I’ve been getting requests for a review and feedback of Magnolia and Waco, Texas when Mom and I visited earlier this month, so here you are!
Magnolia Market is an amazing brain-child of Chip & Joanna Gaines (of HGTV’s Fixer Upper). Simply put, it’s become quite the tourist destination for farmhouse and TV personality lovers alike. Driving in from Fort Worth, everyone that we seemed to talk with asked “what are you going to Waco for?” I’m assuming they didn’t know the draw… perhaps they live in a bubble or really don’t care to know. It was an easy (after you leave the freeway hell that is Fort Worth) hour and change drive to Waco. Being in Texas, I was waiting to see livestock and the like, but that didn’t happen. I did however see loads and loads of open land. Where were the cows?
Waco is an interestingly unassuming town. The first thing you can see is the Baylor football field, the massive structure it is. Rolling into town over what looked to be an old railroad track-type bridge was the first indication, welcome to a small town. Everyone was very friendly when they asked what we were doing in town. You get the sense that the Gaines’ have really had a direct impact on the city. Getting to Magnolia Market was a simple 10 minute walk from our hotel. I was surprised by the lack of retail and restaurant spaces in their downtown area surrounding the market. There are a few shops, but not many by any means.
We were there just before their ever-so-popular “Silobration” weekend, where they bring in bands and vendors. Basically the whole area was gearing up for the event. The first thing that you see when you walk up are these massive silos. It’s definitely a sight to see. Black rod iron gates surround the complex. Crossing over the railroad tracks you get more of an idea of the layout and realize, it’s not that big. On TV, it seems like it’s huge. It’s definitely smaller than say a “normal” city block. (Normal being any city that’s not New York City or the like).
The gates that greet you are simple and exciting. Stepping through the threshold, you need to decide what you’d like to do first. For me, that was hitting up the food trucks in the back. Hello, priorities… I hear that the food trucks all rotate and come and go. I enjoy trying different yet local cuisines whenever I travel so I love the fact that most of the food trucks were from Waco. They had really something for everyone, but I selected the homemade grilled cheese truck. Mainly because of the chilly weather and because it had the longest line… What a yummy choice it was! After I INHALED my lunch, we went out on a quest of what to do next. At this point, I felt like I needed to walk some of the cheese off, so we went into the seed & supply garden.
What a quaint garden it was. Fall is simply the best time to come. All the pumpkins lined and stacked up with hay bales… love it! Tucked into the complex next to the Silos, it was quiet and had great spots for photo-ops. There wasn’t terribly much to see, but a nice place to sit and have a quick minute pondering life. The next move was to the main retail store. Let’s go shoppinggggg!
The whole time outside, we were remarking on what a good choice day it was to come! We didn’t get into any crowds, got a table quite easily, and weren’t smushed with strangers. Going inside was just the same. Easy shopping crowd with the two different levels simple to navigate. Following the flow keeps for happy shoppers. The workers were there, but they let you take everything in while blending into the background. A perfect combination. After gathering our purchases (not too much, I only had a carry on), we made it to one of the two checkouts. The line moved quickly and efficiently. I’m not surprised that the checkout worker was sociable and friendly. With working in retail for so long, I knew that she was trying to have a mini conversation… engaging, comfortable but then wrap it up. All good with me! Shopping makes me hungry (again!). Off to the bakery we go.
The Bakery line was long, fellow shoppers might have groaned out loud when they see it, but it moved with efficiency again. Once you get in line, there’s a worker bee to greet you to hand you a card with the menu and a place to jot down your order. We only stood in line for about 10 minutes. Not shabby at all! They only allow a few people into the actual building at a time. Good thing! It wasn’t the biggest space inside. I did sneak out of the line to look at the bathroom they featured in that episode with the bakery featured. In the end, we ordered two cupcakes and a chocolate chip cookie. On the way to find a seat to eat, I grabbed a Cowboy coffee from the coffee truck. Coffee + Sweets = Winning Combination.
OOOOOOMMMMMGGGGGG… heaven. That chocolate chip cookie I have dreams about. It was SO good. Creamy chocolate chips, still a little warm and melty, and a bit of a crunch. The cupcakes were delicious as well but so rich. Maybe a little too rich. The cake itself was fluffy and moist but the frosting was too much (for me). Back to those cookies… I should have gotten a dozen of them. Someone want to send me one?
Really after spending about a few hours there, it was time to go. It’s a great quick stop. I assumed it would be a lot larger so we went off on a quest to do something else before dinner. Now when you’re in Waco, I get that you are 100% focused on Magnolia and the offerings, BUT you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t go to the Spice Village. A few blocks away and up a staircase, lies the overwhelming-at-first area that is Spice. Different vendors from all over the US put their goodies in this store. You should think of it like a large consignment (but new) store. I ended up getting some cute clothes and merchandise. It was a great way to kill an hour or two. Also, walking the water was a pretty sight to behold.
Ending our overnight trip in Waco, at a local wine bar for a light dinner and drinks was the perfect treat. Again, I was surprised by the lack of people around downtown, but I guess it was a weekday. There’s a bit of everything for whatever you’d choose though and that’s a good thing. The next morning was my favorite though… Dichotomy, a coffee and spirit joint that’s lively, yet relaxed at the same time. I adore coffee of all kinds, types and flavors. They had great coffee art in an industrial-feel old building. And, do yourself a favor and get the cinnamon roll wrapped in bacon. Oh yeah, it’s worth it!
To sum it up, Waco is a neat small town to visit. Magnolia was a treat to see and be at. Everyone was so friendly and warm. However, I wish there was more to do in the downtown surrounding area that you can get to on foot. I don’t think I could live there unless I live with the Gaines’ … kidding, kinda. Maybe in a few years as growth and expansion happen more. Who wants to come with me?