Waco or Bust! My Fixer Upper Adventure!

I can’t stop talking about Waco Texas! Yep, not a sentence many people have uttered, that is until Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s Fixer Upper made it a destination for over 30,000 visitors per day.  Honest fact, 30,000 people visit Waco each and every day to get a glimpse of the Silos and shop at Magnolia and I was one of them, dragging my mom and sisters along with me!

Waco is located in the middle of Austin and Dallas (90 minutes from either city). So if you are flying in like we did, you have your pick of airport.  I picked Austin to be our destination because the airport is smaller and the city is a little more user friendly.  My mom and sister Ashlie flew in from Michigan, I came from California, and my sister-in-law Kelly arrived from North Carolina.

I booked us rooms at The Westin Downtown, just a block off the 6th street excitement.  The hotel was trendy and fun with valet parking and a hip roof top pool and bar.  Kelly arrived earlier than the rest of us so she had the day to explore the city. Well deserved as she is married to my brother Nick (that warrants a vacation on it’s own) and they just welcomed their third baby in March so this mama with 3 kids under 5 was ready to relax.  The rest of our flights arrived between 5-6pm so we were all able to catch up over some Tex-Mex and Margaritas.

Austin is a lively city with lots of sights and sounds. All of the buildings are bright and unique. It would be easy to get lost behind a camera lens capturing the colors.

This is the lobby of The Westin, did I mention it was hip and trendy?

This is the view from the roof top deck.  If I shared a picture of the lounge area and pool this blog post would be rated R. Let me just tell you the hip young people of Austin are adventurous when it comes to their lounge/pool attire.

The next morning we woke up early and grabbed coffee and breakfast from a food truck at the hotel.  I’ve turned into a simple coffee drinker in my old age, just black no cream or sugar.  But seeing that we were on vacation and it was over 100 degrees in Texas I had to splurge on an iced Austin blend and it was delicious!

Once we were caffeinated we hopped on our Harley’s and headed for Waco…

JUST KIDDING! I wanted to make sure you were still following along and I couldn’t resist the photo op with the Harley Davidson’s outside of Antone’s, Gone Fishin!

We actually got more coffee to-go and loaded up in our rental car and hit the road.  This is when it really hit me that we were likely nuts. Planes, trains, and automobiles to get to Austin, an exciting city…only to leave early to drive to WACO. Being nuts is a good thing in some cases and this was one of them.  Best. Trip. Ever!

90 minutes later we arrived at The Silos.  It’s like the adult version of Disney World, when you first walk into the park and see the castle.  Took my breath away! If you’ve never been to Waco (and why would you have) it is a city that needs a lot of fixing up so it’s amazing to see such a wonderful place where people can gather to spend the day, make memories, and have a lot of fun.

Lucky for us, it was a Monday and it was 102 degrees so it wasn’t insanely busy.  Families were having picnics, dogs were playing in the green space, and the smell of shiplap was in the air.  HEAVEN!

We walked around the Silos, grabbed a snack and a gold drink at the food trucks outside, and then met up with the crew at Waco Tours for a tour of Waco.  Yep, it’s a thing.  And it was 3 hours long. Believe it or not there is a lot to see in Waco.

Waco Tours was started by David Ridley from the Fixer Episode with the most eligible bachelor, you know…the one with the double islands.  I mean, if those islands didn’t lead him to finding a bride I don’t know what would! The tour is something we booked on the drive from Austin to Waco and it was totally worth it.  Looking back it was the best thing to do right when we arrived because it gave us more context for the history of Waco and the location of hot spots from the show.

We took the Classic Waco tour which was led by Lucas and Jacob, the perfect duo to get us excited about our trip.  Their jokes, behinds the scenes knowledge from the show (Lucas was David’s roommate on his bachelor episode), karaoke, and cold beverages made right in Waco (BIG RED and Dr. Pepper) made for a fun afternoon.

One of our first stops was Common Grounds, a coffee shop that Chip and Jo frequent on the show.  They also did a Fixer Upper for the owners of Common Grounds on one episode.

We could choose a coffee drink on the tour, I opted for a classic iced coffee (again, it was 102 degrees) but Kelly got their signature 254 drink and I secretly want to go back to get one. It is mixed with milk, italian soda, and it’s oh so good.

Jacob and Lucas took photos during the tour so we didn’t have to which was nice.  They took some nice group shots of us at the hot spots…

Next door to Common Grounds is Heritage Creamery, the ice cream joint that Chip and Joanna go to on the show. They have a whiskey flavored ice cream that looked delish.

My favorite stop was Harp Design Co..  Even better than I could’ve imagined! The only thing that would’ve topped this beautiful decor would have been Clint walking into the shop.  There is an online shop if you click this link and the items they sell are even BETTER in person!

The tour took us to parks, rivers, and lakes (yep, Waco’s got ’em) and taught us a lot about the history of Waco.  Did you know Waco was once the second largest city in Texas? Check out the Wikipedia page for a good back story and in case you were wondering, David Karosh didn’t live in Waco.

Once the tour was over it was time to check into our very own Fixer Upper for the night.  I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to rent the Hillcrest Estate for us for two nights.  It is NEVER AVAILABLE for rent online so when it popped up with availability in August in February of this year I impulsively clicked BOOK IT! I’ve had it on my calendar as a notification to check for open nights for the last two years. Since they typically book up within an hour of releasing new dates I’m never optimistic so when I saw 2 nights (the max you can stay is 2 nights) open in August I had to go for it. It was 10pm California time so I couldn’t call my sisters and mom who live in the Eastern time zone to ask if they were up for it.  I simply sent a text and said, “we are going to Waco in August.” The next morning my sister-in-law Kelly went into labor and delivery Henry, the excitement when she woke up to see my text got him moving, ha!

There are a ton of VRBO rentals in Waco, some homes look like a Fixer Upper and others were actually on the show. The Hillcrest Estate is one of Chip and Joanna’s rentals. They only have two at the moment so you can now understand why they book up within an hour.  The rental you’ve seen before is the Bed and Breakfast called Magnolia House which was featured on the show.  It is actually 25 minutes outside of Waco in McGregor Texas. You better believe we drove out there to see it (photos coming in a future post).

Let me just tell you, the Hillcrest estate is AMAZING! What an opportunity to create memories and see such fun design and organization inspiration. It wasn’t featured on the show or on the Magnolia blog yet so it will was extra special to be a guest.  Thank you Chip and Jo!  My next post will feature an inside peek of this gorgeous Fixer Upper so brace yourself, there is something wonderful around each and every corner!

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