Top 10 things to do in the Cultural District
By Madeleine Morren
For those looking to stay local this spring break, Waco has a plethora of fun activities to do, particularly in the Waco Downtown Cultural District. Officially designated by the state of Texas in 2016, the cultural district is filled with local businesses that each bring a unique flair to the artistic and cultural life of Waco. Check out these 10 ways to get in on the action:
- Hear live music. Live music is a huge part of cultural experiences. It helps people come together and enjoy great music from local musicians as well as performers from across the nations. Some great places to hear live music in the area are the Backyard Bar Stage & Grill, Cultivate 7Twelve, Austin’s on the Avenue, Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits and the Waco Hippodrome.
Brazos Nights is a music festival held in Downtown Waco from April to July that features artists from across the nation. Families and friends can come and enjoy delicious food from local food trucks and listen to great music!
- See public art. Some of the best things about the downtown area of Waco are the murals across numerous buildings. Not only do they bring color to downtown, they help bring beauty to what were once old and decrepit buildings. It’s worth jumping in the car with some friends and taking a mini mural tour.
- Attend a festival. Whether you are a foodie, movie guru or art lover, Waco has a festival for everyone. Downtown Waco will be hosting the Texas Food Truck Showdown this month on March 17. Later this year, the Wine & Food Festival will have over 200 wines to taste and delicious food to eat!
The Deep in the Heart Film Festival is also later this month, from March 22-25. The film festival will have short and feature films, workshops and panels with the filmmakers.
The visual art in the area plays a huge part in defining the creative atmosphere in Waco. Waco Cultural Arts Fest and Art on Elm are two of Waco’s art festivals that feature extraordinary work from local artists as well as state, national and international artists.
This summer The Juneteenth Family Fun Day Weekend will be considered the largest celebration weekend in Central Texas dedicated to the empowerment and independence of African Americans.
- Eat delicious food. Cooking is an art in itself, and the masterpieces are delicious! The wide variety of food styles in the area is an indicator of the versatility of Waco’s culture. A few of the restaurants in the district you don’t want to miss are Portofino’s, Stone Hearth Indian Café, Dichotomy and Clay Pot–Waco’s only Vietnamese restaurant.
- View and buy art. The art festivals are not the only time you will have the opportunity to see fantastic art pieces. Make a trip to Cultivate 7Twleve, where you can enjoy art exhibits and buy handmade work. There are also a number of shops and restaurants selling art straight off the walls, such as Klassy Glass Wine Bar & Bistro, Dichotomy, Waco Winery Tasting Room & Rooftop Patio, Interior Glow, Papillon Antiques, Christi’s and Gather Waco.
- See a craftsperson at work. There are a number of places to see Waco’s creative minds at work. For starters, fans of jewelry crafting can see the process at Virage Goldsmiths and Summer Ellis Bijouterie, which shares space with another shop on the first floor of the historic Praetorian building.
A unique characteristic of art gallery Cultivate 7Twelve is their upstairs space. Once you have enjoyed all the artwork displayed in their exhibit downstairs, you are encouraged to tour the upstairs workspace. There you will find artists and artisans hard at work on new pieces. Watching these masters at work will give you a much deeper appreciation for their art, and it’s a fun way to get to know your favorite artists!
- Find beautiful jewelry. A cultural district is full of people creating new things. You will not find handmade jewelry anywhere else like the what’s made in the cultural district. Pop into places like Virage, Summer Ellis, Spice Village and Roots Boutique for one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry!
- Sample locally-made alcohol. The downtown area is full of fun places where you can enjoy local wine, beer and even whisky! So if you get tired from all the shopping and sight-seeing, sit down with some friends and enjoy a few drinks at places like Waco Winery Tasting Room & Rooftop Patio, Klassy Glass Wine Bar & Bistro, Waco Wine Shoppe and Balcones Distillery.
- Sip some locally-brewed coffee. But if you’re thirsty for something a little less stiff, there are other great places that serve locally brewed coffee and tea! So for all you coffee-drinkers and tea-lovers out there, you will definitely want to try Dichotomy Wine & Spirits. BRÛ Artisan Coffee Works is a great place to enjoy a cappuccino while shopping for home furnishings, and Pinewood Coffee Roasters is a unique twist on the bar scene.
- Pamper yourself. Although food and art are essential parts of any cultural district, Waco’s cultural district also includes businesses focused on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Businesses like Cultivate 7Twelve and Yoga Bar offer classes that help balance the body and the mind while keeping you in great shape. If the pressures from work or school have gotten the best of you, take some time for yourself at places like Pure Elite Spa and On the Avenue Salon and Blow Out Bar.
This blog post is part of a series of “Top 10” articles for the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau. See a full list and calendar of events at the convention center website. Keep up with things to do around the Waco Downtown Cultural District with the official Waco app. Search “Waco” in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.