How To Plan the Perfect Trip to Waco, TX to Visit Magnolia Market

Nearly every trip I take to Waco, Texas I hear people tell me how lucky I am that I get to visit Magnolia Market. I agree. There is something special about that place that I'm not sure words can explain. Time and time again, little Waco gets knocked down with controversy but for the first time in years, Waco has something good happening there and it's all hovering around the rusty eye sore that we all have come to know and love as The Silos. Locals are excited that for once outsiders are seeing the town that they love get the good attention that it deserves. Waco, Texas is a sweet little college town steeped in history, tradition and because of the hit HGTV show Fixer Upper, the town is being seen in a whole new light. While I am still baffled that people want to make a special trip to go to a small town in Texas, after my last visit, Fixer Upper clients from season 3 opened my eyes to the draw that Fixer Upper has created and it seems as though this draw is something much bigger than the hit design show. While you may not find any material goods at Magnolia Market that you can't find from the comfort of your home on their store website, a trip to Waco will provide you with something more. Something you can't quite put your finger on. If you are being drawn to Waco, Texas I want to help you plan the perfect visit and am going to give you my best insider secrets so that you can do just that!

The Silos, Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna Gaines, Waco Tours

Chip and Joanna Gaines, Fixer Upper, Waco Tours, Silos

Coming from Seattle, I fly into Texas. The Austin or Dallas/Ft. Worth airport are equal distances away from Waco, so I check fares to both cities to find the best flight and the best deal. There is an airport in Waco, but it's a small municipal airport and it will add a few hundred dollars to your trip. Check on fares just in case, but don't count on getting a good deal. If you are close enough to drive, lucky you! Make sure you bring the big car so that you can load in all your treasures.

I always try to pick up an SUV for my trip to Waco. Drive Shop often outfits me with the latest and the greatest and on my last trip, I was lucky enough to drive a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4 GT. I loved the Outlander because it was big enough to seat large adults in the front and the back comfortably, but it was small enough to park in tight spaces around campus and with the current parking situation {or lack there of} at Magnolia Market, I was able to easily parallel park on the street with no issues. The Outlander had all my favorite new car features and provided the comfort that we needed for the hour and a half drive to and from the airport. It also had plenty of space for all of the treasures I was able to pick up at all of my favorite Waco shopping locations.

Once you have your flights and your car reserved, the next thing I look into when planning my trip to Waco is the hotel. The first time I came to Waco was earlier this year. The main goal of the trip was for a college tour. My son and I were looking at three different college universities and over our four day trip, stayed in 3 different cities and 3 different hotels. I booked the nicest hotel on points in Waco because, well, because I had ulterior motives. I may have wanted that stay to be the most comfortable in the hopes that Baylor University would stand out on that trip so that I would have a reason to continue visiting Waco in the future. I do remember waking up the morning of our campus tour, looking out over the Brazos river from our room at The Hilton and seeing Baylor campus radiating. The sun rays were shining just right on the campus basking it in light and with the craziness of narrowing down the college options, it felt like it was God's way of saying, this one is it. This is the place.

This photo of Hilton Waco is courtesy of TripAdvisor

There are quite a few hotel options in Waco, though they aren't all created equally.  If you want the ultimate Fixer Upper experience, you can book one of the homes that have been flipped on the show by booking them on HomeAway. I'd highly recommend The Morrow House. It was featured on season 5 of Fixer Upper and has the most beautiful space to spread out and enjoy a large group of girlfriends or a family.

shiplap historic home in texas

That being said, there are only two hotels that are worth considering if you plan on spending time at Magnolia Market. Hotel Indigo is the most expensive option and one we have considered but never stayed at. It is within walking distance of Magnolia so you don't have to worry about parking, but my favorite option is The Hilton. The Hilton in Waco, in my opinion, has the best location and the most to offer you during your stay. It's close to the Brazos River, has a great view of Baylor Campus, ample parking and a beautiful pool and outdoor seating areas.

