100+ 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: 100+ things to see and do during #BaylorHomecoming — updated for 2023:
9 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, Old Main and the Quadrangle have been the center of campus, with classic architecture that has become the model for countless other Baylor buildings.
* Baylor’s memorial lampposts still light the ways of time across campus, recognizing Baylor Family members who have given their lives in service to our country.
* 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 most iconic building on campus.
* Still home to Sing, Pigskin Revue, and countless guests and special events, Waco Hall celebrated its 90th birthday in 2020.
9 things you may not have seen at Baylor:
* The Hurd Welcome Center officially debuted this fall, and the Foster Pavilion is on pace to open in January!
* Judge Indy and Judge Belle, Baylor’s new live bears, have settled into their new on-campus home in the Williams Bear Habitat.
* Statues of Rev. Robert Gilbert (BA ’67) and Barbara Walker (BA ’67), Baylor’s first two Black graduates, now stand outside Tidwell Bible Building in recognition of the trails they blazed helping integrate Baylor more than a century after its founding.
* The Black Gospel Archive and Listening Center in Moody Memorial Library now provides a home for (and access to) Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project.
* Statues of Baylor’s two Medal of Honor recipients — Col. John Kane and 1st Lt. Jack Lummus — now stand just outside McLane Stadium.
* Pat Neff’s new LED lights and the 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.
If it’s been awhile since your last Baylor visit, you might also want to check out these additions/updates from the last decade:
* Pullin Family Marina (2016)
* Paul L. Foster Campus for Business & Innovation (2015)
* Rosenbalm Fountain (2015)
* McLane Stadium (2014)
* Clyde Hart Track & Field Stadium (2014)
* East Village Dining Hall (2013).
8 things that are the same — but different:
* After a top-to-bottom renovation, Tidwell Bible Building reopened in 2021 with much-needed updates to classroom, office and study spaces — even an elevator that (at last!) goes all the way to the sixth floor!
* New signage added over the last couple of years at some of Baylor’s oldest spots on campus — locations such as the Quadrangle and Founders Mall — adds some context to the university’s history as it relates to slavery and racial injustice.
* Martin, Penland, North and South Russell, and Collins 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 special Homecoming events:
* Besides the headline events, there are plenty of other annual Homecoming festivities: the Homecoming Carillon Recital, Singspiration, the Royal & Pure Homecoming Stroll-Off, and countless school/college/department celebrations.
* To celebrate its debut this fall, the Hurd Welcome Center will host Homecoming at the Hurd on Friday afternoon — featuring panel discussions with Baylor Bear Habitat caretakers, behind-the-scenes tours, special photo ops, and more.
* The Texas Collection Centennial Celebration welcomes guests into Carroll Library for a special event on Friday evening.
* The Hankamer School of Business will also celebrate its centennial with a reception at the Foster Campus for Business & Innovation on Friday night.
* Former Collins Hall residents will want to take a look inside the newly renovated residence hall during the Collins Open House on Friday evening.
7 places to eat on campus (besides the dining halls):
* The Student Union Building now includes an expanded Chick-fil-A, Panda Express and Asian Tako.
* Pop’s Lemonade and Tru Jamaica food trucks are also regularly stationed outside the SUB.
* The Baylor Sciences Building offers up Which Wich Superior Sandwiches and Moe’s Southwest Grill to visitors.
15 places to get your caffeine fix on/near campus:
* If you’re on campus, start with Starbucks in the Allbritton Foyer of Moody Memorial Library, Common Grounds Coffee in the SUB, or Varsity Coffee & Soda in the Hurd Welcome Center.
* 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.
* Sip on a Muggle Mocha or Hunny Pot Latte at Fabled (215 S 4th St.), an independent bookstore and cafe in downtown Waco.
* Lighthouse Coffee (624 Washington Ave.) offers a variety of coffees from Olympia Coffee Roasters, with a little outside patio where you can take in the Waco skyline.
* Be Kind Coffee (1534 Washington Ave.), a Hispanic‑owned business, specializes in vegan and gluten‑free options.
* Magnolia Press (418 S. 8th St.) is a go-to, whether you’re visiting Magnolia or just in need of your daily cup of coffee.
* Bitty & Beau’s Coffee (110 Franklin Ave.) is an experience that’s changing the way people see other people, as the shop intentionally creates a path for people with disabilities to become more valued, accepted and included in the community.
* Glory Bell Coffee (600 Columbus Ave.) is a warm, family-focused, friendly environment where people can come together and feel welcome.
* Located in Lula Jane’s old East Waco location, Street Dog Cafe (406 Elm Ave.) has two goals: to serve up the best coffee and made-from-scratch baked goods, and to help dogs get foster placements and adopted.
* For those who don’t love coffee, there’s Cha Community (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.
9 old favorites (and 9 newer 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.
* Located just across the river from McLane, the outdoor dining at Brazos Landing (formerly Buzzard Billy’s) offers an incredible view of the Brazos and downtown Waco.
* Waco’s favorite sandwich shop, Schmaltz’s (105 S 5th St), still has the best garlic bread sandwich you’ve ever had.
* Café Cappuccino’s plate-sized pancakes and innovative omelets have kept it the most popular breakfast spot in Waco.
* The impressive fajitas and unmatched chips and salsa at Ninfa’s have made it been a long-time Waco staple and must-visit for returning Bears.
* 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.
* From the folks who brought us Common Grounds, Slow Rise on the Brazos tosses up incredible pizza to go with their waterfront view of the Brazos.
* 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.
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, the Suspension Bridge is fresh off a three-year restoration effort; when it was completed in 1870, it 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, 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 Pedal Tour, or a driving or river excursion with Waco Tours or Brazos Tours.
9 little details worth noting:
* The Baylor banners on memorial lampposts add an extra touch of green and gold to the campus landscape, while the “This is Bear Country” banners downtown highlight BU’s partnership with the City of Waco.
* 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 the Quadrangle features a series of markers sharing important moments in Baylor history.
* Also at your feet are the commemorative bricks lining the Quadrangle, the Williams Bear Habitat walkway, the Dutch Schroeder Athletic Plaza (between the baseball, softball, tennis and soccer facilities), the McLane Stadium South Plaza, and the Hurd Welcome Center 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 75 years now!
* 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!