Welcome to Waco, Texas, y’all! Nestled on the Brazos River, Waco was long known as the quiet home of Baylor University until HGTV’s Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines put it on the map in a way no one could’ve predicted.
Chip and Joanna are more than just savvy home improvers with a penchant for shiplap and upcycling – they’re tourism game changers. Just think for moment, what did you associate with Waco pre-Chip and Jo? Probably a cult tragedy in the 90s.
Since 2013, the Gaines family has basically “fixer upped” the city of Waco with their wholesome stamp of Texan appeal. After years of remodeling the “worst houses in the best neighborhoods,” property values are up and tourism is booming. Weekends are chock full of visitors on the hunt for homemade cupcakes, farmhouse cake stands and fluffy throw pillows.
Chip and Joanna have opened multiple business in addition to their home-flipping services showcased on HGTV, creating a whole Magnolia empire. And you might not know this about me, but Joanna and I were once included on the same list by Southern Living as the top lifestyle bloggers to follow. You cannot imagine how tickled I was to be in such good company on that list!
But back to planning a trip to Waco! If you’re a fan of Fixer Upper, a pilgrimage to Waco is a must. We created our own Waco weekend itinerary on a recent visit to Texas. The best thing about Waco is it’s super easy to get around, affordable to visit (well, that depends on how many souvenirs you buy!) and filled to the brim with delicious, hearty food.
Fun Things to Do in Waco
For Fixer Upper fans, there’s one place you must put on the top of your list: The Silos Waco!
The Silos are the retail and entertainment hub of the Magnolia Home empire and just two minutes of I-35, it’s an easy detour if you happen to be driving from one big Texan city to another. The grounds at the Silos are smaller in person than I expected, but still so lovely and photogenic.
There are four main areas to check out:
Magnolia Market, Waco
Mecca for DIYers and home decor aficionados. The main Magnolia Market store has different rooms and designs change seasonally, even if you came last spring, another visit wouldn’t be a waste of time.
The Silo’s Baking Co.
The “sweetest” spot at the Silos. Try the cheddar bacon biscuits and plan to wait. Lines can be long here at peak times.
Magnolia Seed + Supply
Photogenic garden beds filled with seasonal flowers and produce. Kids love the teepee.
A grassy area with food trucks and games for families.
PRO TIP: If you know Chip and Joanna, you won’t be surprised that the Silos are closed on Sundays. If you’re thinking about spending a weekend in Waco, you’ll definitely need to plan around that!
If you think watching Fixer Upper gives you too many ideas of how to turn your home into a shiplapped farmhouse, just wait until you’re there in person, touching every curated texture, photographing every instagrammable planter overflowing with fresh herbs and eating every handcrafted baked good you can get your paws on.
I think the next time we visit we’ll plan around a big event like Silobration, an annual event held in October featuring concerts, a rooftop picnic and a midway. There are also spring and Christmastime events, so you could reasonably go back to Waco on a quarterly basis and never get bored.
You know how much we love theme parks, but for me, the world of Magnolia is my grown-up lady theme park. There are fewer screaming children (most of the time), much better food and so much design inspiration you can’t help but spend more than you intended. I guess it is a lot like a theme park in that sense.
Parking at Magnolia Market at the Silos
The Silos are more than just a place to shop and experience all things Magnolia. They’ve gone from dilapidated relic of agriculture days gone by to the most bustling hotspot in town.
PRO TIP: The weekends are very, very busy with thousands of visitors, so plan to arrive early or come later in the day when the crowds die down a bit. And pack an extra portion of patience. Lines can be long at times. The good news is that everyone is as sweet as sweet tea, so you can’t help but make new friends everywhere you go.
There’s a dedicated parking lot at Magnolia Market and lots of street parking, too. Depending on how much you plan to buy, you can also park in downtown Waco and take the Silos District Trolley. It’s only a 10-minute ride.
DIY Fixer Upper Home Tour
It wouldn’t be a Fixer Upper trip without a tour of the homes Chip and Joanna have remodeled for the show over the years. You can do a DIY trip like we did, cobbling together addresses from the Internet and driving slowly all over town looking for them — or you can book a guided tour and see tons of locations at once from a knowledgeable guide. Here’s a great one to book!
