99 things to see and do during #BaylorHomecoming
Thousands of Baylor alumni descend upon Waco each fall for Homecoming. Some have returned every year since graduation; others are setting foot on the Baylor campus for the first time in five, 10, even 20 years or longer. Regardless of how long it’s been since you’ve visited Baylor, there’s likely something new you haven’t seen or done before — and at the same time, plenty of old favorites to revisit and traditions to enjoy.
Presenting: 99 things to see and do during #BaylorHomecoming:
8 things that are still the way you remember them:
* Baylor’s Homecoming Parade is believed to be the largest in the nation, with close to 200 total entries (including balloons and student-made floats).
* The Bonfire and Pep Rally bring thousands of Bears together on Fountain Mall the night before the big game.
* With four shows over three nights, Pigskin Revue features the best of All University Sing’s Broadway-style acts.
* Since Baylor moved to Waco in 1886, Burleson Quadrangle has been the heart of campus. The classic architecture has become the model for all Baylor buildings.
* If you look down at the sidewalk as you tour campus, you’ll find that students still communicate with one another through “chalking.” Primarily used by student organizations, messages written in chalk all over campus let students know what’s going on.
* The Judge Baylor statue is still a popular place for photos. Whether it’s prospective students visiting BU for the first time, current students preparing for graduation, or alumni and their families upon returning to campus, Judge Baylor’s lap has been the site of more photographs than any other landmark on campus.
* While Pat Neff Hall has always been quite picturesque with its stunning gold dome and trees all around, in the age of social media the building has become one of the most “Instagrammable” spots on campus. Be sure to stop by and take a picture for yourself!
12 things you probably haven’t seen at Baylor:
* Opened in 2015, the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation is now home to Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business.
* McLane Stadium has served as home to Baylor football since 2014.
* Rosenbalm Fountain sits at the top of Fountain Mall and is a beautiful addition to campus.
* In the early 1900s, a huge archway welcomed Baylor football fans to the Bears’ home at Carroll Field (where the Bill Daniel Student Center sits today). That original Carroll Field sign was restored in 2018, and is now on display inside the SUB, while a portion of the arch has been replicated outside the SUB where the original once stood..
* The Pullin Family Marina has been remodeled and expanded to better serve the campus community, including a shade canopy, aesthetic improvements to the existing facility, boat slip repairs and the creation of covered boat hoist slips, plus a centerpiece fountain in the marina basin.
* The lighted I-35 bridges make for a fantastic view of the stadium, especially at night when they light up — green and gold on gamedays, and with a special lighting sequence just for Homecoming!
* The expanded Riverwalk runs from Cameron Park to the Ferrell Center, on both the east and west sides of the Brazos River.
* The Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center is a place where students can talk about their struggles with alcohol, drugs, gambling or anything else.
* In a collaboration with Maker’s Edge, the University Libraries have launched the TechPoint Maker Space where students can use 3D printers and scanners, a CNC carver, a laser cutter/engraver, soldering station, and more!
* Clyde Hart Track & Field Stadium is yet another Baylor gem made possible by generous alumni, sitting next door to McLane Stadium.
* Dedicated in 2015, Elliston Chapel allows students, faculty and staff (and alumni) to get away from the hustle and bustle of life.
If it’s been five or 10 years since your last Baylor visit, you may also want to check out these recent additions:
* East Village Dining Hall (2013)
* Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (2012)
* National Pan-Hellenic Council Garden (2011)
* School of Social Work downtown location (2011)
* Vara Martin Daniel Fountain (2011).
6 things that are the same — but different:
* The Bill Daniel Student Center (SUB) was the center of renovation in 2017. The Bear Market Food Court was expanded to add new offerings (see “12 places to eat on campus” below). Other additions include a new dance room (designed for students to practice for events like Sing) and an area specifically created to help students plan events on campus.
* Martin, Penland, and North and South Russell residence halls have all been significantly renovated over the last few years; they now feature updated rooms with new furniture, lighting and fixtures; new apartments for Faculty-in-Residence; and drastically improved community spaces for studying and socializing.
