15 Free Things to Do in Waco, TX

 Waco, TX
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In McLennan County, Waco is known as the "Heart of Texas."

This city, situated between Austin and Dallas, sits along the famous Brazos River.

Despite its size, Waco has plenty of attractions and activities that make your visit there worthwhile.

Meanwhile, Waco's community welcomes the younger generation since it's home to the prestigious Baylor University.

Additionally, its streets are always lively, with students and residents walking around and doing their daily business.

Besides being home to Baylor, Waco also boasts mammoth fossils, parks, museums, and libraries.

You might be thinking about how much you'll be spending visiting Waco.

The good news is that you can enjoy these activities and attractions for free.

Here's a guide to the free things to do in Waco, Texas:

Enjoy the Waters of the Brazos River

Aerial view of Brazos River
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Brazos River is the perfect destination to escape the city's bustling scene and enjoy relaxing outdoor activities.

You can access this famous river along North 4th Street.

Enjoy the river's various outdoor activities, such as fishing, boating, hiking, or sightseeing.

It has an area featuring a 2.2-mile loop specifically reserved for water activities such as boating and fishing.

A bridge over Brazos River
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Meanwhile, the Brazos River has a hiking trail that takes you to some of its most picturesque spots in Waco.

If you're too lazy to hike, you can always find the perfect spot along the Brazos River to cast your line and enjoy fishing.

Otherwise, set out on an outdoor adventure and traverse this river which stretches over 1,280 miles.

The waters of Brazos River
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Browse the Armstrong Browning Library

Exterior and grounds of Armstrong Browning Library
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The Armstrong Browning Library is one of Waco's most impressive architectural gems, which won't cost you a penny.

You can visit this library along Speight Avenue at Baylor University.

Discover this library's vast repository, which houses thousands of books and other literary pieces.

Its repository includes various literary works from Elizabeth and Robert Barrett Browning.

Front view of Armstrong Browning Library's exterior
Larry D. Moore, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

They were known for their works inspired by British Victorian culture and life.

Besides its massive book collection, this library also boasts the world's most extensive collection of secular stained glass.

The Armstrong Browning Library isn't just a monument to the famous Victorian poets.

It's also a gem in Waco you should visit.

Hop on the Silo District Trolley

There's no better way to tour Waco's downtown area and Magnolia Silos than onboard the Silo District Trolley.

This free public trolley traverses Waco's famous Silo District.

The trolley picks up visitors and locals to get them through the area.

It runs a loop route from Webster to Franklin Avenues and vice versa.

It has numerous stopovers, including University Parks Drive, which takes you to Baylor University.

In addition, riding the Silo District Trolley offers you a glimpse of what Waco has to offer.

Along the way, you'll see numerous attractions.

At the same time, you'll rub elbows with fellow visitors and locals, making it an exciting experience.

Play at the Cameron Park

A person jogging at Cameron Park
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Cameron Park is a massive outdoor oasis near downtown Waco.

The park spans 416 acres, offering you pristine greenery, towering trees, breathtaking sceneries, and a multi-purpose national recreation trail system.

Historically, the Cameron family donated part of their land a century ago to the City of Waco, which turned it into a park.

Visiting this park is one of the bests moments of your tour in Waco.

Clubhouse at Cameron Park
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You'll enjoy various outdoor activities such as hiking, picnicking, fishing, and sightseeing while visiting there.

At the same time, Cameron Park is where many of Waco's events are happening.

It's where the city's sports and cultural activities occur, which is equally fascinating.

A person playing at Cameron Park
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Climb the Jacob's Ladder & Rock Shelter

Climbing up Jacob's Ladder & Rock Shelter
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Jacob's Ladder & Rock Shelter is a unique outdoor attraction many hikers love.

In fact, because of its popularity, it always stands out among other attractions within Cameron Park.

Hikers love to ascend through its hundred-step zigzagging terrain to reach the top.

Climbing down Jacob's Ladder & Rock Shelter
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Historically, Jacob's Ladder & Rock Shelter served as an access for a family who lived on top of the bluff in the 1900s.

Waco's locals named this attraction after a Biblical term because of its scenery and other features, which draw many visitors regularly.

While ascending through the steps, you're likely to encounter numerous wildlife such as fox squirrels, Carolina anole, northern cardinals, and red-eared sliders.

Test Your Skills at Sul Ross Skate Park

Sul Ross Skate Park is Waco's official public skate park along N. 14th Street.

It opened in 2015 and featured some top-notch skateboarding obstacles, making it a perfect place to display your skating skills.

This skatepark has stairs, ramps, rails, and ground bowls which can help you execute complicated tricks efficiently.

Besides enjoying skating at this place, you can also watch local and major skating tournaments, making it an exciting place to check out.

Sul Ross Skate Park also features a children's playground, a pavilion, walking trails, and restrooms, making it a top-notch park to spend your day outdoors.

Cross the Waco Suspension Bridge

Ducks swimming under the Waco Suspension Bridge
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The Waco Suspension Bridge is a pedestrian footbridge that connects Doris D. Miller Park and Indian Spring Park across the Brazos River.

You can visit this charming bridge along N. University Parks Drive.

Initially, this bridge served vehicles, cattle, and stagecoaches until 1971.

Afterward, it became a footbridge and one of the city's most charming attractions.

Walkway of the Waco Suspension Bridge
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Crossing this bridge is a must-do activity when visiting Waco

Take gorgeous photos of yourself or your family crossing the magnificent bridge, stretching over 475 feet.

On one end, you can take photos of the life-sized cattle sculptures, which remind travelers of their main purpose back in the day.

