The best ideas for what to see in Waco Texas including a deep dive into Magnolia Silos.
You’ll love these insights and tips!
I recently traveled to Waco, Texas for a work conference. However, I was by myself and didn’t know a ton of people at the conference, save for a core group of about 15 people. And the conference schedule was jammed packed, so I didn’t have huge amount of time for site seeing. But I was flying into Dallas and driving to Waco, so I had a rental car at my disposal and an evening to explore. It was time to take my own advice and “Make Every Day Bold.” Even without Matt.
I mustered my courage and explored Waco Texas. Solo. What was my verdict? I found a lot of charm in this Texas community which is a bit of a hidden gem between Dallas and Austin. So I am sharing my insights on what to do in Waco Texas with “y’all” (see what this midwestern gal did there?). But first, let me answer a few basic questions about Waco Texas:
IS WACO TEXAS WORTH VISITING?
Absolutely! The route from Dallas to Waco is an easy drive south on Highway 35 East through central Texas. Another option is to fly to Austin and road trip from there. You can also fly directly into the Waco airport on certain airlines (I was somewhat surprised that Southwest does not provide service to Waco). Despite my relatively limited time in the city, I found Waco to have a lot of Texas charm. The people were extremely friendly and nice, it was easy to navigate, and the city has undergone a tremendous amount of revitalization in the past few years. It is definitely deep in the heart of Texas and wasn’t the small town I thought it might be. In a nutshell, Waco Texas is a great place visit.
WHAT IS WACO TEXAS BEST KNOWN FOR?
Prior to 2000, the city of Waco, Texas was probably best known for being the home of Baylor University Campus and the birthplace of Dr Pepper. Yup. One of the best-selling soft drinks in the United States was first sold in 1885 at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas. (Side note: there was also that whole Branch Davidian and David Koresh compound incident that we all sat glued to on our tube TVs and watched in April 1993. But let’s not focus our energy on that unfortunate occurrence. I actually had the chickenpox during that same timeframe.)
These days, Waco, Texas is best known as the home of Magnolia Silos, which was developed by Joanna Gaines and Chip Gaines, who rose to famed on HGTV’s popular show, Fixer Upper. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a little Chip and Jojo?
HOW LONG DO YOU NEED IN WACO?
Honestly, it’s not somewhere I’d spend an entire week unless I was visiting family or friends in the area. I was in Waco, Texas for three nights because of a work conference. Truth be told, I’d say a day trip to Waco is probably ideal, especially if you are just going there to see the sights. It’s the perfect place to stopover between Dallas and Austin.
WHERE SHOULD I STAY IN WACO TEXAS?
These days if you are traveling to Waco Texas, you are almost certainly going to want to visit Magnolia Silos. There is also a development called Spice Village, which features more than 60 unique clothing and home boutiques under one roof. It also has some great restaurants. Both spots are within walking distance of each other. And, fortunately, they were also withing walking distance of my conference’s hotel, the Waco Hilton. The property is also very close to the campus of Baylor University, Waco Riverwalk on the banks of the Brazos River, and the Cameron Park Zoo, a 52-acre zoo. All of these sites are in downtown Waco and a short walk from the Waco Suspension bridge. You can also likely see the Baylor football stadium, which was a lot bigger than I expected, from your room at the Hilton which is kinda neat.
For these reasons alone, I would highly suggest staying at the Waco Hilton. To be honest, it is not the fanciest hotel in which I’ve ever stayed. But it is highly convenient, the room rates are fair and it has enough amenities (including room service for breakfast) for almost any traveler. And did I mention, you can also book a room that includes a Peleton bike? So this workout girl was happy! Although, I kept true to my first love and attended classes at Orangetheory Waco while I was in town. Old habits die hard.
IS IT WORTH GOING TO MAGNOLIA IN WACO?
Every time I mention I recently went to Waco, everyone (and I mean everyone, without exception) asks me if I went to Magnolia. So I’d say not only is it worth it to go to Magnolia Silos in Waco, it’s actually expected. It’s kind of like going to my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri and not seeing the Arch. And, to answer the initial question, yes … it is well worth going to see Magnolia Silos in Waco. Again, I am pretty certain it is the most popular attraction in Waco. No offense to the Dr Pepper Museum, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame or the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame but Magnolia Silos is the spot! If you are even the slightest fan of Chip and Joanna Gaines, you will enjoy it immensely. There is no admission fee. Plus, their baked goods rock!
WHAT IS THE BEST DAY TO VISIT THE SILOS IN WACO?
