A few years back I almost got a job at the Waco Tribune-Herald.  I went to Waco for an interview and Rod Aydelotte, the photo chief, showed me around and told me Waco is the smallest big city you’ll ever see.

That’s so true.  Waco has a major university, multiple museums, a zoo, historic buildings, a sprawling park that lines the Brazos River, among other attractions, all inside of a 95 square mile town.

Waco is also home to a handful of B&Bs.  I found the Spencer House, which is a bed & breakfast owned and operated by Dan and Viviann Capps.


The Spencer House has two rooms available.  I booked the Emerald Room, which is the smaller of the two, but I was the only guest in the house that night, so the Capps were kind enough to upgrade me to to Spencer Suite.



The Spencer Suite is rather large.  It includes a bedroom, a spacious living room, an almost equally large dressing room and a bathroom.

After a quick hello and tour, I was off to see my first Waco attraction – the old suspension bridge.

The bridge was built in 1869 and spans 475 feet, which made it the first major suspension bridge in the state.  It started as a toll bridge and it was very busy with cattle and stagecoach traffic.  The initial cost of $141,000 was paid back quickly.  In 1971 the bridge was retired from vehicular traffic and now it’s just a beautiful pedestrian bridge.



I took some pictures of the bridge and made friend with a few birds, then I took a tip and went to Baris Italian restaurant for dinner.  I had baked ziti, which was alright.  Nothing to write home about, but the food was okay and the prices were reasonable.

After dinner I went to a coffee house close to the Baylor campus – Common Grounds.  It’s a quirky little place, perfect for studying or meeting friends.  I don’t drink coffee (*gasp!*), but I enjoyed the ambiance very much.  I ordered a Mexican hot chocolate, which was delicious!


I spent the rest of the evening at the Spencer House trying to catch up on a few things, so I could get an early start on the next day.

There are many reasons to stay at the Spencer House, but the food is number one on the list.  The Capps have owned and operated a couple B&Bs, and they’ve always insisted on doing their own cooking. 

I woke up to a three-course, home made breakfast, complete with fruit, entree, dessert, juice, coffee and a copy of that day’s Waco Tribune-Herald.


The first course was a sliced pear in a cinnamon sauce.  The main course was a quiche with a biscuit.  Dessert was a slice of a delicious crumb cake.  It was all fantastic.

While I ate, Dan and I chatted.  He told me about an exhibit currently in Waco that featured a beautiful collection of stained glass, and he offered to be my tour guide for the morning.  I happily agreed.

Before the main attracting, Dan gave me the 50 cent tour of the town, including a few historic homes and buildings.  We drove around town and he showed me some of the architecture, which is quite varied, but there was one theme that arose.  Angels seemed to be everywhere.

There were angels on the top of the courthouse.


There were angels on and in several of the churches.  Saint Francis Catholic Church was my favorite.  It’s a replica of a church in San Antonio and the construction was paid for purely by the parishioners.  Inside there are beautiful frescoes.




Angels were the focus of the stained glass exhibit.  It’s called In Company with Angels, and it’s a collection of seven Tiffany stained glass windows that were almost lost.

They were commissioned and originally used by a Swedborgian church in southeastern Pennsylvania.  They were removed and stored in a barn when the church underwent renovations in 1964.  Then the windows were rediscovered by a curious minister in 2004.

After a very generous anonymous donation, the windows were cleaned, restored and put on display once again.


What makes these windows so unique, besides the Tiffany name, is the craftsmanship.  Each window is made up of four or five layers of colored glass, with a textured layer of glass on top.  Click here to read more about how they were made and restored.

Up close you can see the various textures and colors.  There are even chunks of glass inserted some places.



The exhibit will be on display in Waco through Jan. 26.

After Dan’s tour, I made my way to Tony DeMaria’s Bar-B-Que.  It’s a small, family-owned place that opened in 1946.  I imagine it hasn’t changed much since then, and it shouldn’t.  It felt like I walked in to a family reunion.  Everyone there knew everyone and they just hopped from table to table to greet each other.  It was a warm atmosphere with great BBQ.  What’s not to like?  Thank you, Linda, for the suggestion!  (Go for lunch, they’re only open from 9-2 Mon-Fri and 9-1 on Sat.)


I couldn’t go to Waco and not make a stop at the Dr. Pepper Museum.  It’s cliche and touristy, I know, but for an avid Dr. Pepper drinker, it’s a must.



The museum is in the old bottling facility and it has three floors of old machinery, delivery vehicles, bottles, signs, artifacts and other memorabilia that depict the history of Dr. Pepper.

The best part about the museum is the soda fountain.  You can actually go up to a counter and order a real Dr. Pepper ice cream float and someone will make it there in front of you, using syrup and soda water.  Delicious every time!


After BBQ and an ice cream float, I was ready to do some walking.  I went over to the Armstrong Browning Library on the Baylor University campus.  From the outside, it’s an impressive building with a statue and large doors.


From the inside, well…I thought I stumbled in to a palace!  It’s magnificent.  Huge ballrooms with artifacts from Victorian poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and poets who they influenced.



Besides the stunning and ornate stained glass windows and the poets’ personal belongings, there’s a huge collection of work, the largest in world, by the Brownings.  You may know Elizabeth Barrett Browning by her poem “How Do I Love Thee” (let me count the ways…), and you may know Robert Browning from his collection of poems called “Men and Women.” 

It’s definitely worth making your way through this building.

I was on a lovely college campus so I walked around a little and hit the highlights.


Everyone who makes the trip to Baylor has to walk past the bear habitat.  They house their mascots on campus in a sort of mini zoo.


The current mascots are Judge Joy Reynolds, “Joy,” and Judge Sue Sloan, “Lady.”  They each have their own little area, but they spend a lot of time together, trying to hide from onlookers (or so I’d imagine).  That was the case when I came by.  They were laying in the shade, around the corner from prying eyes, which made photos difficult.


After I saw the bears, I took a short walk (it was cold outside) and headed back to my car, where a box of home made snacks from the Spencer House awaited me.  My Waco trip was over, but there was still so much more to see!

Cameron Park is definitely worth visiting.  If the weather were warmer, I’m sure I would have spent much of my time there.  The Cameron Park Zoo is actually a pretty good little zoo.  Not what you’d expect from Waco.  Click here for a list of points of interest – there are many!

I wish I had gone out to the Waco Mammoth Site.  It’s only a few years old, but apparently has made quite the impact.  Several full Mammoth remains have been discovered in that site and they’re still digging.  With some additional funding, they hope to grow the facility and make it a national park within the next few years.

There’s a whole list of things I could’ve done while I was in Waco, but 24-hours doesn’t allow time for everything.  Below are links to where I went and where I wish I went.

Here are a few links to help you plan your trip:
Spencer House  (a lovely B&B with great food)
The old suspension bridge  (nice spot for pictures)
Common Grounds (quirky, but comfortable coffee house)
In Company with Angels  (Tiffany stained glass exhibit)
Tony DeMaria’s Bar-B-Que  (great BBQ and great people)
Dr. Pepper Museum  (including soda fountain)
Armstrong Browning Library  (it’s like a palace!)
Baylor Bear Habitat  (on the Baylor Univ. campus)
Cameron Park  (so much to see there, including a decent zoo)
Mayborn Museum  (another gem on the Baylor Univ. campus)
Waco Mammoth Site  (kinda wish I had gone)
Texas Sports Hall of Fame  (also kinda wish I had gone)
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum  (another one for the list)

One comment on “WACO
  1. jp thomas says:

    WOW Ashley , what great story and wow great photos ,thank you so much for bring us a other great 24 in tx story ……

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