The last two weeks have been so fun! Full of travel, family, and friends. Unfortunately, a byproduct of my busy schedule was a sharp decrease in blog posts, but hopefully the next couple will make up for it! Today I want to give an overview of my family’s trip to Waco, breaking down where we stayed, what we ate, where we shopped, and what we want to do next time!
The whole impetus of this trip was the Magnolia House. My family loves Fixer Upper, Chip, JoJo, and everything Magnolia. It is a show that we have all bonded over and reference daily. Living states away from each other, we typically meet up in logical locations: Home base (Tampa, FL), where our grandparents live (Kankakee, IL), or where one of us resides. This was the first time that we branched out since all living in different locations (Or maybe Park City was… feel free to correct me, fam!) and we could not have picked a better location with the perfect blend of things to do and relaxation.
Back to the house. If you are not familiar with Fixer Upper on HGTV, the real-life couple from Waco, Texas take the worst homes in the best areas (specifically within Waco or very nearby areas) and fixes them up for the brave new home owners. A couple years ago they decided to renovate a home just outside of Waco to use as a bed and breakfast. McGregor is an adorable little town about 25 minutes from Waco with a cute main street and a couple great shops and restaurants; I can understand why the Gaines didn’t worry that the house was too far from their empire in Waco! As soon as Chip & JoJo’s dream was a reality, my sister was all over getting us a reservation before they sold out! (Which happened insanely quickly!) I honestly don’t remember how long ago we booked the house, but it feels like the wait lasted forever! We ended up getting the house for two nights, a Monday and Tuesday. Let me tell you, it was worth the wait!
The house was absolutely gorgeous. I really cannot accurately describe how every detail was carefully considered and executed. It was simple, approachable, and elegant all at once. The house is typically cared for by a couple who live in an adjacent home on the same property, however they were on vacation while we were there (except for the last morning!) so another Magnolia employee provided us with information, answered all of our questions, and checked in on our experience. They really went above and beyond to make sure we had a wonderful time and perfect experience!
The Food: I will start with a couple stops we made in Dallas the Sunday before we drove down to Waco before listing the best we found in Waco!
- Dallas – Torchy’s Tacos: Can you go to Texas without having Tex-Mex?? My family humored me by heading straight to get tacos after picking me up from the airport. We had sangria, guac, and queso. I had the Independent (fried portabello mushrooms), and Mr. Orange (Salmon) tacos. My dad had a fried shrimp taco and my mom ordered the street corn side. Aside from the corn first coming out so spicy it was inedible (we sent it back and had a new version with no extra sauce), we loved all the food! Definitely a great first stop in Texas!
- Dallas – Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse: My mom’s good friend (and sister’s godfather) lives in Dallas and met up with us for dinner. He doesn’t really do casual meals so we went to an upscale steak restaurant, Nick & Sam’s. It was amazing! I really loved everything I ate, which unfortunately was enough for 3-4 meals so I was painfully full until nearly noon the next day! We had a sushi appetizer, multiple sides, I had seared tuna as my meal, and we topped it off with a couple pieces of GIANT cake for dessert (plus my mom had to order the giant cotton candy). It was delicious and really felt special. I can’t imagine going there except for a special occasion but it was wonderful to experience and catch up with our friend.
- Buzzard Billy’s – As I will talk about later, our first stop in Waco was at a giant lazy river where we circled for a few hours. We wanted to grab a snack on our way to the house but needed something casual since we were all sweaty and gross from the river. Buzzard Billy’s provided us with waterside views, fun cocktails, and greasy appetizers to refuel before the final stretch to the house. Nothing spectacular but it was just what we needed in the moment!
- Twisted Root Burger Co. – Our family sometimes has trouble making decisions… something I am sure we are not alone in! It took us awhile to pick a dinner spot for that first night in Waco and we settled on Twisted Root Burger Co! What a fun and cool space! Located in a renovated warehouse, it still has a very warehouse and hip feel. My parents and I all had burgers (mine was a happy turkey burger!) and my sister’s had salads. We also had a variety of drinks, milkshakes, and boozy milkshakes! There were a couple mistakes with our order and my mom’s burger was overdone (she likes it rare and it was a far cry from rare…) but overall we enjoy our food and found the atmosphere to be fun and casual. The menu was variety, the hours long, and with a full bar – it was everything we needed that night!
