Waco :: Road Trips from Fort Worth

Waco has gained a lot of popularity over the past few years thanks to Chip and Joanna Gaines, but there is so much more to Waco than just Magnolia. It’s a very doable day-trip from Fort Worth and an even better weekend road trip getaway with a variety of restaurant cuisines, Baylor University, and of course, shiplap everything.

What to Do 

Visit Baylor’s campus and McLane Stadium // You can’t drive through Waco without seeing Baylor, home of the Bears. The campus is walkable and picturesque. Fun fact: One of the last scenes from the film, Where the Heart Is, was filmed on campus right outside the Carroll Science Building. Sports fans can grab a 90-minute guided tour of the newly built McLane Stadium just across the river.

Cameron Park Zoo // This Waco zoo is located close to downtown and is a 52-acre natural zoo habitat with many different animals on display, right next to the Brazos River.

Dr Pepper Museum // Rumor has it that Dr Pepper was invented by a pharmacist in Waco in 1885. Love it or hate it, the museum is full of fun facts and stories of the soft drink industry over the years. Reservations are not required.

Fabled Bookshop & Cafe // Located in the heart of downtown Waco, this cozy independent bookstore offers new books (for adults and children), funky toys and gifts, and a cafe with coffee, beer, wine, and food.

Homestead Heritage // A popular destination for homeschoolers, Homestead Heritage is an agrarian- and craft-based 550-acre farm community just north of Waco. It’s mission is based on simplicity, sustainability, self-sufficiency, and quality. You can participate in crafts onsite and spend an entire day on the property.

Magnolia Market // Waco and Magnolia have practically become synonymous in our daily lexicon, so plan to swing by the Silo district on your stay. There’s typically a line at the bakery (Silos Baking Co) and the store, but it moves quickly. Grab a lemon lavender cupcake at the bakery, pick up some home decor at the store, grab a coffee at Magnolia Press, let the kids run around the baseball field, and pop into any one (or all!) of the little mercantile shops. You can also visit The Little Shop on Bosque to see where it all started!

Mammoth National Monument // This landmark sits on 100 acres along the Bosque River where more than a dozen Columbian mammoth fossils have been discovered since the 1970s. Some bones are still in the ground — a great spot for kids.

Mayborn Museum Complex // A children’s science museum on Baylor’s campus with hands-on discovery and interactive galleries, including outdoor exhibits. Engaging for all ages.

Shop // There’s a lot more shopping in Waco than meets the eyes. Check out shops at Spice Village, Fox & Gray, Gather, Harp Design Co., Hinge, Melange, Roots Boutique, Sage Fine Jewelry, The Findery, Wildland, and more.

Suspension Bridge // The suspension bridge in Waco is the oldest still standing in Texas, and in the 1800s, it was the first across the Brazos River. The bridge is a sight to see and serves as the opening attraction to Cameron Park.

Texas Ranger Hall of Fame // This museum houses the history and purpose of the Texas Rangers, teaching visitors about this unique branch of Texas law enforcement.

Texas Sports Hall of Fame // A thorough history and representation that preserves the legacy of Texas athletes and the state’s history of sports.

Valley Mills Vineyards // This family-owned vineyard serves a variety of wines all made from 100% Texas-grown grapes. Perfect for a girls trip or romantic weekend getaway.

Where to Eat

Bangkok Royal Thai // Located in downtown Waco, this authentic Thai food will warm you from the inside out.

Baris // BYOB, affordable, and delicious Italian food. Great for the whole family, a romantic date night, or dinner with friends.

Buzzard Billy’s // This little gem nestled on the Brazos River waterfront offers Cajun and Creole inspired cuisine.

Cafe Cappuccino // The perfect brunch spots with good coffee and mighty big pancakes. 

Clay Pot // This restaurant has been voted best Asian food in Waco for the past 10 years. The Vietnamese cuisine has something for everyone, including Asian beers and sake.

Common Grounds // The coffee shop on Baylor’s campus that has a variety of inventive drinks to suit every taste. There’s a large yard in the back for kids to run around and a small stage where you can listen to live music.

Cricket’s Grill and Drafthouse // A great place to unwind after a long day of shopping and sightseeing, Cricket’s is your typical American fare with a large variety of beers on tap (in addition to a full bar).

D’s Mediterranean // Off the beaten path, D’s is authentic mediterranean food that will make your mouth water. Be sure to get the baklava for dessert. 

George’s // An iconic Waco restaurant, you’ll start seeing billboards for George’s long before you pull into town. They’re best known for their chicken fried steak and “Big O” beers.

Kitok // Hole-in-the-wall Korean barbecue, this restaurant isn’t fancy but it is good. The oriental fries are highly reviewed.

Magnolia Table // Be sure to get a reservation well in advance for breakfast or lunch to try out some of Joanna’s famous biscuits or a Gaines Brothers Burger.

Ninfa’s Mexican Restaurant // Traditional Tex-Mex served in large portions with a large dining room that can accommodate a date night or big family seating.

Shorty’s Pizza Shack // Shorty’s boasts “pitchers, pies, and good vibes.” This off-campus college pizza place will bring you right back to your glory days. Pizza toppings rotate frequently.

Viteks // Home of the Gut Pak and featured many times on various TV shows, Viteks is barbecue done Texan. 

Where to Stay

1700 South 2nd // Luxury residences right off Baylor’s campus and just a few minutes drive from downtown Waco and Magnolia.

3 Little Pigs House // This adorable craftsman is a four-bedroom house that can sleep up to eight people, and was featured on season three, episode 12 of Fixer Upper.

Bed and Breakfast on White Rock Creek // A true B&B experience, this spot is a true experience in Southern hospitality.

Colcord House Bed and Breakfast // Stay in a two-story Georgian home or a 1940s style carriage house.

Gathering Oaks Retreat // This property sleeps large groups (up to 50 people) in a variety of semi-private and private accommodations, but also hosts small parties or two or families. There is a full kitchen available as well as a pool.

Havencraft Waco // A trio of rental homes available in Waco which were voted top AirBnbs in Waco by Waco Moms. You will be greeted with fresh cookies.

Hillcrest Estate // While this renovated historic property is typically booked solid, it’s worth checking availability for this Magnolia rental. Sleeps 12 comfortably.

Magnolia House // This Gaines-owned property is also typically booked solid but worth checking in to. It’s located about 15 minutes outside of Waco in McGregor, Texas. You can see the full reveal of the property in episode 16, season three of Fixer Upper.

Poppy & Rye House // This vacation rental is nestled in the Silo District and is just a quick walk to Magnolia Market and other Waco attractions. It sleeps eight guests and has three bathrooms.

For more driving destination ideas, check out Fort Worth Moms “Guide to Road Trips from Fort Worth.”

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