Waco has scores of things to do to unwind, have fun, or explore. Sports buffs enjoy the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, just a minute walk from the Law School. You're also just one minute away from the Mayborn Museum, Baylor University's museum of natural science and cultural history. Keep walking another five minutes, and you're at the world-famous Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum (which houses one of Bonnie and Clyde's guns). Faculty, students, and kids alike can't say no to a hand-pulled Dr Pepper float at the Dr Pepper Museum celebrating Waco's hometown drink.
Visit the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau for a complete listing of all Waco has to offer. Here are a few favorite destinations and activities of the Baylor Law community.
Armstrong Browning Library
FREE! Located on the Baylor University campus, this beautiful building houses the largest collection of Victorian poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning's work. The stained glass and inlaid wood showcase breathtaking craftsmanship and set an appropriately lovely stage for the Baylor Early Music Ensemble concerts and the Baylor Chamber Singers concerts. As a Baylor student, you are also welcome to study in the quiet halls at Armstrong Browning if you like.
Cameron Park Zoo
Nestled in 52 acres of Cameron Park, this award-winning zoo is loved as much for its lush surroundings as for the hundreds of animals it protects. Their collection of 1,731 animals includes such critically endangered species as Orangutans, Sumatran tigers, and Komodo Dragons. With numerous play areas and discovery zones for kids, the zoo is a big draw for Waco parents, who make the zoo a weekly activity for the family. But it's just as inviting to adults, who can unwind with a stroll through the bamboo-lined paths and see up close just how funny giraffes look when they chew.
Concerts and Festivals
Wacoans, you'll find, are an extremely philanthropic bunch. The benefit to you, law student, is that you can enjoy ample festivals, concerts, and fun times, all in the name of helping others. Add in the Bosque River Stage concerts, presented in a 530-seat amphitheater on the leafy-green banks of the Bosque, not to mention Brazos Nights, a free concert series hosted by the City of Waco, and you've got live music dotting your calendar throughout the year.
Just a short drive from Waco-about 15 minutes from the Baylor Law campus-you'll come across a homesteading community of ironsmiths, bakers, woodcarvers, potters, and other craftspeople. Much like the Amish or the Mennonites, the folks at Homestead Heritage are united both in their religious beliefs and their commitment to a simpler way of life. You can tour their beautiful grounds, set on the bluffs above the Brazos River, eat at their restaurant where most everything is made from scratch (even the cheese!), and buy gifts in their transplanted 1800s barn-turned-gift shop. If you're in town around Thanksgiving, make a point to attend their Thanksgiving Festival. It's a frenzy of really, really good food and crafts and petting zoos and music, a real change of pace from studying.
Lake Waco Wetlands
FREE! Nature lovers-especially birders-love visiting the Lake Waco Wetlands. You can see Great Blue Herons, Green Tree Frogs, and American Beavers, among many other species and plants. Just a few short years ago, these wetlands didn't exist and none of these creatures were here. Now, though, the wetlands are both providing a safe habitat for native animals and plants, while naturally filtering and cleaning the water for the Central Texas area.
Waco Mammoth Site
Well on its way to becoming a National Park, Waco's groundbreaking Mammoth Site lets visitors see in person the meticulously excavated fossil remains of 25 Columbian Mammoths. The majority of the herd, including mothers and their calves, appears to have died in a mudslide caused by torrential rains more than 65,000 years ago. Some 15,000 years after this mudslide, additional mammoths and animals drowned in the ravine from yet another rainstorm. This stunning discovery occurred on a spring day in 1978, when Paul Barron and Eddie Bufkin went in search of arrowheads. The excavation occurred under strict guidelines for 30 years, opening to the public only in 2009.
Mark Your Calendars
Bosque River Stage: Concerts and plays throughout the year, weather permitting. www.mclennan.edu.
Talitha Koum Gospel Brunch: May
Brazos Nights: April, May, June, and July www.brazosnightswaco.com
Cattle Baron's Ball: June
Midsummer Nights Concert Series: June at the Carleen Bright Arboretum
Waco Cultural Arts Fest: September
Humane Society Fundraiser: October
Deck the Halls Gift Market: November
Barkin' Ball: December
Sports and Activities
The Brazos and Bosque Rivers run through Waco, with Lake Waco bordering town on the west side. You can rent a pontoon for a party barge at Lake Waco Marina. Canoes are available for rent from Geared at 4227 N. 19th. Call 254.537.3697 to make reservations. For students with a valid Baylor ID, you have access to Baylor's sailboats, canoes, kayaks, inputting directly on the Brazos River from the Baylor Marina.
The greater Waco area has 10 golf courses., with the municipal Cottonwood Golf Course, being the most accessible and reasonably priced for Baylor Law students. It has 18 holes over 7,140 yards with a par of 72.
