The Ultimate Travel Guide for Waco, Texas

May 15, 2017

If you’ve been a longtime follower of the blog, you know that I graduated from Baylor University, as well as met and fell in love with my husband there, so it should come as no surprise that Waco has a special place in my heart. Back in 2008 when A and I were college freshman, Fixer Upper was still a long ways away from landing a spot on HGTV’s lineup and Waco didn’t have quite the pizzaz and positive name recognition that it has today. But we loved it just the same! From the warm sense of community to the beautiful park to the cozy college dives, we saw so much potential in this city. And we couldn’t be more thrilled that today so many visitors, investors, and business owners alike now see that same potential!

the ultimate travel guide to experience Waco, Texas like a local | b is for bonnie design

As a Wacoan, I get my fair share of emails and DMs on Instagram from Fixer Upper fans who are making the trek to Magnolia and are looking for recommendations on places to eat, other shops to visit, or where to stay. Although things may look a little different on TV, Waco is actually a bustling city with plenty of amenities, a thriving creative community, and more to offer than just the Silos. From limestone cliffs and a lazy river, to farm-to-table meals and fine wines, there’s something for every kind of adventure!

With over six years of experience calling Waco home, I wanted to create a guide to all my favorite shops, restaurants, and places to grab a drink with friends after work. So whether you’re coming to visit Magnolia or you’re touring Baylor’s campus, I hope the ideas below will help you create a fun-filled itinerary that will show you just how vibrant this city truly is!

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  • Cameron Park – With over 400 acres of diverse landscape, this park has been one of our favorite hangouts since our college days! Nestled right next to downtown, it’s easy to locate and all trail maps are actually loaded into Google Maps, which makes navigating a breeze. A and I love bringing a picnic and laying out by the Brazos River, or hiking the Mouth of the Bosque trail for a view of stunning and dramatic limestone cliffs that back up to the river itself.
  • Cameron Park Zoo
  • Waco Downtown Farmers Market – Open from 9 am – 1 pm on Saturday year-round, this is a great market to visit for organic produce, sustainably raised proteins, as well as a medley of prepared foods, home goods, and more!
  • Waco Mammoth National Monument
  • Baylor University – I may be a little biased, but Baylor’s campus is beautiful! With plenty of greenspaces and well-kept grounds, it makes for a nice stroll on a pleasant day. Don’t forget to drop by the bear habitat to meet our mascots, Joy and Lady, who are the cutest black bear sisters you’ll ever meet.  
  • Suspension Bridge
  • Hippodrome – Catch a movie or grab a bite to eat at this historic theater that’s been renovated into a dine-in movie theater. We love the original facade and its prime downtown location.
  • Lake Waco
  • Dr Pepper Museum
  • Mayborn Museum
  • Homestead Heritage – I’ve been visiting this agrarian-based community since I was in elementary school with my parents! Although this is a little outside of town, it’s a welcoming community and craft village that offers everything from pottery, blacksmithery and fiber arts to a farm-to-table on-site restaurant. The artisans and makers are on the premises, which gives you a unique opportunity to chat with them about how their pieces are made. They also host an annual Homestead Festival each November which brings in visitors from all over the state!
  • Waco Escape Room – If you’re visiting on a rainy day or if it’s simply too hot to be outside (thanks, Texas summers!), try your luck at finding your way out of one of the escape rooms here. With a new location downtown, they have rooms for groups of all sizes.
  • Waco Tours

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  • Magnolia Market – Be sure to visit the food trucks and their lawn, especially on a sunny spring day!
  • Roots
  • Spice Village – You can’t beat Spice for a selection of shops under one roof! With dozens of vendors represented at Spice, you can browse everything from clothing and accessories to home decor and furniture in one place. I personally love visiting Congress Clothing and Plum.
  • Anthem Market – Nestled in the historic Praetorian building downtown, this is a collective of shops that spans several floors of the building. It’s also home to my favorite coffee shop in town, BRU.
  • The Findery – More home goods and furniture right across the corner from Magnolia which makes for an easily walkable visit if you’re in the neighborhood.
  • Wildland Supply Co – If you’re tired of browsing antiques downtown, head over to Washington Ave for a visual breath of fresh air inside Wildland. With a carefully curated selection of women’s clothing, accessories, and a select few furniture pieces, the team at Wildland knocks it out of the park every time.
  • Hey Sugar – The cutest vintage-themed candy shop with more sweets than you could ever need!
  • Harp Design Co.
  • Black Oak Art
  • Gather – I believe their storefront is still under construction, but their online site is well worth a visit and features incredible home goods for intimate gatherings and soirees, many which are made right here in Waco.

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Drink

  • Common Grounds – This was my coffee shop of choice in college, and it will always hold a special place in my heart! They also have a remote location at the Silos if you aren’t interested in standing in line with a bunch of college kids for one of their legendary Cowboy Coffees. Don’t worry, I won’t judge.
  • Dichotomy – If you’re torn between craft cocktails or a cold brew, you don’t have to choose here! One part coffee shop and one part bar, you can find a beverage for just about any mood or time of day. Plus, they have a great rooftop patio with ample seating.
  • BRU – This is my go-to spot for meetings or a quiet work date alone. It’s flooded in natural light, the staff is always so helpful, and it’s never too crowded or loud.
  • Waco Wine Shoppe – This place is perhaps the most Instagram-worthy wine shop you could ever ask for. From a lush courtyard that’s perfect for sipping white wine on a summer evening to a beautiful marble counter inside, this shop specializes in vintages from small, family-run vineyards. Check their Instagram for most recent updates or events. 
  • Balcones Distillery – I bet y’all didn’t think that Waco had an award-winning whiskey distillery, did you? Boasting tastings, tours, and a gift shop, you can experience the Texas single malt whiskey that my husband treasures right alongside his single malt scotches!

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As Waco continues to grow and new business ventures take root in our sweet city, I’ll be updating this guide with tried-and-true recommendations. I hope these ideas will help you craft a visit to remember, friend!

Planning a trip to Waco in the future? Sound off in the comments below and let me know what you’re most excited to see, eat, or do!

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I'm Bonnie -- a designer, brand designer + strategist, writer, wife, and pet parent to the most rambunctious golden retriever this side of the Mason-Dixon! I'm passionate about building authentic brands, encouraging small business owners to chase their dreams, and spreading joy through design. It's a delight to have you here, lovely! Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a comfy chair and stay a while, won't you?

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