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  • Writer's pictureMrs. Amy Kay Scott

Adventures in Waco

Hello and Welcome to Waco, Texas! There are many reasons to visit this fine city, so let’s dive in! 

Waco boasts a rich heritage as the birthplace of iconic institutions such as Dr Pepper, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Additionally, it is home to the expansive Waco Mammoth National Monument, a sprawling 100-acre wooded parkland nestled along the tranquil Bosque River. The city also hosts three esteemed colleges, with Baylor University standing out as a renowned institution. Founded in February of 1845, Baylor University is the oldest university in Texas that is still in operation. 

A Brief History:


Did you know that Waco, Texas, founded in 1849, has a rich history tied to the indigenous Waco (Hueco) Indian village and Texas Ranger forts? Named after the Waco tribe, the city's first house was built by Shapley Prince Ross in March 1849, earning him the title of the city's founder. Initially thriving on cotton, Waco's economy expanded with the railroad's arrival in 1881, leading to industrial growth.

Amid World War II, Waco witnessed the birth of two significant air force installations, heralding a new era of industrial growth. Fast forward to today, and while agriculture still holds its place of importance, the landscape has evolved. We now see a diverse economy, with manufacturing, service industries like clothing and machinery, and hospitality sectors thriving side by side.

In recent years, Waco experienced a surge in tourism, thanks to the popular home renovation show Fixer Upper, which starred Chip and Joanna Gaines. The couple's ventures, including a restaurant and home-furnishings store, along with several other projects, added to the city's charm.

Waco has also had a history of salacious endeavors. In 1889, Waco—renowned for its numerous educational institutions and churches—made history as only the second city in the United States to legalize a designated area for intimate activities. This district, known as the Roaring Reservation (Red Light District), sometimes as Two-Street, brought in thousands of dollars of revenue to the city fueling controversy over an extended period.

Waco has also faced tragedies. In 1953, a devastating tornado claimed 114 lives, highlighting the region's vulnerability to such natural disasters. Yet, the historical ALICO building, with its innovative steel architectural design, stood resilient amidst the destruction.

Another somber event occurred in 1993 when nearly 80 members of the Branch Davidian religious group lost their lives in a fire after a 51-day standoff with federal agents near Waco.

Fun Fact! Steve Martin is originally from Waco, Texas! 

These events, both triumphs and tragedies, have shaped Waco's vibrant and resilient community.

Your Guide To Waco:

  • Attractions

Waco Dr Pepper

Did you know Dr. Pepper was found right here in Waco? Originally made in Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas, the drink's unique flavor was a smashing success when it dropped in 1885. Wade Morrison, the drug store owner, named it "Dr. Pepper" after Dr. Charles Pepper, a Virginia doctor who was the father of a girl Morrison was once in love with. Visit the museum to learn more about the history of this delicious beverage! Open Mon-Sat 10-5:30, Sun. 12-5:30

Baylor Mayborn

The Mayborn Museum Complex celebrates the natural science and cultural history of Central Texas. This 143,000 sq ft building on the Baylor University campus shines bright with countless vibrant exhibits, including the Governor Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village, and super fun hands-on activities for the whole family to enjoy. Open Mon.-Sat. 10-5 Sun. 1-5

Texas Ranger

The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame is a State memorial dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Texas Ranger service. The Hall of Fame commemorates Texas Rangers who made significant contributions to the development of the service or gave their lives in the line of duty under extraordinary circumstances. Inductees are selected by a committee of serving and retired Rangers. Open Every day 9-5


The couple famously known for Fixer Upper lives right here in the heart of Texas! Magnolia Market at the Silos, commonly called Magnolia Market, is a shopping complex that encompasses two city blocks in downtown Waco, Texas. It is easily recognized by two 120’ high silos, built in 1950 as part of the Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Mill. Mon-Sat 9-6

Sports in Texas

A celebrated home to more than 600 Texan legends, the Museum was opened in 1993 and has over 6,000 pieces of sports memorabilia. The TSHOF Museum is the FIRST hall of fame in the nation with memorabilia from each inductee, dating back to the first induction class in 1951. Open Mon.-Sat. 9-5

Homestead Heritage

Homestead Heritage offers phenomenal tours, activities, and learning opportunities for your entire group or family! Explore the craft, furniture, and gift shops for truly one-of-a-kind, handmade souvenirs that will last a lifetime. HH also has a delightful dining experience serving organic food grown solely from their gorgeous property. Internationally known for its quality craftsmanship, provides a context whereby adults and children can learn, in a real and tangible way, the same essential skills once taught in those previous generations. Open Mon.-Sat. 10-5

Waco Mammoth National Monument

Standing as tall as 14 feet and weighing 20,000 pounds, Columbian mammoths roamed across what is present-day Texas thousands of years ago. Today, the fossil specimens represent the nation's first and only recorded evidence of a nursery herd of ice-age Columbian mammoths. Come and see for yourself!  Open every day, 9-5.

