Texas

Free Things To Do In Waco Beyond Magnolia Market

I guess, it could be worse. Maybe, I need to start searching for free things to do in Waco. 

I let my hands slide into my pockets, hoping to feel some loose change. Nothing. I empty out my purse, dumping a pile of business cards and empty chapstick containers onto a marbled table. Nothing. I ruffle through my bag. Electronics here. Wires there. But surprise, surprise – nothing I need.

Is it possible that I spent every last penny at Magnolia Market? I pause. The cupcakes. The food truck brunch. That gorgeous green vase…

Yes, yes it was. Strike one.

“Student discount?” I ask sheepishly.

Please be free. Please be free. 

The lady glances over a sheet. “$6.00,” she says.

Strike two. “So are there any free things to do in Waco?”

She smiles. And I know, I’ve hit the jackpot.

Get Your Vintage Fix At Spice Village

A hodgepodge of over fifty boutique stores, Spice Village is a vintage-lover’s dream. From zesty home goods to country-style gifts with a bit of a unique kick, all the knick-knacks at Spice Village stir up our consumer appetite.

We stroll through the aisles, winding in and out of rows of shabby-chic items and good ol’ Southern Christian merchandise. Lost in a tourist wonderland, the complex doesn’t have an intimate feel. But that isn’t necessarily bad news. While a community outlet is a trademark of most vintage shops, the more distant set-up of Spice Village works seamlessly, considering the size.

Seriously, Spice Village is huge. If you’re a mega-shopper or bargain hunter looking for free things to do in Waco, plan to spend a few hours here minimum (and come early because the lines get long). 

Spice Village: 213 Mary Ave, Waco, TX 76701, 10AM to 6PM Mon-Sat & 12PM – 5PM Sun.

Stroll Through Cameron Park

At over 400 acres, Cameron Park is a quiet local hangout unlike any another. 

To be honest, Cameron Park should be a tourist attraction, sung in praise and visited in masses. Why? Most of the free things to do in Waco involving exploring all the little nooks and crannies within Cameron Park.

  • Jacob’s Ladder: Thoughts lightning bolt through my head. Why am I doing this? Have I gone mad? I think everyone in Waco heard me scream. Okay, calm down. Maybe, this terrifying zig-zag mess of a staircase, vertically scaling from the top of a hill to the foot of the Brazos River, is only perfect for thrill-seekers. Am I a thrill seeker? Of course, not. Now, if you excuse me, I’m going to curl up in a museum.
  • Lover’s Leap: Ahh, this is more like it – a beautiful vantage point and plenty of seats for me to (safely) take in the view.
  • Miss Nellie’s Pretty Place: A gorgeous fountain? Wildflowers? Have all my Instagram dreams come true? Yes. Yes, they have.

Travel Tip: Check the Cameron Park Zoo web calendar. Sometimes, they host free or heavily discounted days during promotional events.

Cameron Park: 2601 N University Parks Dr, Waco, TX 76708

Strut Down The Waco Suspension Bridge

Is this what it feels like to be a runway model?

Strutting down the Waco Suspension Bridge is empowering. The former 475 foot stagecoach track, now footpath, stretches across the Brazos River. There’s over 150 years of history locked within this brick and steel structure.

The Instagrammer in me wants to pose here all day. But I don’t want to completely embarrass you by spending my time taking cheesy photo-ops instead of showing you a more…ahem, cultured…list of free things to do in Waco.

The suspension bridge is actually enveloped by two parks. On the east side is Martin Luther King Jr. park, a small grassy lawn with a residential play-area feel. And to the west is Indian Spring Park, which features a series of mammoth statues. Scattered throughout the plot, the figures are all part of the same story – the tale of Chisholm Trail.

Captured through fine-detail and chunky larger-than-life elements, there’s something raw and heroic about the statues that makes us immediately fall head-over-heels in love with them.

Waco Suspension Bridge: 101 N University Parks Dr, Waco, TX 76701

Visit the Armstrong-Browning Library

Our last stop on this shoe-string journey is the most underrated location in Waco, Texas – the Armstrong Browning Library.

