The Old Roots
Dedicated to my roommate, fellow Baylor alum, and lifetime travel buddy (Anum)
SET THE SCENE
Or I guess this is more of a prelude…
This quick weekend getaway trip held a special meaning for my roommate and me. The past couple months have been rough in a personal and professional way for both of us. We’ve been challenged emotionally and physically, and what have gotten us through these tough times have been each other. There’s been post-work happy hours of forgetting, late night wine sessions of ranting, crying and laughing, and evenings post-work spent in our scrubs with take-out and letting movies take us away. So when we both realized we had a weekend off together, our minds jumped to the exact same thing as it always does – travel.
When I’ve had times of struggle before, I’ve always found that discovering a new or an old place has been a way for me to re-gather my thoughts and refocus my life. You can call it running away and maybe it is, but I think there is also a component of gathering myself. Being in a place surrounded by strangers allows me to clearly think – ponder about what has happened and self-reflect on how to move forward or how to make sense of recent events. Seeing and discovering new things other people around the world are experiencing reorients myself and allows me to see the good out of the difficult events in my life.
Anyways, back to how I ended up in Waco for a weekend getaway. By the time my roommate and I had figured out we had a weekend off together, plane tickets were expensive and we were already limited by our time frame. I thought of Waco and found the cutest Airbnb and thought, ‘why not?’. It may not be the most glamorous city in America, but it contains old roots and so much history for both of us. We’re both Baylor alums and a lot of who we are are due to the experiences in that city. We both hadn’t been back to really explore the city since graduation, and the city was a quick 1.5 hour drive from Dallas. So again, why not? Why not head back to the city that has so much meaning for us?!
And with that long story behind me now, here is my guide to Waco, TX in under 48 hours! On a side note, this is going to hold a lot of nostalgic points!
Time of Travel: April
Type of Travel: Best Friend Weekend Getaway
- Waco, TX has a small airport but due to its size, it’s probably going to be easier for anyone coming in from out of state to fly into a Dallas, Austin, or Houston airport first and then take a connecting flight to Waco
- Or you can fly into an airport in Dallas, Austin, or Houston and then rent a car and drive there! The drive usually is 1-3 hours depending on which city you are coming from.
WHERE TO STAY
- Glamping or camping with amenities is the hottest thing to do right now, and of course I’m jumping on the bandwagon!
- We chose to stay at this cute Airstream in the country side of Waco about 30-40 mins away from the city. It was the perfect little getaway! This airstream was cozy, welcoming, and with a gorgeous view of the Texan fields that appeared endless.
Arrival: Living in Dallas, TX, it was really easy for my roommate and me to drive to Waco. It’s about a 1.5 – 2 hour drive depending on traffic. Thus, we left around 10AM (this was one of our few times in residency we could sleep in) and arrived near noon!
Brunch: Café Homestead. This cute restaurant located in Homestead Heritage holds so many memories for us. We both remember dining here on a random morning with mutual friends when we hardly knew each other. Some history behind this place: this Christian community focuses on sustainability, farming, peace, and simplicity. Around the restaurant are other parts of Homestead Heritage which include a bookstore and shops that focus on woodwork and pottery. The ingredients used at the café comes from Waco’s locally grown produce. The flour is from Artisan Oven and the dairy products are from the Brazos Valley Cheese company! Don’t miss out on their ice cream and their delectable daily soups!
Magnolia Market at The Silos: This creation by Chip and Joanna Gaines has really put Waco, TX on the map, and I couldn’t be happier to discover how much tourism business this place is bringing to my old college city! Located in downtown Waco, this is a must-stop even if you don’t watch the show (Fixer Upper) that brought this area and sensation to life. Fun Fact: my roommate and I actually have not seen the show – we’ve only seen one episode that featured our college biochemistry professor!
We knew that Saturdays are notoriously the worst day to visit the Magnolia Market just because we’ve heard the tales of it being so crowded. True to rumors, the place was crawling in people and the parking lots were full! Despite the amount of people though and the intimidating lines around the Silos Bakery, lines moved quickly and we got to everything we wanted in a reasonable amount of time.
Navigation of the Magnolia Market:
First of all, the entire Magnolia Market area is an instagrammer’s dream.
The Magnolia Market: This market changes by the season and it is literally a homeowner’s shopping dream. I came in thinking the prices were going to be outrageous but they really were not. Although I will say a lot of the pieces are things you can probably find at other local home décor store in your city, there was a charm to all the carefully created pieces.
The Lawn: Despite the heavy clouds above us, the lawn was still an inviting place with its vivid green. Several families laid sprawled on blankets and kids ran around laughing with their toys while the older ones threw around a football. A cute sea green automobile sits at the front with the Magnolia logo and wooden swings and tables are scattered everything. Surrounding the perimeter of the lawn were plenty of food trucks. I was excited to see the food scene growing in Waco!
We were still stuffed from our brunch, but we managed to make room to stop at two food trucks. The first being Chuck’s Gourmet Popcorn. Gourmet popcorn is my snack jam.
The next is one of my favorite food trucks I’ve ever encountered! The Alabama Sweet Tea Company truck sells iced tea in a giant Mason jar for an amazing price of $8. You can get the tea sweet, unsweet, and halfway sweet and best part? You get to keep this cute Mason jar! I now use it as my water jug at work.
The Garden: This place is an oasis of more green with seasonal flowers growing in rows and fairy lights strung above. The store Magnolia Seed + Supply sells supplies to light up any gardener’s dream.
