the 254 and why it feels like home

wacotown-mar14People too often like to talk indifferently about this little city in the “Heart of TX” along I-35 between Dallas and Austin, but after living here for three years, I can’t help but speak up on behalf of my lovely home away from home in Wacky Waco.

I’m not claiming it’s some new bustling metropolis, but it’s so much more than just a place for a pit stop for a Cowboy Coffee (granted, that’s a pretty good reason) during a long Texas roadtrip.

These are just some little treasures I’ve discovered (or have been dying to) that help make the 254 what it is (and I’d add photos but there are too many to choose from of my 3 years of living here!):

  • It happens to be the home of Baylor University, a.k.a. the best college ever. Duh.
  • Sunsets that can’t be beat over the Brazos and now the brand-spanking new McClane Stadium awaiting its debut.
  • The wackiest and most perfect little coffee shop, Common Grounds. So many things make it the Waco treasure that it has come to be: the lived-in couches, cleverly-named and highly-caffeinated beverages that I partly owe my high GPA streak to, and the coziest backyard which has hosted musical guests like Jon Foreman, Phil Wickham, Needtobreathe, All Sons and Daughters, Ben Rector, and Gungor (all of which I’ve seen and/or MET).
  • That same shop’s competition and the newly named #2 on the top 20 hottest coffee shops in the nation, Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits. Seriously, why have espresso and alcohol never really been friends before this? We all know avid coffee lovers usually are the same people who appreciate a good cocktail. This place is a young-urban-hipster-craft-drink-connoisseur’s paradise. The rooftop view of the courthouse and the highly photographed Alico building’s red letters is the icing on this espresso cake.
  • Stand-up-paddleboarding on the river or “mountain” biking through trails on a sunny spring day, courtesy of rentals from locally-owned Outdoor Waco.
  • A city of passionate believers on a mission to set the world on fire, starting with McLennan County and reaching to Southeast Asia. There are an indefinite number of students and adults in Waco that I meet day in and day out that live to dream big with God and want to see the nations set free. My church, Antioch Community Church, is also the host of World Mandate, an incredible annual Christian conference.
  • Lake Waco Dam. Again with the sunsets…
  • This is Dr. Pepper country. So much so that Dr. Pepper [Float] Hour is every Tuesday at 3:00 in Barfield Drawing Room on Baylor’s campus. I’ve only been about twice in my college career due to a little thing called being a science major and living in labs at all hours.
  • The newest and biggest HEB in Texas. If you don’t happen to live in central/south TX or Mexico, man am I sorry for you. HEB is the gloriousness that is the best grocery store ever that makes even uttering the word “Walmart” downright absurd. Fresh, hot, scratch-made tortillas daily (these are not the kind to be used for tortilla tossing off the suspension bridge, another Baylor tradition), free samples and cooking demos, ample produce and specialty ingredients that meet the needs of most foodies, and two whole aisles of an extensive and quality beer and wine collection.
  • Cameron Park is one of the largest and most beautiful municipal parks in Texas. I’ve spent countless hours on the trails (and gotten lost a time or two), worshipped with friends on the grassy fields, ran two Bearathons (Baylor’s half-marathon) through the dreaded hills, and enjoyed some quality quiet times reading and journaling from Lover’s Leap overlooking the Brazos. Apparently it’s also something like the best disc golf course ever if you’re into that, but I can’t attest to it since I don’t have oodles of free time to throw a frisbee to some targets.
  • An on-the-rise downtown with new restaurants, bars (my favorite is easily Muddle – a classy cocktail lounge where the best Saturday nights are spent at the weekly piano bar or on the back deck with a taco and a live band), food trucks, and shops opening up all the time as well as the weekly Farmer’s Market. It’s so refreshing after growing up in a small town with about 70% of downtown vacant and rundown.

This collection is no where near all-inclusive, but at least you can see what it is I love about this place that I’ve come to call my home and can’t imagine having to leave in less than a year.

#Iheartthe254 #Wacotown #Wacoisawonderland #KeepWacoWacko #HeartofTX


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