A New Yorker’s Traveling Guide to Waco, Texas
A couple years ago, I had never heard of Waco, Texas but even still then, The Lone Star State was high on my list of traveling priorities. I had heard through the grapevine of my fortunate traveler friends that Austin, TX was not only weird (get it — “Keep Austin Weird” — get it?!) but it was also the place to be. Not to mention, I had a family member move to Temple, TX a few years back, so it just seemed like a matter of time before I made it to this new (for me!) destination.
And then undoubtedly, SLAP! Joanna and Chip Gaines put Waco on the map for me with their hit HGTV show Fixer Upper. While the series is currently filming its last season, the do-it-yourself decor and construction show has been very impactful in reshaping my tastes as my current apartment endures extreme renovations. While Fixer Upper was hardly the selling point or the reason I planned this trip (it was more to visit family in Temple), I knew this city was certainly one of the places I had to pause in and enjoy. And guess what? I just so happened to plan it during Jo and Chip’s third annual Silobration.
I planned my trip several months in advance and please bear in mind, this was my very first time visiting the state of Texas. While I do not claim to be an expert, I have compiled below a list of tricks and tips based on my own personal experience visiting Waco. Another’s experience or recommendations may differ from mine and that’s OK. My goal here is to provide some insight, one traveler’s perspective, to pass onto others who might be considering a visit here.
What is there to do in Waco, Texas?
There is a lot for Fixer Upper fans to experience at Magnolia Farms. First, it’s your moral imperative to wait in line (I waited about 45 minutes during Silobration, a high-traffic time for the Market) for the bakery. Joanna sells cupcakes, cookies, and other delicious confections out of the bakery, not to mention a bunch of products for the kitchen like bakery t-shirts, aprons, spatulas, and more. Then there’s Magnolia Market, which I did not even attempt to enter because the line spanned the entire outdoor space. While there’s a lot to look at it, it’s often very crowded inside the Market and keep in mind — it ain’t cheap. A similar alternative is to walk down the street, caddy-corner to Magnolia Market is The Findery — a two-story shop full of Magnolia-esque home decor and furnishings. The Findery also has a Warehouse a ways down (out the backdoor), which is full of tons of elegant and rustic furniture, furnishings, and more.
Magnolia Farms isn’t all that Waco has to offer. Aside from the Findery, I hopped on the ever-present Waco shuttle (which is free!) and took the ride to downtown Waco to enjoy Spice Village. Don’t be fooled by its condiment-esque name — you won’t find an overabundance of seasonings here. Spice Village is a beautifully curated shopping mall that’s sort of like a flea market. I hesitate to call it a flea market because it’s more upscale. The collection of shops boasts tons of vendors, selling everything from expertly-crafted jewelry, to Texas memorabilia to clothes, to candles and the incomparable Spice Village Signature Scents.
Where should I eat in Waco, Texas?
There are several great options in Waco close to the Silos. I had a quick lunch at one of the food trucks there (a yummy acai bowl from Luna Juice Bar) and while there are many delicious options on site — Cheddar Box, Milo Biscuit Company, Club Sandwich, 900 Degrees Wood Fired Pizza, Vitek’s, Co-Town Crepes, Chuck’s Gourmet Popcorn, Luna, Common Grounds, H.O.T. Dog House, Heritage Creamery, Steel City Pops, and Summer Snow — I traversed “off-campus” if you will to check out one of Joanna and Chip’s favorite local restaurants.
💭 25 has meant hitting a lot of reset buttons for me; most especially, what i put in my body. i've learned to be super intentional about what i eat, which chemicals i put on me or in me, & what's synthetic versus 'real.' although, i don't mind my wine or beer 🤷🏻♀️ does anyone else feel hyper cognizant of what you eat now that you're older? 〰
Cafe Homestead is a sweet little place down a dirt road in the nearby town of Waco, nestled next to a congregation. If I hadn’t set the address in my GPS, I would’ve never known down the way was such a sweet nugget of Waco. I indulged in the wonderful tomato bisque soup and the vegetarian version of the taco salad. It was AMAZING.
What should I know about Magnolia Farms before going?
There will be an exorbitant amount of lines. And the length of the lines will be intimidating. It will be worth it. Except for the Market — I skipped that part and I do not feel sorry about it. As I said above, you can find similar products at the Findery down the street or shop online without feeling like you missed out on the experience.
Magnolia has a beautifully designed garden that during fall, features tons of photo opportunities in the way of carefully-arranged haystacks and pumpkins. There’s a sweet greenhouse area and just every foot of space is occupied by something Instagrammable. Inside the Seed + Supply shop, shoppers can pick up everything from “Plant Lady” and “Plant Daddy” t-shirts, greenery, and more.
There is tons for children to do, so don’t think you can’t bring the kids. I promise you they won’t want for activities. The green “quad” underneath the Silos is the perfect place for cartwheels — in fact, Jo encourages them! — and you can also find activities throughout, like corn hole, and more. Also, if it’s raining, Joanna and Chip have supplied free umbrellas for guests with an honor system. It doesn’t get more wholesome and humble than that!