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There are lots of things we’ll always love about Waco — its location along the Interstate 35 corridor, our beautiful Cameron Park, the excellent institutions of higher education, a friendly community of people and the absence of traffic. But with each passing year, Waco changes, grows and evolves, and there are many new things to love about the city. For the fifth time and in no particular order, our contributors share what they think makes Waco a great place to live. And for the second time, we’ve also asked Wacoan readers to contribute. Submissions were posted on Facebook and Wacosphere, the official blog of the Wacoan. Our favorites are printed here, and from those published, the authors were automatically entered for a chance to win a new iPad (64GB). To find out who won, visit our Facebook page: facebook.com/theWACOAN

— R E A S O N S B Y— Pictured from left to right: Gretchen Eichenberg, Joanna Gaines, Heather Garcia, Caitlin Giddens, Sarah Hess, Michelle Johnson (not pictured), Robert Johnson (not pictured), Kathleen McKinney, Anna Mitchael, Kevin Tankersley, Megan Willome and WACOAN Readers

No. 1

THE PEOPLE

My husband and I have been Wacoans for more than 15 years now, and we still hear it from outsiders: “Waco? Why Waco?” We have found that what makes a person love a town is far beyond its name, location and, in our case, its misconceptions. I have also met plenty of people that live in Waco that still wonder why anyone would decide to stay here. All I have to say to them is this: “Get to know Waco.” Get to know the people who risked everything to start a business and support them. Get to know the restaurant owners who have chosen to go up against the monster chains and eat there. Get to know the people who give of their time so that they can give to others and serve with them. I guarantee after you get to know the heart of this town, you will love it, too. It’s the local people that make the difference! — JG

No. 2 COACHES WITH WACO STORM BASEBALL

Haney, Brewer and Wink with Waco Storm Baseball. These three gentlemen are not only teaching my son the fundamentals of hitting, catching, throwing and fielding a baseball, they are teaching him to be a better young man. Plus, I get to learn things about baseball I was never taught as a young player. Our friendship has just been the icing on the cake.

— RJ

Photographs by Rachel Badders, Gretchen Eichenberg, Caitlin Giddens, Robert Johnson, Kathleen McKinney, Anna Mitchael, Richard Ross, Homestead Heritage photos by Ben Owen, Baylor homecoming photo by Baylor Marketing & Communications/Ryan Duncan, Waco Civic Theatre photo by Marcel van Es, Waco Longboard Club photo provided by Kevin Clancy and Lady Bears photo provided by the Baylor Athletics Department.

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No. 36

HOMESTEAD FAIR


BLUEBONNETS No. 6

No. 5 CONCERTO CIRCLE

Yes, Cameron Park has been mentioned several times over the years in the Best of Waco issue, but I have a whole new appreciation (and respect) for the park this year. In March, I ran the Bearathon, a halfmarathon sponsored by Baylor University’s Student Foundation. The 13.1-mile course began and ended on the Baylor campus, but it also took us up and down the hilly roads of Cameron Park. The park is well kept and has trails for running and bicycling that cut off from the main roads. We ran by areas for picnicking as well as playgrounds and splash parks. Exploring that much of the park on foot, rather than seeing it from a car or a motorcycle, was a nice change of pace. — KT

As a friend’s “date,” I had the privilege of attending several of the Waco Symphony Orchestra’s performances this year. My friend was also a member of Concerto Circle, a group of young professionals that gets together at a local restaurant before each show. Every month, I looked forward to Concerto Circle just as much as the evening’s performance. Obviously, the group is filled with fellow music lovers, which is great for conversation. But what’s even cooler is that the members of Concerto Circle are all advocates for Waco who recognize what our city has to offer — like concerts featuring internationally renowned talent — and they take advantage of it. — KM

TORTILLA TO S S I N G No. 7

FROM A READER

The best spot in the world for tortilla tossing. — Sean Corley via Facebook

FROM A READER

No. 4 MOVING FORWARD

Through both good and hard times, the city has always bounced back and pushed forward from any setback it may have encountered. Not to mention, it’s hard not to love the city that gave the world Dr Pepper.

