Waco has become a well known town in Texas, between Dallas and Austin. The Brazos River runs through Waco, and you can walk alongside the water for miles. You may not expect to find much here, but there are some unique things to do as you enjoy the Waco Riverwalk.
If you are planning a visit, you have the opportunity to see the University, Magnolia Farms and the Waco Mammoth National Monument. We visited the Waco Riverwalk and found fun things to do in the Heart of Texas. The experience is very different from the San Antonio Riverwalk, and worthy of a visit.
How to Get to the Riverwalk in Waco, Texas
Hours of Operation: Open 24 hours
The Waco Riverwalk runs underneath I-35, and stretches from Pecan Bottom Park to Baylor university. There are multiple places to park on both sides of the Riverwalk. We found plenty of parking near the Waco Suspension Bridge during the middle of the week. Use University Parks Drive and you can park parallel for free.
Things to Do in Waco, Texas
- Walk through Baylor University
- Visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame
- Cross the Waco Suspension Bridge
- Visit the Convention Center
- Take your family to Cameron Park Zoo
- Paddle down the Brazos River
- Hike to, at least, 5 different parks
- Visit Magnolia Farms
- See the Waco Mammoth Site
Depending on your sense of adventure, there are many appealing things to do here. Most of these will be right along the Waco Riverwalk, but a few are a short walk away from the water. Technically, the Riverwalk in Waco is three miles long on the west side of the Brazos.
However, it’s possible to hike two extra miles on the River Trail inside Cameron Park. There are also paths on the east side of the Brazos, which lead about two miles along the water. There are several bridges you can cross to create a loop around the river.
This University contains 1,000 acres along the Brazos, and it’s just east of I-35 in Waco. Baylor is the oldest university in Texas which continues to function on a daily basis. Walk through the university and you will see McLane Stadium, the Basin, Mayborn Museum, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, as well as other parks and university buildings. We did not see the Baylor Bears practicing during our visit to Waco. Jeff Dunham, Joanna Gaines and Robert Griffin III are a few well known graduates, but you probably will not see them on campus.
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame
Many people visit this museum each year to witness the history of the Texas Rangers. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame consists of artwork, artifacts and information honoring the service of the Texas Rangers. The museum is located at Fort Fisher Park along the Brazos River. The Texas Ranger Research Center is also nearby and can be accessed via the Waco Riverwalk.
Parking is free, but admission costs $8 for adults. The Museum is open from 9am – 5pm, and the cutoff point for admission is 4:30pm. It may take about two hours to see all of the exhibits at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.
Waco Suspension Bridge
This bridge connects Doris Miller Park with Indian Springs Park, where the Huaco Indians first settled in Waco. It crosses the Brazos River and the Waco Riverwalk. In fact, it was the first bridge to cross the Brazos. As Waco grew, they required a better means to cross the river and this suspension bridge, containing over 3 million bricks, was built.
It wasn’t easy constructing this 475-foot bridge during the time, which is wide enough for two stage coaches placed side-by-side. Surprisingly, we were the only ones crossing the Waco Suspension Bridge during our visit. However, the bridge will fill up on the Fourth of July for the fireworks display.
Waco Convention Center
The Convention Center contains 144,000 square feet of space, including a ballroom with a balcony overlooking the Riverwalk in Waco. Renovations were completed several years ago, and it can accommodate up to 2,000 people. The entrance is located across from the Waco Suspension Bridge and provides easy access to the riverwalk. The location on the river, nearby hotels and things to do in Waco, make the Convention Center a great place to have an event.
This 400-acre park is located along the Brazos and Bosque Rivers. It also contains the 50-acre Cameron Park Zoo and connects the Waco Riverwalk to McLennan Community College. A potential distance of 20 miles is available on the trails for hikers and bikers.
Some trails are available for horseback riding, and all trails are dog friendly. Follow the limestone cliffs along the River Trail and see the confluence of the two rivers. Cameron Park is open from 6am until midnight.
The Brazos River
This is one of the longest rivers in the country. Apparently it is the Arms River according to the translation of its entire Spanish name, Rio de los Brazos de Dios. Canoeing and fishing are popular activities, but swimming may be concerning due to toxic pollution.
You may catch catfish or bass from the Brazos River. There are a few paddling trails located along the river in Waco. Surprisingly, we saw only a single paddle boat in the water during a weekday in June.
The Magnolia Market in Waco contains a bakery, garden, the silos and various food trucks. The market is open from 10am – 5pm, Monday through Saturday, and is just a few blocks from I-35. Parking is free and trolleys may be available in town.
Magnolia Market is one of the most popular, and well known attractions in Waco, Texas. The best time to visit, in hopes of avoiding a crowd, is Wednesday morning. We happened to be visiting the market during this time and there was a long line outside the bakery. Meanwhile, the Waco Riverwalk was mostly deserted. The market is about a half-mile walk from the river.
Waco Mammoth National Monument
This site, which has preserved Mammoth fossils, obtained the status as a national monument a few short years ago. Tours take place every half-hour and last about an hour long. You will walk down to the Dig Shelter to learn about the Ice Age, and the fossils which have been found at the site.
The tour price is only $5 for adults, and National Park Passes do not apply to the tours. The Waco Mammoth Site is open from 9am – 5pm everyday. It is just north of the Bosque River before it flows into the Brazos.
Enjoy the Waco Riverwalk in the Heart of Texas
I’m sure there are other great things to do in Waco, but these are the ones we noticed the most near the Waco Riverwalk. The river was very calm and hardly in use. However, the opposite will be true as the Fourth of July approaches.
The Riverwalk in Waco is dog friendly, but I wouldn’t recommend bringing your dog when the fireworks go off. Do you plan on visiting Waco, Texas. Let us know what unique things you find in the Heart of Texas.