* Two dining halls — Penland Crossroads and 1845 at Memorial — both underwent renovations in recent years, offering updated dining experiences.
7 places to get your Baylor gear:
* The Baylor Bookstore is your Homecoming headquarters and the flagship location for Baylor merchandise. Whether you’re looking for a t-shirt, car decal, Baylor cowboy boots or a BU garden gnome, this is the place. It’s also the headquarters for Baylor Homecoming t-shirts and sweatshirts.
* At McLane Stadium, Bruiser’s Locker Room offers similar gear and other Baylor paraphernalia to get you ready for gameday.
* Barefoot Campus Outfitters (1508 Speight Ave), Bear Cotton (300 S Valley Mills Dr), and W Promotions (906 Austin) each design and sell Baylor apparel that you won’t find anywhere else.
* You can also find Congress Clothing and many other options at Spice Village (213 Mary Ave).
11 places to eat on campus (that aren’t dining halls):
* The newly expanded Bear Market Food Court in the SUB now includes Chick-fil-A, Steak N’ Shake, Slow Rise Pizza, Heritage Creamery, Panda Express and health-food chain Freshii.
* The Baylor Sciences Building also has Which Wich Superior Sandwiches and Moe’s Southwest Grill.
* Located in the Foster Campus, Au Bon Pain is a fast-casual bakery and café chain specializing in breakfast, hot and cold sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups and pastries.
* If it’s caffeine you’re looking for, visit Starbucks in the Allbritton Foyer of Moody Memorial Library or Common Grounds Coffee in the SUB.
8 old favorites (and 8 new ones) for off-campus eating:
* George’s Restaurant (1925 Speight) remains the same laid-back place known for its chicken-fried steak.
* Vitek’s BBQ (1600 Speight) offers an expanded dining area where customers can keep up with the day’s sporting events on TV while enjoying a traditional Gut Pak.
* Common Grounds (1123 South 8th St.) is as popular as ever, both for its coffee and its comfort. Visit the traditional location adjacent to campus, or their new location in Woodway (7608 Woodway Dr.), which is also home to Slow Rise Slice House, a New York-style pizzeria.
* Baris III Pizza and Pasta (904 N. Valley Mills Dr.) offers true mom-and-pop Italian food. That’s no exaggeration; Mama Baris will likely be at the cash register to accept your bill.
* Health Camp (2601 Circle Rd., on the Circle) is a true 1950s burger joint. Don’t forget to wash down your Healthburger with one of the best milkshakes around.
* Poppa Rollo’s Pizza (703 N. Valley Mills Dr.) offers one of the more eclectic dining options in Waco, from the Three Stooges films usually playing on the big screen TV to the hidden party room in back.
* Shorty’s Pizza Shack (1712 S. 12th St.) owner Ted “Shorty” Browning, a 2001 Baylor grad, serves up single slices and full pies (as well as the popular “Pizza Pillows”).
* Waco’s favorite sandwich shop, Schmaltz’s (105 S 5th St), still has the best garlic bread sandwich you’ve ever had.
* The Olive Branch (215 South 2nd St.) is located downtown near Ninfa’s and Cricket’s, serving fresh breakfasts, a diverse lunch menu, homemade desserts and more.
* A new-and-improved Clay Pot (416 Franklin Ave) has brought its traditional Vietnamese cuisine to the ever-growing downtown Waco food scene.
* Revival Eastside Eatery serves up Texas-sourced and chef-driven salads, sandwiches and burgers in East Waco.
* Oh My Juice, located next to Spice Village, offers a wide variety of health-conscious options, including juices, smoothies, acai bowls, salads and more.
* Milo All Day (1020 Franklin Ave.) sprung from one of Waco’s favorite food trucks; its brick-and-mortar location feels straight out of Austin, serving delicious biscuits, burgers and more.
* If you’re in the mood for high-end Italian food and wood-fired pizza, Moroso’s (4700 Bosque Blvd.) should be at the top of your list.
