This trip to Waco was hosted by GMC. All opinions are 100% my own!
For as long as I can remember, Waco served as a great spot to stop and stretch your legs. Taking a walk around the Baylor campus with college friends or stopping for lunch with the family (typically the dine-in Pizza Hut) on our way to a weekend getaway in Austin or San Antonio. I’d be lying if I ever said I made it more than 5–10 minutes off of the I-35 access road.
With the help of a certain cable network family, Waco has undergone a huge transformation over the last 10 years. It’s no longer a city in which to stop and stretch your legs on your way out of town; it’s a destination!
A few members of our Dallas Moms team recently hopped into a 2021 GMC Yukon Denali and headed down to Waco to explore and share our favorite finds from the area for our Texas Travel Series. Of course, the Silo District is a huge tourist attraction for out-of-town guests, but even those who aren’t Magnolia fans can still fill a weekend exploring nature, shopping locally, and dining at new spots with friends.
How to Spend a Weekend in Waco
WHERE TO STAY
Hilton Waco | 113 South University Parks Drive, Waco 76701
Our team stayed at the Hilton Waco next to the Convention Center, and it was a great location for sightseeing and walking the town—about five minutes from Magnolia, the Dr Pepper Museum, and the Cameron Park Zoo—and very affordable for a girls’ weekend away.
La Quinta Inn & Suites Waco | 911 S 10th Street, Waco 76706
If you’re looking for a completely unique experience, this La Quinta location will have you thinking you’ve been transported to a European city, not a small Texas town. The modern, contemporary hotel is minutes from Baylor University and Waco Mammoth National Monument.
If you’re a fan of the show, Magnolia has three rental properties available (which you’ll need to book several months in advance). Each of the homes was featured on Fixer Upper and is managed by Magnolia through Airbnb. There is a 2-night minimum on all rentals and most will be a better value if you go with a group.
WHERE TO EAT
We only had a few short days in Waco, but we certainly did our best to eat our way through most of the Waco restaurants. Here are a few we can recommend from our trip together (and a few suggestions from other team members that we didn’t get to try!):
Milo All Day | 1020 Franklin Ave, Waco 76701
This was one of our favorite spots to go with friends! Their seasonal Southern menu was delicious, and the drinks were even better. You’ll want to be sure and make a reservation, and if you grab a spot on the patio around sunset, be warned: it can be a little warm.
Hecho En Waco Mexican Cuisine | 300 S 6th St B, Waco 76701
If you’re looking for traditional Tex-Mex and a few good margaritas, this is the spot. If you can’t arrive early, don’t worry, the wait will be worth it!
Common Grounds Waco | 1123 S 8th St, Waco 76706
While their new owners were made famous “nationally” on Fixer Upper, this coffee spot has been a hit with locals for decades. Coffee lovers will want to try their Cowboy Coffee menu with “secret sauce.” And for the non-coffee drinkers, order the James Callahan or Texas Bluebonnet.
Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits | 508 Austin Ave, Waco, TX, 76701
If you’re looking for a spot to wrap up a day of shopping, this is it! This coffee-bar-meets-actual-bar with a speakeasy vibe is the perfect location to unwind after a long day.
Ninfa’s Mexican Restaurant | 220 S 3rd St, Waco 76701
Another classic Tex-Mex restaurant, this is a must-visit spot if you want to support local establishments. Located next to Spice Village, it’s easy walking distance to most of the Silo District attractions.
Cafe Homestead | 608 Dry Creek Rd, Waco 76705
Located near a traditional farming community, Cafe Homestead is all about fresh, natural ingredients. Everything is produced fresh down to the homemade sauces and condiments. Reservations are a must and expect tables to go quickly.
Magnolia Table | 2132 S Valley Mills Dr, Waco 76706
If you’re lucky enough to get a table (or don’t mind a very long wait), Magnolia Table is the perfect spot to brunch. Located right off I-35, it’s easy to access and fun to experience. Magnolia fans, make sure you try the Avocado Toast!
