A picture of a man eating a fruit plate and sharing with a giraffe

Photo courtesy The Daytripper

Just 18 miles west of Waco lies McGregor, a slow-paced suburb with a charming downtown area. This town of 5,300 people has hosted some of the region’s favorite personalities, such as former president George W. Bush, who has a ranch in nearby Crawford, and Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame. The McGregor House, a Victorian home transformed into a vacation rental, was once featured on the TV show. (At the time it was a bed-and-breakfast called the Magnolia House.) It’s been a quiet town for most of its history, except for when it was home to a munitions factory during World War II. Then, in 2003, SpaceX began testing rocket engines at a facility just to the southwest, occasionally disturbing the peace in this sleepy town.

Coffee Shop Cafe

This comfort-food cafe is the perfect place to have breakfast and mingle with the locals. The walls are covered in photographs of visiting celebrities, including President Bush, Jessica Simpson, and Elon Musk. At lunchtime, a buffet has the staples of a Southern Baptist potluck: fried chicken, stuffed bell peppers, pot roast. Save room for a slice of pecan pie or peach cobbler with ice cream.

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Blue Hills Ranch

This resort and former wedding venue is now home to a slew of animals that guests can interact with. You can bottle-feed kangaroos and have dinner with giraffes. I swam with otters, feeding them shrimp while they treated my head like a jungle gym. There are seven cabins, including three with a nautical theme, starting at $125/night.

 

Cuppiecakes

This boutique bakery has a selection of 34 inventive cupcakes, including the Summer in the South, which is filled with banana pudding and topped with vanilla buttercream frosting and a Nilla wafer. The best seller is Wedding Cake, which makes sense— McGregor and the surrounding region has become a popular wedding destination. The bakery also serves coffee, Italian cream soda, and sandwiches.

 

Cedar Chest Antique Mall

This gigantic antiques mall is big enough to get lost in. And that might be all right, since it would take days to explore the whole place from front to back. The mall claims more than 100 vendor areas—some more curated than others—with the usual antiquing fare: wall clocks, typewriters, the sink faucet from grandpappy’s farmhouse. Rumor about town is that Chip and Joanna Gaines source some of their materials here.

 

Coach’s Bar-B-Que

Opened in 2012 by a pair of friends who coached high school football in Central Texas, Coach’s occupies a squat tin building on the west side of town. The eatery offers the classics, such as sliced brisket, smoked turkey, and potato salad on butcher paper. More adventurous eaters should take a peek at Coach’s Secret Plays, where they can consider the Coach’s Gut (a Frito chili pie topped with pickle and onion), and the Lickin Pig Taco (pulled pork, bacon, fried jalapeño, and mojo sauce).

 

So whether you follow my footsteps or forge your own path, I hope to see you on the road.

Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper® travel show on PBS.
To view the McGregor episode, visit thedaytripper.com.
Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @chettripper.

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