surfer catching a wave at Waco Surf

A Water-Filled Weekend in Waco

surfer catching a wave at Waco Surf
Aug 15, 2023

Waco may be a landlocked town, but that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of water fun to be had! Use this two-day itinerary to split your time in Waco between water park thrills and the natural beauty of Lake Waco and the Brazos River!

Where to Stay

For your watery weekend in Waco, choose a hotel central to everything you want to do. Hotels downtown on the Brazos River have easy access to water parks, river activities, and Lake Waco just to the west.

Start with this list of options to find a downtown Waco hotel that will suit your budget and space needs.

Day 1: Seek Thrills at a Water Park

Waco is lucky enough to be home to not one but TWO exhilarating water parks. From riding real waves to floating along lazy rivers, you’ll find plenty to enjoy on a hot summer day.

Waco Surf

Once upon a time, the only way to ride the waves was to head to the coast. But since 2018, there’s been a bucket-list-worthy surf and water park right here in Waco.

At Waco Surf, everyone from newbies to experienced surfers can get some board time on a two-acre, man-made surf lake. Lessons are available for all skill levels. A beginner’s lesson includes practice popping up on the board, finding balance, and riding along The Coaster, a gentle introductory-level wave. Intermediate sessions can help surfers looking to progress to turning and carving, and advanced surfers can ride the Peak wave to try airs and barrels.

For a more open-ended experience, book a 90-minute surf session based on your experience level. Pros can practice on three different wave types, including The Wedge barrel wave to get tubed and The Ramp section to get airborne.

Surf sessions and lessons must be reserved in advance, and they can fill up quickly. So make sure to book early!

Not into surfing? There’s tons more to do here, like…

The Cable Park

Waco Surf’s Cable Park is a must-visit for wakeboard enthusiasts. Cables on six overhead towers pull riders along a lake-sized obstacle course of ramps, jumps, and rails. Circle around Lemur Island for a couple of hours, or spend the whole day here.

Beginners can get started at Wake Academy. Take a quick lesson and a slower cable run to get used to the course. Available on weekend mornings!

The Waterpark

Between your sessions on the surf lake or the Cable Park, head to The Waterpark for more fun. The Wedge Water Slides are four side-by-side slides with ramps at the bottom to throw riders high before they splash down. And the lazy river is said to be the longest on Earth! While Stay in Waco can’t confirm or deny that, it’s certainly worth a ride at exactly a mile long.

In the slide and lazy river area, you can bring your own food and drinks. Pack a picnic lunch with sandwiches and sodas or alcoholic drinks (21+ only!) for this area of the park. They even have cooler floats, so you can keep your drinks cold on the lazy river. Or get a burger at the Wedge Grill or classic pub food and a cocktail at the Lakeside Saloon.

With the Get Wet Pass, you’ll also have access to a private beach for some relaxation. Kick back on the sandy shore, and have a taco lunch at the Surfside Shack. You can also swim up to The Dive Bar for summer cocktails while you overlook the surfers.

The seasons for the various attractions at Waco Surf vary. The Surf Lagoon is open longest,  from early March to mid-December. The Cable Park is usually open from mid-April to mid-October, and the Waterpark is open from mid-May to mid-September. Check their website for exact opening dates!

Hawaiian Falls

For tons of family-friendly fun, head to Hawaiian Falls Waterpark, packed with water slides and attractions for all ages.

Splash pad and water fortress Keiki Kove is ideal for the littlest visitors, with shallow water, gushing fountains, and a kid-friendly lazy river. Multilevel play area Kona Bay has 10 waterslides and plenty to explore.

Body surf or inner tube on the rolling waves at Breaker Bay wave pool, or float along the Kona Kooler lazy river. Thrill-seekers can hurtle down The Rush, a tube slide with a laser light show inside the dark tunnel. Or plummet down the Monsoon & Typhoon, two 65-foot free-fall water slides. And that’s just some of the slides and play areas.

When you’ve worked up an appetite, snack on burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, or pizza. For the best deal, get a combo pass that includes admission to the park, lunch, and an all-day drink wristband.

Hawaiian Falls is open May through September. Check their website for exact operating dates and hours.

Pick Up Dinner To Go

After a day defying gravity on a surfboard or hurling down water slides at breakneck speed, you’re bound to be worn out. (And wet!) So pick up a quick dinner to go on the way back to your hotel in downtown Waco.

Head to food market Union Hall where everyone can pick what they want from over a dozen vendors. Get a satisfying Mexican bowl full of fresh veggies and grilled meat from Huaco Eatery. Or build your own mac and cheese with your choice of cheese, protein, and veggies from Roni’s Mac Bar. Add a beer or cocktail to your meal from Sam’s Bar & Watering Hole.

If you want to sit outside to dry out, you could also stop by Route 77 Food Park. Get authentic street tacos with fresh-grilled tortillas at Taquisa Waco, or try rock-and-roll themed burgers from Burgertology piled high with creative toppings. Sit on the picnic tables outside—no one will mind if your swimsuit is still damp.

Day 2: Take a Breather at Lake Waco and the Brazos River

After a thrilling first day at a Waco water park, take it easy for day two by exploring some of Waco’s natural water attractions.

Of course, if you want more action, you could visit water parks both days!

Spend the Morning at the Lake Waco Wetlands

Just west of downtown, the Lake Waco Wetlands are a unique ecosystem. After the Waco City Council elected to raise the level of Lake Waco by 7 feet in 2000, they created the Waco Wetlands to offset some of the resulting habitat loss. Today, this natural beauty provides a home to Central Texas plant, animal, and insect species, while also improving water quality.

Bring binoculars for bird watching—over 185 different bird species have been spotted here! Walk 3.5 miles of nature trails and floating walkways through marshes and groves of hardwoods. And stop by the education center to talk to the staff and learn more about this special ecosystem.

Spend the Afternoon on Lake Brazos

Head back into the city for the afternoon and spend some time floating along Lake Brazos in downtown Waco. This area is ideal for relaxed water recreation!

Start the afternoon with a picnic at Brazos Park East, where the Brazos meets the Bosque River. You could pack a cooler or order sandwiches from Schmaltz’s Sandwich Shop. Choose one of their signature creations like The Schmaltz—three cheeses, ham, salami, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, olives, mustard, and garlic butter on house-made bread. Bring your tasty sammies to the park and grab a picnic table under the little waterside gazebo for some shade.

After your lunch, rent a kayak or stand up paddleboard at Pura Vida Paddle. Located at Brazos Park East, you can enjoy an easygoing afternoon paddling through town. Pass under the iconic Waco Suspension Bridge for a fish-eye view of this local landmark. You can also schedule a kayak tour, exploring the beauty of the Brazos with an expert guide.

Dinner on the River

After your day in the wetlands and on the lake, let someone else do the cooking. There are plenty of delicious restaurants with water views to choose from!

Paddle your kayak right up to the piers at Slow Rise on the Brazos. Their dough is hand-tossed and allowed to rise for 24 hours for an extra chewy crust. Get a quick slice to go, or order a full pie to enjoy on their roomy deck that lets you take in the river scenery.

At The Brazos Landing, enjoy a Cajun and American menu with dishes like boiled Louisiana crawfish and fried gator. Enjoy views of the river and Waco Riverwalk from the elevated waterfront deck. Or dine in the “Swamp Shack” which welcomes breezes through a wall of open garage doors.

Contact the Waco TPID

Waco Tourism Public Improvement District Corporation

424 Clay Avenue, Suite 2343
Waco, TX 76706
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