— Jack Sorrells via Wacosphere

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No. 8 WACO ADVENTURE CANOE OUTFITTERS

You’ve traveled alongside it and over it a thousand times. But have you ever traveled in it? The Brazos River, that is. Braving the waters of the Brazos should be on the “bucket list” of every Wacoan — and we don’t mean by speedboat. We’re talking an old school canoe trip. But you don’t have the gear, and it sounds like a lot of trouble, right? Wrong! There’s one crew in town that’s committed to making it happen for you. It’s Waco Adventure Canoe Outfitters (WACO), and they will do all the work for you! Whether you need one canoe for a solo cruise or an entire fleet for a Girl Scout badge requirement, they’ve got you covered. Rentals are $40 per boat for a half-day. And you can pay $30 extra for a knowledgeable guide to accompany you on your excursion. Traveling by river offers a completely new view of the city. From its tree-lined shores, you’ll see green pastures, wildlife, rocky cliffs and a bustling downtown, all from the quiet perspective of a simple, self-paced watercraft. — GE

No. 3 CAMERON PARK

Since Waco is the only city in Texas I’ve called home, it’s taken me a while to distinguish which idiosyncrasies I experience are due to being in Texas versus being in Waco specifically. This year I learned that not all Texans get to see the ground erupt into blue during April. A few other Waco transplants we know commented on how pretty all of the bluebonnets were that lined the median along Highway 6 by our apartment. I shrugged it off, thinking it was just a typical spring phenomenon. Then a couple of weeks later, we drove to San Antonio for Easter, and I was surprised to see a large field outside my in-laws’ subdivision that was simply … green. It was a little sad when I thought about how beautiful it could be if we just brought some of those vibrant flowers from Waco to spruce up the place. — HG


FROM A READER

No. 9 SUPPORT FOR SMALL ORGANIZATIONS

I love Waco because of its continued support for small organizations: Waco Arts Initiative, Project 254, Waco Longboard Club, Waco Downtown Farmers Market and many others. These are all groups started by only a few individuals that have gone on to make a meaningful impact on our city. Waco is full of character and individuality, and it’s the people that live here and explore their passions that make it so great. —

Andy Anzollitto via Wacosphere

No. 11 UPTMOR SADDLERY

Let’s start here: I know nothing about saddles. And that’s where the name “Uptmor Saddlery” will fool you. Because these guys know a heck of a lot about saddles, but their handmade and hand-tooled work extends way beyond what the name advertises. If you’re interested in belts, purses, bags, shaving kits and wallets, they have an existing selection, all excellently crafted and ready to walk out the door. But if you want to take your leather a step further and customize a dream piece to order, these artisans will make it happen. I visited their shop with nothing but some foggy ideas about a custom purse I had dreamed up, and a few weeks later they had turned that idea into a piece I absolutely adore. Big, small or saddle, their talented (and friendly) staff are experts at their craft. — AM

No. 12 DOWNTOWN FARMERS MARKET

Dozens of varieties of fresh produce. Cookies still warm from the oven. Lamb, chicken, beef, eggs. Goat’s milk. Yep, all that can be found at the Waco Downtown Farmers Market each Saturday morning. A recent weekend dinner at home featured a rib-eye steak and greens purchased at the market that morning, and it was outstanding. — KT

No. 10

A Z E B R A FA M I L Y & M o r e Located at the corner of Chapel and Ritchie Road, a small ranch is home to a menagerie of exotic animals. We stumbled across this several years ago when taking our daughter to school. Some mornings we were left with our mouths wide open saying, “Whoa, was that a moose?” (We found out it was an elk.) Or, “Oh my, did you see that giant antelope?” Now that the grandparents live close to the ranch, we are constantly driving by. One afternoon, all of us gasped as we saw a baby zebra feeding near the pond with its mama and daddy. The ranch gives us smiles every time we drive by. We never know what new animal we might find. — MJ

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FROM A READER

No. 13 CHARMING DRIVES

As a Baylor alumni, I always get teased about living in Waco for my four years as a Bear. People are often surprised when I dote on the city and all the charm that can be discovered in the 20 minutes it takes to drive around the town. On any of the many beautiful days we get to enjoy, my favorite is to drive down University Parks Drive into Cameron Park, under the canopy of trees that salute the road, with the Brazos River to your right, glistening in the Texas sun. A stop at the Cameron Park Zoo is a sure way to add joy to your day, particularly after visiting the whooping gibbons that can be heard throughout the park.

