For the 50+ Traveler

When the first episode of Fixer Upper aired on HGTV on May 23, 2013, it would have been hard for anyone to predict that Chip and Joanna Gaines would quickly become household names. But after several years transforming Waco’s abandoned, neglected, and least-desirable homes into renovated masterpieces, the married Baylor alums have made this small Texas college town about 90 miles south of Dallas a tourist destination.

In each episode, goofy Chip dives into demo day with glee, carrying out his usual antics and peppering patient Joanna with dad jokes. Once the new floor plan is in place, hardwoods are restored, subway tile is grouted, and shiplap is installed, Joanna takes over, confidently applying the design skills she mastered in New York to finalize the makeover of these Texas homes.

Although the original Fixer Upper series ended in 2018, it was recently announced that Chip and Joanna are returning to the small screen with new episodes in 2021 via their own Magnolia Network. Prepare yourself for Fixer Upper part two or relive the episodes you’ve already seen with a weekend in Waco and a stay at one of these vacation rentals from the initial series.

1. The Gorman House

Season 1, Episode 2

Kicking off what would become a five-season run of impressive renovations, one of the first episodes of Fixer Upper converted a condemned 2,600-square-foot home constructed on Gorman Avenue in the 1930s from a complete wreck into a present-day dream home. By breathing new life into the original hardwood floors and wrap-around porch and adding modern features like stainless steel appliances, Chip and Joanna turned crappy into happy for soccer super couple, Baylor coach Chuck Codd and retired soccer pro Charmaine Hooper.

For an average rental of $538 per night, you and up to 11 friends and family members can stay in this immaculate five-bedroom, 4.5-bath home on a treed corner lot close to downtown Waco, Baylor University, and the Magnolia Market.

The renovated kitchen of the 15th Street House.

2. The 15th Street House

Season 1, Episode 5

As Chip and Joanna breathe new life into Waco-area properties with updated floor plans and designs, Texas carpenter Clint Harp uses recycled and reclaimed wood to create unique furniture pieces. His masterpieces have been featured on episodes of Fixer Upper, and Clint recently published Handcrafted: A Woodworker’s Story. But in the first season of Fixer Upper, Clint and his wife, Kelly, were the stars of Episode 5.

Next door to the family’s business, Harp Design Co., an abandoned two-story home filled with trash and infested with rats was transformed into a miracle on 15th Street. The Harp family lived in the home for several years before converting it into a vacation rental. Sleep up to 12 people in this cozy, centrally located five-bedroom, three-bath home with hardwood floors and exposed-beam ceilings. Daily rentals start at $550 per night with a two-night minimum stay.

The Bicycle House in Waco, Texas.

3. The Bicycle House (The Mailander House)

Season 1, Episode 13

The first season of Fixer Upper ended with newlywed baby boomers Marla and Dave. Relocating to Waco from California ahead of her husband, Marla was tasked with finding the couple’s new home in Texas. Chip and Jo renovated the home with an emphasis on the original features that give it character. Ugly awnings were removed, revealing impressive Mission-style arched facade walls and touches of Victorian gingerbread trim. The original fireplace and built-ins were restored, and plenty of subway tile and shiplap was installed.

For about $260 per night, you and up to seven guests can enjoy this comfortable cottage filled with natural light or relax on its amazing sun porch near Cameron Park. And, yes, the 1905 bicycle above the desk in Dave’s home office that gave the home its nickname is still incorporated into the decor.

The Mid-Century Modern House in Waco, Texas.

4. The Mid-Century Modern House

Season 2, Episode 11

After a 20-year friendship with Chip and Joanna dating back to their college days, Jill Barrett and her husband, Josh, asked the famous duo to revitalize their 2,750-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bathroom home with terrazzo floors in time for the arrival of Barrett baby number five. The narrow galley kitchen was remodeled to create an open concept. After the renovation, captured on film in Season 2 of Fixer Upper, natural light poured in through the floor-to-ceiling windows that framed the private wooded lot.

For an average nightly rental of just under $300, you and up to nine guests can travel back in time to the 1950s, mixing up old fashioneds in the only fixer-upper with dance poles (as Josh joked about the gold poles that suspend open-glass shelves in the kitchen). Or step outside and sip your favorite Mad Men-era cocktail on the outside patio shaded by trees in Waco’s Mountainview neighborhood.

