Playing Tourist

By Maggie Moore

Make time to explore your city

Though I’ve called Waco home for the past decade, I still feel like a visitor in our sweet city sometimes. There are days I plug addresses into my GPS, I know plenty of restaurants I never tried because they closed their doors before I arrived and I’ve heard stories of people who have Waco history woven into the fabric of their families — history I’ll never understand. And while part of that makes me sad, feeling like a foreigner in the place I’ve planted roots, there is an aspect I find beautiful, too.

I have tried to capitalize on playing tourist in my hometown and I’m here to encourage you to do the same. Many of you reading this grew up here, went to Baylor or have generations of family that reside in Greater Waco — so, I know it seems like you already know this city inside and out. But how many of you have made your own soda at the Dr Pepper Museum, kayaked down the Brazos courtesy of Pura Vida Paddle, climbed Jacob’s Ladder in Cameron Park or enjoyed a burger from Cupp’s Drive Inn?

Often, we become complacent with places we have easy access to. Have you ever found yourself saying, “I’ve heard Vitek’s is great, but I’ve never been there.” I know I’ve caught myself thinking, “The Waco Mammoth Site would be so neat to see!” and “I really need to find a weekend I can make it to the Downtown Farmers Market!” I’m under the misconception I have “forever” to make those things happen … funny thing is, I don’t. Restaurants close — so do attractions. People move. History changes.

If you’ve been a resident of Waco for any extensive period, you know just how much the city has grown and changed. We need to take advantage of the ample opportunities presented to explore the ever-evolving landscape of the city we (think we) know and love.

Recently I had a friend from my hometown come to town and I used it as an opportunity to play tourist — visiting some Waco staples and really trying to appreciate what has been right in front of me. We enjoyed food and drinks from Czech Stop, George’s, Katie’s Frozen Custard, Waco Wine Shoppe, The Brasserie at Hotel 1928, Dichotomy and Schmaltz’s. We spent our time visiting the Silo Grounds at Magnolia Market, walking along the Brazos River, shopping at Cottontail Jones, Lane’s, The Findery and Junque in the Trunk, taking a distillery tour at Balcones and enjoying live music
at The Backyard.

While most of us don’t have the opportunity to put this much time, money and energy into touristy activities on a frequent basis, we should all make more of an effort to implement being a tourist in our city more often. Wondering how? Make a list of restaurants you want to try and put them on your fridge. Rather than eat at your old faithful spots repeatedly, go down the list and check them off one by one. This works with local attractions, too, and is a sure-fire way to guarantee that your weekends are never empty and boring. Be sure to check the event calendar at wacoan.com/featured-events, social media pages for the city and follow @WacoMoms for info on local events — adding them to your schedule in advance will be key to make sure you don’t miss out.

Stop underestimating what your city has to offer and choose to see the fun, exciting and new that is right under your nose! I promise you won’t regret taking the opportunity to be a tourist in your own town.