A group of local entrepreneurs is betting on interest in downtown-area tours offering an interactive and up-close experience, plus some pedaling and maybe even some food and drink.

Waco Pedal Tours is having a soft opening over the weekend with its four-wheel pedal-powered cart fitted for 14 people, plus a driver.

Whether it is a bachelorette party on a pub crawl tour, a family on a Christmas light tour, or a group interested in the area’s history, co-owner Jake Cockerill said the venture will offer core and seasonal packages and private tours.

The “bike” arrived this week from Fredericksburg and will be a part of a parade Saturday morning put on by Waco Wonderland, Jake Cockerill said. What visitors see Saturday won’t be the final product though.

“We consider it a fixer-upper. It’s a good pun for here in Waco,” Jake Cockerill said.

It already has a fresh coat of paint, a stereo and a decorative wine barrel out front, but there is more to come.

For starters, cup holders are a must, Jake’s wife, Cydney Cockerill, said during the inaugural ride, after her water bottle fell to the street during a turn.

Jake Cockerill said he and Waco Escape Rooms owner Cory Dickman started talking about bringing a pedal tour to Waco during a 1 Million Cups meeting at the Waco Hippodrome. The idea quickly turned to reality as the duo brought on Danny Abarca to serve as tour guide and driver. Abarca has entertainment and tour experience from his time in Mexico.

“[Abarca’s] just such a dynamic and awesome guy,” Dickman said. “Having a guy like that lead the tours, it would just be a perfect match.”

Jake Cockerill is the manager of entrepreneurship and innovation at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, and he said he is leaving that position to take Waco Pedal Tours on full-time.

The soft opening will include a Castle Heights Christmas Lights tour as the partners continue to work out logistics in preparation for a full launch in January, Cockerill said.

Wacopedaltours.com lists standard tour rates at $35 per person Sunday through Wednesday and $45 per person Thursday through Saturday. Tours will be 25 percent off during the soft opening, at $26.25 Sunday through Wednesday and $33.75 Thursday through Saturday.

The “bike” is classified the same way as a golf cart would be with the city permitting department, Cockerill said.

Guests don’t have to be in top shape to pedal across town. A small motor is ready to chip in for steep hills, he said.

While the riders provide power, the tour guide has control of the vehicle with steering and brakes.

While the barrel on the front of the cart will store supplies like blankets, not booze, some tours will be BYOB. Guests will be limited to beer or wine, with no hard liquor allowed, Cockerill said.

The company is working to promote local businesses by incorporating them into the tours, said Cockerill, who also runs wacobound.com with his wife.

The Waco Escape Rooms are great, but after a guest has tried all the rooms, there’s not much draw until a new room opens, Dickman said. The pedal tours will offer something new on every ride based on routes and the people in the group, he said.

Families, friends and organizations of all stripes are always looking for something new to do in Waco. The tours will offer another option, plus introduce people to other businesses, Dickman said.

“Think of it like a Costco,” Dickman said.

Guests will get on the pedal cart, ride to a restaurant, pop in and try an appetizer, then move on to the next location for another treat, Dickman said.

The Waco Pedal Tours isn’t the only group incorporating food into trips around town.

Waco Tours is launching a new food tour Saturday.

The two-hour tour will take guests to new, old, popular and less-known spots, Waco Tours co-owner David Ridley said.

The list of stops was hard to narrow down, and they aren’t disclosing all the locations, many of which are off the beaten path, Ridley said. Waco Tours will offer two or three food tours this month before fully launching the extra product in January, he said.

The year-and-a-half-old company has expanded to three vans that take riders in a full loop around Waco for a two-and-a-half hour tour, he said.

Ridley said the company showcases all aspects of the city, from stories of its past to dreams for the future.

“We do things very uniquely on our van that not many tour companies do,” he said.

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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