My Waco love affair is strong. There are certain sites in Waco that I am obsessed with. The Brazos River and all its historical bridges, The Alico Building, Austin Avenue, both the residential part and the commercial-uptown portion. And of course, Magnolia Market.
There is far more to love in Waco than the silos.
I am proud of Waco. The city is both historical and changing, evolving and ever-growing.
This wasn’t always the fact.
Living in the Waco area for over twenty years, I can sadly say I have only been loving Waco for the last five years. You may ask why? The answer I would give is we lived in China Spring, a small town approximately twenty minutes outside of the town. We were engrossed in our three kids and their activities. In China Spring. I only saw Waco as the place I had to drive to–for groceries, to go out to eat and to get my Target-fix. We often spoke of Waco as ‘going to town’, or driving into town’.
Not any more.
I am sad my eyes were opened only a few years ago, and I think of the time I have wasted. Better late than never, I say.
When I drive along the Brazos River, on MLK, (I highly recommend, by the way), I become giddy. I explode with joy just at the sight of the sun dancing on the water like little diamonds. It feels my soul because I see God’s beauty there. Perfection. The bridges that cross the Brazos are historical and stunning, whether you walk across them or drive. Have your camera ready because they are picturesque.
My favorite is the Washington Avenue Bridge, otherwise known as the Waco Steele Bridge. I travel on this bridge to my husband’s office, located on 6th street, and it makes me smile every time I cross. It was built in 1901 and crosses the Brazos River. It has a massive 450-foot Pennsylvania truss main span and is among the most historic bridges in Texas. When the sun peeks through the trusses, it is a beautiful sight and gets me every time. You can also see The Alico Building peering through.
My most favorite Waco icon is The Alico Building. The Alico, as I call it, is another opportunity for me to smile. If you look at my pictures in my phone, you will find that The Alico is like a part of the family. I have taken many a picture of this tall soldier that seems to be guarding downtown. The 22-story structure has considerable character. The construction began in 1910 and completion was exactly 12 months later in 1911.
I have always loved the McLennan County Courthouse downtown, and in the spring when the sky is blue and the trees are full of blooms, the courthouse seems to have even more beauty. Picture perfect.
The McLennan County Courthouse was built in 1901 and is located on Washington Avenue. It is known for its neoclassical exterior and the courthouse pilasters and columns are Corinthian. Many notable legal cases have taken place in this courthouse, including Clyde Barrow, of the in-famous Bonnie and Clyde fame, in 1930.
Heading over to Austin Avenue, another favorite of mine, you will find a historical street with structures that survived the Waco tornado, in 1953, killing 114 people and still the deadliest tornado in Texas history. You must walk this gorgeous tree-lined beauty. Here you will find many shops, restaurants and the historical Waco Hippodrome. You can see a movie, have lunch, enjoy a spirit or better yet-all three at the same time at the theater. Other places to check out on Austin Avenue are Dichotomy, Klassy Glass, Jakes and Nick’s. Try these establishments out; think local and support!
Austin Avenue is gorgeous, no matter the season.
Travel further down Austin and you will discover wonderful shopping at Lanes, Papillon Antiques, Christi’s, Sironia, and many other home and antique shops. A little further down Austin Avenue is Waco Wine Shoppe. Not your average wine bar but highly recommended. This is also where the Castle Heights residential area begins; historical homes that will delight your eyes.
A place I like to visit, in Waco, is inside Cameron Park, called Brazos Park East. I love to my dogs for a walk in this park along the Brazos River. The park is located at MLK and Herring Avenue and features boat ramps, a pavilion, horse shoe pits, Frisbee-golf and of course many scenic and peaceful views for walking, running or just sitting. The view across the river is one to see.
Waco is full of nature. You can escape the concrete and find peace, however you need.
Cameron Park, an enormous urban park located in Waco is one of those places to escape to nature. I enjoy taking the long, slow way home, driving through Cameron Park-again more smiles. The park spans 416-acres and was dedicated on May 27, 1910. It was named in memory of Waco philanthropists and lumber baron, William Cameron. The park has playgrounds, bike trails, hiking and a beautiful zoo, Cameron Park Zoo.
You could spend an entire day exploring the park and I highly recommend it.
Waco is a lovely place to visit and an even lovelier place to call home. She is in the middle of DFW and Austin, and often gets passed over (or driven by) like a middle child, but she stands her own.
Magnolia Market and Baylor University have helped to make Waco a destination place not just a place to stop and get gas.
I am thankful I live in Waco and I am a proud Wacoan. My eyes are now open to her beauty and her special attributes. I can only hope you discover Waco for yourself.