- Food Trucks at the Silos – If you go to the Silos (which you must and I will discuss at length later!), you should plan to eat at one of the many permanent food trucks in the yard. They have every type of food you could think of! Including smoothies and coffee (sorry, no alcohol I could find!). I went to the Cheddar Box and had a half a grilled cheese (The Wacoan with aged white cheddar & Horseradish pecan cheddar on sourdough) and mint watermelon salad. So stinking good! My family did a range of food including a bratwurst and a variety of BBQ.
- Silos Baking Co – You also cannot go to the Silos without a stop at the Silos Baking Co. In fact, I encourage you to be like us and go twice! Our first stop was for immediate satisfaction. We all ordered cupcakes and ate them all within minutes. I had the special – peach pie. Then we went back right before leaving town to get a couple to bring back home. The travel pretty well! Even through multiple flights/airports (and a 5 hour layover!).
- Salty Dog Sports Bar & Grill – We weren’t hungry enough for dinner but wanted to have a snack and a couple drinks so I led us to the Salty Dog! Typical sports bar feel but with some unique menu items! We had the salty balls and crabby Cajun queso. It was good but not necessarily something to put at the top of your list when you’re heading to Waco!
- Moroso – Our final dinner was at Moroso Wood Fired Pizzeria. We split 4 pizzas (they are just over personal-sized! But if you’re starving, get your own!): Napolitano (sans black olives), Classico (with fresh mozzarella), Cipolla (sans pancetta), and San Daniele (sans pancetta). Clearly, we aren’t high maintenance! Ha! But they were all delicious and we ate every bite (I think… pretty darn close at least!). For dessert I helped my mom with her Affogato and my sister and dad had cannolis. It was a great family meal together on our last night in Waco!
- Coffee Shop Café – As we left McGregor for the last time on Wednesday morning, we decided to take the advice of the B&B’s caretaker and try Coffee Shop Café. It felt more like a diner (borderline local Cracker Barrel) inside and had a very robust breakfast menu! I had an omelet and it was both delicious and way more than I could eat. The biscuits were incredible (literally the only thing my whole family could talk about) and it was all we could do to not try one of their many pies! If you are in McGregor, this place is a perfect stop!
- Common Grounds – A must for visitors to Waco who like coffee! This spot was recommended by everyone and was a delicious and hipster spot right next to Baylor University. I had a latte (my go-to) and tried my sister’s homemade granola bar. It was easily the most delicious and probably least healthy granola I have ever had! I am going to try to replicate the recipe! My parents and youngest sister split the bacon cheddar scones. We were all still pretty full from dinner the night before so a light snack was just what we needed!
- Dichotomy – I have this dream of opening a coffee shop/bar at some point in my life (first retirement job maybe??) so I was excited to read about Dichotomy in Waco. We tried it out on Wednesday morning before heading back for some final shopping at the Silos. It was a little underwhelming to be honest. The prices were high, cups were small (one size), and staff was not very friendly. While I love to support local businesses and appreciate that they are located in a renovated building right downtown, I would definitely recommend Common Grounds as your coffee spot! Maybe the nighttime bar scene would be better at Dichotomy? That’ll be on the list for our next visit!
- Hemingway’s Watering Hole – Before dinner at Moroso we wanted to get a drink next door at a small bar they recommended. My dad is not a huge fan of beer or wine and Moroso did not have a full bar so we wanted him to get his favorite before going to eat dinner! Hemingway’s was everything you want a small neighborhood bar to be! It was a big of a dive bar but without feeling sketchy. It was quaint and cute, mostly bar with only one bar table and a couch against the far wall. They had a wide assortment of bottled beers, including some fun local ones. We all found something to enjoy before walking next door to eat dinner.
- Magnolia Market at the Silos – This spot was one of the primary motivators for going to Waco. Actually, maybe the #1 reason (depends on who you ask!). The idea that this couple took a cluster of abandoned buildings and silos in the middle of the city and transformed them into a Fixer Upper mecca is amazing. The whole space was comfortable, welcoming, friendly, and beautiful. Much like the house, every detail was accounted for, the staff was all helpful and friendly, it felt like Disney World with shiplap and faux flowers. I spent way more than I needed to but have absolutely zero regret! Even Adam appreciates <most> of my purchases! If you miss the Silos when you go to Waco, why even go???