Structure of the Waco Suspension Bridge
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Check Out the Alico Building

Exterior of the Alico Building
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The Alico Building is Waco's tallest building.

You can visit this 22-story office building along Austin Avenue in Waco's downtown area.

The American-Amicable Life Insurance Company now owns the building.

It stands 282 feet tall, the tallest building in Waco.

Besides being the tallest building, it's also one of the favorite tourist spots in the city because of its reputation.

Building sign of the Alico Building
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Many locals consider this 1910 building a testament to its strength and stability.

There are many reasons why locals proudly present the Alico Building because of its history and architectural integrity.

Thus, many visitors drop by and pose for a photo at this building.

Remember to drop by this famous downtown building for a souvenir photo.

Aerial view of the Alico Building
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Hike the Cottonbelt Trail

The Cottonbelt Trail spans 2.5 miles and serves as an outdoor recreation destination in Waco.

It is known for its scenic river trail and local wildlife.

You can visit this area along the St. Louis Southwestern Railway and enjoy hiking through its scenic riverways.

The trail starts along Harris Creek Road at Trail Blazer Park and stretches near Hannah Hill Road.

Historically, this trail followed the St. Louis Southwestern Railway back in the day and was named the Cotton Belt Line.

Today, it's one of Waco's best places to enjoy outdoor recreation without spending a penny.

Whether you're an avid hiker or a seasoned biker, the Cottonbelt Trail should make your time there worthwhile.

Stroll through the Indian Spring Park

Statue of a cowboy herding cattle at Indian Spring Park
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The Indian Spring Park along University Parks Drive is one of the best free things you'll enjoy in Waco.

It's a convenient location for a cost-free family outing since it's a stone's throw away from Waco's downtown area.

The park mainly features a picturesque stream, canopies of trees, a vast green field for picnicking, and gorgeous sights.

Welcome sign of Indian Spring Park
Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of its focal points is the bronze cowboy statue on horseback herding cattle, honoring its rich Texas heritage.

Visiting Indian Spring Park lets you see Waco's natural beauty up close, so don't forget to add this park to your itinerary.

Cowboy statue at Indian Spring Park
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Meet the Students of Baylor University

Welcome sign of Baylor University
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Baylor University spans over 735 acres, covering a vast portion of Waco.

This private Baptist university is a nationally ranked institution renowned for its liberal arts curriculum.

So, it's a no-brainer that this university is also home to numerous art and historical museums displaying its vast arts heritage.

Buildings at Baylor University
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Visiting this university allows you to see the beauty of the campus, which could even make you feel nostalgic for your college days.

At the same time, you can immerse yourself in Baylor University's students and experience college life over again.

Besides this experience, you can visit the university's museums, art galleries, and other attractions that mainly offer free admission.

Aerial view of Baylor University's stadium
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See Spectacular Artworks on the Waco Street Art Tour

The Waco Street Art Tour showcases the city's vibrant local arts scene.

Check out the interactive map of Waco and see the various public art installations, such as murals, sculptures, and other forms of artwork in the downtown area.

This interactive map allows you to discover Waco's local art scene, which everyone can view for free.

Discover the public art installations while roaming downtown Waco if you want a more exciting activity besides the casual art tour.

You'll also see some recreations of Vincent van Gogh's masterpieces.

Otherwise, strike a pose at the massive "Greetings from Waco" mural.

Of course, dozens more artworks await you on the Waco Street Art Tour, so remember to add this activity to your itinerary.

Traverse the Waco Riverwalk

Walkway of Waco Riverwalk
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Another worthwhile trail is the Waco Riverwalk.

This seven-mile multi-purpose trail follows the Brazos River.

Hiking through this riverwalk trail is one of the most satisfying experiences visiting Waco.

It mainly features various sceneries from Baylor University to Cameron Park.

River beside the Waco Riverwalk
Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It takes you to some of Waco's most breathtaking views, including a hike underneath numerous suspension bridges along the trail.

There are several accessible points throughout Waco's downtown area whenever you're planning to hike through the Waco Riverwalk.

The East Riverwalk section is the most accessible point in Waco for seeing the gorgeous scenery along the Waco Riverwalk.

Pay Respects at the Doris Miller Memorial

Aerial view of the Doris Miller Memorial
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The Doris Miller Memorial is a fascinating attraction along N. MLK Jr. Boulevard.

This memorial pays tribute to World War II hero and Wacoan Doris Miller.

Listen to the story of Miller, the first African American to earn the Navy Cross for his heroics during the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Navy Cross during that time had the same distinction as the Medal of Honor.

After receiving the award, Miller became one of the most decorated African Americans during World War II and a proud son of Waco.

To honor his achievement, Waco constructed a memorial for him to immortalize his heroism.

You can visit the Doris Miller Memorial any time of the day and take photos as souvenirs of your trip to Waco.

Enter the Martin Museum of Art

The Martin Museum of Art inside the Baylor University Campus features a diverse collection of unique artworks from local, regional, and international artists.

Inside, you'll come across a fantastic collection of contemporary artworks such as sculptures, paintings, prints, and plenty more.

You'll see over 1,500 artworks inside this art museum donated by private entities, collectors, and artists.

On top of that, you can enjoy touring this art museum without an admission fee.

You're guaranteed a magical experience, whether you plan to explore the Martin Museum of Art on your own or through a guided tour.

Final Thoughts

Waco is a remarkable city, one of those places people return to again and again.

The number of free activities and attractions to enjoy makes Waco a top-notch travel destination.

From parks, museums, and trails to public art installations, you won't run out of exciting and free things to do in the "Heart of Texas."

Don't forget to enjoy the free things to do in Waco, Texas!

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