Less small town library and more boutique museum, this popular study spot at Baylor University demands attention.

From walls that scale the Italian Renaissance building, a jaw-dropping balcony view, old-world European style portraits, richly-colored stained glass paintings, and of course, more books than I could ever count, the Armstrong Browning Library is, in one word, magnificent.

I’m surprised to see that it isn’t mentioned in most lists of free things to do in Waco much less lists of things to do in Waco.

As we walk through the library, from wing to wing, I feel like a princess in a castle. There’s something ethereal about the low-lit, wood paneled walls.

The library is multi-floored. You can enter on either of the lower levels. The first floor is home to a gift shop, pottery, and artifacts. The second floor is where the magic happens. Here, the well-known fantasy of Robert and Elizabeth Browning come to life through quotes and placards. After all, the Armstrong Browning Library contains the largest collection of works by the couple.

Somewhere, in the midst of worn spines and walls of words, I feel at home. As we roam the third floor, we find an alcove that lets us peak at the McLean Foyer of Meditation from above. Minimalist decor. Large bronze chandeliers. Detailed ironwork.

“This is it,” you say.

I spin around, confused. I pull the sheet from your hand. All the labels on the list have been scratched off.

This can’t be it. Our Waco adventure can’t have come to an end so soon.

“This is the end of her list,” you insist.

I sigh. I guess, if we have to leave, this fairytale cove of lavishness and serenity would provide the perfect happy ending.

As I look down below at the empty space, softened by light pouring through a heavily draped, long, thin window, I smile.

“Yes, this is it,” I whisper.

Armstrong Browning Library: 710 Speight Ave, Waco, TX 76706

Did you enjoy this list of free things to do in Waco? Do you know of any more free things to do in Waco, Texas that I missed out on? Let me know in the comments below! I love hearing from you!

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Danijela
    October 20, 2018 at 11:17 AM

    Would love to stroll around the Cameron Park, it really looks serene.
    But the Armstrong Browning Library draw my attention first. How about the lovely balcony view or exploring the second floor! Sounds really fascinating. And there, according to your post, there really are few great free things one can do in Waco. Thanks for the suggestion. 🙂

    • Reply
      anshula.varma
      October 28, 2018 at 7:57 PM

      Visiting the Armstrong Browning Library was so surreal! It felt like a fairytale bookshop straight out of Beauty and the Beast! I was half-expecting to see a rose there the entire time! Hope you get a chance to visit! xx – Anshula

  • Reply
    Chris
    October 21, 2018 at 2:23 AM

    Small towns have always had a special kind of charm to my eye. They lack the pretentiousness that big cities have some times. It looks extremely quiet. Was it?

    • Reply
      anshula.varma
      October 28, 2018 at 7:59 PM

      Well, parts of Waco are really touristy (normally the places recommended by Chip and Joanna Gaines since they are so famous). The rest of Waco is really quiet! xx – Anshula

  • Reply
    Pau
    October 21, 2018 at 11:14 AM

    I had no idea what Waco was! Thanks for teaching me 🙂

  • Reply
    Pau
    October 21, 2018 at 11:15 AM

    Had no idea what Waco was before reading this post. Thanks for teaching me!

    • Reply
      anshula.varma
      October 28, 2018 at 7:59 PM

      I’m so glad you were able to pull out some new information from this post! xx – Anshula

  • Reply
    Derek Cullen
    October 22, 2018 at 11:26 AM

    Nothing wrong with spending all your money at Magnolia market!! As already mentioned, the library looks super interesting and would probably make the top of my list (if I made lists). I think it’s great too – that you still get out there and explore, even when you may not have much money on you. After all, this seems like the first excuse people have for not searching for things to do in Waco – money! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    • Reply
      anshula.varma
      October 28, 2018 at 8:01 PM

      Thank you so much for the comment, Derek! Waco definitely has some expensive attractions but there are also plenty of free things to do around the area! xx – Anshula

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