Founded in 1849 near the site of an abandoned agricultural village of Waco Indians, Waco rose to prominence in the 1870's as a major junction for the transport of cattle; by 1871 between 600,000 and 700,000 head of cattle had passed through the city. As time progressed, Waco's location at the crossroads of major railroads and its location on the Brazos River helped the city grow and thrive. It is now home to approximately 125,000 residents, with 260,000 in the greater Waco MSA area. Waco has a number of worthwhile attractions.
Waco came to the world's attention, and is still remembered by many people, for the February 28, 1993 stand-off between federal agents (FBI, ATF) and the Branch Davidians, a Seventh Day Adventist offshoot religious group, led by David Koresh, the sect's leader. It resulted in the deaths of 86 people. The incident took place 15 miles outside of Waco, though - not in the city itself. When asked about the incident, most residents will answer; just realize that generally Wacoans are tired of the subject and would rather talk about something else.
Waco is best known in Texas for being the home of Baylor University, the largest Baptist university in the world, chartered during the Republic of Texas.
Passenger service into Waco goes through Waco Regional Airport (ACT). American Airlines and Continental both provide flights into and out of Waco. 
Waco is located on I-35, thus allowing easy access by car from Dallas and Austin. On I-35, it is a 90 minute drive south of Dallas, and a 90 minute drive north of Austin. State Highway 6 is the preferred route to reach Waco from Houston, a three-hour drive.
Waco has a Greyhound bus terminal located in the center of downtown.
The closest train terminal is an Amtrak Station  in McGregor, Texas, which is a small community 15 miles west of Waco on highway 84.
The Brazos River flows through downtown Waco and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Reaching Waco by boat will be a challenge due to the shallowness of this river, along with frequent dams and falls.
A more practical (and entertaining) way of reaching Waco by boat would be to launch a kayak or canoe at the Lake Whitney dam, (approximately 40 miles upstream) and float downstream to Waco.
The easiest way to travel around Waco is by car. The city of Waco does run a public transportation system, however, it has a limited number of stops and only runs during the daytime. Waco Transit
- Armstrong Browning Library, . Contains the world's largest collection of works related to British poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The building contains 62 stained glass windows depicting themes from the Brownings' poetry.
- Cameron Park, . At over 400 acres, one of the largest city parks in the state of Texas. It is located on the Brazos and Bosque Rivers just upstream from downtown Waco. It contains nearly 20 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails that are amongst the best in the state. Cameron Park also features a disc golf course.
- Cameron Park Zoo, . Cameron Park Zoo was built in 1993 and has been expanded several times. The walkways of Cameron Park Zoo meander through lush landscapes and natural habitat displays featuring animals from Africa, Asia, South America, North America, and Madagascar. An 1880s Texas ranch house serves as an education facility, complete with whitetail deer, turkey, and peccary display. A state of the art Herpetarium opened in 1997. This unique immersion display houses more than 50 species of reptiles, amphibians, and fish from around the world. Grammy Nell's Play Area opened in 1998 with a focus on nature-based play and a zero-depth splash fountain. The following year a $600,000 African lion display was built thanks to the family and friends of Sam "Jack" McGlasson. Most recently, Lemur Island opened June 28, 2002. It is home to three species of Lemurs including the Sclater's black lemur, a critically endangered species that is held in only 14 institutions worldwide.
- Dr Pepper Museum, 300 South 5th Street, Phone (254) 757-1025, . The Dr Pepper soft drink was invented in Waco in 1885, and this museum is housed in the original bottling plant. The first floor explains the history of Dr Pepper itself, complete with the original machines, an artesian well, and an animatronic to introduce visitors to the history of Dr Pepper. The second floor deals with advertising and the commercial history of Dr Pepper and other "independent" soft drinks, such as 7-Up and RC Cola. The third floor houses a conference center, the "Soft Drink Executive Hall of Fame", and a conference center dedicated to free enterprise as an economic system. The real highlight, though, is the vintage soda fountain on the first floor - no price of admission necessary for purchase of Dr Pepper, mixed and served straight from the tap. It's leagues better than what you can get in a can. (Note: there is no period after the "r" of Dr Pepper.)