Baylor Gym Facilities. For Baylor Law students who pay the Student Life Center fee, you have full access to the SLC and other recreation facilities. www.baylor.edu/campusrec
Gold's Gym. www.goldsgym.com
Gym X. www.gymx.com
Iron Horse Gym. 254.752.0500
Waco Tennis & Fitness Center. www.wacotennis.com
WRS Athletic Club. www.wrsathleticclub.com
Mountain Bike Trails
Cameron Park has a strong reputation throughout Texas for its mountain bike trails. You can find some easy trails, but riders come from Austin and Dallas to test their skills on the technically challenge courses.
Don't just take our word for it. According to AustinBike.com, "The trails are well-developed and well-maintained. If you like to climb, you will love Cameron Park. If you hate to climb, you will respect it. The payoff for a lot of the climbing is some phenomenal downhill runs. The trails are designated with green, blue and black markings, just like a ski slope. Someone has obviously spent a lot of time making these trails into some of the best biking in the central Texas area."
The municipal Waco Water Park includes two pools and a 22-foot water slide.
Baylor Law students who pay the Student Life Center fee are eligible to use Baylor University's indoor and outdoor pool.
The Waco Regional Tennis & Fitness Center offers lighted competition-level courts and league play. The Charlie McLeary Courts and other municipal courts are available for free.
Sometimes it just washes over you. The need to shop, that is. When that happens, there's nothing to be done but to satiate your cravings (and maybe phone in a limit to your credit card.) Whether you want an afternoon of browsing or you need to find that perfect birthday gift, you'll enjoy checking out these local shops to see what's in store:
Owned by Baylor grad and hiking/biking enthusiast Brandon Blagg, Bear Mountain is Waco's answer to REI. It's not got the size of the outfitter giant, but it's got personal service well beyond. Brandon carries a wide selection of footwear from Keen to Vibram Five Fingers, backpacking and camping gear, and the perfect clothing for all your favorite outdoor activities.
Bloom & Be Swanky
A mix of vintage and new, with overtones of shabby chic bed linens, handmade jewelry, and candles that smell divine. Their selection of vintage slips can make even the most humdrum dress feel special.
Honey's Home + Style
Part furniture store, part gift shop, Honey's got impeccable taste in wool rugs, quirky wall hangings, and pretty stationery.
When you can't take another minute of the mall, take a minute for this carefully edited boutique. Local owner Revekah Kim carries Diana Von Furstenburg, Tory Burch, Trovata, among many other fantastic lines for women. Breaking news for this season, she's now carrying men's clothing, too. "Updated traditional," one might say, like Faconnable and J Brand jeans.
Visit this stationer for 100 percent cotton papers for your thank-you notes after the job interview, invites to the end-of-quarter bash, or a journal when you need to remember, on occasion, that life extends beyond the classroom.
This Waco institution houses nine shops under one roof, including clothing, custom jewelry, and home décor. The shops all center around Amelia's on the Avenue, a café with desserts worthy of any celebration you can conjure up. (Just invent one. Their sweets are well worth it!)
Spice and the Shops of River Square Center
With an arcade of shops above downtown's restaurant row, you can find everything from BCBG clothing to rocked-out cowboy boots to an antique armoire. While you're there, you can enjoy lunch at Simply Good Eatery or have your brows waxed at Glow. A must-stop for girls' day.
Waco has a variety of farmer's markets, CSAs, and eateries providing locally grown or organic foods. HEB does an outstanding job as a grocery in providing a wide selection of products, but for just-picked tomatoes or vegan meatloaf or gluten-free cupcakes, check out these local options.
Both a restaurant and a take-out/bake-at-home shop, The Epicurean focuses on unrefined, whole foods, including vegan and gluten-free dishes. As a mom of two, owner Han Ashley has become a master at hiding loads of nutritient-rich foods into dishes kids love.
A marriage of talents between nutritional chef Robin Jeep and master baker Daniel Pacheco, Forever Yum is a natural food take-out and bakery serving up goods like honey–cream cheese croissants and vegan lasagne.
Both a restaurant and a store, this homesteading farm sells homemade cheese, fresh-milled grains, just-baked breads and pastries, jams, jellies, and everything else your tummy desires.
Just started by Ullja Kuntze, Gusto is Waco's answer to the slow food movement, with sustainable local food available for pick-up or delivery from a wide-variety of area farmers. For more information, call 254.230.9920.
Waco Farmers' Market
The tent opens at 8 am on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays in the parking lot of the HOT Coliseum. You'll find fresh veggies, as well as some jams and jellies, soaps, flowers, and other typical farmer's market fare. For more information, call 254.357.2570.
World Hunger Farm
Even if you don't sign up for the weekly CSA delivery, World Hunger Farm is great resource for fresh eggs (worth every penny!), organic produce, grass-fed, free-range beef and goat meat, goat milk, pecans, and scores of veggies.