In August, I made a less than stellar hotel choice. I let the almighty dollar make the selection and let's just say, I'm surprised I didn't bring home bed bugs. So while you have hotel options, the closer you are to downtown Waco and the Baylor campus, the better.

The Hilton offers plenty to do for your family or group when you aren't exploring the town. Not only do you have the spacious hotel lounge, but there also is a gorgeous outdoor seating area that is covered from the blazing Texas heat or the rain storms that come late summer and into the fall. The hotel pool has been recently remodeled and the lounge chairs poolside is one of the best places for an afternoon nap {just ask me how I know}. The Brazos River is literally just a walk across the street and gives you a chance to wander along the riverfront. I love that you can easily pick up the Waco trolley just outside {leave your car in the parking lot and let the trolley drop you off at Magnolia's front door} and one of my other favorite shopping spots, Spice Village is just a walk across the street.

I would also suggest that you pay a little extra for the executive floor. 24-hour snacks in the lounge, complimentary hot breakfast, and an evening buffet easily make up the difference in price that you will pay. Not to mention, you have to use your hotel key to give you special access to your floor so that makes you feel super swanky and the attention you receive from the staff in the lounge will make you feel like you paid for an all-inclusive resort experience.

Flights are reserved, the car is taken care of and you are checked into your hotel, let's get to the fun stuff!

Remember that Magnolia Market is closed on Sunday and while I have been to the market more than a handful of times, it wasn't until my last visit in October that I saw the crowds.

We were there on fall break weekend for Baylor. Most of the students had gone home. There was no football game or sports event the busy weekend in October that we visited {all things to consider before making your trip and planning your stay}. I think it's just busy. I did however, find out that Joanna's mom comes to the store on Friday and Saturday to help make your wait in line a little more enjoyable. The weekends will of course, be the busiest time to visit, but if you want to meet Joanna's parents, make the visit on those days.

Just in case you want to make sure you aren't coming to Waco when it may be even busier than normal here is a link to the Baylor University calendar, the Baylor athletics calendar, and the city of Waco events calendar. Or perhaps you may plan your visit around those events, just know that you may expect larger crowds than normal and plan accordingly for increased hotel rates {sometimes double or triple for game days}.

Even though The Silos aren't open on Sunday's, you may want to head down to the market and take some pictures out front. There is a gate that surrounds the open grass area but you can still get some good pictures outside of the Silos Baking Co.  I have read that the Gaines family love The Silos so much but because of the crowds, they aren't able to come as a family. Sometimes they pop in on a Sunday to enjoy the grounds. You may spot them enjoying family time. Just make sure you give them their space if you do.

Before your stay gets away from you, I would highly recommend the first thing that you do be to book a Waco Tour. Waco Tours are relatively new but after meeting up with Luke and Rachel Whyte and David Ridley, I can see why it's quickly becoming one of the best things to do in Waco. The three were good friends {and coincidentally all on season 3 of Fixer Upper} that noticed a need.  The increase in Waco tourism is great, but they all wondered who it was that was welcoming all these new tourists into the city.

I do have to confess, I had a different idea of what I thought Waco Tours was. I chatted with David a few times, but with limited time on my past visit, I didn't know if I could fit in a 2.5-hour tour that he had offered. I knew I couldn't convince my husband to do it with me and I knew my 18-year-old son wouldn't really be too keen on the idea either. I do a lot of reading about Fixer Upper and after some of the news came out this summer about past Fixer Upper clients listing their homes for rent on various vacation rental sites I was hesitant. Mostly because the reason these clients were listing their homes was because of the tourists that were driving slowly past their private residences. These families didn't sign up to be on some celebrity home tour, they simply worked with a design company that has a TV show. I didn't want to sign up to take a tour of Fixer Upper homes for a few hours. I simply wasn't interested. However, that's not what Waco Tours is. If I had to describe Waco Tours, I think I would say that it's more than a tour.

