Waco, Texas, has come into its own as a vibrant college town and destination rather than just a way-point between Austin and Dallas. Tourists from across the U.S. (and even the world) come to enjoy the sights and shops made popular by Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines; Baylor University continues to draw undergraduates, graduate students, scholars, and faculty who fill the town’s numerous coffee shops; a renewed downtown has drawn Waco residents back to the center of the city to enjoy unique dining, shopping, and entertainment options; and organizations like Mission Waco, the Texas Hunger Initiative, the World Hunger Relief Farm, and others like them have invested deeply in the people of Waco, strengthening the sense of community and providing healthy opportunities for widespread growth.
Many of Waco’s best sights are all within easy walking distance of the Waco Convention Center. Below we list some of our favorite spots to visit and shop. For drink options including coffee shops, wineries, and pubs, see our Food and Drink page.
Waco Tourist Information Center — To find out more about what Waco offers, visit the Waco: Heart of Texas page
Waco Downtown Farmers Market is held on Washington Ave. across from the court house every Saturday from 9am-1pm. It offers high quality produce and artisanal goods from vendors within 150 miles of Waco. It’s also one of the best places to catch breakfast or brunch from local food trucks and other eateries on Saturday mornings in Waco. Located just two blocks from the Waco Convention Center.
*Events will be updated as the conference date draws near.
- Fabled Bookshop & Cafe – Come here to find a book, a nook, and some coffee, tea, or a snack. Walking distance from the Waco Convention Center, just down the road on the corner of S. 4th St. and Franklin
- Brazos Books – If you’re up for a drive, Brazos Books is a charming local place for “crazy cheap” books.
- Magnolia Market at the Silos – One of Waco’s most popular attractions for out-of-town tourists, Magnolia Market is Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines’s signature attraction. It offers shopping, a variety of dining options, games, and plenty of seating for outdoor relaxation. Situated in the heart of downtown Waco, the Market and Silos are within walking distance of the hotel.
- Homestead Heritage Craft Village — Homestead Heritage is an agrarian, Christian community. The Craft Village not only sells goods but also invites people to see how they are made. Visit the pottery house, cheese-making house or countless other specialty shops.
- Spice Village — Located across Franklin Ave from the Waco Convention Center, Spice Village offers a variety of boutiques in one location. Over 60 shops, featuring gifts, clothing, antiques, artisan goods, etc..
Things to Do and Places to Visit
- Waco Hippodrome – Located on Austin Avenue, just six blocks from the Waco Convention Center, the Hippodrome is a newly renovated historical theater that has been transformed into Waco’s premier music hall. Enjoy live concerts while eating at the Raleigh Dinner. Afterwards, you can stroll up to the Hightop Bar.
- Mayborn Museum – The Mayborn Museum Complex is located on the edge of Baylor’s campus on University Parks. It features a natural science and cultural history museum focusing on Central Texas. Walk-in dioramas and exploration stations bring exhibits to life. There are also two floors of discovery rooms that encourage hands-on learning for all ages.
- Texas Ranger Museum – This museum collects and preserves documents and artifacts related to the history of the legendary Texas Rangers. Get a glimpse into the rough and ready history of Texas’s early days and find out how the Rangers have shaped Texas’s unique identity. Located on the frontage road between Baylor’s main campus and McLane Stadium.
- Waco Mammoth National Monument – The Waco Mammoth National Monument is a paleontological site featuring the only known remains of 24 Columbian mammoths. It is located out near the Waco Regional Airport.
- Cameron Park Zoo – The Cameron Park Zoo is located just within the bounds of Cameron Park and offers 52 acres of habitats for more than 1,731 animals. Cameron Park and the zoo are located just a mile and half away down University Parks.
- Suspension Bridge – The iconic Waco suspension bridge stretches across the Brazos River from the Waco Convention Center to the banks of East Waco. An iconic landmark along the legendary Chisholm Trail, the bridge marks the only spot on the Brazos River where cattlemen could cross with their steers in the early days of Waco’s history. The bridge is currently undergoing renovation, but may be open at the time of the conference.
- Dr Pepper Museum — Learn about the history of Dr Pepper, which was invented in Waco and enjoy a cold Dr Pepper from the 1950s replica soda fountain; $10 admission; Approximately half a mile from the Waco Convention Center
- Melody Ranch — Country music & line dancing; Often live music; Opens at 8 pm; $15 entrance
- Smiley’s Night Club — Live music & two-stepping
- Waco History App — Download this free app that puts the history of Waco at your fingertips; Includes over 10 tours, curated by the Baylor University Institute for Oral History & The Texas Collection and the Waco History Team, including a tour of Women’s History in Waco.
- Cameron Park – Cameron Park is one of the largest municipal parks in Texas. It covers 416 acres, and it has 20 miles of hiking, running, and biking trails. It also includes a disc-golf course and many playgrounds, and Cameron Park Zoo is at its center. The park is within walking distance, along the river trail, of the Waco Convention Center.
- River Walk – The river path runs along both the eastern and western banks of the Brazos. The western side of the path takes walkers from Baylor University past the Waco Convention Center to Cameron Park.
- BSR Cable Park is a world-renowned cable park and surfing resort. (Surprising for Waco, we know)! Although you can surf or wakeboard, we recommend a relaxing float down the Lazy River.
- Carleen Bright Arboretum — 16 acres of botanical gardens
- Waco Paddle Company — Rent paddleboards and kayaks so you can explore the Brazos River; Rentals start at $20; Located across University Parks from the Waco Convention Center
- Fitness centers – Waco has several fitness centers where guests can pay for temporary use. Some options include Yoga8 or Duality Yoga for barre and yoga, Rush Cycle for indoor cycling and spin, Refit for a women-only fitness programs, Train Waco for Cross-Fit, and Refine31 and OrangeTheory for aerobics classes and other general fitness options.