— Emily Boeckman via Wacosphere

No. 15

FROM A READER

No. 16 WACO CEMETERIES No. 14 TEMPTING BAKERIES

Have you ever noticed that Waco houses an unusual number of bakeries? Whenever I need an escape from the reality of classes, I roam around What About Cupcakes? or Simply Delicious. Or if I need a drive, Collin Street Bakery offers a similar sense of calmness. There’s something relaxing about seeing delicious treats, breathing in the smell of bread and remembering just how simple and sweet life can be. — CG

The cemeteries! They are so diverse and lovely. There’s a lot of history in those graves, both from those who influenced us locally and statewide. —

Judy Cofer via Facebook

No. 17 D’S CHICKEN DELIGHT

My husband and I try to have a date night once a week, and one of our favorite casual places to go is D’s Chicken Delight off of Colcord. Nizam

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TALLEST ROCK WALL IN TEXAS I’m sad to report that I’ve never actually climbed the rock wall at Baylor’s McLane Student Life Center. But I do like to brag to visitors about the fact that we have the tallest freestanding climbing structure in Texas. Sic ‘em, Bears! — HG

and Diane Issa have owned the restaurant for 10 years, and they offer the tastiest chicken tenders and a wide selection of mouth-watering Mediterranean food. It’s all made fresh, so consider calling in your order if you are in a hurry. My favorite plate there is

the chicken kabob dinner with the Lebanese salad and grape leaf rolls. Every time we go in, Diane takes our order, and her husband, Nizam, prepares our meal. They are passionate about serving healthy, fresh food, and I am more than happy to eat it! — JG


FROM A READER

No. 18 WACO LONGBOARD CLUB

— Kevin Clancy via Wacosphere

No. 19 SANCTUARY AT FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

For the past 100 years, it’s been a place for joyful unions, hopeful beginnings, thoughtful reflections, happy celebrations and tearful goodbyes. Last month, the members of First Presbyterian Church of Waco celebrated the centennial anniversary of its stunning Gothicstyle sanctuary. It was through

plenty of planning and prayer that this third building of the church was erected in 1912 at the corner of 11th Street and Austin. What first gives pause to anyone who enters the sanctuary is its striking stained-glass windows. The names of the massive lancet windows include “Good Shepherd,” “Angels of the Resurrection,” “Hope and Charity,” “Woman at the Well” and “I Am The Vine” — all installed beginning in 1912. High over the organ is the small, but meaningful “Cross and Crown”

window (installed in 1922), which is most beautiful when the morning sun shines in at exactly 11 a.m. In the balcony on the north side of the church is the “Rotan” window, which was designed by renowned American stained glass artist Charles J. Connick and installed in 1933. In 1924, the Higgenson Memorial Organ was installed. And today, after a major renovation in the ‘80s, the sanctuary organ continues to fill the sanctuary with sometimes mournful, mostly joyful, always peaceful music. — GE

BAYLOR HOMECOMING

No. 20

FROM A READER We love Waco because it was the very first place our two boys experienced a college football homecoming parade and game. Visiting the bears and the funnel cakes are still a hit many years later. — Tara Tennant via Facebook No. 21 CRUISIN’ DOWN THE VALLEY

My brother, who was in law school when I was a freshman at Baylor, shared a reason to love Waco with me. He called it “cruisin’ down the Valley.” Basically, this pastime involves driving down Valley Mills at night in no rush. You just take in the lights and atmosphere of the city. Cruisin’ has become one of my favorite things to do in Waco, especially when it includes a Sonic trip with friends. — CG