I visited Waco bright and early on a Tuesday morning and I can’t lie, I think that was a pretty smart choice. I arrived at Magnolia Silos at 9 a.m., right when the doors opened (and no, they weren’t sliding barn doors. LOL.). In all honesty, I went back to Magnolia that same afternoon, after my conference concluded, for a whole mess of reasons. First, I really needed to thaw out. Our conference space at the Waco Convention Center was freezing! So the temperatures in the high 80s were a welcome change. Second, I hadn’t really explored everything I wanted to discover within the property that morning.
I was shocked at how many cars were there and how few parking spots were available when I returned around 5 p.m. For the record, Magnolia Silos closes promptly at 6 p.m. I can’t even imagine how crowded Magnolia Silos must be on a Baylor University home football weekend (save for during the football game when the team is playing at McLane Stadium). So, if possible, I’d avoid the weekend and try to visit the Silos in Waco during a weekday, preferably earlier in the week. One note, all of the Magnolia properties are closed on Sunday.
IS THE MAGNOLIA SILO TOUR WORTH IT?
While I didn’t actually take the Magnolia Silo tour, I did gather enough information about it to be able to offer some sound advice. At $25 per person, I would say the Magnolia Silo tour is well worth the price. If for no other reason than it allows you to go up to the roof of Magnolia Market, which they bill as “the best photo op on the grounds!” And I wouldn’t doubt it. There is no denying the Central Texas sky can be absolutely breathtaking. It is just vast and the cloud formations are spectacular. The roof of Magnolia Market truly would be one of the best places to take photos. And let’s be honest, Magnolia was built for those Instagram moments.
One of the best things about the guided tour would also be the ability to hear from an insider. Topics like the story of how Magnolia came to be, the history behind the Silos property, and seeing behind-the-scenes notes from Fixer Upper, are all promised to be covered on the tour. A question I did ask in the gift shop was in respect to the silos … In case you were wondering, there is nothing inside the silos currently. One piece of advice: book your tour early! Magnolia is one of the few Waco tours that do sell out. There is also a bus tour you can book that will take you past some of the properties featured on Fixer Upper. This tour is not affiliated with Magnolia Silos.
DO YOU EVER SEE CHIP AND JOANNA AT THE SILOS?
Aside from “did you visit Magnolia?” the second question everyone asked me when I said I was in Waco Texas was “did you see Chip or Joanna?” Sadly, I didn’t see Chip or Joanna at the Silos. But I did see a lot of signs for their upcoming Silobration, which a) is a fantastic name and totally something I’d come up with and b) apparently is going to feature events you can attend with Chip and Jo. The Silobration event celebrates 20 years of Magnolia. I’m sure it will be a great time featuring live performances, live music and special weekend pop-ups. There is a whole calendar of upcoming events on the website. It is worth checking out as you are planning your trip. Because, who knows … maybe you will get be lucky enough to see Chip and Joanna!
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE AND DO AT MAGNOLIA SILOS IN WACO TEXAS?
Situated on five acres in downtown Waco, Texas, Magnolia Silos is home to restaurants, shops, a baseball diamond, a food truck park, and lots of swoon worthy photo opps. Here is a rundown of everything I was able to squeeze in during my visit:
Silos Baking Company
There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of people who calls this Magnolia Market Bakery or Magnolia Bakery. The latter, my friends is the world-famous cupcakery in NYC that was often referred to in Sex and the City. Joanna Gaines’ bakery in Waco is properly called Silos Baking Company. And it is ridiculously delicious … except for the lines, which can be equally ridiculous. Fortunately when I was there (first thing in the morning at 9 a.m.), the line was completely manageable. This place is designed to perfection. But would you expect anything less? It reminds me of Thomas Keller’s world famous bakery, Bouchon, with a Texas spin and that special Joanna Gaines’ touch.
Everything looked fantastic. There are cupcakes, baked goods, cookies and seasonal items on the menu. The beverage selection is odd to me since it consists of bottled water, two types of lemonade and … Dr. Pepper? With sweets? Ick. But this is Waco, the birthplace of the soft drink. So I can look past that misgiving. I opted for a signature item, the Silo Cookie. It is a combination of oatmeal, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and walnuts. And it was truly amazing. It’s far too large and rich to eat at one sitting. I noshed on it during conference breaks for the next two days. A great cup of coffee would have been ideal to pair it with!