Vitek’s Market | 1600 Speight Ave. Waco 76706
Of course, BBQ is a must in Texas, so if you’re traveling through Waco and want an authentic Texas BBQ experience, swing into Vitek’s. They are closed Sunday & Monday, so you’ll want to be strategic in your plans. And like all good BBQ restaurants, they’re only open until they run out of meat!
THINGS TO DO
Our writers have covered things to do in Waco before, but the city is changing so quickly! Whether you’re visiting Waco with family or friends, we wanted to highlight a few of the latest Waco attractions you won’t want to miss.
That’s right…Magnolia is no longer just Magnolia Market (the Silos), but an entire two-block district in Downtown Waco. Whether you’re a Fixer Upper fan or not, this is a must-do during your trip to Waco. There’s shopping, food trucks, gardens, concerts, and even impromptu baseball games.
In addition to the original Magnolia Market at the Silos, they’ve expanded into six new pop-up shops permanently situated around a reconstructed chapel. You’ll wait in line, but each store features a themed shopping experience, such as “pen and paper,” children’s accessories, clothing, home, and more.
Make sure to check the Magnolia Market calendar of events for special celebrations or race weekends. You’ll also want to make note that Magnolia is CLOSED on SUNDAYS. You’ll only make that mistake once!
Read More: Know Before You Go: Magnolia Market Tips
This was one of our favorite memories from a weekend in Waco. The Waco Farmers Market (500 Washington Ave.) takes place every Saturday from 9am–1pm and features a huge selection of local farmers and artisans from all over Central Texas. You could spend a few hours shopping everything from fresh floral arrangements and handmade tees to local meats and cheeses from the Brazos Valley. Come prepared to browse and sample and spend a little money—but leaving feeling great because you supported the ultimate local small businesses.
Home Decor & Shopping
When you first come to Waco, you might be shocked by the amount of shopping you’ll find yourself doing. Magnolia Market definitely gets the most tourist attention, but you won’t want to miss other local shops for some of the best finds.
Spice Village is a downtown favorite that’s become well known across the state. Featuring a collection of 60 independent shops, you’ll find everything you need when it comes to collegiate gear, kids, baby, home decor, men’s accessories, jewelry, souvenirs, bath & body, candles, clothing, and so much more!
The Findery Marketplace is located across from Magnolia Market (910 Webster Avenue) and we sure were glad to have that the GMC Yukon’s cargo space along for the ride. You’ll want to bring a list of all the decor you’ve been looking to add to your home because you’ll more than likely find it here, from antique lighting fixtures to beautifully refinished shutters. Head over to The Findery’s second location (501 S 8th St) to stock up on the smaller seasonal kitchen and home decor pieces that make great gifts for friends, family members, or yourself!
Cameron Park Zoo | 1701 N 4th St, Waco 76707
Waco’s only zoo is located on 52-acres of natural habitat adjacent to the Brazos River. There are over 1,700 animals to watch and learn from (many of which are native to Texas), and it makes for a peaceful afternoon with friends or family.
Waco Mammoth National Park | 6220 Steinbeck Bend Drive, Waco 76708
For those interested in history and/or science, this National Park is home to at least 19 mammoths discovered fossilized in the Bosque River. Most of the fossils are still in the original positions within the bone bed under a Dig Shelter. It’s fascinating to see and experience!
The GMC Yukon Denali features comfortable third-row seating for up to 8 grown-ups, but also made it easy for this mom of 4 to load and unload my kids all over town (including two car seats)! I was blown away by how safe I felt in a larger vehicle than I’m used to. The 9 camera views and rear camera mirror made pulling into any space a breeze! I never hesitated when parallel parking along a street in Waco or backing into a hotel parking garage.
Other safety features, such as the Diagonal Head-Up Display showing the speed limit, my speed, and lane departure warnings were improvements I never knew I needed, but now don’t want to live without.
To learn more about the 2021 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, visit GMC.com.