The City of Waco is an easy 2-hour (or more depending on traffic) drive from the DFW metroplex, heading South towards Austin and San Antonio.
Take a Day Trip & Fun Travel Ideas around Waco, Texas
Deep in the heart of Central Texas, this city has become a very popular destination, thanks in part to Joanna and Chip Gaines’s hit HGTV show, Fixer Upper.
Fans from all over the country make their pilgrimage to Magnolia, which made the city ranked No. 2 on Tripadvisor’s list of top destinations on the rise for 2018.
So, have you been? If not, no worries, we compiled the things to do and see, restaurants to try, and shops to check out around Waco.
We’ve listed them below, and you pick which interests you so you get the most out of your day trip there.
Our favorite things to do in Waco
Magnolia Market at the Silos
A fan or not of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper,” you’ve got to check this place out. Two huge silos and a 20,000 sq ft barn are both filled with Joanna Gaines’ home good items.
From rugs, vases, frames, metal signs, candles, pots, and mugs to blankets and a lot more, you may bring some home.
The complex also includes a garden and garden store, a lawn for lounging and playing, food trucks, and a bakery. Check the website for tips on visiting since they have implemented new guidelines to keep everyone safe.
This company will show you around Waco and all the things the city has to offer. You choose your tour: Classic Tour, River Cruise or a Private tour for your family or group. You get to see many Fixer Upper homes and visit the sites from the TV show that put Waco on the map. Most importantly, they have local crew who knows the city so well and loves what they are doing!
Check out Waco Tours! Did the van tour and loved the stops. Wanting to do the boat one next. Starts around Feb 12th.
– Holly, Plano TX
Dr. Pepper Museum
Dr. Pepper Museum, located within a historic 1906 bottling building just a few blocks from Magnolia Market.
A visit shows you the complete story behind America’s oldest soft drink brand and teaches some useful lessons on the amount of sugar content they have, and the way that they advertised the Soda to the masses over the last few decades!
There are a number of cool exhibits, some of them interactive which is great for the Kids. Over 3 levels, it also includes some flashbacks of advertising reels, and packaging examples which shows how the brand evolved over time.
Their Gift Shop also has some fun Dr.Pepper items, including fun shirts and memorabilia for the hard-core fans out there!
While you are there enjoy an Ice Cream float in their 1950’s themed Cafe, which leads to a classroom where you can book a “DIY – make your own soda” experience, which our 11 and 14 year old loved doing with us.
Be sure to book this experience ahead of time, as numbers are limited.
Cameron Park is a 416-acre municipal park near downtown, and Brazos River is where Waco celebrates life!
It offers many activities for the whole family, from hiking, biking, picnicking to fishing, golfing, or just relaxing. The park also contains Waco’s 52-acre lush landscaping zoo, the Cameron Park Zoo.
The Zoo is smaller than the Dallas Zoo and Fort Worth Zoo and much less crowded, which will appeal if you have smaller kids.
The trails at Cameron Park are very good.
There are some playgrounds and there’s Jacobs ladder, lovers leap….They also have new animal statue installations which are very cool. There is also some horseback riding but I don’t know the exact name of the place. I grew up in Waco!
– Naseem, Plano
Cameron Park has great hiking. Very wilderness feel in the middle of Waco and you can hike to the confluence of the two rivers in Waco.
– Leigh, Plano
Waco Mammoth National Monument
Address: 6220 Steinbeck Bend Dr, Waco, TX 76708
The Waco Mammoth National Monument is a paleontological site and museum where you can see 24 Columbian mammoths and other mammals from the Pleistocene Epoch.
How cool is that!
Waco Suspension Bridge and Riverwalk Area
This is a historic Suspension Bridge completed in 1870 and remains a legendary icon of downtown Waco. The bridge was built with a cable supplied by the John Roebling Co., who built the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. It is worth checking!
The Riverwalk includes approximately seven miles of multi-use, lighted trail that loops along both banks of the Brazos River. It stretches from Baylor University to Cameron Park and passes underneath the Suspension Bridge.
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum
The official historical center of the Texas Ranger with a mission” To disseminate knowledge and inspire appreciation of the Texas Rangers, a legendary symbol of Texas and the American West; To collect, preserve, study and exhibit artifacts, artwork, and archives relating to the Texas Ranger service; To permanently document the service of Texas Rangers past and present.”
This Museum focussed on the actual Texas Rangers, not the baseball team!