Cameron Park Zoo

Perfect for family visits: Check out Cameron Park, a sprawling 416-acre nature oasis nestled in Waco, Texas. This lush park, dedicated on May 27, 1910, honors the memory of William Cameron, a beloved philanthropist and lumber baron of Waco. Don't miss the Cameron Park Zoo, a 52-acre gem nestled within this scenic sanctuary. The zoo is open Mon.-Sat. 9-5 and Sun. 11-5. 

Best Waco Restaurants:

  • Locally Owned Dining

A Fun Dining Experience with Crafty Cocktails and a Charming Rustic Vibe:


This locally owned and operated gem has everything an individual, couple, or friend group could ask for in a casual adult eating and drinking environment. Oakley’s has a tranquil outdoor patio filled with plants, fountains, flowers, TVs, and an outdoor bar. The inside offers a dance floor, 2 pool tables, games, and an indoor bar. Their full menu is perfect for any occasion. Open everyday, 11AM-2AM. 

The Fine Dining Experience with Exquisite Espresso Cocktails and an Impressive Greek Menu:

1424 Bistro

1424 is locally owned and operated by a Greek Family who moved here a few decades ago. They brought their exquisite chef talents and opened 1424 on Washington Ave. to share with all of Waco. Immediately, you are met with a beautiful outdoor patio area with twinkling lights. Once you walk through the doors, you see a stunning bricked small bar area and 3 rooms for dining. This is perfect for a romantic evening out with your partner.  Open Tue.-Sat. 5-10, Sun. 5-9

A Family Friendly Option with One of a Kind Sandwiches


Schmaltz's is locally owned and operated, and perfect for grabbing lunch with your family.  Schmaltz's Sandwich Shoppe was opened in 1975 on the Baylor Campus and has grown and moved, offering two locations serving the tastiest sandwiches Waco has to offer. 

Valley Mills Dr location Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10-8

S 5th St location Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10-3

The Tourist Attraction Dining Experience, Created by the Gaineses, Famously From Fixer Upper

Magnolia Table

Chip and Joanna Gaines opened Magnolia Table on the Circle in Waco, Texas. Here, you’ll find fresh, simple meals made to nourish you from the inside out. Whether you come to share a meal with family and friends or pick up something to go, know that you’re always welcome at their Table. Open Mon.-Sat. 7-3

Where To Stay:

  • Locally Owned AirBnB’s

AirBnB Owned By Mark Hall 1

Indulge in the comforts of this charming home nestled in a tranquil, well-established neighborhood at the heart of Waco. Conveniently located near shopping, dining, and entertainment options, it offers a perfect retreat for families and friends seeking relaxation and fun. Take a refreshing dip in the inviting private pool, or unwind on the expansive patio, embracing the serene ambiance and creating lasting memories.

AirBnB Owned By Mark Hall 2

Step into this enchanting country cottage, situated just a stone's throw away from the vibrant heart of Downtown Waco. Embrace the harmonious fusion of serene country allure and bustling city energy, creating an irresistible haven for families, friends, and couples seeking a memorable getaway.

AirBnB Owned By Mark Hall 3

Experience the allure of this enchanting rustic farmhouse, your ultimate destination for a sun-soaked retreat or a leisurely summer getaway, mere minutes from downtown Waco. Dive into endless activities including swimming, fishing, grilling, and exploration, then indulge in friendly games of horseshoes or cornhole, embark on a paddle boat adventure, or gather around the fire pit for s'mores and stories under the stars.

What Are You Waiting For?!

Have you been looking for a destination to use up that PTO you’ve been accumulating? Look no further than the gem of Central Texas. Waco is full of rich history, countless activities, and fun for everyone. Whether you are traveling solo, with a partner, group, or family, there is a full itinerary waiting for you. If you are looking for more specifics on mapping out your trip, click here for an excellent visitor guide resource.

We look forward to seeing you soon and we wish you the safest of travels. 

Presented by Oakley’s Texas Bar and Grill – Home to 'The Best Patio in Town!' Founded in 2003 by Mark Hall, formerly known as Waco’s iconic 'Continental Cowboy' for two decades. Cheers to You – See You Soon!


TikTok Handle: @oakleystexasbarandgrill 


Oakley’s Texas Bar and Grill

816 N Valley Mills Dr, Waco, TX 76710

(254) 776-7372


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