- Harp Design Co. – We wanted to hit all the high points from the Fixer Upper show and that meant a stop at Harp Design! I must say, I was a little disappointed. I really wanted to see some of the amazing furniture pieces that are created on the show for the homes Joanna is renovating but instead the store felt very touristy and lacked authenticity. I appreciate that they needed to cater to the tourists who flock to the shop but I wish I could have had more of a feel of what his shop was like, rather than just a store with a lot of little decoration pieces.
- Spice Village – Spoiler alert: there did not appear to be spices here… but this was a really cool store that had multiple vendors all connected on the second floor of a renovated building. Lots of Texas-themed goodies, art, western clothing, local goods, etc. It was huge and we literally lost each other while walking around! If you’re in the area and have some free time, it is worth a stop!
- Cedar Chest Antique Mall & Cedar Chest Too – These two stops are frequented by Joanna Gaines in Fixer Upper and they were right in the town we were staying in! We stopped by and checked out both. They are huge! Equal parts amazing antiques and junk (someone’s treasure??). Worth a stop if you like antiques!
- JDH Designs – One of the highlights of my trip! Jimmy Don’s shop is outside of Waco in the middle of nowhere Crawford (but not hard to find!). While he gets tons of tourists on the Fixer Upper route, Jimmy Don makes an effort to meet them all and thank them for visiting. His work is amazing and his story was even more impressive. Really a testament to the economy boost Fixer Upper has brought to the area. He went from 2 engraving machines to 7 in only a couple years and from “steady” business to “crazy”. But the best part of meeting Jimmy Don was learning about how some days he just likes to still go out and check on his cows and shoot frozen milk off the front porch! Loved meeting him!
- BSR Cable Park – Among her many talents, my sister is an awesome tour guide in NYC and randomly had a family from Waco on her trip a couple weeks before our travels! They told her to go to the largest lazy river in… the country? Texas? World? Whatever, it was a LONG lazy river! Man-made and took about an hour to go around. We made this our first stop! It was so much fun and the park in general had a lot of options! They had a cable water area for skiing, a high slide with a jump ramp at the bottom, a café, hot tub… everything you could want and a lot of things you didn’t realize you wanted! We hung out for a few hours, long enough for 3 of the 5 of us to get significantly burnt (yes, you can burn on cloudy days…) and enjoy the warm weather. I definitely recommend this park to anyone looking for either water adventures or a lazy, boozy water experience J
- OrangeTheory – I dragged my sister to OrangeTheory in Waco early on Wednesday morning! She was such a trooper to put up with my new obsession and she did really well! I loved being able to share the program that I have come to love and now she knows what I am talking about every time I bring it up! The class itself was great, I really like the coach, although they should have had someone watching for dead or failing heartrate monitors… my sister was always “dying” and ended up with really skewed results which was a bummer but otherwise we had a good experience!
- Chip & Joanna’s home – The most stalker point of our trip. We used google to track down the farm where Chip and JoJo live! After a brief pause to snap a pic out the car window, we quickly drove away! Eek!
- Elite Café – This under-construction historic building is a new project for Chip & Joanna, they will be opening their first restaurant hopefully by the end of the year! There were workmen on the scene, we hope to come back and visit it in person! (Here is an article on the purchase and plan!)
- Second Magnolia B&B – After the success and demand for their first Bed and Breakfast, Chip and JoJo are currently renovating what is being called the Magnolia Castle in Waco. The house looks huge and is also under construction! I can’t wait to watch that Fixer Upper episode! (Here is an article on the house.)
- Homestead Heritage – We stopped by Homestead Heritage on our way out of town and visited the Homestead Fiber Arts and Gristmill but didn’t have time to go to the Café or check out the other shops. Definitely worth the trip and another frequent stop for JoJo with her kids.
My description and photos do not do our trip justice! It was so nice to get away with just my parents and sisters and hang out in this beautiful town. We were already discussing our potential next vacation together and I hope we keep it up as we get older. The time went by quickly but the memories will last forever!
Please give me your thoughts:
- Do you watch Fixer Upper or have a favorite HGTV show?
- Did I miss something in Waco that I will need to see next time?
- What’s your dream job or “first retirement job”?