If you love learning about Cowboys and the American West, you’ll enjoy a visit to the National Cowboys and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
Texas Sports Hall of Fame
Home for more than 300 Texan inductees includes displays of famous sports souvenirs such as Mildred (Babe) Didrikson Zaharias’s golf clubs, Willie Shoemaker’s riding boots, and Bobby Morrow’s Olympic gold medal for track and field from the 1956 Melbourne Games.
The facility also has theaters that show films and rare sports footage, and programs on coaching sports management or research.
It is also home to the Texas Tennis Museum and Hall of Fame and the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame.
Homestead Craft Village
Address: 608 Dry Creek Rd, Waco, TX 76705
Phone: (254) 754-9600
There are many activities to enjoy at the Homestead craft village, including hayrides and a visit to the livestock and the garden. The make-your-own activities are temporarily suspended to remain in compliance with current social distancing requirements.
We love the Homestead Craft Village. And their restaurant is yummy! Our kids love to go and make pottery and all the other fun stuff they offer. I’m not sure due to Covid what is open. But worth looking up!
Homestead Heritage is a wonderful place to go. You do go from building to building so some part of it is inside.
– Lynn and Ivana, Plano TX
Mayborn Museum at Baylor University
Address: 1300 S University Parks Drive, Waco 76706
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sunday 1pm -5pm
If you’re a lover of Museums, this natural science and cultural history museum is focussed on the Central Texas area. For dinosaur and archeology-interested kids, they have exploration stations for geology and natural history and the Waco Mammoth National Monument Exhibit!
We highly recommend you purchase a Pogo Pass for every family member (over the age of 2), to get free access to all 5 of these attractions in Waco!
You can redeem your pass anytime over the course of a year.
We have an affiliate (exclusive) link to get you 50% off your Annual Pass.
Places to Stay in Waco, TX
Search the best possible rates for accommodation in Waco below
Our favorite Restaurants to try in Waco, Texas
Address: 2132 S Valley Mills Dr, Waco, TX 76706
Phone: (254) 265-6859
A beautiful breakfast & lunch specializes in fresh ingredients and features both new recipes and Gaines’ family favorites.
We just got back from Waco. Magnolia Table was delicious! And the cupcakes at Silos baking Co were aaammmmazzzziinnng. And if there’s a line, an airstream sells their cupcakes in the Silos area.
We tried to go see the bears but they were inside at the Baylor Bear Habitat and we’d planned on going to the Mayborn but didn’t go.
– Laura, Plano TX
Silos Baking Co.
Address: 601 Webster Ave, Waco, TX 76701
Phone: (254) 235-0603
Silos Baking Co. is Magnolia’s bakery located at the Silos. Joanna has handcrafted each of the many recipes you’ll find available daily. They offer such a wide selection of baked goods.
Address: 2601 Circle Rd, Waco, TX 76706
Phone: (254) 752-2186
Classic roadside pit stop for burgers & hot dogs washed down with shakes, malts & frozen custard.
We always stop at Health Camp in Waco when we are driving down to San Antonio. Health Camp in Waco is fun. (Teaser-it’s no healthy, but so yummy!)
Health Camp on the circle near Magnolia Table has great burgers and shakes. It’s tiny and has been around since the 1940s – not much healthy about it but it’s a classic Waco spot. The suspension bridge is iconic and we love the Dr Pepper Museum.
Quotes from various Plano Moms!
George Restaurant & Catering
Address: 1201 Hewitt Dr #100, Waco, TX 76712
Phone: (254) 420-2060
A Waco institution dating back to 1930 and become a popular spot for Baylor students, George’s is Waco’s institution and serves up burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and Southern comfort food. Dig into burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and an equally large brownie sundae served in one of its “Big O” glasses.
We love to stop at George’s
– Vicky, Frisco TX
Address: 1600 Speight Ave, Waco, TX 76706
Phone: (254) 752-7591
Vitek’s is home to the original Gut Pack, a massive pile of smoked meat, Fritos, cheese, beans, pickles, and barbecue sauce! It is founded in 1915 and a fourth-generation family-owned and operated business. A favorite of locals and tourists alike, so it is worth going. The Gut Pack is highly recommended by Allison in Plano, TX
Uncle Dan’s BBQ & Ribhouse
Address: 1001 Lake Air Dr, Waco, TX 76710
Phone: (254) 772-3532
Uncle Dan’s BBQ is a local place I love in Waco
– Rebecca, Plano TX
Address: 608 Dry Creek Rd, Waco, TX 76705
Phone: (254) 754-9604
Cafe Homestead- on our way there now ourselves! Maybe on the way back if this is too late. We stop there every time, it’s SO good! A little off the beaten path, but it’s a working homestead and there are things for kids to see…plus shopping!