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HOT DOG PARK No. 22

Finally, Waco has an off-leash dog park, and it’s pretty awesome. The Heart of Texas (HOT) Dog Park just opened this past October, and it has three-and-half acres of open space for friendly dogs to play and run. With lots of trees, benches and pathways, it’s a lovely park that humans can enjoy, too. The other “parents” and I gather at the top of the hill in the middle of the park, and everyone chats as we watch our four-legged children play with their newfound friends. There’s really nothing like seeing my dog, Sirius, run at full speed, happy and free. The park is located on Steinbeck Bend just past Lake Shore Drive, and it’s open free of charge from dawn ‘til dusk. — KM

No. 25 TSTC’S NEW CULINARY BUILDING

For years, the culinary program at Texas State Technical College

was housed in a World War II-era building that had its shortcomings. Still, the staff and students there did an admirable job of not only handling the academic aspect of their

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No. 23 CHINA WOK

No. 24 HIGH FASHION AT BOUTIQUES

I’ve lived in the country long enough to know what I can expect: some standouts in the BBQ division, an excellent burger here or there, chicken-fried steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Enter China Wok. Whether I’m dining in or taking out, Nancy (yes, we’re on a first name basis — a testament to how consistently awesome their food is) takes me through their traditional menu and shows me something I’ve never thought to try before but always love. I’m not attempting to be your social planner or anything, but China Wok is right across the street from the Cliftex, Texas’ oldest, continuously operating movie theatre. The two together make for an especially enjoyable weekend excursion with the family, someone special or just your own best company. — AM

Our town is full of boutiques! No need to go to Austin or Dallas — we have what you need here in Waco! What has been really fun lately is seeing our boutiques carry lines that Nieman’s or Nordstrom have. For years, we were buying shirts for my husband at Nordstrom, but now we’re able to get his favorite brand, Façonnable, here in town. Without ever leaving Waco, you’ll find a great selection of high-end brands such as Diane von Furstenberg, Kendra Scott Jewelry, Jan Barboglio iron decor, Seychelles, Michael Stars and Jane Iredale makeup. And whenever you shop at one of our local boutiques stores, you’re sure to find the store owner there, ready to provide an intimate experience not available at the big-city department stores. — MJ

program, but feeding the public the two days a week the cafeteria was open in order to showcase the culinary work of the students by serving gourmet lunches. This semester,

however, the program moved to the new Greta W. Watson Culinary Arts Center on Campus Drive, a few blocks away from the former culinary building. Three new

professional kitchens replace the single workspace in the old place, the dining room is open, airy and bright and still serves lunch on Wednesday and Friday, and there

are plenty of classrooms and other meeting spaces for the students. — KT


No. 26 BAYLOR BASEBALL ACADEMY

Zach Dillon and Chris Berry spearheaded the academy last year, using their collegiate and professional experience to guide and instruct young players and help them achieve their goals on and off the field. And it all takes place at Waco’s most awesome baseball venue: Baylor Ballpark. — RJ

FROM A READER

No. 27 CIVILIZATION ALONG THE WATER

It is said that all great civilizations are built along the water, and Waco’s beautiful Brazos River sets the laid-back, flowing tempo of our town. What better place to enjoy life than along its banks, with jewels such as the unparalleled Cameron Park and neighboring zoo, the graceful Suspension Bridge and the ever-evolving campus of Baylor University. It has been forever entwined with important sources of commerce, from the historic Chisholm Trail to the pulsating pavement of I-35. Who doesn’t love living here during the renaissance that Waco is undergoing? It’s a town that pays homage to its past while enthusiastically embracing its future. Downtown is again vital and vibrant and transforming daily as evidenced by the evolution of Austin Avenue, the eruption of

urban living options, the sprouting up of the riverfront farmers market and our newest BRIC [Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative] as an adaptive reuse of an abandoned factory. We will soon hear the cheers from the new Baylor Stadium — the house that RG3 built (and Drayton McLane funded!). And what will it look like in the decades to come? That’s the greatest part because here in Waco, everyone is welcomed and encouraged to have a role in its evolution. Jump on in, the water’s fine!