The Brick House in Waco, Texas.

5. The Brick House

Season 3, Episode 3

In this episode, Houston-based Baylor alums Lori and Baron Craft hoped to persuade their only child (not yet in high school) to attend their alma mater by purchasing a home near campus and restoring it to its original charm. After removing an enclosed front porch that hid the home’s entry, Chip and Jo worked their magic by restoring the original hardwood floors, saving the home’s unique ceiling tiles, giving the brick fireplace a facelift, and leaving touches of exposed brick in the kitchen.

By my math, the Craft boy should be picking a college soon, and I’m dying to know if he’s going to attend Baylor! In the meantime, the Brick House is available as a vacation rental for about $215 per night, accommodating up to eight guests with four bedrooms and two bathrooms. And in case you’re seeking easy access to Baylor University, it’s just a few miles down the road.

The German Smear House in Waco, Texas.

6. The German Smear House (The School House)

Season 3, Episode 4

Newlywed Baylor grads Jeff and Sara Jones returned to Waco to purchase their first home in Season 3. To convert the outdated fixer-upper into the couple’s dream home, Chip and Jo embraced the home’s European cottage feel, topping off an open floor plan, updated flooring, and a significant kitchen update with glass-paned chandeliers and vintage wall sconces. On the exterior, a technique known as German smear was used to selectively whitewash the bricks while allowing some of the original red bricks to peek through.

Up to eight people can enjoy this four-bedroom, 2.5-bath vacation rental in Waco’s Mountainview neighborhood just east of Lake Waco. It still includes the restored upright piano that the previous owners left behind. And the large tree that Chip unglamorously climbed (with a shove in the rump by Joanna) continues to shade the patio in the large backyard.

The Three Little Pigs House in Waco, Texas.

7. The Three Little Pigs House

Season 3, Episode 10

As newlyweds, midlife dual-income couple Ken and Kelly Downs were searching for a home that got them out of his bachelor pad and provided each of them with a dedicated home office. They purchased a home for $35,000 that Chip said looked like it could blow over at any time, just like the homes made out of straw and sticks in the children’s story about the three little pigs.

Chip and Joanna relocated the brick fireplace, making the new double-sided feature accessible from two rooms. They designed his-and-her offices and created a large master bedroom suite by combining two bedrooms. In July of 2017, a man accused of drunk driving plowed into The Three Little Pigs House, causing extensive damage to the home. However, it’s been fully repaired and is now available as a vacation rental.

You and up to seven guests can enjoy a stay at the Cameron Park-area Three Little Pigs House for about $255 per night. The home has four bedrooms and two bathrooms, including the gorgeous freestanding tub you might recall from this episode of Fixer Upper.

The Shotgun House in Waco, Texas.

8. The Shotgun House

Season 3, Episode 12

Most commonly found in the American Southeast in cities like Charlotte, North Carolina, and New Orleans, shotgun houses remind me of Dutch canal houses that have been laid on their sides. Instead of rising upward several stories on a small square patch of land with just one or two rooms per floor, a shotgun house is a long and narrow single-story house with one room behind the other.

Originally just 720 square feet, the shotgun house renovated in Season 3 of Fixer Upper was one of just two shotgun houses in Waco. After purchasing the 1920 home for $28,000 and relocating it just a short walk from the Magnolia Market, Chip and Joanna installed new wood floors, large windows, and a second-story loft at a cost of about $140,000. Owner Cameron Bell made headlines in the summer of 2017 by listing one of the smallest houses to appear on Fixer Upper for sale for $950,000.

This one-bedroom, one-bath luxurious tiny home maximizes every inch of its 1,050 square feet. It’s available for an average rate of $322 per night for up to two guests looking for a unique accommodation in Waco. But before you book the Shotgun House, know that accessing the second-story loft area added by Chip and Joanna requires pulling down a ladder-style staircase and ascending a rather steep flight.

Pro Tip: If all of your favorite makeovers from Fixer Upper are booked, you could rent one of Chip and Joanna’s properties, including the Magnolia House, Hillcrest Estate, or Carriage House.