– Molly, Plano TX
Captain Billy Whizzbang’s
Address: 901 Lake Air Dr, Waco, TX 76710
Phone: (254) 776-4155
Old-school, counter-serve burger joint with a drive-thru & treats such as handmade milkshakes.
World Cup Café
Address: 1321 N 15th St, Waco, TX 76707
Phone: (254) 757-1748
We love this little place called World Cup Cafe. It’s off the beaten path and also sells handmade goods as a non profit.
– Rachel, Plano TX
Address: 1815 N 18th St, Waco, TX 76707
Phone: (254) 754-1801
Jake’s Texas Tea House
Address: 613 Austin Ave, Waco, TX 76701
Phone: (254) 756-2522
Poppa Rollo’s Pizza
Address: 703 N Valley Mills Dr, Waco, TX 76710
Phone: (254) 776-6776
El Conquistador Restaurant
Address: 4508 W Waco Dr, Waco, TX 76710
Phone: (254) 772-4596
Casa De Castillo Mexican
Address: 4820 Sanger Ave, Waco, TX 76710
Phone: (254) 772-8246
Ninfa’s Mexican Restaurant
Address: 220 S 3rd St, Waco, TX 76701
Phone: (254) 757-205
Address: 3815 Franklin Ave, Waco, TX 76710
Phone: (254) 756-4701
The Best Shops and Stores to check out in Waco
Waco is not just about the Magnolia brand, although the Gaines obviously had a significant influence on some shops popping around.
Consider adding these to your itinerary.
Address: 1023 Austin Ave, Waco, TX 76701
Phone: (254) 235-1047
An eclectic boutique experience, Christi’s shop includes a showroom for Moon Rein Bedding Company, contemporary and antique furniture, bronze sculptures, home decor, clothing, and candies.
There’s a lot to see in this space, so it’s worth checking out.
Address: 501 S 8th St, Waco, TX 76706
Phone: (254) 235-1777
With a similar vibe as the Magnolia Market, The Findery offers many beautiful country-chic decor, home goods, textiles, gifts, and antiques.
Go down the street from the Silos to The Findery…I liked it more than Magnolia.
– Susan, Plano Texas
Address: 213 Mary Ave, Waco, TX 76701
Phone: (254) 757-0921
Spice Village is a long-time local favorite located in a 1908 warehouse building in downtown Waco. It has about over 80 independently owned shops, and you may recognize some from Joanna Gaines’ televised shopping adventures.
It offers something for everyone in the family!
Address: 1509 Austin Ave, Waco, TX 76701
Phone: (254) 754-7467
Sironia is home to the most unique and inspired shopping in Waco! They have a curated collection of specialty boutiques all under one roof. There is also food available for hungry clientele.
Cameron Trading Post
Address: 618 Austin Ave, Waco, TX 76701
Phone: (254) 756-7662
This is a typical antique store with private vendors dealing in collectibles, dishes, small furniture, and antique oddities.
On the way there or back, if you take the I-45, you can also stop at the Texan-famous Bucee’s Gas Station/All-in-one fun stop for Gifts, Food items and Hot meals, which is located in Ennis, TX. Another Texas tradition that visitors go out of their way for!
Here’s your Bucee’s address: 1181 Creechville Rd, Ennis, TX 75119A
And try to stop at the Czech Stop (I-31/ Exit 353 in West, Texas) to get some of their renowned Kolaches!
If you’re headed further South, we have 5 Unique Air BnB rentals in the Hill Country and 25 of the best things to do in San Antonio
Thursday 13th of January 2022
You need to add the best 28 year old Waco Business to your list. It has out lasted everything on your list for a reason. It is made up of 165 vendors that are from Waco or surrounding area that offer women's clothes, gifts, antiques, children's clothes just to mention a few things. Craft Gallery Waco 7524 Bosque Blvd Waco, Texas. CraftGalleryGiftStore.com
Monday 17th of January 2022
Thank you so much Ralph, for sharing this secret gem in Waco. We'll be sure to update it. If you are the owner or can get the owner to email us, we would love to get some pictures and more info!