Aerial photo of downtown from East Waco

Spend a Day at the Waco Suspension Bridge

Aerial photo of downtown from East Waco
Aug 15, 2023

After a $14 million renovation in 2023, the Waco Suspension Bridge is back in action and ready for visitors. As one of Waco’s most recognizable landmarks, this piece of local history is worthy of a visit! 

Enjoy the natural beauty of Central Texas, well-maintained parklands, and creative sculptures at the first suspension bridge in Texas. 

Start Your Day at the First Suspension Bridge in Texas

The iconic Waco Suspension Bridge has been joining the two sides of the Brazos River since 1870. Before it was built, the only way across was by ferry or a risky crossing on foot, but even these options were after heavy rains when the river was high and fast. And travelers couldn’t go to the next town over to find a bridge crossing—before the Waco bridge, there wasn’t a single bridge crossing on the whole 840-mile river. 

To join the two sides of the growing Waco community and encourage trade in the area, local residents planned and funded an impressive bridge. The cables spanning the 475 feet between the two towers were originally supplied by the same company that built New York City’s famous Brooklyn Bridge. When the bridge opened, it welcomed stagecoaches, cattle, and pedestrian traffic—although it  has been limited to foot traffic only since 1971. Keep the cattle at home, but dogs are welcome! 

A recent two-and-a-half-year renovation has given the Waco Suspension Bridge new decking and fresh cables for another 150+ years of Waco crossings. 

Before stepping onto the bridge from Indian Spring Park, be sure to visit the Branding the Brazos sculpture, featuring a diverse trio of Texan cattle drivers leading their herd across the Brazos. Very Lonesome Dove

Stop on the bridge for a great photo op with the Brazos River in the background, and imagine it bustling with wagons, cowboys, and herds of Texas longhorns. 

Walk or Ride the Riverwalk

Waco’s Riverwalk is more than eight miles of scenic paved hike-and-bike trails. The path stretches along both banks of the Brazos River, through Indian Spring Park to the south and Martin Luther King, Jr. Park to the north. The trail loops on the Waco Suspension Bridge and the Herring Avenue Bridge, before extending further into Cameron Park and Brazos East Park to the northwest. And a shorter trail extends east to McLane Stadium and the Umphrey Bridge at Baylor University. 

On the southern bank of the Brazos, the Riverwalk is home to the Waco Sculpture Zoo. Spot 28 animal-based artworks from the trail, including a playful black bear cub, a stylized fox named Roxy, and a dramatic sculpture of birds taking flight.

Combining an urban environment with Central Texas’ natural beauty, the Riverwalk is a beautiful place to spend a warm morning! 

Picnic in the Park

After a vigorous morning walk or bike ride on the Riverwalk, you’re sure to have a substantial appetite. Both Indian Spring Park and Martin Luther King, Jr. Park have plenty of shady areas for a classic picnic. Bring a blanket and spread out on the lawn at either park. 

After your picnic, stop by the Doris Miller Memorial, just west of the Washington Avenue bridge. This sculpture celebrates the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross, thanks to his bravery during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Trained as a cook, Doris manned machine guns and helped several wounded sailors to safety.

For a bigger park experience, follow the Riverwalk on the west bank to “Pecan Bottoms” at the entrance to Cameron Park, where kids can enjoy the playground and cool off on the splash pad. This 416-acre park marks the convergence of the Brazos and Bosque Rivers with play areas, disc golf, recreational trails, and scenic overlooks. 

Paddle Under the Bridge

See the Waco Suspension Bridge from a different perspective by getting down into the Brazos River. Rent a canoe, kayak, or stand up paddleboard from one of the local vendors and spend the afternoon on the water. 

Waco Paddle Company is closest to the suspension bridge and offers single and double kayaks, canoes for two or three, and stand up paddleboards. Paddle under the suspension bridge and the Washington Avenue Bridge right next to it to get up close to river life like ducks, turtles, catfish, and gar. 

The Waco Suspension Bridge After Dark

With your picnic basket empty, what is one to do for dinner near the Waco Suspension Bridge? Fortunately, the bridge is just steps from the city’s Entertainment District, with plenty of locally-owned restaurants for a bit of Waco flavor. 

Grab a good old-fashioned burger from Billy Bob’s Burgers Bar & Grill, made with local beef from Waco Custom Meats. Add a side of crispy onion rings and a “grown up” milkshake with Bailey’s Irish Cream or Guinness. Beer lovers should visit Cricket’s Draft House & Grill for hearty pub food and the largest beer selection in Waco, with plenty of Texas drafts. Cute bistro The Olive Branch offers scratch-made American fare and gourmet burgers, plus a substantial wine menu. If you need a boost, get a coffee from the traditional espresso bar along with a flaky croissant or pain au chocolat from their bakery. 

After you’ve had your fill, head back to the Waco Suspension Bridge to see it all glammed up for the evening. String lights hanging from the cables reflect off the Brazos River and give the bridge a romantic glow.

Contact the Waco TPID

Waco Tourism Public Improvement District Corporation

424 Clay Avenue, Suite 2343
Waco, TX 76706
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