* Magnolia Table (2132 S Valley Mills Dr) has officially opened where the Elite Café once stood — offering breakfast, lunch and coffee, just how Chip and Joanna like it.
6 gameday traditions (new and old):
* Whether bringing an RV and going all-out or just coming a few hours early, tailgating at McLane Stadium is not the experience you might remember from a decade ago. Alumni, students, even businesses have gotten in on the action outside the stadium.
* The best part of tailgating at McLane? Sailgating! Baylor’s stadium is one of just a handful nationwide where fans can tailgate pregame on the water, whether in the nearby lagoon or out on the Brazos River.
* Adjacent to the tailgating is Touchdown Alley, which opens three hours prior to each game and offers inflatable games, a big screen showing games from around the nation, and more. Make sure to stop by the Baylor Alumni Tailgate for a meal and to watch the pre-game radio and television shows.
* After tailgating, make sure you’re in your seat to see the Baylor University Golden Wave Marching Band enter the stadium in style, followed by the running of the Baylor Line.
14 uniquely Waco attractions:
* From the birthplace of the world’s oldest major soft drink, the Dr Pepper Museum tells the history of not only DP but the soft drink industry as a whole.
* The 400 acres of Cameron Park offer one of the best natural trail systems in Texas. Whether jogging, hiking, mountain biking, or just out to enjoy nature, the park offers something for everyone.
* The Texas Sports Hall of Fame highlights hundreds of the state’s top athletes from college and professional sports.
* Open to the public, the Waco Mammoth National Monument provides a glimpse into the Pleistocene Era. A breathtaking dig shelter houses an active dig site where the remains of 23 Columbian mammoths have been found.
* Today a Waco icon, when it was completed in 1870, the Suspension Bridge was the longest single-span suspension bridge west of the Mississippi.
* The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum was appointed by the Texas Department of Public Safety as the “Official Museum” of the legendary Texas Ranger lawmen in 1968.
* The first floor of the Mayborn Museum Complex tells the history of Central Texas (including a special exhibit on the Waco mammoths), while the second floor offers 16 themed Discovery Rooms for hands-on learning.
* Covering 52 acres adjacent to the Brazos River, the Cameron Park Zoo is home to more than 1,700 animals representing 300+ species.
* The Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market is a wonderful family-friendly place for a Saturday morning. Peruse local food and vendors, listen to live music, and enjoy the (hopefully) beautiful weather.
* Nothing brings more visitors to Waco than Magnolia Market at the Silos; with shopping, games, a garden, the bakery, food trucks and more, Chip and Jo have something for almost anyone.
* See Waco in a different way, whether that’s a Waco Walking Tour, a Waco Pedal Tour, or a driving or river excursion with Waco Tours or Brazos Tours.
7 little details worth noting:
* The Baylor banners on memorial lampposts across campus add an extra touch of green and gold to the landscape.
* As you walk through North Village, East Village and Brooks Village, look down at the Scripture verses and other inspirational quotes from famous leaders inscribed in the sidewalks and other places.
* Similarly, 5th Street in front of Burleson Quadrangle now features a series of markers sharing important moments in Baylor history.
* Also at your feet are the commemorative bricks lining Burleson Quadrangle, the Williams Bear Habitat walkway, the Dutch Schroeder Athletic Plaza (between the baseball, softball, tennis and soccer facilities), and the McLane Stadium South Plaza. Look for bricks honoring your friends, family members or favorite professors!
7 ways to worship as the Baylor Family:
* Featuring music from all generations, Singspiration — held Friday evening before the bonfire — has been a Baylor Homecoming tradition for more than 60 years.
* Five chapels provide sacred spaces all across the Baylor campus. Chapels in the Bobo Spiritual Life Center, Tidwell Bible Building (Miller Chapel), Brooks Village (Robbins Chapel), Memorial Residence Hall (Memorial Chapel), Truett Seminary (Powell Chapel) and East Village (Elliston Chapel) offer quiet getaways in the midst of the Homecoming hubbub.
* Sunday morning worshippers may choose to visit any of hundreds of Waco churches.
Sic ’em, Baylor Family!