Summer plans and activities have certainly looked different this year, and you may have had to get a little creative but staying safe doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Just in case you’re running out of ideas on how to keep the kids (or the adults) entertained, we’ve come up with a list of Waco-area activities to get you out of the house. Here are nine activities to enjoy while still practicing social distancing.
Note: What’s safe and comfortable may look a little different for each family, and that’s OK. Just use your best judgment, and when you do decide to venture out, do your part to keep our community healthy and always follow government orders and guidelines. Visit covidwaco.com for the latest updates and information.
1. Shop and Smell the Flowers
Have you spent time in your yard or garden lately? The spring shelter-in-place orders encouraged a lot of people to try and develop their green thumbs. Gardening is a great social-distancing activity that gets you out of the house, but you might need a few supplies. Skip the overcrowded big box stores that make it next to impossible to stay safely in your 6-foot bubble, and head to your favorite local garden center or nursery. They’ll have a larger selection of plants and flowers, plus they’re a beautiful place to take a stroll.
2. Find an Escape at a Local Book or Record Store
With everything being shared virtually these days, find comfort in reading a physical book or playing a vintage record. It’s easy to social distance among the endless shelves of used books at Golden’s Book Exchange, and right now, the shop’s not accepting trade-ins as a safety precaution. You can also find new releases for adults and kids at Fabled Book Shop & Cafe. From rock to jazz and everything in between, Spin Connection has both vintage and new music, LPs, 45s, cassettes and CDs, and it’s currently limiting the number of customers in the store at one time. When you need it most, these local shops will let you take a little piece of the outside world back home.
3. Explore Nearby Hiking Trails
Most state parks are currently open for day visits and camping, including Mother Neff State Park in Moody. Whether you’re hitting the hiking trails or just casually enjoying the outdoors, there’s more than 3 miles of trails to explore that will lead you to the serene Wash Pond or a Tonkawa cave shelter or a Civilian Conservation Corps rock tower. Remember to keep your group to 10 people or fewer (unless you all live in the same household), maintain a 6-foot distance from other groups, and if you go inside any buildings, including the restroom, mask up.
4. Camp Out at Lake Waco
Enjoy a staycation at one of Lake Waco’s four campgrounds: Airport Park, Speegleville Park, Reynolds Creek and Midway Park. All the parks offer campsites for tents and RVs, water and electric hookup for RVs, access to showers and flush toilets, picnic tables, grills and campfire rings, and depending on the site, there’s also nearby recreation like fishing or hiking, biking and nature trails. If you’re more of a glamper, you can reserve a screened shelter with electricity at Airport Park and Speegleville Park. Visit recreation.gov for details, fees and availability.
5. Enjoy a Picnic in the Park
If you just can’t handle another meal around the kitchen table, head to your nearest neighborhood park, throw down a blanket under a shady tree, and enjoy a summer picnic. You can pack your own meal, or even better: support your favorite local restaurant by picking up a curbside order. (Even though you’re not eating in, don’t forget to tip!)
6. Let Your Pup Run Free at the HOT Dog Park
Our pups like to get out of the house, too! On Steinbeck Bend just off Lake Shore Drive, the HOT Dog Park is an off-leash park that’s free to the public. Open from dusk till dawn, the park has more than 5 acres of hills and valleys for your pet to explore, and there are areas for both large and small dogs. Just make sure to follow the rules: no dangerous dogs, un-neutered dogs, puppies under 6 months or kids under 16 are allowed. Dogs must be up to date on vaccinations, and you must pick up after your pet.
7. Take a Selfie with the Box Turtle
One of Waco’s newest insta-worthy hotspots, the Waco Sculpture Zoo features 28 works of art that all vary wildly in style, depicting animals that can be seen at Cameron Park Zoo or found in Central Texas. Some are majestically realistic, like the gerenuk reaching for food, others are more abstract and modern, like Roxy the fox. A few are whimsical and fun, like the Wise Elephant who’s saving you a spot on his bench. Found along the Brazos River on University Parks Drive, it’s only a 1-mile walk to see all the animals and grab a few photos.
8. Hunt for Murals Around Waco
It seems like there’s a new mural popping up every week, and you could easily spend the day discovering them all over town. Find a bookish happily ever after at Fabled Bookshop & Cafe (215 South Fourth Street), a sunsetting donut at Shipley Do-Nuts (1924 North Valley Mills Drive), colorful abstract art at Hey Sugar (808 Austin Avenue), a typed love note to Waco at BoHo Buffalo (926 La Salle Avenue), hopeful origami cranes painted by Waco ISD high school students at 315 South University Parks Drive, a postcard greeting at Southern Roots Brewing Co (219 North Eighth Street), our own “Starry Night” at 1000 Columbus Avenue, a whisk to whip up your appetite at Union Hall (720 Franklin Avenue), a city with a soul at The Findery (501 South Eighth Street), the greatest find at Savage Finds (324 South Sixth Street), a selfie-taking rat at Cultivate 7Twelve (712 Austin Avenue) or a colorful chicken at 115 North Seventh Street. These will get you started on your hunt, but find more murals, artist information and an interactive map at creativewaco.org/public-art-map.
9. Try Out Your Disc Golf Skills
If you’ve never played disc golf, this is a great time to give it a shot. Waco is home to four championship-level courses plus a handful of other neighborhood courses that are fun for all skill levels from beginner to professional. You’ll find 18-hole courses at Woodway Park, Hewitt Park and Brazos Park East and a 23-hole course at Cameron Park. The course at Brazos Park East is also known as “The BEast,” a nickname earned by its back nine that run though a wooded area. All courses are free for public use — BYO discs.