Waco City Guide

by Magnolia
Published on August 17, 2023

Waco City Guide

Full of heart, entrepreneurial spirit, and (in our humble opinion) some of the best people around, there’s a lot to love about our hometown of Waco, Texas. Situated along the Brazos River, it’s less than a two-hour drive from both Dallas and Austin along I-35. Although those glistening big cities have Texas-sized reputations, Waco has an understated flavor all its own—and we can’t wait to share it with you.

By no means comprehensive, we put together this guide as a starting point to plan your visit, but we hope you’ll explore and discover your own favorites around town too!

Best Time To Go

When is the best time to visit Waco?

The short answer: There’s something to love about every season here.

The long answer: Fall and spring are some of the liveliest seasons in Waco. Marked by the return of Baylor students (go Bears!), fall in Waco features the bustling enthusiasm of a college town, cooler temperatures, and plenty of visitors for Saturday football games—as well as Magnolia’s annual homecoming event, Silobration. Spring brings its own brand of glory with temperate days (think: a sunny 75) and an abundance of vibrant wildflowers lining the highways.

Summer and winter in Waco offer a slower pace of life, giving visitors the chance to experience the city like a local. With Baylor students out for the summer in early May, shops and restaurants often have less crowds and shorter wait times. Winter temperatures range from 37-60℉ with plenty of sunshine and a charming downtown decked for the holidays.

What is the best day to visit Magnolia?

Although every day is a wonderful time to stop by the Silos, the grounds tend to be quieter toward the middle of the week. We recommend visiting on a Tuesday or Wednesday if you're looking for a slower-paced trip.

How To Get Here (and Around)

Out-of-state visitors will find plenty of options for flying into Waco. Austin-Bergstrom International, Dallas Fort Worth International, and Dallas Love Field are all around an hour and a half’s drive from Waco. Waco also has a regional airport located just minutes away from downtown. Most flights to Waco will make a stop through Austin or Dallas first.

Regardless of which airport you fly into, it’s helpful to have a car while visiting. Downtown Waco is walking-friendly, but a car provides greater flexibility and convenience to explore all the city has to offer.

Where to Eat and Drink

Coffee

Waco Coffee Shops

Magnolia Press

Spacious yet cozy, Magnolia Press is located on the corner of the Silos property in the heart of downtown. Locals and visitors alike recommend the Texas Pecan coffee, a specialty drip roast infused with the warm, comforting taste of pecan nuts.

Pinewood

Part coffee roaster, coffee bar, and public house, this Austin Avenue gem sits at the edge of Waco’s historic Castle Heights neighborhood, ideal for grabbing a drink to-go then taking a stroll to admire the eclectic twentieth-century architecture. In the fall, there’s nothing like enjoying a warm drink on the Pinewood patio shaded by a giant sprawling oak.

For Keeps

Worth a stop for passionate coffee connoisseurs, this spacious shop features ethically-sourced, specialty coffee and freshly baked goods made from scratch daily. Don’t miss the housemade Everything Bagel with schmear.

Breakfast

Waco Breakfast Spots

Magnolia Table

Jo’s buttermilk biscuits (paired with a seasonal butter flight) are calling your name. A longtime dream of Chip’s, this breakfast and lunch spot serves up classic comforts like eggs benedict, pancakes, and the Gaines Brother Burger (served with housemade jalapeño drip jam).

Harvest on 25th

Sunlight streaming through floor-to-ceiling windows and macrame-hung plants adorning white walls make up this simple, cheery space. Stop in for local, organic fare including house favorite dishes, honest migas, and sourdough pancakes. Served until 3pm or sold out, so we recommend stopping in early.

Lunch

Waco Lunch Spots

Revival Eastside Eatery

Previously the home of a local church, this eastside favorite serves up aptly-named burgers, salads, and sandwiches made with locally-sourced ingredients. Try the Golden Calf burger, Old Pestoment sandwich, or the Eve salad with an order of sweet potato fries and any of their aiolis—you won’t be disappointed.

Cha Community

Authentic Chinese and Taiwanese fare, right in the heart of Texas. This charming cafe opened in 2020 with a mission to bridge cultures and create community through the delight of handcrafted dumplings and boba tea.

Yaki

After moving from Portland, Oregon—a city where teriyaki restaurants are as common as evergreens—the owner of Yaki sought to create a teriyaki spot fit for the south. Enter: Texas-style teriyaki. You’ll find all the makings of classic teriyaki here (rice, protein, veggies, and sauce) but with smoked meat.

Dinner

Waco Dinner Spots

Milo

From smoked gouda grits to Nashville-inspired hot chicken, Milo’s menu is full of scratch-made Southern comfort food. Locally-sourced seasonal ingredients mean ever-evolving main course options, but the brussels sprouts are a favorite appetizer year-round.

