Monday through Saturday, Waco’s own trolley traverses the Silo District picking up tourists and Wacoans alike. At any moment, the trolley becomes a meeting place for people from across the country. Portland meets New York City and Florida greets Kansas. Guests find common ground as they compare weather differences, sports teams and, of course, the all-present question, “Have you been to Magnolia?” Despite their contrasting accents and geographical differences, they hold one thing in common: Waco, Texas.
Running a loop from Webster Avenue to Franklin Avenue and hitting stops along Austin Avenue and University Parks Drive, the trolley provides a glimpse into all that Waco has to offer. Created to cut the traffic congestion and address problems with parking, this free ride system completes a 15- to 20-minute route, stopping outside free parking garages downtown and bringing attention to local Waco businesses and attractions along the way.
At the sight of the bright green exterior rounding the corner, it’s reminiscent of the vintage feel of San Francisco.
However, stepping inside and observing the attention to detail in the polished brass finishing and the hardwood accents, it’s fitting for the enchanting charm of Waco.
A few months ago, as I rode the trolley, I saw a woman watching her two children excitedly peer out the windows, pointing and laughing.
“We’ve lived here for 14 years, but this is our first time riding the trolley and seeing Magnolia,” she said. “I can’t believe it’s free — and air conditioned!”
“And you get to meet so many different people,” her daughter added excitedly.
As the trolley came to a halt at Sixth Street and Webster Avenue, a mass exodus of downtown commuters eagerly climbed off as a new shopping-bag laden group with unique stories and hometowns of their own flooded on. Each made their way toward a seat or steadied themselves against a handrail, comparing their recent experiences at Magnolia and where they planned to visit next.
“What’s so special about it?” another Wacoan asked a group excitedly chatting.
“Well, there’s this TV show,” a New York native, presumably the husband of one of the Magnolia-goers, said with a knowing smile.
But, of course, Magnolia is not the only destination on the trolley’s route. Overhead, a recorded track points out various Waco attractions: The Findery, Waco Hippodrome and Spice Village. The voice over the speaker also pays homage to distinctive Waco features, including Waco’s very own Dr Pepper Museum. Concluding the tour, a jingle pops and crackles over the speaker as if on a record player, “Waco, Waco, that’s my hometown!”
Riding the trolley might be an addition to someone’s Pinterest-perfect Waco pilgrimage, but to some it presents an opportunity to be a tourist in their own town.
As I rode the trolley, I didn’t discover any new hidden gems around the city. However, it was exciting to see Waco for the first time through someone else’s eyes. As my fellow trolley-riders answered my own questions about their perspectives of the trolley and experiences around Waco, they met me with questions of their own.
With only two and half years living in Waco under my belt, I was delighted by the opportunity to play expert, to introduce tourists to places around town not on the trolley’s route. I hope I did Waco justice to showcase all the town has to offer. Suggestions to grab a cup of coffee at Bru Artisan Coffee Works or a bite to eat at trendy Cajun Craft or homey Baris and to track down food trucks around town or take a peek in Wildland Supply Company were all met with excitement.
However, something I didn’t share was what makes some of these places so unique. For me, I know it’s the people that make the difference. It’s the barista who knows my order but always informs me of something new on their menu. It’s also the people I associate with certain places because we discovered them together, whether it has become a tradition or a first-time adventure.
For your own adventure, whether tourist, native Wacoan or somewhere in-between, the trolley runs from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information about the Silo District Downtown Trolley route and times, visit http://www.waco-texas.com/transit/silo-trolley.asp.
• 6th Street and Webster Avenue
• 11th Street in front of Balcones Distillery
• Austin Avenue Shops
• 6th Street and Franklin Avenue
• 4th Street and Franklin Avenue
• 2nd Street and Franklin Avenue