Travel Tuesday: Waco TX
Waco has been on my list to visit for a few years. It’s really only a couple of hours away from me and not too far to drive there and back in a day if I really wanted to. I finally decided to take the long weekend and check it out! We left on Sunday and came back on Monday which was Presidents Day.
I will show you all everything that we did and saw while we were in Waco. I will tell you that one thing I wasn’t able to do that was on my list was to visit the Branch Davidian Compound which is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Next time I drive down that way, I’ll probably try to stop and visit. I hear it’s a beautiful peaceful place and is the perfect setting for a memorial to those who lost their lives.
Our first stop when we got to Waco was the Dr. Pepper Museum. I have loved Dr. Pepper since I was a kid and so I knew I had to visit this place! The admission price is very reasonable and at the end of the tour your ticket gets you a Dr. Pepper or $1 off a Dr. Pepper float. I tried the float and it was delicious! We had fun learning all about the seltzer and sparkling water industry which turned into the soda industry. There was lots of memorabilia to see as well as some interactive exhibits and photo opps. I think this is fun for a touristy thing to do for sure!
Next up was the Waco Mammoth National Monument. This was something recommended to us to do and is on the list of tourist attractions in Waco. It is actually a dig site which is really cool! If you have kids that like dinosaurs or digging lol, they might like this place. It’s literally one building that you visit that is a dig site inside for the mammoths. I didn’t realize that these huge beasts used to roam around Waco! But seriously, it’s really cool to see the bones but that’s about it. I’m glad it didn’t cost a ton of money to get in. You pay outside and when we went, masks were still required inside the buildings since it is a National Park. The gift shop has bathrooms and little trinkets and crystals and things like that. You walk from the building to the large building with the dig. You can picnic on the walk there if you’d like- it is a park, right? But it’s a short walk to the building and then we went back out to the parking lot and left. If you’ve seen it once, you won’t need to go back.
For dinner, we visited Twisted Root which is a favorite for burgers and salads and shakes. They have delicious burgers that are on the menu or you can make your own creations too if you’d like. They also serve exotic meats like elk, venison, Buffalo, lamb, ostrich, rabbit, camel, duck and boar. No thank you just give me beef please!
Here’s what we tried:
Millionaire Burger- my fave!
All American Burger
After a day of traveling and seeing some sights, we opted to head back to the hotel for the night and turn in early. We also planned to get up early to head out for breakfast and more exploring the next day.
There are lots of hotels off of I-35 to stay in or near Waco. You can’t beat the price either- we stayed in the Hyatt Place for under $100 and it was worth it to stay the night and relax and take our time seeing all the sights! Hyatt Place offers a free breakfast and there is a sofa bed in every room making it a great budget friendly hotel- especially when you have kids. There is also an indoor pool and a fitness center. Bonus points because tea and coffee is available in the lobby all day!
Okay now I bet a lot of you are here for this next part of the trip and that is all things Magnolia! I did some research before we headed to Waco so I will give you some tips and tricks on this subject.
First up, Magnolia Table. Everyone wants to eat at this restaurant and let me tell you, it’s packed. You can get reservations online for up to 6 people, but you will need to put in as soon as you know you’re headed there! Reservations were all taken up for weeks when I looked so we did our best with walking in. Walk-ins are accepted but the wait can get really long. The cool thing though is that there is a place to buy coffee and pastries while you wait, you can explore the shop with merchandise or you can even order to-go. We chose to get up early and head to breakfast by 7:45 and our wait was only about 20 minutes. By the time we left, wait time was already at least one hour. Make the reservations if you can! There’s some seating in the restaurant at the front door while you wait and there’s also a tent outside with seating and a covered patio as well. It was misting when we went so I was happy we could wait inside.
Now the food here is quite delicious. The helpings are large and the coffee is all you can drink. I liked seeing what other people ordered as well because everything coming out from the kitchen looked amazing! I’m not sure that I’d wait an hour or two though for this restaurant but I may not be as devoted of a Chip and Joanna fan as you! I don’t know- the plan for us was to make it there and wait and we did. I would just say Make A Reservation if you can- I can’t stress this enough!
Here’s what we tried:
Lemon Lavender Donut Holes- delicious!
French Toast Breakfast
Try the strawberry butter- Chip likes it with biscuits but it’s also on the French Toast! The people next to us got the Breakfast Sandwich and our waitress recommended that as well as the French Toast Crunch. Like I said, everything that I saw looked good and I think the prices were reasonable as well.
There’s lots of cute little areas to see in the restaurant and it’s a very nice remodeled restaurant. It definitely has the design of Jo with the triangles, tile and plants and open spaces. It used to be the Elite Cafe back in the day and was restored by Chip and Jo as one of Chip’s dreams was to open a breakfast diner. Oh yeah- it’s a breakfast and lunch only place so keep that in mind! It also isn’t anywhere near the Silos or the rest of Magnolia so you’ll want to plan accordingly. It’s off of I-35 and the rest of Magnolia is downtown.
