mammoth Site

An aerial view of the fossils at the Mammoth Site in Texas

In 1978, archeologists discovered the largest collection of mammoths to have died in a single disaster. It is believed that a mudslide that occurred nearly 70,000 years ago claimed the lives of many of these creatures. While visitors are not allowed to stroll the excavation site, a viewing pavilion was built by Baylor University to view their remains roughly ten years ago. Visitors get to enjoy on-site field trips and a virtual tour of the Dig Shelter.

Arpad Benedek / Getty Images

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12 Experience scenic overlooks at Cameron Park

A view of the rivers and trails at the Cameron Park in Waco, Texas

Cameron Park in Waco is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, featuring two rivers, scenic biking and hiking trails, and the renowned Waco Zoo. Also, Waco is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a variety of activities to enjoy in the sun. Visitors can experience a world-class Frisbee golf course and vast acres of land to explore while in the city. Exploring the park on foot is the ideal way to fully experience and appreciate its beauty, even though roads may cut through the area for convenience during hot weather. The park hosts major festivals, sports, and parties. You can stroll with your partner along the river or organize picnics around the park.

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13 Sunset river cruise on Brazos River

A laid-back river cruise is among the best ways to experience the beauty of Central Texas. Waco Tours offers a pontoon boat tour on the Brazos River, showcasing top city sights, wildlife, and scenic landscapes. Tour guides provide educational insights to tourists about the history and significance of the river in the local area. The experience requires a minimum of four guests and lasts about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

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14 Experience your dream shopping at Spice Village

Vintage glitter dresses hung at a shop

The Spice Village is a must-visit destination for those who love to explore unique shopping experiences. Established in 1997, this expansive 30,000-square-foot former warehouse now houses a collection of over 60 separate shops offering a diverse range of items such as antiques, housewares, and vintage clothing. It is located in the center of town, surrounded by many bars and restaurants to satisfy your hunger and thirst before you return for more from this unique shopping destination.

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15 Enjoy a taste of Texas brews

Experience the diverse and vibrant craft beverage scene in Texas by visiting popular establishments such as Bare Arms Brewing, Waco Ale Company, Valley Mills Vineyards, and Balcones Distilling. Each establishment offers a unique taste of the Lone Star State, from the crisp, refreshing ales of Bare Arms Brewing to the robust, full-bodied wines of Valley Mills Vineyards. Also, Balcones Distilling is a renowned distillery that offers a diverse selection of award-winning spirits, ideal for travelers looking to experience the authentic flavors of Texas.

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16 Meet true Texas icons at the Doris Miller Memoria

Visit the Doris Miller Memorial to honor the legacy of a heroic Texan. This stunning monument honors the first African American hero of World War II, offering a peaceful place of reflection and a poignant reminder of Waco's rich cultural heritage. The monument features three bronze relief images depicting Miller's life story and one representing the Navy Cross.

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17 Hang ten at the Waco Surf

father teaching small son to surf Stephen Simpson / Getty Images

Experience the thrill of surfing in the heart of Texas at Waco Surf. Waco Surf is a large inland watersports and surfing facility in the country. The unique destination offers wave sessions for all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned surfers. Experience the thrill of riding waves on a state-of-the-art surf machine that replicates the waves found on top surfing beaches worldwide.

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18 Explore the Waco Downtown Cultural District

Discover the vibrant heart of Waco in its Downtown Cultural District. This vibrant neighborhood is filled with numerous art galleries, specialty shops, and distinctive dining options. Make sure to attend the Waco town Chalk + Walk festival, a lively event that highlights the skills of artists from the local community. Also, you can experience a variety of cultural activities, such as live music, art exhibitions, farmer's markets, poetry readings, and diverse festivals.

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19 Get outdoors on the Pura Vida Paddle

woman kayaking gradyreese / Getty Images

Discover the beauty of the outdoors in Waco by embarking on a paddleboarding adventure with Pura Vida Paddle. You can experience the tranquility of the Bosque and Brazos Rivers by renting a kayak or paddleboard for a leisurely paddle on the serene waters. Alternatively, you can explore the scenic Waco Riverwalk, a charming trail that runs alongside the Brazos River from Baylor University's Ferrell Center to Cameron Park, offering a delightful walking experience for nature lovers. Being near bodies of water can provide a sense of relaxation and peace, allowing individuals to escape from their worries and fully appreciate the present moment.

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20 Savor Waco's dynamic dining scene

Explore the wide range of culinary experiences available in Waco's vibrant dining scene. Discover a variety of delicious dining options in the area, from juicy burgers and shakes at Health Camp to flavorful barbecue at Vitek's, catering to a wide range of tastes for food enthusiasts. For a unique dining experience, visit Buzzard Billy's for some authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine or George's Restaurant for its famous chicken fried steak and Big O beer.

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21 Exoctic shopping spree at Finderly

friends shopping SolStock / Getty Images

Hey, have you heard about The Findery and Simply Irresistible? They are like shopping paradise for unique and irresistible treasures. You can totally indulge your passion for finding one-of-a-kind items there. These unique shopping destinations offer a wide range of items, from vintage furniture and home décor to boutique clothing and artisanal goods. Each shop offers a unique shopping experience, ensuring you'll find something truly special.

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22 Experience Waco’s live music scene

The guitarist plays on guitar in a dark room. Hands of a Guitar player playing the guitar. Low key Pro2sound / Getty Images

Discover the lively music scene in Waco by visiting popular venues like the Waco Hippodrome Theatre, Backyard Waco, and Stay Classy. These locations showcase a wide range of performances, including blues, jazz, country, and tribute acts in the music industry. Waco offers a vibrant live music scene that is sure to delight any music enthusiast. Additionally, you can enjoy a unique experience of sipping on refreshing drinks at the theater while watching films and live performances.

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23 Explore the Baylor University Campus

Explore the beautiful campus of Baylor University, one of the oldest universities in the United States. This prestigious institution offers a wealth of cultural and educational experiences, from its stunning architecture to its diverse range of academic programs. The historic buildings and East Village Complex are known for their student-focused amenities and services.

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24 Sunset boat adventure in Waco

River stevenallan / Getty Images

Brazos Tours offers morning and sunset tours on the Brazos River, allowing you to choose the type of adventure you want. Cruising the river allows you to discover the city's rich history. The morning tour is peaceful and allows you to watch Waco wake up, while the evening tour showcases the sunset and the city lights reflecting on the Brazos River.

Waco is a vibrant destination that welcomes visitors with a range of thrilling adventures and historical experiences. It is a must-visit location for those seeking excitement and exploration. Prepare for an unforgettable journey filled with charm and wonder as you discover all that Waco has to offer.

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