- Homestead Heritage, Halbert Lane off FM 933 north of Waco, Phone (254) 754-9600, . Homestead Heritage celebrates life as it used to be. Enjoy a relaxing lunch of homegrown and homemade treats at the Homestead Farms Deli, and be sure to visit the 200-year old restored barn which offers handmade crafts, housewares and furniture. Take a walking tour of an herb farm, 1750s gristmill, pottery barn and blacksmith shop.
- Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas, 715 Columbus Ave., Phone (254) 753-7395, . The Masonic Grand Lodge is open to the public and includes many historical artifacts that tell the story of Freemasonry in Texas.
- Mayborn Museum Complex, 1300 S. University Parks Drive, Phone (254) 710-1110, . Contains 16 discovery rooms for hands-on learning with themes from trasnportation to TV news and pioneers. Explore the natural history of central Texas through walk-in dioramas of a limestone cave, a Texas forest, and the Waco mammoth dig. On the grounds of the complex is the Gov. Bill & Vara Daniel Historic Village, an 1890's village moved from Liberty, Texas with a livery, church, general store, plantation home, and other authentic historic buildings.
- Red Men Museum and Library, 4521 Speight Ave., Phone (254) 756-1221, . The Red Men Museum and Library is a historical reference museum and research library pertaining to the Improved Order of the Red Men, an organization tracing its founding to 1765. The museum exhibits artifacts of historical significance such as a writing desk that belonged to Aaron Burr, a bugle recovered from the battlefield at Gettysburg, and a peace blanket that belonged to the Apache warrior Geronimo.
- Suspension Bridge. The Suspension Bridge in Waco, built in 1870, was the first bridge across the Brazos River and the longest bridge west of the Mississippi River at that time.
- Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, 100 Texas Ranger Trail I-35 and University Parks Dr., Phone: 254-750-8631, . M-Su 9AM-4:30PM. The official museum of the Texas Rangers. (the law enforcement agency, not the baseball team) The Hall of Fame contains a large amount of memorabilia from the long history of the Texas Rangers.
- Texas Sports Hall of Fame, . The museum features Texas athletes in many sports, including football, tennis, golf, baseball, basketball, horse racing, and others. The museum also houses the Southwest Conference's 75 year collection of memorabilia.
- The Alico Building, . 425 Austin Ave. When completed in 1911, this beautiful 22 story building was the tallest in the Southwest.
- Lion's Park, 1716 North 42nd Street, Phone: (254) 772-3541, . Ride on a miniature train, play putt-putt, drive a go-kart, or ride on a bumper boat.
- Waco Water Park, . The Waco Water Park is the coolest place to be this summer for kids of all ages. Two towering water slides and two pools provide a great escape from the summer heat.
- Mayborn Museum  is located on Baylor University Campus, walk across a replica of Waco's famous mammoth site, see a Comanche tipi up close or spend your day exploring the 16 themed Discovery rooms, such as the Communication Room, the Health Room and the Invertebrate Room. The Mayborn Museum Complex is the perfect place to bring the family.
- Baylor University  is located in Waco.
- Schmaltz's Sandwich Shop, 1412 N Valley Mills Drive, ☎ (254)776-3694. Mon-Fri until 7 and Sat until 5. Local sandwich shop since 1970s. The owner wakes up every morning and makes the bread fresh - sandwiches are served warm and delicious! There are two soups served daily, one of which is always Wisconsin cheddar cheese soup
- Dubl-R Burgers, 1810 Herring Ave, ☎ (254) 235-5577. Mon-Sat. Best. Burgers. Ever.
- Lolita's Tortilleria, 1911 Franklin Ave, ☎ (254) 755-8008. Tuesday - Sunday until 2pm. Locally owned Mexican restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch all day, or until 2. Located downtown near many of Waco's attractions so you don't have to travel far to start off your day on a full stomach. Must try: the queso is one of a kind - looks different so don't knock it before you try it!under ten dollars.
