A little over a year ago, my family and I packed up and set off on a road trip to Texas. Yep, that’s right. An eighteen hour drive with a two and a four year old, AND I was pregnant. A road trip from Minnesota to Texas. A total of 1,056 miles. EACH WAY. But we were not just going to Texas – we were going to WACO, Texas and it was going to be worth it. (If you don’t know why we were going to Waco, I’m not sure we can be friends. 😉 Kidding. Waco is the hometown of Chip and Joanna Gaines of the HGTV hit show Fixer Upper. Now you know.)
So the day after Christmas, we got up way too early (3am to be exact) and hit the road in a snow storm. Fortunately, we drove out of the snow and the kids slept for several hours. We told ourselves we would take it slow, stopping as needed to give the kiddos a break from the road.
We invested in a couple of iPad minis for Christmas for this road trip specifically. HELLO, if we are going to drive across the country – I’m GOING to use any form of entertainment/distraction possible. Judge me if you want – but it was completely worth it. I loaded their favorite tv shows, movies, and games onto their iPads prior to Christmas so that when they opened them up on Christmas morning, they were all set to go for the next day. It worked like a charm for our four year old. He put on his little headphones and hardly made a peep. Our two year old did get a bit antsy and the iPad didn’t work as well with her, but we had some other toys and tricks up our sleeve to distract her.
The first day we made it about 12.5 hours to Tulsa, Oklahoma before we called it a night. It was good to get into a hotel room and let the kids play and run around. We ordered a pizza and enjoyed being out of the truck for awhile.
The next morning we headed out for our final stretch to Waco. Just five and a half hours to go. Except there was Dallas. Just a word of advice – try NOT to hit Dallas at rush hour. There’s nothing like six lanes of backed up traffic, all headed through the heart of Dallas. That was quite the experience, and let me just say – it made me extremely thankful for my one stoplight, rural hometown in northern MN. I really don’t think I could deal with that regularly! Once a small town girl, always a small town girl. 🙂
We arrived in Waco by the early afternoon and were all set to see everything there was to see. We checked into our hotel, Hotel Indigo, which is located just about three blocks from THEE Magnolia Market. Hotel Indigo is a wonderful place to stay and close to many attractions. The rooms are beautiful, modern, and clean, and I highly recommend staying here if you are planning a trip to Waco. It’s a five star hotel in my opinion and a reasonable price to stay. I would stay here again in a heartbeat.
The only slight downfall to the hotel was the outdoor pool. It would have been great, but it was unseasonably cold for a couple of the days we were there, making it tough to climb into a cold pool when it was only 60 degrees outside. We enjoyed the hot tub instead (or as our four year old would call it – the “hot pool”). The pool really wasn’t a make or break for our stay. We spent very little time at the hotel anyways. I’ve also heard that the Gaines family frequents the restaurant in Hotel Indigo, so you never know who you may get lucky to see during your stay.
After check in, of course we headed straight for Magnolia Market. We were there about an hour before closing time, and as we soon found out, it was the best time to visit the store. The crowds were quickly dying down, as opposed to the mile long lines earlier in the day. Magnolia Market is really a beautiful place to visit. You can tell they have put much thought and effort into making it a destination for travelers. I was in awe to see the Silos at Magnolia, which I had seen for so many years through my television screen. The Magnolia shop is absolutely perfect and gorgeous. The farmhouse style is what I’m all about, so I could basically just live there. If you need me, I’ll be on the lower floor napping in the twin size bed covered with the gorgeous “Matilda Jane by Joanna Gaines” bedding. Oh, and I’ll probably snacking on some freshly made kettle corn.
Behind Magnolia is a large, grassy, back yard area with giant swings, yard games, food vendors, a covered shelter with picnic tables, gardens, and Magnolia Seed + Supply. I could literally spend hours here just hanging out and taking it all in. It is such a fun and inviting environment.
The Silos Baking Co. next door is super adorable, but the lines are so LONG to even get in – unless you are there at 7am when they open! My husband went on an early morning run a couple of times during our stay and stopped in right when it opened, in hopes to find something for breakfast. There weren’t too many breakfast options, but he did bring a box of delicious cupcakes back to the hotel for us. Cupcakes for breakfast? YES, PLEASE. While on vacation…right?!