— Steve Sorrells via Wacosphere

No. 28 SLIPPERY MINNOW’S PORCH

It’s getting to be that time of year when the best feeling in the world is a cool breeze whipping off the water onto your hot, sweaty, Texas-summer sunburned face. If you find yourself short a ski boat or Jet Ski this season, the next best alternative is to spend a couple of hours on the porch at the Slippery Minnow. The open-air space is great for the young and young at heart to kick back and relax on long, lazy summer afternoons. Cool breezes, lake views and excellent burgers are just what the doctor ordered to stay carefree in the sweltering Texas heat. — AM No. 29 WACO CIVIC THEATRE

FROM A READER

I love the Waco Civic Theatre! Last year we saw “My Fair Lady,” and it was so good! This year we are planning to see “Chicago.” What you might not realize about the theater is that almost everyone involved — from actors to production staff — are all volunteers. It is a blessing to have a local theater of this caliber! Great idea for something to do on a Friday or Saturday night. — Stacy York Isom via Wacosphere

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No. 31 SPRINGTIME

I love spring in Waco, waking up to a cool misty fog in the morning. Pinks, yellows and blues of the flowers sway gently among the tall green grass. And I love the view from my front porch on the World Hunger Relief Farm. I can see the tip of the famous ALICO building, barely visible from my hill, as I enjoy the weather on my porch swing. — SH No. 32 FREE MOVIE RENTALS AT THE LIBRARY

No. 30

Did you know you could rent movies from the library? Yep. If you have a library card, you can check out DVDs for seven days for free. I just figured this out a couple of months ago, and when I checked out the selection at the West Waco Library, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, there are definitely some older titles, but there are a lot of newer releases, too. Just a few weeks ago, I was thinking about renting a movie from Redbox, but I decided to just save the money and see what I could get at the library. Who would have guessed that I would find one of the exact titles that I had been looking for on Redbox.com? The library won’t have every movie, but they have a good assortment, and it’s hard to beat free. — KM

FARMER JONATHAN BRUCE Tucked away along the outskirts of the Baylor campus, a garden flourishes. Vegetables, greens, herbs and even fruits are planted each season and carefully tended by AmeriCorps Vista member Jonathan Bruce, who works through Baylor Interdisciplinary Poverty Initiative and with the Heart of Texas Urban Gardening Coalition. The Baylor Community Garden, located at Ninth Street and Bagby Avenue, is the central nerve for the student-led Campus Kitchens Project, which helps relieve (and, hopefully, end) local hunger through community and urban gardens. Besides being a service to the community, the garden is beautifully maintained and is a place to learn about sustainability. Farmer Bruce loves to share his passion and knowledge and welcomes visitors to the garden. He might even put you to work — weeding the beds, planting seeds, picking a crop or composting the organic remains of the last harvest. — GE

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FROM A READER

No. 34 GOING GREEN

I love Waco because of its cutting-edge approach to going green! Waco is one of the first cities around the country that is choosing to go green in big ways. From our Chamber of Commerce and local eco-friendly businesses to our farmers markets downtown, Waco is standing out as a city that truly cares about our God-given planet! — Piper Green Wilson

via Wacosphere


No. 37 WACO STRIDERS CLUB

No. 38 HORNY TOAD BAR & GRILL

Make running a part of your routine this year! It is my goal to join Waco Striders Club. They make running look fun. I see runners of all shapes, sizes and ages running down Ritchie Road every Monday evening around 5:30 p.m. In January, I noticed around 100 runners coming down the hill towards

Horny Toad Bar & Grill is a drive from Waco proper, but after a little bit of highway, some rolling hills and a couple of stops for bluebonnet pictures, you’ll find yourself cruising down the main street of “The Gap” (as locals call it). Your destination can be located by the selection of motorcycle enthusiasts who