Once we ate breakfast and took some pics, we headed to see the rest of Magnolia and everything it had to offer. Here’s where I will say that it was a holiday (Presidents Day) and there was misting in the air. Not sure if those two things had any part in why it wasn’t as busy yet, but we also got there when things were opening. Again, I’d time this the same if I ever did it again because downtown parking can be crazy too. We parked in the same lot that we did the day before when we visited the Dr. Pepper Museum and walked a few blocks to get to Magnolia. The lot is located at 4th and Mary and is a free lot. They’re also doing a lot of construction in that area so parking is limited. There’s a Baptist church next to Magnolia that charges a fee to park but I’d rather walk…
Once you get to Magnolia, you’ll see a big open area and the Silos. There’s a few different entrances and we came in near the bakery. Pro tip for the bakery: stand in line when no one is there cuz that line can get long! We only had to wait about twenty minutes to get in but once we came out, the wait was already about thirty minutes. They have some of the most amazing cupcakes and I loved trying them! We got an assorted pack of six and it was $18. Worth.Every.Penney. So so good!
Grab a Waco Passport booklet while you’re there and you can get it stamped if you want at all of the main stops. Or just keep it as a souvenir or a little tour guide of some things that the locals like to do. Or don’t get one at all- your choice!
The Silos were cool to see and there’s a love note on it currently from Chip to Joanna which is cute. I really do like them and their show! I think it’s cool that they’ve built this empire. Good for them! There’s tons of photo opps in Magnolia including the one by the truck like I got or by the silos or really anywhere. I saw lots of people taking pics and playing games in the fields and shopping.
If you get there as early as we did, the food trucks won’t be open. Just a heads up! We were full from breakfast and didn’t need anything but you get it! The Magnolia Press Market Co is open with coffee and i think some pastries (kind of like the one at Magnolia Table).
There’s an old church that they restored that’s on the property (it’s literally called The Old Church), a baseball diamond, a garden, Shops at the Silos (six small houses with specialty stores), Magnolia Market, Magnolia Seed and Supply and Magnolia Home. There’s really something for everyone!
We definitely liked walking around and stopping in the stores. I love being a tourist! Maybe this place was a little overrated but you gotta go once and check it out if you’re big fans of Chip and Jo. Keep in mind everything Magnolia is closed on Sundays.
Now on to see some of the other sights! You’ve got to check out Cameron Park if you’re at all a fan of nature. On the way to the Waco Mammoth National Monument, we saw these giant rocks by the Brazos River. I was like oh yes, we’ve gotta come back here! So do yourself a favor and check out the Brazos Park and look across the river and check out the beautiful limestone. We spoke to a couple of the locals who were telling us that this was all under water. The limestone is so high and the water used to be that high! One of the ladies was like, did you see the Waco Mammoth? And we said yes and then I was like omg they used to walk here! It’s really a cool thing to see and put it all together or maybe that’s just me?
Well after you see the limestone, then drive over to Cameron Park and drive up up and up through the trees and get to some of the beautiful lookout spots. The tallest part is called Lovers Leap but there are several stops that you can get out and look around.
When you come down from the top lookout spots, don’t hesitate to stop and see Jacob’s Ladder. It’s an incredible staircase that is built going up the hill. It’s rickety and nothing that I wanted to climb so I opted for an impromptu photo shoot instead. You’re welcome.
Don’t forget to see the Waco Suspension Bridge too. It’s a cool bridge with buildings on either side and guess what? Yep, currently under construction so we couldn’t walk it but I did get some pics of course. I bet it will be really cool when it’s all finished- I think it said 2022 was when it would be completed. You’ll also see the beautiful longhorn sculptures nearby!
I love old architecture and seeing buildings so I stopped at a couple that I liked. The first is the courthouse- don’t ask me why, but I just love old courthouse buildings! I’ve got a million pics of old courthouses that I’ve visited over the years. Next to courthouses is churches or missions so I had to check out the beautiful Saint Francis on the Brazos church next.
Didn’t get enough of Chip and Joanna? You can see their newest project that they’re working on which is the Cottonland Castle. You all know I love castles so I might be persuaded to try to stay in this one!
I also went by one of their other properties that they rent out called Hillcrest Estate cuz you you gotta look at these places while you’re there! Average price nightly to rent is $1020 but it does sleep 12 so maybe it’s worth it?
Anyhow, this was a great trip overall and I’m so glad we finally went! It’s perfect if you’re in DFW to go for a day or two and do some sightseeing. There really is something for everyone! I’m sure there’s plenty more to do there as well. Baylor University is there so college football games would be a perfect way to spend a day as well!
Let me know if you decide to take my trip advice and check out Waco! I’d love to hear what you think!
Thanks for reading and following along with me!