A Quick Guide to Experience Waco, TX
Waco, TX reminds me of a mixture of my hometowns – Fayetteville, AR, the hipster-ish college town where I was raised, and Texarkana, TX, the twin city where I was born. There is a mixture of old things and newness all around. You can see both scarcity and immense growth all on one street. Visiting this city really got me to thinking about the intersection of growth, gentrification, and revitalization. Waco is on the rise – it is known worldwide because of Joanna and Chip Gaines, their lovable personalities, and their amazing show, Fixer Upper. My husband and I can seriously sit and watch that show all day! And yet, Waco has “never left,” because it is home to Baylor University (175 years), Dr. Pepper, (133 year) and a lot of other a shining beacons for hundreds of years.
A relevant aside: My background
For those that don’t know this about me, from the age of 12, I wanted to be an architect. So, naturally, I went to school for architecture and interior design. While studying abroad, I fell in love with historic preservation because it brought together my love for old things and making them new. Get it? Old World New. All of that led to my love for and promotion of sustainable living. This blog started as a place to document my love for historic architecture, as seen by posts like “interior spaces designed by architects” and “unique inspiration” (my very first blog post).
Waco is full of architectural gems that I could have swooned over the entire time I was there. The house we stayed in (see below) was originally built in the 1880s, the shopping center we explored was in an old factory building, and we even experienced a true homestead which was a self-sufficient community on the outskirts of town.
You’ll love Waco, too
Aside from the serious thought stream that ensued and the architecture frenzy in my mind, I simply had darn good time exploring Waco. I went with my blogging buddies and friends Brittany of Sky, Miles, and Style, and Aleshea of Glitz n’ Grits – make sure you check out their blogs! It was my first vacation post baby. He’s almost 2, y’all. I needed this vacation so bad! LOL! If you want to visit a town in Texas, Waco should definitely be at the top of your list. Thank you to The Morrow House, Plumtique, and Cafe Homestead for the awesome giveaway that they hosted that finally got me to drive a 1.5 hours down the road and experience their amazing city.
Where to Stay
For a Bed & Breakfast feel, with the freedom of having the entire place to yourself, and the mood like you’re in an episode of Fixer Upper all at the same time, The Morrow House in Waco is the only way to go. This house was featured on HGTV’s Fixer Upper, but wasn’t chosen by those prospective homeowners. Instead, Amy Normand found it later and undertook the huge task of taking the beautiful bones, which were originally constructed in 1886, and making the entire home a mixed vintage and modern masterpiece. Read more about the house’s history on their website. I’m so glad I got the chance to stay there. See more photos on my post about The Morrow House.
Where to Eat
This wood-fired authentic pizza spot was easy to drive to, had cute decor, and was warm and inviting with the chef greeting everyone in his down time. I got the margherita pizza, a simple sauce and cheese only recipe. The pizza wasn’t my absolute favorite, but it wasn’t horrible either. The sauce was amazing, and that’s usually my first complaint about a pizza. The dough was chewy, but thankfully it wasn’t sweet (I hate sweet dough). I did not like the tomato vinaigrette that came with the side salad I ordered, but I don’t like tomatoes, so that makes sense. I recommend the lemon vinaigrette. It was an ok spot!
Talk about a whole new world! The Homestead (read more in the “Explore” section below) was located 20 minutes away from the main downtown area of Waco. It is a religious community that is almost completely self-sufficient. As soon as I stepped inside of the restaurant, I knew the food was going to be great because of the smell. Me and the girls ordered a LOT of food and got the “itis,” but it was well worth it.
The grits were unbelievable! My waffle was fluffy and buttery and delicious. The veggies on my Spinach & Mushroom Omelette were so fresh! I wish I could’ve taken a nap and woke up in time to have lunch, too, but we had more exploring to do. I definitely recommend exploring the entire homestead while working up an appetite for the Cafe while there. Get there early, though, because they close at 6 pm.
