Special thanks to Texas Tourism, Waco Convention & Visitors Bureau, & Fredericksburg Convention & Visitors Bureau for hosting us for a weekend trip. All opinions and experiences are my own.
Me and my bestie, Lauren (she blogs over at Sips and Sequins) were long overdue for a quality girls getaway weekend. The last one we took was circa 2012 and it was in Las Vegas (think pool parties, bottle service, and late night dancing). We were craving something a little less rowdy and much more homey this time. By chance, we were both invited to a Texas Tourism mixer downtown Chicago this summer where we were able to network with plenty of tourism bureaus all looking for influencers to visit the great state of Texas. Knowing that life will only get busier from here on out – we jumped at the chance to getaway for a few days. After months of planning and figuring out exactly where we wanted to go (Lauren is seriously a pro at this and even creates itineraries that you can download) – we settled on Waco and Fredericksburg.
You’ve probably heard of Waco from HGTV’s hit show Fixer Upper. The town is seeing a huge boom of growing business and tourism since the show topped HGTV’s #1 charts. I personally had never heard of Fredericksburg before it landed on my itinerary, but most people know it for it’s wineries (yes, Texas has wineries… more on that in a minute). Anyway, both destinations completely blew my mind. I don’t know what is in the Texas water but everyone (and I mean everyone), is kind and wants to chat. We had several instances where we were pulled into full conversations by nearby tables of complete strangers where we shared stories of children, travel, food, careers, and more. I was also really shocked by the Texas scenery. The drive between Waco and Fredericksburg is just under 3 hours – but it goes by fast! We were greeted with beautiful ranches dotting winding roads and little quaint towns. What I thought would be a dessert trip turned out to be much more lush with trees and greenery than I ever expected.
So without further ado – I am going to share some of my favorite things about each place and why you need to grab your bestie, a plane ticket, and book it to Texas ASAP.
What you need to know:
Waco is about an hour and a half drive from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. We rented a car before our trip and we were on the road quickly. The speed limit is 80 miles per hour, so if you’re not comfortable driving fast then I’d either hire a service to take you to Waco or have your friend drive. Everyone in Waco is EXTREMELY proud of their city. They all spoke highly about the new developments going on in the city (new restaurants, new homes, new shopping centers) and it seemed like everyone knew everything. Most people dressed really casually and a majority of restaurants did not have a dress code. Plan for 3 days in Waco. There was PLENTY to do and I wish we would have been able to fit in one more day (we only stayed 2 nights). Bring your sneakers or comfortable shoes because a ton of walking is involved.
What to do:
Seriously there is SO much to do in Waco. Here is a quick list of things I enjoyed and definitely recommend checking out.
- Visit the Magnolia Market at the Silos: Try to go during the week as the weekend gets pretty busy. Plan to eat at one of the many food trucks that line the property.
- Have an Uber driver show you around the city – they’ll even take you to some of the Fixer Upper homes (we saw the Shotgun house – gorgeous).
- Get active at Cameron Park! This 416 acre urban park has plenty to offer – including an awesome staircase called Jacobs Ladder that you can run, walk, or climb. My legs were burning after one trip up! There’s also gorgeous winding roads leading in and out of the park and plenty of picturesque landscapes to take in. You can also rent a bike or kayak to really explore.
- Get historic at the Waco Mammoth National Monument. You know those huge prehistoric animals with enormous tusks? Yeah – they happen to be in Waco, Texas. There’s actually fossils of 24 Columbian mammoths and other mammals at the park – pretty cool to see and hear how the first fossils were found.
- Go shopping! Okay – this was one of my favorite things to do in Waco. The home decor stores in Waco are superb. Like literally if you are trying to furnish your home, head to Waco for inspiration and unique finds. Most of the style is a mix of eclectic industrial pieces mixed with farmhouse influence. Everything is cute. Like seriously – everything. I purchased a custom wall measuring stick from Good Timber Furnishings (near the silos) and adored every piece of clothing that Fox and Gray had to offer.
