A Non-Tourist Guide to Magnolia Market & Waco, TX
Before I was down in Houston photographing Kelsey & Matt's beautiful wedding, a month or so before I left, I was wondering what could've possibly come over me. How on earth could I go all the way to Texas and not make a stop at the critically acclaimed Magnolia Market? So, I adjusted my travel plans, booked an airbnb in Waco, and decided to spend 36 hours exploring. So, here's a not-so-brief synopsis of my trip and recommendations if you ever find yourself in Waco!
First things first, I did not do a ton of research prior to making this trip (an oddity for me). So, beyond knowing where the market was, where I was staying, etc. I was a total newbie. I booked an airbnb that just happened to be a small bungalow behind one of the first homes that was featured on the show, Fixer Upper. That was a blast! I highly recommend an airbnb if you're planning a trip. It was very affordable and allowed me to have more of a "real" Waco experience.
When I pulled into Waco around lunch time, I headed straight for the Silos. I had read in the latest Magnolia Journal about a food truck called, The Cheddar Box, and decided to grab lunch there. So, I wandered into the magical land that is Magnolia Market at the Silos. I grabbed lunch (a bacon and gouda grilled cheese with a craft soda) and sat outside in the sun watching kids play on the big lawn. What a surreal moment! It's such a treat to visit places you've only ever dreamed of or seen photos of before.
After lunch, I decided to head into the market. I went on a Monday and the place was hopping! There are so many goodies packed into the market (almost everything is for sale - even things I thought could only be for display). It was a little overwhelming, but every employee I talked to was so nice. I can't stress this enough. That was one of the biggest things that stood out to me during my time there.
Also, funny side note, as I was walking around with my camera taking photos, I would hear people saying over my shoulder "oh, she has a nice camera, maybe she could take our photo." And just like that I wound up taking probably 10-15 group photos while I was there! Cracked me up!
Of course, I had to go to the bakery! My tops favorites were the Silo Cookie, the Pumpkin Cupcake (seasonal), and the Cinnamon Roll (all recommended to me by a sweet girl from Waco whose photo I took with her mom from out of town - ha!).
There are lines for almost everything if you go Friday-Monday, I hear. I went back Tuesday and it was a lot slower. But, upside of standing in the line, I met a lady from Australia who was visiting her son in the states. It was her first time in the U.S. and she wanted to see Magnolia!
After a couple more hours of browsing (and eating), I decided to hit the road and see the Magnolia House Bed and Breakfast (about 30 minutes away from the Silos). Once again, while I was sitting outside the house, a couple ladies drove up behind me and I took their photos as well!
I wanted a movie night in at my airbnb. So, I picked up some Torchy's Tacos (Texas TexMex gospel) and headed back to a peaceful evening.
Tuesday morning I made my way to Harp Design Co. and walked around their shop. I made friends with the girls working there (shout out to my girl, Lydia) and they gave me a list of boutiques, coffee shops, eateries, etc. She also gave me a brief history of Waco - more on that later. I picked up some of Clint's famous candle sticks that Joanna has used in a couple of the shows (no, couldn't figure out a way to fit a large dining room table into my suitcase) as a gift and headed out.
I visited Fox & Gray, Spice Village, Wildland Supply Co., and Heritage Creamery. Would highly recommend all of them! I grabbed lunch again at the silos, at Milo + Co (owned by the husband of one of the girls who works at Harp - according to them, and from my observations, Waco is a pretty interconnected city ;)) and picked up some other gifts to bring home.
One of the most interesting things about Waco is that it's one the poorest cities in Texas. Driving around the underdeveloped parts of town, I could totally see that. From the locals I spoke with, a tornado came through Waco in 1953 and flattened the downtown (everything but the Alico building shown prominently in Fixer Upper b-roll). Waco was supposed to be one of the biggest cities in Texas, but after the tornado, the capital wasn't there to rebuild what was destroyed. Waco also is known for the stand-off between the Branch Davidians and the FBI. It was fascinating to walk around a town that is literally in the throws of gentrification. Chip and Joanna Gaines are drastically changing the culture of the community in Waco. When I was there, 12 city blocks were under construction (and Waco is not a huge town)! I found this to be the most interesting part of the trip.
It is so fascinating how a couple and their friends pursuing their dreams, improving the quality of housing, turning old grain Silos into a market, etc. has so drastically changed the culture of a town!
So, there you go, a brief synopsis of my 36 hours in Waco!