David {you may remember him as A Most Eligible Bachelor} personally leads the majority of the tours himself. Luke has a full-time job as a young adult pastor at a local church but joins in on the tours when he can. Rachel is busy being a mom to two young kids while running a photography business {yep, you've seen her photos all over HGTV}. She keeps up the technical end of the Waco Tours website. You may remember the Whyte's from their Fixer Upper.  They were kind enough to welcome me into their home and it is just as beautiful and comfortable {and a bit more lived in} as you saw on the reveal.

David told me that before they started Waco tours, he would find Fixer Upper fans driving by his home and he would run out to greet them, often inviting them in to see the place. Reading the Trip Advisor reviews I can echo how very hospitable he is. Not only does he have a passion for the town he now calls home, but he also has an overall passion for life. Ask him about his story. He loves to share it.

While I thought that I knew Waco, I found that I really didn't know the history of this town at all. While you will drive past some Fixer Upper homes on your Waco Tour {all homes that are listed publicly for rent on the vacation rental sites}, there is more to the tour than Fixer Upper. Much more.

I spent some time reading reviews before I met up with David, Luke, and Rachel and asked them what it is that was different about their tour company. More than once I read reviews that said that they came to the tour as strangers and they left as friends. The group laughed and David smiled when I mentioned that comment and asked him about what he thought about that. He started by telling me about two different groups of women from two different states that came onto the same tour not knowing each other. David told me that it's quite common to see the tour group get out of the van and exchange numbers and information with one another. Those women from one of their first tours planned another trip together months later to enjoy Waco again, this time no longer as strangers, but as friends.

Every single tour starts off with a prayer and their time begins by being given to the Lord. This is a non-negotiable for the tour group. It's authentic and real and while it may make some of the clients on the tour uneasy, most people completely understand where the guides are coming from after being able to connect the dots on their tour over the next few hours. Clients can see that there is something vastly different about these guides and this city that is constantly being blanketed in prayers. Which is why I think people are being drawn to this city and flocking to Waco like they never have before. People are thirsty for relationships.

David says that people may come to Waco and are drawn to it because they love Fixer Upper but they do the tour and it becomes the highlight of their trip and they don't talk about a home they saw, they talk about their experience.  Luke chimed in and says everyone has a story. "Places have stories and what I love about Waco is that its story is similar to my own. It started with potential, hit some hard times in between, chose to walk out of it and chose to live its true destiny and because of that, it's now on a different path. That's, in essence, my story. It's in essence David and Rachel's story." It's easy to hear the story of Waco and fall in love with the town because it's so much like the rest of us too.

To read more about Luke's story click here.

Waco Tours will take you to all the must stop spots in Waco and while the time may be brief at each stop, you will know what you want to add to your list during the rest of your visit to the area. I can see how Waco Tours could be the highlight of your Waco trip, so make sure you make plans to schedule one.

After your tour, you will, of course, want to make some time to spend a few hours at Magnolia Market. Stop in for a sweet treat at the Magnolia Bakery and feel free to enjoy it under the sun on the patio or on the lawn.

The lines for the bakery can be long. In line, you will be handed a golf pencil and a paper menu. Make your selection {plan to get extras, they keep!} on the card and give it to the cashier before you check out. The cupcakes are my favorite.

Fixer Upper, Magnolia Bakery, Silos, Chip and Joanna Gaines

Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna Gaines, Waco Tours

I think one of the best features of the market isn't the market itself. I love the outdoor space and how you get the feeling that you should linger for a bit.

Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna Gaines, Waco Tours

Spread a blanket out, pick up some toys, grab a swing, and enjoy the beautiful Texas weather. Don't forget to try some of the food trucks that line the lawn. Common Grounds no bull iced coffee is my absolute favorite and I have to drink my weight in them every time I visit. I think it's a rule.

Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna Gaines

If you want to set yourself out on a little treasure hunt of sorts, don't miss these 20 Instagram worthy walls of Waco. You won't regret it!

Don't miss these 5 things to know before you visit Magnolia Market.

Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna Gaines

I put together my list of 20 places you should visit in Waco, TX. I did this mostly for me because I found myself with a few hours and no idea where I should go. Waco Tours will help highlight a few of these but make sure you give yourself time to enjoy them all. You will find food stops and shops you are bound to love.

fixer upper, chip and Joanna Gaines

In case you missed it, here are 11 things you might not know about Waco and Fixer Upper. I promise, even if you are a die hard fan, there is probably something you did not know on this list.

fixer upper, chip and joanna gaines

I've also got never before seen before and after images of the flip that made Chip and Joanna famous! 

waco, tx planning a trip, chip and joanna gaines
From cars to hotels and stops in between, I think you have all the information at your fingertips to help you plan the perfect trip to Waco, Texas. If I left anything out and you have questions, don't hesitate to ask. Most of all, enjoy your trip. There is something special about that little Waco town.


JSo2011 said...

I daily daydream about visiting the Silos! I lived in Austin for years and visit often but always just quickly pass through Waco. I'm planning a spring trip to Magnolia so thank you for all of the info. Do you have any info on other shops to visit (antique, thrift, junk) while in the area?

rachelteodoro said...

You are so very welcome! It may have gotten lost up in that long post, but I do link to 20 things you should do in Waco and that includes some fun antique shops. Here is a link to that post:

Unknown said...

Rachel, Love your blogs, especialy about Waco. Born and raised here, myself and 3 other girls took the tour with David. We had a great time. my schoolmates wondered why I would take the tour since we all lived here. I assured them they will learn more about our city that they did not know. You are so right, there is a feeling about Waco, that God has his hand on it. Hard to express in mere words. So thanks for your tips and the other great things on your blog. Im a massage therapist so come see me next time you are here. Blessings, Dixie

rachelteodoro said...

Dixie, I am so happy you commented. The tour is great isn't it?! I know that David told me they get a little nervous when they have Waco residents on their tours but I'm not quite sure I could see him nervous at all! So much southern hospitality. I will totally come your direction next time I'm in Waco. I love a good massage! Blessings to you!

Emma Cortes said...

Ahh I had no idea the Silos had a bakery. I'm a huge fan of the show and also wondered what other sites to see in Waco so I really enjoyed this post!

xo, Emma


Looks like a fun place to visit..I love that bridge! I went to Dallas last Jan and loved it!

Fashion and travel

Kelsey said...

How fun! I hope to make it to the Silos one day!

Unknown said...

Having been born and raised in Waco, graduating from Baylor, and with family still there, I find it astonishing that Waco is now a tourist destination. I wouldn't call Waco a little town, however; it is a small city with a population of over 100K, and lots of potential.

Unknown said...

Just took a girls trip to Waco last weekend with my daughter and granddaughter-we arrived in Waco on Thursday and hit the silos first thing. We ended up paying for parking then but learned how to find the trolley, much better idea!. We hit on the 12 days of Christmas and took advantage of all the sales, also came to the Christmas concert on Friday night-excellent music but only 43 degrees-brrr!. The Gaines family was there on the outside staircase of the store. Jo's Mom was working Friday and was a joy-hugs and selfies for evrryone-she is beautiful too.
We hit Spice Village, Harp Design (they were filming a new show) and Common Grounds (parking was a nightmare!). We stayed st Hilton Homewood Suites, a little further from town, but loved the room, price and staff. Enjoyable for all of us and we would definitely go back-2 days were jam-packed but worth it!

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Deb said...

We lived in CA and watched Fixer Upper faithfully. The idea bloomed that we could live there too. The day after my husband was laid off (2015), we flew to Waco to check it out. The bed and breakfast was amazing (White Rock Creek), and the town appealed to us. The realtor we contacted showed us around, a fixer upper past home and even pointed us to where the Gaines live. One of the homes we looked at was featured later on Fixer Upper as a choice for a couple. Fast forward to 2018. My husband was offered a job towards the end of 2015 and off we went to Texas! We were never able to locate work in Waco, but are loving the Houston area. So blessed to be where we are...all because of Fixer Upper. We've been back to Waco several times, the latest with my grown daughter to take the Waco Tour. Loved that, and would recommend it to everyone. There's a little bit for everyone and it really made our day.

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