The Silos Baking Co.: This is the bakery of Magnolia. It was one of the first structures I saw when driving up to The Magnolia Market and my jaw dropped at the line that wrapped around it. Regardless we decided to brave the line and to our delighted surprise, it actually didn’t take that long to get into the bakery! The customer service was friendly and efficient! Now these cupcakes are good, but they are a bit on the sweeter side for me and honestly nothing super special, but they are gorgeous and you might as well have one if you’re going to be in the area!
What I recommend? Get The Prize Pig which is a savory bacon and cheddar biscuit with chives!
And that sums up the entire Magnolia adventure which actually took up a few hours!
Coffee Break: Dichotomy. Afterwards, we were feeling really sleepy from the sugar and decided to grab some caffeine boost. This coffee shop is the perfect place to get coffee after Magnolia since its close by. I remember Dichotomy opened up immediately after I graduated, and I never got to try this place. This huge coffee shop has an upstairs balcony as well. At night, this place turns into a bar! My roommate grabbed a cappuccino and I ordered a vanilla latte to go and we were out the door and headed toward our little airstream for the weekend.
Evening Wine and Sunsets: After we checked into our cozy airstream in the Waco country side (for more information, scroll back towards the top and read ‘Where to Stay’), we headed towards The Wine Shoppe. This little shop is bringing wines from Spain, Uruguay, and Italy, and you can tell that the owners of the shop are purely doing this for the love of wine. My roommate and I each bought a glass and then headed out back to their small patio which had a great view of what I think is an old mansion. It was perfect timing for patio since the clouds had dissipated while we were checking out our airstream. As we sipped on our wines and chatted about life, we watched the sun set before our eyes and turn the clouds a cotton candy pink.
Dinner: Our original evening plan was to grab dinner somewhere and then head to Dichotomy for drinks. But as every traveler knows, you don’t always follow the itinerary. Since we were tired and wanted a chill night, we ended up getting Chinese take-out and picking up a few groceries from HEB (oh how I have missed HEB grocery store!) and going back to our Airstream. We spent the rest of the night drinking wine and eating chips and HEB guacamole. Which by the way, food tip: the HEB spicy guacamole is probably the best store-bought guac I’ve ever had!
You can look below at ‘Other Food Options’ for my dinner recommendations!
Breakfast: After sleeping in on our comfy bed, we woke around 10AM and started making breakfast at our small, cute kitchen. After seeing the layout of our Airstream the day before, we decided to buy groceries to make breakfast. So many times when I travel, I’m used to waking up early and heading out to find a restaurant for breakfast so having that kind of change of pace that morning was refreshing. We opened the windows of our Airstream to let the cool air in and spent the next hour while taking in the Texan countryside. It was absolutely idyllic.
Cameron Park: Sundays in Waco are rather quiet. There are many restaurants that are closed and many things to do are not open as well. It’s honestly the perfect day to get out and explore nature then and what better way to do so in Waco than to hit up Cameron Park. This park is an absolute gem in Waco and one of my favorite places when I was back in college. It is the second largest inner-city park in Waco and is made up of 15 miles of hiking and biking trails. Located next to the Brazos River, the views along the hikes are spectacular. Honestly, when I’m in the midst of one of the park’s trails, I feel as though I’ve been transported to another forest somewhere else in the world.
My go to parking spot in this area is the parking lot near Jacob’s Ladder. From there I would hit up one of the trails further down from the ladder spot which runs next to the river and has off beaten paths into the forested areas.
Points of Interest:
- There are several playgrounds scattered around.
- Lover’s Leap: an overlook area
- Jacob’s Ladder: 100 steep steps to the top!
Caffeine Break: Common Grounds. You cannot leave Waco without stopping by the city’s most beloved coffee shop. Common Grounds was my go to caffeine spot during college and it’s still just as wonderful. The menu is extensive and they are always rolling out new kind of drinks. The place is quirky and has many alcoves for studying as well as a giant backyard where concerts usually occur. A must stop in Waco!
Lunch: Taqueria La Milpa. This is one of Waco’s treasures and also one of old college haunts. This taco truck was the place if anyone of us wanted cheap street tacos back then and to my delight, I found out they were still open and they are still dishing out great food! Check out this truck with their tacos and elotes!
Other Things to Do:
- Farmer’s Market: Open Saturday 9AM-1PM. We ran out of time and were not able to do this on Day 1 which was a bummer. I remember loving a tamale stand there back in college!
- Cameron Park Zoo
- Pepper Museum
- Waco Mammoth National Monument
- BSR Cable Park – lazy river and you can be pulled around on a cable as a water skier
Other Places to Eat:
- Magnolia Table – this is also a part of The Magnolia by Joanna and Chip. This place apparently serves up some great brunch! The wait is forever apparently!
- Vitek’s BBQ – one of my old favorite places – order the Gut Pack. It’s basically a gigantic Frito Pie so yes, bring on the calories!
- Lula Jane’s – can get a gigantic cinnamon roll
- George’s Restaurant – if you want fried, American food
- Baris – also one of my old favorite places. This is your local Italian restaurant with really cheap Italian food and good proportions!
- Schmaltz Sandwich Shop – the best sandwiches in Waco
- Newk’s Eatery – if you are craving a good sandwich and soup combo
- Kitok Restaurant – Asian run burger restaurant. Go for their Oriental Fries which is basically tempura veggies.
- D’s Mediterranean Grill – also one of my old favorite places! Go for the gyro and the fries!
- Xristo’s Café – a food truck with some good gyros!
- Shorty’s Pizza Shack – my old go to spot for pizza
- Teriyaki Park – also one of my old favorite places for quick, cheap, filling Asian food. I remember my favorite order was the Chicken Teriyaki with fried rice’
What are your favorite experiences in Waco, TX?