Other Waco Tours You Might Like
- Magnolia Market Tour from Austin
- The Ultimate Waco “Fixer Upper” Fan TV Tour
- Luxurious River Cruise on the Brazos River in Waco
Places to Eat in Waco, Texas
Our favorite spot in Waco, hands down, was Magnolia Table. We tried out lots of places around town and the food was good, but the next time we visit Waco there’s a solid chance Magnolia Table will get our business for every breakfast and lunch. (They’re not open for dinner.) It was that good, and between the clean farmhouse decor and the friendly service, it’s as close as we’re getting to eating at Chip and Jo’s house.
Please note, Magnolia Table is only open for breakfast and late lunch. The kitchen closes at 3 p.m. and like all Magnolia entities, they’re closed on Sundays. 2132 S. Valley Mills Drive
The Backyard Bar Stage and Grill
It doesn’t get more Texan than this! The restaurant’s slogan is “meet me in the backyard.” Once you get there, you’ll see why. Out back it’s basically the ideal backyard for fun with fire pits, picnic tables, Cornhole and giant Jenga all under shady trees. The food is tasty and much of it is fried. We’re not complaining. 511 South 8th Street
Places to Stay in Waco Tx
Magnolia Bed and Breakfast Waco
For the truly obsessed, splash out and stay in one of the remodeled homes from Fixer Upper. Can you even believe that’s an option? Several of the properties have been turned into vacation rentals, so if you’re hosting a Waco bachelorette party or just a Chip and Joanna-themed girls getaway, these properties are a great fit, particularly for larger groups. Some sleep up to 12! Just imagine the shenanigans you could have in a shiplapped kitchen with subway tile and original wood floors. I’d consider getting re-married just so I could have a bachelorette party here, ha!
Hotel Indigo Waco
Have you ever stayed at a Hotel Indigo? I’ve been a devotee since the early days of the brand thanks to my old PR job, so anytime I get the chance to visit this IHG brand, I do. Hotel Indigo Waco is only a couple years old, and one of my favorite things about the brand is that they change out decor, scents and tastes seasonally, and there’s always a focus on local culture. So if you visit in the springtime, you’ll have a different experience than in the fall. And if you visit the London Hotel Indigo, it’s going to be different than the Waco property. Isn’t that fun?
Hotel Indigo Waco was ideal for our group of three ladies and one pup. Sheba was a happy little camper on her first blogging adventure!
For more info on the Hotel Indigo Waco, click here.
There’s an indoor pool, ample free parking and it’s close to all things Magnolia. A perfect home base for exploring Waco.
Other Waco Attractions (Not Related to Magnolia or Fixer Upper)
I’m sure the citizens of Waco would like everyone to know that there’s more to their town than Magnolia, so here are a few ideas of things to do when you’re not paying for the Gaines children to go to college.
Enjoy Cameron Park
We stumbled upon Cameron Park while on our self-guided driving tour of Magnolia homes and were in awe. It’s a 416 acre urban park with two winding rivers, boat ramps, tons of playgrounds and miles of hiking and biking trails. A must visit!
Shop a Lot
If you’ve come to Waco for Chip and Joanna purposes, you’ll already be in the mood for browsing and shopping for unique home wares. Check out the following stores for even more:
- The Findery. Antiques, chalk paint classes and more. A great place to pick up goodies! 501 S 8th St
- Spice Village. 90 shops under one roof in a restored warehouse, featuring antiques, housewares, gifts and more. 2nd and Franklin Drive
- The Shop on Bosque. Did I say this was a list for things NOT related to Magnolia? Oops. Don’t miss the Little Shop on Bosque, a Magnolia Market outpost. 3801 Bosque Blvd
Visit the Dr. Pepper Museum
I’m a pepper, you’re a pepper, he’s a pepper, she’s a pepper, wouldn’t you like to be a pepper, too?
If that song doesn’t sound familiar, I guarantee you won’t be able to get it out of your head after visiting the world famous Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco. After all the Magnolia sites, this was probably our favorite stop. It’s quirky, it’s delicious and it’s something you can only do in Waco.
Short on time but want to see lots of Waco? Check out this tour with all the highlights!
How to Get to Waco
Waco is located almost halfway between Dallas and Austin on I-35, so if you happen to be in either big city for a conference, a wedding or just a long layover at DFW, it’s an easy two-hour drive from either spot. And while wac
Visiting Texas? Check out our other posts from the Lone Star State:
Sadly for all of us, Fixer Upper isn’t on HGTV anymore (except in re-runs), but Chip and Joanna aren’t going anywhere. We can’t wait for their new network to premiere in 2020. It might just be worth getting cable for!
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