This is where I should have headed with my Silo cookie. But I do have one thing to admit … When I initially saw the sign for Magnolia press (especially in that printer’s letter font they often use), I thought it was an actually press. Oh no. I was wrong. The name is just Chip and Jojo being clever. Press is a play on words between a printing press and a coffee press. Those two are just too much! Magnolia Press is a simply fantastic coffee shop within Magnolia Silos. I would have loved to have spent an entire afternoon there sipping, nibbling and working. But unfortunately I didn’t have the time.
Magnolia Press opens earlier than other sites on the property. Its hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. In addition to a fantastic latte, I got a bottle of marshmallow vanilla caramel syrup to take home (it is not available online). I’m thinking it will be great not only for coffee during the holiday season, but a Christmas cocktail as well. Stay tuned! And one other (might I say absolutely adorable) touch I noticed? The water bottles at Press are in the shape of silos! Okay, that is really clever. You all know I love attention to detail at that level.
If you’re still hungry, about a half dozen food trucks line the perimeter of the courtyard areas. There are picnic tables scattered throughout on which you can eat your food. You can also dine at Magnolia Table which is an eight-minute drive from the Silos Property. Fortunately the cookie had me full! But I had room for some shopping! I always have room for great home decor and there was a lot on that menu. In particular I shopped at:
Wow. Just wow. Everything in this shop is so well curated and so on brand, it’s actually hard to wrap your head around it. If you are a fan of Joanna Gaines’ urban farmhouse style, your wallet is going to get a huge workout when you visit this store. From candles to vases, serving pieces to utensils to linens, and a whole lot of everything in between, this store is nirvana from start to finish.
If you are planning to redecorate any room in your house in the near future, you need to carve out an hour (or two) to do a deep dive into Magnolia Home. Obviously, it’s a furniture store, so you’re not going to find items you can bring back in your suitcase. But the collection of furniture, accents and accessories here is top notch. There are so many great pieces and furnishings to discover within these four walls. And there is so inspiration and so many ideas to be gleaned. Magnolia Home alone is worth a trip to the Silos. The Silo cookie is a close second, however.
THERE ARE ALSO SIX SPECIALTY SHOP AT MAGNOLIA SILOS, WHICH YOU’LL WANT TO SEE IN WACO TEXAS:
FERNY’S RETRO PLANT SHOP
This cute shop features “small batch” plants in vintage pots and the store’s inventory is curated by Jo’s younger sister, Mikey. I didn’t spend a huge amount of time here, primarily because I had no clue how I’d bring a plant back on the plane. But they have a robust website that you use to get all the cute things at home!
An elegantly displayed shop featuring a fantastic books and an impressive paper collection. It reminded me of the old Crane Paper stores, which were simply beautiful. Sigh. I miss fine stationary and handwritten notes. Truly a lost art.
Sixteen was the number on Chip’s baseball jersey and this shop is full of great accessories, a small selection of clothing and unique gift items for the men in your life. I love the mugs pictured above and got one for Matt. The handle is a carabiner!
TRIED AND TRUE
Curated by Joanna herself, this shop is full of classic accessories including bags and jewelry. It is definitely worth strolling through it.
VIE BIEN AIMEE
The shop’s name, which is French, means “a life well loved.” And a gift from this adorable store would signal love to any recipient. From skin care to bath accessories, to hair care and makeup items, Vie Bien Aimee is a treasure trove to explore.
This store is focused on women’s apparel. The clothes really reminded me of pieces that you would find at either Eileen Fisher or J. Jill. The clothes are not necessarily my style but they seemed to be of high quality, yet priced appropriately. On the website, they call them “evergreen pieces.” I would probably refer to them as wardrobe staples. They do not have a website to buy items online, so if you see something you like, grab it and find room in your suitcase.
CLOSING THOUGHTS ON WHAT TO SEE IN WACO TEXAS …
There were a few empty storefronts on the Magnolia Silos property. I am wondering if some of these will be filled with holiday pop-up stores. I have to admit, it would be amazing to visit the Silos during the holidays. I can’t even imagine how inspiring and likely, overwhelming, that would be! There are some other great sights to see in Waco, in addition to Magnolia Silos. These include:
The Dr. Pepper Museum, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Waco Mammoth National Monument, should also be put on your list. Located near the Bosque River, it’s a dig site that has been part of the National Park Service since 2010 and is home to the remains of 24 Columbian mammoths. I did not have a chance to visit this monument on my recent visit, but this site is definitely on my future to-do list. One final destination to consider is the Cameron Park Zoo, which is a 52 acre natural habitat zoo. It’s located next to the Brazos River. How cool!
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