Badger Ranch. It was a glorious sight. Leading the pack was Don Bland, who we featured last year in our weight loss story. He took up running several years ago to get healthy. What am I waiting for? — MJ

have already claimed prime parking spaces up front. (Leather chaps aren’t required, but always work as an excellent conversation starter.) On Saturday nights, there is usually live music. The rest of the week, they’ll keep you entertained with lively conversation, a pool table and burgers so good you’ll be planning your next drive through the country even before you’re back in the city. — AM

No. 33

DR. BEAU BENSON

No. 35 ANTIOCH COMMUNITY CHURCH

Dr. Beau Benson heads the orchestra program at Midway High School and the chamber orchestra at Midway Middle School. The orchestra programs at both schools have earned all Division 1 ratings in UIL District, and this year the middle school will compete in Texas Music Educators Association’s Honor Orchestra competition. Also, the high school’s top orchestra, Camerata, has been invited to perform at the prestigious Midwest Clinic in Chicago. Dr. Benson is tough and challenging — qualities that make him a great teacher — and he expects his students to perform at a high level. — MJ

My husband and I have been going to Antioch Community Church for over 10 years now, and we love seeing how this church has served this community. On any given Sunday, the congregation is full of every color and background you can imagine. This says something about the heart of the church. Their main objective above all else is to seek God and love others as Christ did. Many of the staff members at Antioch live

in the neighborhood near the church. The church also offers many community outreaches that help the needy, addicted and hurting. Established right here in Waco, Antioch has over 15 U.S. church plants and 31 teams in 22 different countries. As we know, any thriving organization will always have its critics. There’s no denying, however, that this church has helped change the neighborhood, this city, the nation and even the world. I am privileged to call it my church home. — JG

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No. 36

H O M E S T E A D My husband and I were so enthralled by all the activity at the Homestead Fair when we attended for the first time that we returned two more times that weekend to explore with more friends in tow. It was a beautiful time to be outdoors, and we ambled about the grounds of Homestead Heritage, watching metalworking, pottery and soapmaking demonstrations. The petting

zoo area was a definite draw, with the cutest little bunnies, beagles, chicks and goats to hold. My husband was a little jealous of the kids, who got their own tent with lots of fun, hands-on crafts to create. The interaction isn’t just for kids, though. Each year, there’s an old-fashioned barn raising that takes place throughout the weekend with the help of fair-goers. We especially

No. 39 OUTDOOR PLAY AREAS

No. 40 SANDRA AT BONNIE’S GREENHOUSE

When we’ve had enough of the kids playing Wii, and it’s time to get outside, there is no shortage of outdoor recreation areas around Waco. From splash parks to climbing areas, at schools and public parks, our kids are thrilled at the number of places to play. There’s a splash park at Woodgate Intermediate School that’s just a few minutes away from us, and the kids also like the splash park, climbing rock and playground at Pecan Bottoms in Cameron Park. — KT

I like the idea of gardening but, honestly, I am the least qualified person when it comes to actually growing anything — that is, until I met Sandra, the owner of Bonnie’s Greenhouse. The first time I visited this adorable greenhouse, I was more inspired than ever to try and plant a garden of my own. Bonnie’s Greenhouse is located off the loop on Orchard Lane. When we drove up to it, my first thought was, “Where has this place been all of my life?” It’s like a little

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F A I R enjoyed the evening concert when the large choir of voices rang out, and we could engage in worship with a different group of people than we’re usually surrounded by. All of this is just the tip of the iceberg of what the fair offers each Thanksgiving weekend. If I haven’t yet convinced you to experience it for yourself, perhaps this will do the trick: apple cider donuts. Enough said. — HG

piece of heaven right here in Waco. It’s worth the trip, even if I just need a small tomato plant because it’s like a little retreat for my mind. Sandra has worked there for 17 years and purchased the store from the original owner five years ago. Her husband, Johnny, has since retired from his job and now works there with her. They are the friendliest couple, and you can tell they love what they do. Anytime you purchase something, they love to throw in a special plant or two as a way to say “thank you.” It’s the small details that count at this wonderful local greenhouse. — JG


HEALTH CAMP No. 41

Health Camp on the Circle is a family favorite. While at Baylor, we would order coffee milkshakes on date night. Now we take the kids there for cheeseburgers, onion rings and shakes. Our favorite part is the jukebox. We wait in anticipation to see what songs the kids will choose. — MJ

