Waco, Texas isn’t generally the first place that springs to mind when you think of “hip” cities. Though it is home to Baylor University and is the birthplace of Dr Pepper, Waco, historically, isn’t generally considered a tourist destination. In fact, if you mention Waco to non-Texans, they’re likely to associate it with the Branch Davidian siege, or possibly, Gene Wilder’s character “The Waco Kid” in the movie Blazing Saddles. That seems to be changing now. Waco is on everyone’s radar and this time it’s not for anything hokey or tragic. What’s affected this change? Let’s take a look at what is currently making Waco hot.
The obvious place to start is probably at Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market. The massively popular HGTV show Fixer Upper has turned many formerly unimpressive Waco homes into design meccas. The Gaines’ uber popular Magnolia Market is drawing folks from across the nation to shop for unique home decor. Chip and Joanna also are starting a furniture line, and seem to have a really bright future in Waco, Texas.
Despite the recent scandal involving one of their players, Baylor’s football team has continued to impress on the field in the past few years, putting the entire university back on the radar for prospective students. In addition to that, Baylor’s new state-of-the-art stadium is right on the Brazos river. Every Saturday during football season, you’ll find Bears fans docking their boats to celebrate Baylor football in a process known as “tailgating.” These two things have served to change the once stuffy atmosphere of the private Baptist university. On the music side of things, Waco’s Common Grounds coffee shop near Baylor campus, while far from new, is one of a few venues to be steadily feeding a thriving live music scene.
Scientific Discovery Becomes National Monument
A group of mammoth skeletons discovered in 1978 were excavated over the course of several decades. In 2006, the city of Waco built a park around the site, and President Obama declared the area to be a national monument in 2015. The creation of a new national monument renewed interest in the paleontological dig site and has inspired new visitors, which in turn has boosted Waco’s tourist economy.
Revitalized City Life
Now that Waco is brushing off its former bland image, more people are moving there. More students are also choosing to stay after graduation. In response to this, new businesses have opened up creating new living spaces and gathering spaces. The city just approved $20 million in tax increment funds to build the Brazos Promenade. The Brazos Promenade will be a combined shopping and living center that is sure to be popular. You can also find trendy places to eat and hang out in Waco now. Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits serves the citizens of Waco and the students of Baylor one-of-a-kind libations, in both stimulant and depressant varieties. Just a few blocks away, Balcones Distilling is winning awards for their whiskey.
Affordable and stylish real estate
Because Waco is just now heating up, it’s still affordable to live there. According to Zillow, median home pricing in Waco is hovering around the $165,000 range. Comparatively, the average cost of a home in Austin is over $300,000. In fact, according to Realtor.com, Waco zip codes were at the top of a list of most-searched zip codes in the U.S. Stylish lofts like Austin Avenue Flats are being built near downtown to cater to the influx of people who want to live within the heart of the city.