Chip & Joanna Gaine’s “Magnolia Table” had just opened a few days before we got to experience it, so the air of newness was still there. Everyone around me was excited because it was finally open! The restaurant is located in a historic restaurant that they restored and made their own. #HistoricPreservation & #Reuse! Magnolia Table was bustling with customers all over – from the dining area to the “Table Take Away” shop where you can purchase cookbooks, kitchen utensils, local honey, spices, Magnolia mugs, and more. In addition to these two spaces, there’s also an outdoor bar and patio that serves coffee, pastries, and juice. They really know their customers and that they will need several different ways to accommodate them while the lines move.
I ordered the “Kind Breakfast” which consisted of 2 scrambled eggs, wheat berry toast, sliced avocado, thick slices of heirloom tomatoes in red and green, and an amazingly fresh and lightly dressed mixed greens salad. The light dressing was actually one of my favorite parts, even though it wasn’t a main feature of the meal. I don’t even like tomatoes, but I ate them to have the full experience, and they definitely enhanced the meal. I also drank a “fresh face” juice that was a mixture of watermelon and other fruits. So yummy, y’all! They are another breakfast, brunch, and lunch only diner, so get there early because they close at 3 pm.
This BBQ spot was pretty awesome and laid back! The food was simple and delicious, and also innovative with their famous “Gut Pak” BBQ Frito Chilli Pie concoction. I had a classic sandwich plate with chopped brisket, and it was cooked RIGHT. Brisket is so tricky, and its easy to end up with a dry, flavorless piece of meat. Vitek’s brisket did not disappoint. It was fatty (you can choose whether you want fatty pieces or not), moist, and well-seasoned. I was even really impressed by their macaroni. I never have high expectations for macaroni that is made outside of my house or my family’s houses. This was a pleasant surprise!
Where to Explore
Lover’s Leap (Cameron Park)
Another great thing about Waco is that it isn’t a concrete city. There are beautiful old trees, lush grass, and rolling hills. Lover’s Leap is atop one of those hills and overlooks the Bosque River. It is a very serene setting that is worth the winding uphill drive that it takes to reach it.
Keywords: Joanna Gaines, Chip Gaines, Fixer Upper, Silos. That is all.
The downtown area has a lot of the city’s attractions, such as Spice Village, local restaurants, the Suspension Bridge, and more. A lot of the current buildings that are in use are historic buildings that have been restored and repurposed for reuse.
Located in a historic building (McLendon Hardware Co.) that has been reimagined. A handful of boutiques make their home on the upper floor and there are restaurants located below. Spice Village is also home to the lovely Plum Boutique.
Plum Boutique was one of he hosts of the Waco giveaway that I won. My friends and I had a fun time exploring their shop’s space in Spice Village as well as posing for photos with them at The Morrow House in some of their spring collection! Their shop is really the cutest with a lot of casual clothing options, gifts, and home decor. Check out our photoshoot with Plum Boutique at The Morrow House.
This pedestrian-only bridge has a rich history, and it once served as a main passage over the Brazos river. Now, it is a great place for a nice walk and cute pictures!
Franklin & Austin Streets have a lot of graffiti on them. We explored the Franklin Street area downtown near Spice Village and Magnolia Market.
The Cafe mentioned above is located on this homestead. This settlement is 20 minutes out of town and has enough to keep you busy for a full day. You can go horse riding, learn metal work, see grits being made, learn about sustainable farming, get demonstrations on how to make baskets and how to knit, and more! There is even a family on site that has built tiny homes that are for rent on airbnb, and they are super affordable and cute!
We didn’t get to explore here because we didn’t realize the hours closed so early, but this is on my list for the next time I visit Waco. I love museums and historic sites, so seeing mammoth fossils and bones that were found right in Waco will be exciting!
Have you spent time in Waco, TX before? What was your favorite part? Check out more Destination: posts by clicking the banner above!
xoxo dolls & dudes,