- Try different restaurants – there’s WAY more food than BBQ. Actually, I didn’t even have BBQ once in Waco. Thursday night we ate at Hecho en Waco – a really cute Mexican restaurant (get the fajitas – pass on the bean dip). Friday for lunch we ate at the Magnolia food trucks and Friday night we ate at Diamondbacks (an upscale steak and sushi restaurant with the cutest decor). Make sure you dress up to eat at Diamondbacks and do NOT refuse the rosemary turnover bread that comes complimentary with dinner. I don’t care what kind of diet you are on – you’ll be denying yourself the BEST bread I’ve ever had in my life.
- Visit the animals at Cameron Park Zoo. This is a good option if you have some extra time. What struck me the most about this zoo is that it seems to be built into the natural landscape of Waco rather than manmade. There are trails and tons of trees around. Good to go on a super hot day as there is plenty of shade and things to do with kids.
- Take pictures! Waco has adorable architecture and plenty of colorful doors and murals to admire. I specifically really like Austin Street. The silos and Cameron Park are great too for pictures either early in the morning or later in the day to avoid crowds and random people being in your pictures.
What you need to know:
Fredericksburg is a 3 hour drive from Waco and an hour and a half drive from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The town is part of an area called the Texas Hill Country and is lined with about 30 miles of wineries and peach farms. You will definitely want to look out your car window to soak in the scenery. The town has a bed and breakfast – small quaint town feel but don’t let it fool you. There’s a ton of shopping, amazing food, and places to visit. Stay for at least 2 nights to really be able to truly explore the area.
What to do:
- Visit one of the many wineries. So, I don’t know about you but I had NO idea that Texas has wineries. They are actually REALLY popular with people in the area and it’s the perfect thing to do with your bestie, bachelorette party, or to visit with your significant other. Get tickets for the 290 Wine Shuttle (they’re $24.99) and hop on and off all day at 14 of the wineries. My favorite winery is 4.0 Wine Cellars. It’s more of a tasting winery as they stock wines from 3 different wineries in Texas. For the best pictures – head to Wild Seed Farms and stand in the zinnia fields where there’s thousands of flowers and butterflies!
- Hike Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. It’s about a 20 minute drive from downtown but it’s totally worth it. It takes about 40 minutes to hike to the top. Pink granite makes up the entire climb (it’s really pretty) so make sure to wear appropriate footwear so that you do not slip. I will mention that this is good for all ages and fitness levels. I saw a good mix of everyone hiking (including a guy who had been up and down 4 times already that day!!!).
- Grab some food. Being from Chicago I totally appreciate a good meal. Fredericksburg does NOT disappoint. For a quick bite to eat check out Tubby’s Ice House (get their chicken kale salad – it’s mind blowing). You order from a walk up window and eat outside. Food is quick and delicious. We tried Otto’s for dinner (owned by the same people that run Tubby’s). You definitely will wait about an hour to eat here on the weekends so put your name in and go get a drink elsewhere. Decor and company was amazing – food was too salty for me (I had a steak) but my friend Lauren had the scallops and loved her meal. The BEST food we had (probably the whole trip) was at a Vaudeville’s. Everything is made from scratch and is simply divine. Upstairs is the cutest home decor store and the bistro is in the basement. The decor is phenomenal (marble top dining tables, leather banquettes). We each got sandwiches (The reuben is out of this WORLD) and we split the buttermilk chicken – only available on Sundays. At the back of the restaurant there is an indoor outdoor ticketed supper club – totally worth checking out if you like more exclusive eating events.
- Go shopping. Lining the downtown area are tons of shops. There’s a good mix of home decor, little gift shops, and true Texas stores (one in specific sells hundreds of cowboy boots).
- Listen to music. We didn’t get a chance to do this even though it was on our itinerary (we were seriously so exhausted). We had plenty of locals tell us that the music is amazing and there is a huge variety of live bands including bluegrass, country, and more!
I seriously cannot wait to go back to Texas (I’m thinking a mom/daughter trip next?) and see what else the state has to offer. My biggest takeaway from my 4 days there is that everyone we encountered were so kind and I wish I had more time to explore everything that makes Waco and Fredericksburg such unique locations.