- Kitok's Restaurant, 1815 N 18th St.. An old establishment that is the home of what may be one of the greatest hamburgers you've ever put in your mouth. It is rumored that people drive from Austin just to eat these burgers. You should also order the Oriental fries. Service is extremely fast and friendly, and the prices are very reasonable. Worth a visit.
- Poppa Rollos Pizza, Valley Mills Dr, . open late. Pizza and Beer! The best pizza on earth. A local hideaway complete with old time movies playing on the big screen. Secret doors lead to the bar and other areas of the restaurant. If you eat there on Friday or Saturday around 7 or 8, the magician might be there to entertain you while you wait.
- Diamond Back's Texas Bistro, 217 Mary Ave, ☎ (254) 757-2871. Roughly 10 years old, Diamond Back's is located downtown near the Brazos River in a small historic warehouse district. Interior is tall ceilings with rustic, yet sophisticated, wood ceilings. There is a bar and upstairs seating, which includes outdoor seating. It is the best steak house in Waco, and the most expensive. An 8 oz. filet is roughly $32, and a 12 oz. filet is closer to $40, which includes a salad, but no sides. Mashed potatoes with garlic are delicious, and run $5 additional. The beef is a good cut of Angus, and delicious. It is trying to be like Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, in terms of product delivery, but has the feel of an expensive Texas bistro. Overall, worth it if you are looking to spend a ton of money on a steak.$100+ for two, including drinks and tip.
- Dancing Bear Pub, 1117 Speight Avenue(Located on Speight Ave. close to 12th St., right across the street from the HEB and next door to Food For Thought.), . M-R: 4-12; F-Su: Noon-12. Locally owned, small pub. Ambience isn't great, but the selection is nice. Next door is Food for Thought, from which you can get sandwiches.
- America's Best Inn & Suites, 3829 Franklin Ave., +1 254 754-0363, Fax: +1 254 752-1318, .
- Clarion Hotel,801 S. 4th St, +1 254 757-2000, .
- Hampton Inn Waco South (Ind.), 2501 Market Place, ☎ 800-698-0755, . Near downtown Waco and Baylor University.
- Hilton Waco, 113 S University Parks, +1 254 754-8484, .
- Hotel Waco, 1001 S Martin Luther King, +1 254 753-0261, .
- Residence Inn Waco, 501 University Parks Drive, +1 254 714-1386, Fax: +1 254 714-1386, .
Bed & Breakfasts
- Colcord House Bed & Breakfast, 2211 Colcord Ave, 254-753-6856, .
- Colonial House Bed & Breakfast, 2301 Colonial Ave, 254-756-1968.
- The Cotton Palace, 1910 Austin Ave, 254-753-7294, .
- Creekside Garden, 115 N. 25th St., 254-744-8114.
- Judge Baylor House, 908 Speight Ave, 254-756-0273.
Waco has a reputation for a higher-than-normal crime rate for a small to medium size city. Visitors should exercise normal caution. That said, most violent crime occurs in residential areas, away from most areas visitors may visit. If you do find yourself in such an area (usually for dining), use normal caution. Drive with the doors locked, do not draw attention to yourself, and do not make prolonged eye contact (i.e. stare at other drivers).
It is strongly advised not to be at Cameron Park at night unless you are with a large group.
Waco, and Texas in general, is not frequented by pedestrians as much as a lot of other places. If you decide to walk, be careful, as the drivers are not used to pedestrians and may not see you.
Tornadoes are not a frequent occurrence in Waco, but when they do hit, they tend to be very strong. Do not panic if a tornado warning is issued. If such a warning is issued, turn on the local news and keep updated. The weatherperson will explain what cautions need to be taken, and who should take them. If the weatherperson, any hotel staff, or public officials give you directions, follow them. It should go without saying that you should not go outside during a tornado. See the Tornado Safety section for more information.
- Clifton - 20 minutes west on Route 6 is this small town which is very proud of its Norwegian heritage.
This page was last edited at 21:56, on 26 March 2009 by Peter Fitzgerald. Based on work by Marc Heiden, David, April Allen and Sam Alexander, Wikitravel user(s) Huttite and Texugo, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.