Originally Published on January 3, 2023 / Updated on November 18, 2023
Waco is full of activities all year, but it is sometimes challenging to know what to do when you are new to town, a visitor, or even someone local. That’s why we created a list, as true Wacoans, for you to discover the best thing to do in Waco.
Best Food in Waco
Our favorite places to eat in Waco are challenging to narrow down because it depends on your desired food type. We love pizza but are keen to eat some good Mexican food frequently. With that, here are three good options, ranging in cuisine.
Poppa Rollo’s Pizza
Poppa Rollo’s is a true local favorite. Growing up in Waco, my family always took me here for special occasions. They have a unique vibe with a vintage feel and look. They keep The Little Rascals rolling on screen and other older comedies. The pizza is phenomenal. The pepperoni is a classic with the most marvelous pepperonies scattered across the top. The cheese is delicious and melts in your mouth. Look, I am a true Texan, so don’t judge me here, but you have to get a side of ranch to pour on your slices. Poppa Rollo’s has the best ranch dressing, hands down. Local tip: explore the grounds and see if you can find the secret rooms.
La Fiesta Waco
La Fiesta is a staple of Mexican food. Not only do they have delicious food, but they also have some fantastic drinks. Some have gained quite the popularity, such as their “Purple Marg,” a beverage so strong that they limit you to two. But back on the subject of food, I love their chips and salsa for starters, and for the entree, I get chicken enchiladas with two sides of corn cake (yes, it’s that good). Local tip: ask for some fresh tortillas on the side.
As a local, I was hesitant to list Magnolia Table because many people here believe Magnolia has taken over our little town after their Fixer Upper show debuted. While it can feel that way when tourism has drastically increased with their presence, I appreciate how the city has grown with their support. With that, Magnolia Table is a delicious place to grab brunch. They have the most delightful options; one of my favorites is the “Farm Breakfast.” It comes with eggs cooked to order, their housemade tater tots, a buttermilk biscuit, and their thick bacon. Two things to highlight here are their tater tots and bacon. I agree that messing up tater tots and bacon would seem complicated. But theirs stands out as some of the best I’ve ever had. The tater tots are flaky and cheesy, and their bacon is thick. Local tip: go early so you can get a table fast.
Best Place to Get a Drink in Waco
Waco isn’t a drinking town; although we are in Central Texas and have Baylor University as part of our demographics, people don’t go out that much. However, I may know a few spots as a local and having gone to Baylor.
True Love Waco
True Love is an excellent spot with locals and visitors having a good time. They remodeled the inside sometime in 2020, and the vibes became even more immaculate. The indoor vibes include a long bar with plenty of places to order a drink, a stage for karaoke, some booths, and a place to play pool. The back patio was also remodeled, with another bar and a DJ on some nights.
Hotel 1928 / Bertie’s
Another Magnolia add-on in Waco includes renovating Karem Hotel, a historic hotel in Downtown Waco. It’s near the Waco Suspension Bridge on the Brazos River (built by the same people who made the Brooklyn Bridge) and other historic hotspots. They kept this place looking close to the original, from my understanding. The rooftop bar has a fantastic view of the Alico and the rest of the Waco Skyline. The drinks were a bit pricey, but this place is immaculate. It’s suitable for a date night or a chill evening with friends.
Best Coffee Shops in Waco
Let me begin by saying I was a student in Waco for many years. Therefore, I know some of the best coffee spots in Waco because I spent countless hours grinding on assignments at various places.
Common Grounds Waco
Common Grounds is a Baylor favorite as they have a campus location and a new(ish) location in Woodway. The drink menu is unique, featuring classic roasts and some more sweet dessert types of drinks. The scene is a mix of modern and comfortable at the Woodway location, while the Baylor location is a bit dingy, in a good way.
Pinewood is an airy space with great coffee. I always get the bottomless cup of black coffee, and it’s about $3.50, which is a steal. Not to mention, the blend is tasty. They blast music from an old record player on the speakers. It’s probably not the best place to be in Zoom meetings, but it is a great place to get some work done. They have a lovely patio, as well, with some beautiful trees. Their parking lot is tight, so you may find yourself parking on the street, but it is free parking and presents no issues.
Best Shopping Spots in Waco
Waco is full of places to shop, from souvenirs to boutique clothing to sports gear; Waco has it all. We have many malls and a few local shops, which are my favorite to support #ShopLocal.
Of course, we are biased, but Waco Drip is our store, and the story of how we formed is quite interesting. We launched during the pandemic and aimed to have a brick-and-mortar at the historic Stratton Building on Austin Avenue. When the space was finally completed, we were informed that they had changed their plans and all tenants would no longer have space. Instead, they launched the area as an event venue, which is beautiful, but we lost our spot. From then on, we transformed into an online gift shop and souvenir store in Waco. You will also find us vendor markets in Waco throughout the year, including Eastside Market off Elm Avenue.
Spice Village Waco
Spice Village has many vendors within their larger concept, running from trendy products to clothing. It’s an ample space upstairs, and the quality of the products is generally excellent. I have been here a few times with my sister and girlfriend, as it’s a spot where they can find more girly items. I have also seen some exciting gag gifts for various friends here.
Other Waco Happenings
Waco offers more than food, drinks, coffee, and shopping. Waco has the beautiful banks of the Brazos River and the Bosque River. So, if you like spending time outside, Waco has something for you.
Waco Mammoth National Monument
This place is astonishing. Every time I go here, I learn something new. I first learned of the Waco mammoth history at the Mayborn Museum, where they feature some highlights of the history of the mammoths. Remains of 24 Columbian mammoths were discovered here, resulting in archeological digs finding many bones and fossils, which are now on display here. These creatures were giants, and it’s fun that this ties into Waco’s history.
Beyond the Top 10 Things to Do in Waco
Choosing the top things to do in Waco is challenging, so here are a few more ideas to explore.
Dr. Pepper Museum
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame
Waco Hiking Tour
George's Big O
This concludes our list for now, but feel free to check out our online collection of products and be sure to get out and explore Waco!