No. 42 SUMMERS AT THE STRECKER MUSEUM

No. 43 URBAN CREEKS AND WOODS

Fridays in the summer were my absolute favorite days! That is the day that my mother would stop her 1960s homemaker duties for the afternoon and take us “into town” to visit the Strecker Museum. We were there to engage in the past, explore faraway places and enjoy the variety of exhibits that the Strecker Museum brought to Waco-area children. Every week our minds and imaginations could travel to great heights along with the unique and interesting items that were displayed. Today at the Mayborn Museum Complex, as I walk through the Cabinets of Curiosity, emotions surface reminding me of the multiple times I pressed the buttons of the five oak tree cross section or grilled my mother over the possibility of an actual jackalope. I am thrilled with the knowledge that the Mayborn Museum has survived, expanded and thrived to be available for generations to come. —

Back in the day when kids rode bikes without helmets and went outside to play and knew to be home by dark, they made their own fun, exploring their neighborhoods, their city — every inch of it. In many of the neighborhoods in Waco proper, that meant “the creeks” and “the woods.” The backyards of half the homes in the Lake Air Drive, Hillcrest and Lake Shore Drive area of town turn to densely-wooded forests cut by run-off creeks — places where a kid could catch crawdads, get lost in his imagination and actually travel by foot all the way to the lake if he ventured far enough. (And many did — and still do!) All this action, and you’re still within earshot of someone’s house. If you check out Waco on Google Earth, notice the dark green, tree-filled “fingers” that spread out from the heart of the city all the way to Lake Waco. These are the creeks and woods that make the ultimate playground. — GE

FROM A READER

Cindee Millard via Wacosphere

No. 44 DELICIOUS SCENTS

to obscure cocktails. After a hard day or even a good day, take a seat at the bar, and Alan will fix exactly what you need. — KM

In order to save gas, I have started driving with my sunroof open and windows down as much as possible when it’s warm, which has resulted in some unforeseen benefits! On my way home from work every day, I get a car full of the delicious scents of one of our treasured local barbeque spots: Uncle Dan’s. Local favorites like Uncle Dan’s, Tom’s Burgers and Kitok are part of what makes Waco great, in my opinion. —

No. 46 BEARATHON

FROM A READER

Laura Ann Lee Slack via Wacosphere No. 45 ALAN AT ONE THIRTY FIVE PRIME

Alan Streetman, the bartender at One Thirty Five Prime, is the stereotypical bartender. I don’t mean your average bartender (a young kid that ends up tending bar just because the tips are good). No, he’s what everyone expects a bartender to be. He’s attentive, a great listener, and he knows his stuff from fine scotches

The memory of my first visit to Waco remains clear in my mind. Driving around Baylor’s campus, my dad noticed all of the runners circling the Bear Trail. He joked with me about joining them once I started school, and I agreed (with much sarcasm). As a selfproclaimed non-runner, I never dreamed that the Bearathon would become one of my new traditions in Waco. This year marked the third year that my husband has run the halfmarathon and the fourth year I’ve dragged myself out of bed early on a Saturday morning to cheer on my friends. It’s always exciting to see all of the people who dare to tackle the “toughest halfmarathon in Texas” and meet them partway to cheer them through the ominous hills. It’s a great accomplishment, and I’m proud of all of my brave friends who have completed it. — HG

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VALLEY MILLS VINEYARDS No. 48

No. 47 HISTORIC HOUSES

The houses in downtown Waco show how historically rich this city is. Just taking a drive down Austin Avenue will remind you that Waco is a rare gem of beauty and tradition. — CG

FROM A READER

No. 49 DR PEPPER MUSEUM

There’s nothing wrong with adult beverages that come from a can, but sometimes you want to serve guests a drink that doesn’t froth. In the old days, if that was your desire on this stretch of Highway 6, then you were in the wrong neck of the woods. Now Valley Mills Vineyards offers fine wines as an excellent alternative. Their open and comfortable tasting room is a great place to sample their selection alongside a handful of locals and wine lovers who stop in from all over the state. When you’re ready to make a purchase, they sell by the bottle and the case — depending, of course, on how many people you’re planning to entertain. — AM

