Thankfully, Waco’s beauty comes naturally. There are so many places to have a picnic, watch a vibrant sunset and just escape the chaos that comes along with being a student. The problem is, that picture perfect spot can be hard to find. I found myself amazed by local photos showcases stunning views on Instagram and texting friends to find where these hidden gems exactly are. Save yourself the trouble of searching — read my favorite places to experience the outdoors in Waco.

Lake Waco

The shoreline of Lake Waco is a great spot to escape the hustle and bustle and relax in total serenity. There are tables, making this a great location for a picnic or first date. With the best sunset view in all of Waco, this is the place to be for the ultimate night in nature. Bonfires are really what make this place special. Nights gathered around the fire roasting marshmallows, singing and talking with friends make for unforgettable memories.

Directions: Search for Carleen Bright Arboretum in your GPS and follow the road until you find yourself at the lake shore.

Lake Waco Wetlands

The Wetlands are a jewel on the outskirts of Waco. Lily pads, cattails and floating docks make this place feel like a fairy wonderland. A splendid spot for an afternoon of water coloring, relaxing with friends or even a photo shoot, the wetlands are a treasure. Keep in mind, it is in direct sunlight, so it can get a little toasty at times; maybe take advantage of the sun and soak up some rays.

Directions: This location is easy to find. Just plug in Lake Waco Wetlands into your GPS and park near the round, stone building which is a research and education center. An opening in the trees will take you down a short staircase where you will then see the walkways. And lucky for you, the drive here is half the beauty. The country roads and trees arching overhead are just marvelous.

Emmons Cliff

In my opinion, Emmons Cliff is the most beautiful place in Cameron Park. With views stretching over green fields and the Brazos River, I guarantee you will question if you are even in Waco anymore. Emmons Cliff is actually the top of the iconic giant white rock of Cameron Park. Continue down a trail until you find yourself at the edge of a cliff. You will feel like an eagle perched in its nest as you peer over the Brazos. This place is special because you can be totally alone in nature, making this a perfect place for some quiet time.

If you remain on the path from the cliff, keep winding down the trail to reach the bottom of the white rock. You even get to cross over two bridges, making this adventure feel like it’s in an enchanted forest. Roundtrip, the hike will take about 20 minutes.

Directions: Follow the signs for Emmons Cliff along the main road in Cameron Park. Park near the pavilion and follow the trail to the left. Trees arching overhead make for a pleasant shaded hike, especially during the hot summer months. Stay on the path as you hike down the cliff to reach the white rock, don’t forget to stop and enjoy the view.

Lawson’s Point

Located in Cameron Park, Lawson’s Point is the perfect place for picnicking with friends. Easy access and parking make this location great for bigger groups. Walk back to where the open field meets the woods, and you will find a large tree stump that has been made into a picnic table. Living like you are in a fairy tale, this perfect place for a forest feast.There are no lights and it gets dark very quickly, so make sure to go during the day.

Directions: Follow the main road into Cameron Park and turn right into Lawson’s Point. It is one of the first turn offs.

Photo Credit: Andi Risk & Emily Edwards