Helberg Barbeque

Voted one of Texas’ top new barbecue joints in 2019 by Texas Monthly magazine, Helberg BBQ has everything you could ask for in a barbecue spot. Stop in for beautiful brisket, classic mustard potato salad, and silky banana pudding. Local tip: Come early! The food truck and brick-and-mortar are only open until they sell out each day…and they almost always do.

Di Campli’s

You could hop on an overseas flight for an authentic Italian dining experience, or you could make a visit to Di Campli’s. Founded by Massimo Di Campli after attending culinary school in the Abruzzo region of Italy, this family-friendly spot offers a satisfying menu of Italian classics.

Dessert

Waco Dessert Spots

Silos Baking Co.

Located on the corner of the Silos property, this little bakery was featured on Fixer Upper as one of Chip and Jo’s many Waco renovations. On any given day, you’ll find it filled with visitors eager to try the renowned cupcakes. Also on the menu: our favorite savory treat, The Prize Pig: a scratch-made biscuit with bacon, Cheddar, and chives.

Milk Bottle Cookies

Fluffy, chewy, crunchy, and uniquely dome-shaped—Milk Bottle cookies are one-of-a-kind. There’s something for everyone here, from a classic chocolate chip to seasonal creations like the raspberry cinnamon roll cookie. The inside of the shop is just as fun as the menu, so we recommend enjoying your dessert right there.

Heritage Creamery

Scratch-made cones and small batch speciality ice cream—all made fresh from natural, locally-sourced ingredients. If you needed a reason to go for a second scoop, this is it. Founded by Waco natives and located across from Baylor’s campus, Heritage is known for its Duck Fat Caramel ice cream, a decadent flavor crafted with caramel made from duck fat instead of traditional butter.

Where to Stay

Where to stay in Waco, TX

Hotel 1928Opens in new tab

Coming soon: A historic hotel in the heart of downtown Waco where elegance and hospitality await. Located just blocks from the Silos, this historic property (featured on Magnolia Network’s Fixer Upper, streaming this fall) has been reimagined by Chip and Joanna Gaines, together with Adventurous Journeys (AJ) Capital, to serve as a home away from home for guests and locals alike. Book a stay in one of its 33 guest rooms, then enjoy a drink or a meal in one of its three dining options.

Magnolia Vacation Rentals

Fixer Upper fans, this one’s for you! Get the full Magnolia experience with a stay inside one of four vacation rentals renovated and designed by Chip and Jo. Accommodations can house up to twelve people, so there’s a Fixer Upper available for every kind of group, from solo fans to girls trips.

More Around Waco

You can also find more great hotels and vacation rentals throughout the city. The Waco Convention & Visitors BureauOpens in new tab offers extensive lists of places to stay while visiting—plus a helpful booking tool to find availability and rate information for when you'll be in town.

Where to Shop

Waco shopping

Magnolia Silos

Covering just over 5 acres of property in downtown Waco, the Silos property hosts a variety of retail shops. Find decor and souvenirs inside Magnolia Market, then head downstairs to browse the Sale Shop as well as Found and Collected—a curated collection of antiques and found items. Get inspired inside Magnolia Home, a rug and furniture shop with complimentary design consultation services. Then make your way into the Shops at the Silos, six retail cottages, each with their own theme and curated selection of products.

Washington Avenue

Located on the same block as Hotel 1928Opens in new tab, the shops on Washington Avenue are an eclectic mix of apparel and decor. Start with one-of-a-kind vintage pieces and antiques at Studio Grocery, then make your way over to Wildland, a women’s clothing and lifestyle shop. Stop by Gather for a unique collection of artful decor and finish at Tecovas—a boot shopping experience that’s a must while in Texas.

What to Do

Things to do in Waco, TX

Cameron Park Zoo

A 52-acre oasis in the middle of Waco’s sprawling Cameron Park, this zoo is home to over 300 species of animals, including Sumatran tigers, rare orangutans, and—as one would expect in Texas—plenty of snakes. When you finish snapping photos with the animals, go for a walk through one of Cameron Park’s many trails or take the kids to one of its three playgrounds (Pecan Bottom includes a scenic view of the Brazos River and features a splash pad, too).

Fabled Bookshop & Cafe

Cozy, whimsical, and nostalgic, Fabled is a local downtown favorite. This independent bookshop is easy to spot—just look for the giant book mural painted on the side of the building. Stop in to pick out a new read and sip on something from an evolving menu full of literary-inspired drinks. Don’t forget to find the secret wardrobe entrance in the kids section.

Farmers Market

A year-round Saturday treat, the Waco Downtown Farmers Market is brimming with goods from the best agricultural producers and artisan vendors within 150 miles of Waco. Stop by between 9am-1pm for fresh-made breakfast tacos, local pasture-raised eggs, and delicious homemade jams.

More to Explore

We couldn’t be more proud of this city we call home. Beyond what’s listed here is a town teeming with shops and restaurants operated by creative, thoughtful entrepreneurs.

Get out there and explore—Waco is waiting for you!