I love Waco because I get to work at such a unique place: the Dr Pepper Museum. —

Mary Beth Tait via Wacosphere No. 50 START OF LAKE SHORE DRIVE

I recently moved to a place off of Lake Shore Drive. My parents still live in Woodway, and I tend to visit their place at least once a week. In the beginning, I just thought about all of the gas I was using driving back and forth. But now, I love the drive. The point where Valley Mills becomes Lake Shore is one of the most spectacular views in Waco. As you’re heading down the end of Valley Mills, you enter a canopy of gorgeous trees. Then, just as you exit the covering, you encounter a stunning view of Lake Waco. I always feel like it’s welcoming me home.

— KM

No. 51 OUTDOOR DINING

We love having all of the outdoor dining now in Waco. Westrock Centre hosts four outdoor dining options: One Thirty Five Prime, Uncorked, Cantina Texas and George’s. If you sit in one corner of One Thirty Five Prime, you can see the cabana umbrellas at Cantina Texas, and for a short moment, you feel like you might be somewhere else. — MJ

160 Wacoan { Waco’s City Magazine™


No. 52 HISTORIC WACO FOUNDATION

FROM A READER

I love Waco because it has such a rich history that has been so well preserved. The Historic Waco Foundation has done a fabulous job of preserving our city’s past in a very personal way through the maintenance of four historic homes in downtown Waco. The original owners of the homes are expertly portrayed by the knowledge of the docents and by some of their very own

belongings. Claire Masters’ clothing exhibits in Fort House are top notch, and I suggest you see them soon because after many years of sharing her collection, Mrs. Masters has made the decision that this will be her last showcase. A perfect follow-up to visiting the homes is a stroll through Oakwood Cemetery, where you can see the resting place of many of Waco’s very first movers and shakers. — Valerie Moon

Stambaugh via Wacosphere

No. 53 NEVER FAR FROM HOME

This year, with Baylor’s athletics successes, I never felt far from home. Twitter was alive with a variety of Baylor hashtags during all of the significant sporting events. And recently, on my way back from an overseas trip, I purposefully wore my Lady Bears Tshirt. When I was going through Customs in Houston, the guard saw my shirt, smiled and said, “Go Bears!” — MW

No. 54

B A Y LO R SPORTS

magazine — Baylor sports have recently experienced a level of success never before

staff, the folks who deal with the media, did

seen on the Waco campus. And the three

an outstanding job this past year. Led by

sports with the highest profiles — football and

Heath Nielsen, who oversees

men’s and women’s basketball — won a

communications and media relations for

combined 80 games this year. Thanks to

football with assistance from several others in

another part-time job I hold, I got to see those

his department, the athletic communications

pretty up-close as well. As a freelance writer

personnel were more than helpful in

for the Associated Press, I covered all but one

arranging interviews and access to coaches

Baylor home football game last season and all

and players. They have to balance the needs

In the mode of full disclosure, I work at Baylor

but a couple of the men’s and women’s home

(sometimes demands) of the media with the

University, where I teach in the department of

basketball games. With winning comes

schedules of the players and coaches. Kudos

journalism, public relations and new media.

increased media coverage, as seen in Baylor’s

to Heath, Julie Bennett (who works with

That being said — and I know it’s been

profiles in The New York Times and Sports

women’s basketball), Chris Yandle (who

discussed and hashed and rehashed over the

Illustrated, and it’s been interesting to see

handles men’s basketball and is an adjunct

last few months, on message boards and in

how all of that has been handled behind the

instructor in my department at Baylor) and all

the media, and in other pages of this

scenes. Baylor’s athletic communications

the others. — KT

May 2012 } Wacoan.com 161

Reasons to Love Waco 2012  

There are lots of things we’ll always love about Waco — its location along the Interstate 35 corridor, our beautiful Cameron Park, the excel...

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