With the success of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, starring Chip and Joanna Gaines, the little old college town of Waco, Texas has hit the national stage. Only an hour and a half outside of Dallas, this delightful spot makes a great weekend getaway destination for empty nesters, parents on a no-kids weekend, or even families. Waco boasts adorable shops, charming eateries, historic sites, and even a zoo. I went to college in Waco, as did two of my kids, so I know it well. Today I’m going to give you the lowdown on winsome Waco.
Stay – Our favorite hotel in Waco is the Hotel Indigo, a boutique hotel located in the warehouse district in the heart of downtown. It’s near Restaurant Row, as well as the Brazos Riverwalk. It has its own bar and bistro, and is pet-friendly to boot. Other options nearby include the Waco Hilton (attached to the Convention Center), the Marriott Residence Inn, and the Marriott Courtyard. If a Bed & Breakfast is more your style, try The Cotton Palace.
Shop – A must-see, of course, is Magnolia Market at the Silos, Joanna Gaines incredible shop (really more of a shopping EXPERIENCE). Just down the street from Magnolia Market you’ll find, well, The Findery. Another shopping destination is Spice Village, a collection of shops that you could stay in all day. Resist the temptation and be sure to take in the downtown gem Sironia. Another don’t miss downtown shop is Roots Boutique, described as Waco’s version of Anthropologie!
Eat – For breakfast, head over to Lula Jane’s for some yummy baked goods and a fantastic cup of coffee. Speaking of coffee, if you need a mid-morning pick-me-up, hit Common Grounds, the collegiate hotspot with a ton of personality, right next to Baylor’s campus. Another coffee option right downtown is the oh-so-hipster Dichotomy. Lunch spots to try include Schmaltz’s Sandwich Shoppe (featuring handmade bread baked daily) on 5th street. If you’re shopping at Spice Village, stop by the Olive Branch Café, which is just downstairs. If you’re (still!) at Magnolia Market and can’t tear yourself away, there are always food trucks just outside. Finally, there’s always Sironia Cafe inside Sironia shops if you happen to be getting your shop on there. For dinner, try Coach’s Smoke. (Don’t worry, the “smoke” refers to barbecue and burgers!) Jake’s Texas Tea House is tasty for some down-home Southern cooking, or Ninfa’s for Waco’s best Mexican food. The college kids love Vitek’s BBQ, where you can find the famous Gut-Pack. If you’re hungry for pizza, check out Shorty’s Pizza Shack.
Go – After all that shopping, throw your husband a bone and stop by the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum (the law enforcement agency, not the baseball team) or the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Catch a movie at the historic Hippodrome Theatre, an entertainment experience, complete with full-service in-theatre dining, and a mezzanine level restaurant & bar overlooking historic Austin Avenue. Take in the beautiful Suspension Bridge, which has a breathtaking view of the sunset but is also lit beautifully at night, making it the perfect place for an evening stroll. (More than one Baylor boy – including my son – has proposed to his college sweetheart in this romantic spot!) Traveling with the kids? Don’t miss the Mayborn Museum with its educational children’s area, and the just-the-right-size Cameron Park Zoo. Even if you don’t have time for the zoo, stop by the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat on Baylor’s campus to get up close and personal with North American Black Bears Joy and Lady, who serve as Baylor’s current mascots. Another educational spot for your little animal lovers is the Waco Mammoth National Monument – a paleontological dig site and museum where fossils of twenty-four Columbian mammoths from the Pleistocene Epoch have been uncovered. They conduct guided walking tours every 30 minutes. If you are visiting in the summer, by this time you may need someplace to cool off! Slip into your bathing suit and hit the Waco Hawaiian Falls Water Park (open late May-early September).
Overwhelmed with all the options? Check out Waco Tours! They provide a 2.5-hour tour that gives an overview of the city, including photo stops, local treats and complimentary drinks! (Including some of the most notable Fixer Upper houses!) If you’re coming with a group, they’ll even customize a tour just for you.
With its mix of shopping, eateries, and activities for all ages, a weekend getaway in Waco is just what you need. It’s easy to get to, and there is something for everyone. Let me know if you go. (I may just want to come along!)