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Deep in the heart of Texas, Waco has gained renown as a home renovation and design destination thanks largely to a popular home renovation TV show. Fans come to tour homes featured on the show and browse antique stores, chic interior décor shops, and home goods marketplaces. But the charming college city, home to Baylor University, has been undergoing a revitalization since long before the show aired. In the Downtown Cultural District, 19th-century buildings now house trendy restaurants, art galleries, and taprooms. History buffs can dive deeper into Waco’s past and visit the Dr. Pepper Museum, the Branch Davidian Memorial, or the Waco Suspension Bridge, which was once part of the historic Chisholm Trail cattle trade route.
There are plenty of green spaces to enjoy here. Lake Waco is just west of downtown, and the Waco Riverwalk runs along the Brazos River between Baylor University and the 416-acre Cameron Park.
Waco is located between Austin and Dallas and is about 100 miles from each city. Waco Regional Airport (ACT) is 20 minutes from the city center and is served by one airline. You’ll find more options for direct flights on major airlines at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), or Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL). All three airports are about 90 minutes’ drive from Waco.
No matter which airport you fly into, you’ll want to rent a car. There is some public transportation in the downtown area, but like other Texas cities, Waco sprawls a bit. You’ll be able to navigate more easily with your own set of wheels.
The best times of year to visit Waco are spring and fall, when the weather is pleasant, and temperatures range from 70 to 80 or 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers are muggy and can get as hot as 100 degrees. Cooler winters tend to be around 66 degrees, but temperatures can drop into the high 50s, so be sure to pack a jacket and warm layers. It doesn’t rain much in Waco, but May and October are the wettest months.
To get the full Magnolia Market experience, catch the free Silo District Trolley to this massive home décor shopping complex that spans two city blocks. Owned and operated by two famous designers, it’s a wonderland of modern farmhouse style stocked with furniture, tableware, wall accents, and various trinkets. Be sure to take a break to relax in the gardens, fuel up with food from an onsite food truck, or grab a cupcake at Silos Baking Co.
Waco Mammoth National Monument features the remains of a herd of Columbian mammoths that roamed the grasslands here around 70,000 years ago. Twenty-four mammoths have been uncovered, and some of the fossils have been left exactly where they were found. The park offers guided tours, and there’s a free dig pit for kids.
The grassy grounds of Baylor University are home to museums, libraries, and beautiful buildings open to the public. Visit the Armstrong Browning Library, an architectural masterpiece with displays of rare 19th-century books, manuscripts, and letters, or wander the natural history galleries and outdoor exhibits at the Mayborn Museum Complex. Stop by the Texas Sports Hall of Fame to learn about high school football and pro sports legends, and spend some time paging through volumes of Texana at the Texas Collection.