While in Waco, we took in as many sights and experiences as possible – many of them being “Fixer Upper” related. We drove by several of the homes that have been featured on Fixer Upper, including Chip & Joanna’s Bed & Breakfast, the Magnolia House, in the nearby small town of McGregor, Texas. It would be a dream to stay in the Magnolia House, but it books out months in advance so getting a reservation can be a little difficult.
A recent news article(at the time) shared that the Gaines had purchased a local restaurant that they would be transforming – so we stopped by that and took pictures outside (then: Elite Cafe, coming soon: Magnolia Table). The Elite Cafe was a historic diner in Waco that is said to have been frequented by Elvis Presley in the 1940’s. How cool is that?? I’m super excited to see the way Chip and Jo fix this one up.
We also stumbled upon a current Magnolia renovation(the Hillcrest Estate) that they were working on, however we were only able to see the Magnolia work trucks parked outside. The Hillcrest Estate is now another Bed & Breakfast owned by the Gaines family in Waco. This one is also generally booked solid.
We visited a few of the local antique shops that they often visit on the show, and we stopped by the location of the original Magnolia store on Bosque (“The Little Shop on Bosque”) – where it all began. This store is no longer open, but it was fun to see a piece of Magnolia history in person. Then we headed over to Harp Design Co. in hopes to run into Clint Harp – which we didn’t. We DID find some fun souvenirs in the shop there though.
In addition to the “Fixer Upper” attractions we were all about seeing, we also found some super fun and unique shopping and dining(including In-N-Out burger! Ha! We don’t have those in MN). One of my favorite shops, in addition to Magnolia, was Spice Village – a collaboration of vendors and booths full of clothing, decor, jewelry, and many other novelties and souvenirs. If you go to Waco, Spice Village is a MUST.
Hey Sugar was a hit with the kids (and let’s be honest – the adults too!) because who doesn’t love a candy store and ice cream shop?! We snapped a few photos and filled our treat bags with snacks to munch on while we continued our sight seeing.
We visited the Dr. Pepper Museum and learned that Dr. Pepper was created by a pharmacist in Waco! Who knew?! Dr. Pepper was originally called a “Waco.” This was a super cool and interesting experience but, like any museum, got a little long for the kiddos.
My husband was adamant about visiting the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, so we checked that out for a little while. While it was fascinating for us as adults, again, it got a little long for the kids – so we hurried through. After all, you can only give your child so many dum-dum suckers to keep them occupied and quiet before…well, you run out of suckers.
We spent a total of about three full days in Waco, and I could go on and on about how much fun we had on this trip. I know our daughter, who was two at the time, won’t remember much, but our son, who was four, remembers bits and pieces. It was exactly what we were looking for when we set out on our adventure, and it was a memorable trip that we will never forget. Our little Fixer Upper inspired road trip allowed us to spend much needed time together as a family and to see the landscape of our beautiful country along the way. Even though the kids were pretty little, I’m so thankful we got to experience it all together. They both have fun watching Fixer Upper now, and I love showing them the pictures that THEY have been there!
If this is a trip you are thinking about, I highly recommend it! There are lots of other things to see and do in Waco that I didn’t even touch on. I hope to take a trip back when the kiddos are a little older. If you are a Fixer Upper fanatic like myself, you need to take a trip at least once to experience everything that Magnolia and Waco have to offer! It was an unforgettable trip, even though we didn’t get to meet Chip and Joanna. Maybe next time. 🙂
My TOP 10 things to do in Waco:
10. Cross the Waco Suspension Bridge over the Brazos River – this bridge is seen in many shots on Fixer Upper
9. Eat at Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q – YUM!
8. Visit the Cameron Park Zoo – okay we didn’t actually go here, but it has great reviews and if we had more time, we definitely would have! Next time…
7. Visit the original Magnolia store on Bosque – it’s so cute and TINY!
6. Stop by Harp Design Co. – maybe YOU will run into Clint 😉
5. Take a drive by Chip & Jo’s Bed & Breakfast – The Magnolia House
4. Visit the Dr. Pepper Museum
3. Shop at Spice Village
2. Take a walk downtown – it really is beautiful and has the old town charm
1. Visit Magnolia Market at the Silos – duh!! 😉