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 center of campus, with classic architecture that has become the model for countless other 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.
* Pat Neff Hall and its stunning gold dome remains the symbol of Baylor.
* Still home to Chapel, Sing and Pigskin Revue, Waco Hall celebrated its 90th birthday last year.
9 things you probably haven’t seen at Baylor:
* Dedicated last fall, statues of Baylor’s two Medal of Honor recipients — Col. John Kane and 1st Lt. Jack Lummus — now stand just outside McLane Stadium.
* New Adirondack chairs on Fountain Mall and 27 new trees planted across campus have made Baylor’s always stunning campus even more beautiful.
* 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.
* Opened in 2015, the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation is now home to Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business.
* Rosenbalm Fountain sits at the top of Fountain Mall and is a beautiful addition to campus.
* 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!
If it’s been awhile since your last Baylor visit, you might also want to check out these additions from the last decade:
* McLane Stadium (2014)
* Clyde Hart Track & Field Stadium (2014)
* East Village Dining Hall (2013)
* Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (2012).
9 things that are the same — but different:
* After a top-to-bottom renovation, Tidwell Bible Building reopened this fall with much-needed updates to classroom, office and study spaces — even an elevator that (at last!) goes all the way to the sixth floor!
* With new signage (and a new honor as the nation’s first AZA-accredited university facility), the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat is definitely worth a visit to say hi to Joy and Lady!
* New signage at some of Baylor’s oldest spots on campus — locations such as Burleson Quadrangle and Founders Mall — adds some context to the university’s history as it relates to slavery and racial injustice.
* Martin, Penland, and North and South Russell residence halls have all been significantly renovated in the last decade; 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 major dining halls — Penland Crossroads and 1845 at Memorial — also underwent renovations in recent years, offering updated dining experiences.
8 places to eat on campus (besides the dining halls):
* The newly expanded Bear Market Food Court in the SUB now includes Chick-fil-A, Steak N’ Shake, Panda Express and Revolve — a rotating space featuring a different local vendor each month.
* Visitors will also find a rotating lineup of food trucks outside the SUB every Monday-Friday
* 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.
10 places to get your caffeine fix:
* If you’re on campus, start with Starbucks in the Allbritton Foyer of Moody Memorial Library or Common Grounds Coffee in the SUB.
* Just off campus, Common Grounds (1123 South 8th St.) is as popular as ever, both for its coffee and its comfort.
* Pinewood (2223 Austin Ave.) serves up delicious house lattes made with homemade brown‑sugar syrup and specializes in affordable, delicious drip coffee.
* Sourcing and roasting the highest quality coffee, Dichotomy (508 Austin Ave.) offers sophisticated, top‑notch, craft coffee beverages in a space that feels elegant and big‑city.
* Brû (601 Franklin Ave.) has a unique location: inside a century‑old elevator in the historic Praetorian Building. If you’re craving a classic European‑style, dark espresso, this is your place.
* Lalo’s Coffee and Pastries (1500 Colcord Ave.), a locally-owned Mexican coffee shop and panadería, has a menu inspired by traditional Mexican recipes, providing a little slice of Mexico here in Waco.
* World Cup Café (1321 N 15th St.), a part of Mission Waco, seeks to bring residents from North Waco together with middle‑income folks to revitalize our community.
* Sip on a Muggle Mocha or Hunny Pot Latte at Fabled (215 S 4th St.), an independent bookstore and cafe in downtown Waco.
* For those who don’t love coffee, there’s Waco Cha (1001 Franklin Ave.) and their handcrafted, organic bubble tea; for your first drink, try their Milkyway Thai Tea with 50% sweetness and Boba; you won’t regret it.
7 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.
* Baris III Pizza and Pasta (904 N. Valley Mills Dr.) offers true mom-and-pop Italian food.
* 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.
* Whizzbang’s — known until recently as Captain Billy Whizzbang’s — has been serving up “the best burger in Waco” since 1977.
* Waco’s favorite sandwich shop, Schmaltz’s (105 S 5th St), still has the best garlic bread sandwich you’ve ever had.
* 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”).
* Union Hall (720 Franklin Ave.) offers 15+ local eateries on one upscale, food-court-style location.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* It’s probably enough to say that Guess BBQ (2803 Franklin Ave.) is one of Texas Monthly’s favorite barbecue places in Texas.
* Magnolia Table (2132 S Valley Mills Dr) occupies the old Elite Café, 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 a far cry from the Floyd Casey experience. Alumni, students, even businesses have gotten in on the action, on both sides of the Brazos.
* 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.
* Before the game, stop by the Grant Teaff statue near the law school and the RG3 statue on McLane’s South Plaza.
* 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.
15 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.
* The Doris Miller Memorial on the east side of the Suspension Bridge honors a native Wacoan who was awarded the Navy Cross for his bravery at Pearl Harbor and became a cause célèbre in the fight against segregation in U.S. military.
* 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!
8 places/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.
* Multiple chapels provide sacred spaces all across the Baylor campus. Chapels in the Bobo Spiritual Life Center, Brooks Village (Robbins Chapel), Memorial Residence Hall (Memorial Chapel), East Village (Elliston Chapel), Truett Seminary (Powell Chapel) and Stacy Riddle Forum (McCall 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!