427 Miles to Magnolia
A Trek to Fixer Upper World Headquarters
427 miles ... that’s the distance from my house to the famous Magnolia Market located in Waco, Texas. Last month, my husband indulged my need for a “Fixer Upper” fix and took me, our baby girl and our dear friends to check out the silos made famous by HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines.
Magnolia Market is the retail style outlet of the Gaines, who became known for transforming rundown properties into magazine-worthy homes in the Waco area. Over the last few years, their program has launched them into the national spotlight, with fans (including myself) striving to emulate Joanna’s perfect brand of farmhouse chic. As part of their ever-growing empire, the two purchased the silos and transformed them into a home for their Magnolia home décor store. Since opening last year, the attraction has been drawing an estimated 15,000 visitors a week to Waco.
The true Magnolia experience is more than just the retail space. The sprawling property features an outdoor area where visitors can dine from one of the many on-site food trucks. Kids can hop on the playground equipment while parents lounge in the shade or sit in old-fashioned porch swings. A festive garden adjacent to the silos features colorful plants and a shop carrying unique pots, seeds, succulents and garden décor.
A must-stop is the Magnolia Bakery. Favorites include the “Cup o’ Jo” espresso flavored cupcake, and the Shiplap cupcake, inspired by Joanna’s preferred wall accent. Photos ops abound at the gorgeous property. Guests are encouraged to snap a selfie under a #MilestoMagnolia sign and post online the distance they traveled. It is sort of a rite of passage for visitors.
Our Magnolia adventure included a stop by Fixer Upper’s favorite carpentry shop, Harp Design Co. The small store is filled with wood creations and rustic home décor. Avid fans can also see the exterior of the Harps’ home, located next door. The adorable house was a “Fixer Upper” renovation project in the inaugural season.
As a caffeine addict, a trip to Waco would not have been complete without a trip (or two) to the popular coffee dive, Common Grounds. It was featured on Fixer Upper’s second season, when the Gaines renovated a home for the owners. I ordered the Caballero from the Cowboy menu, which did not disappoint. (If I could get my hands on their secret sauce recipe, I would be making that drink every day. Probably best I don’t … at least for my blood pressure’s sake.)
We did manage to fit in a few other stops during our Magnolia getaway. The biggest surprise of the trip was downtown Waco’s Farmers Market. Words of advice ... do not eat before you go. You will want to save room to sample all of the delicious offerings, including the lemon blueberry scones, made-to-order crepes and street tacos.
You can walk off some of the calories while browsing the vendors, listening to live music and taking in a view of the Brazos River. Handcrafted jewelry, lavender plants, seasonal produce and homemade soaps also were for sale. Between this and Magnolia, it’s a miracle I came back with a dime to my name.
Our group also enjoyed a trip to the Dr Pepper Museum, which celebrates the drink that was created in Waco by a local pharmacist. We managed to dine at a few local hot spots including George’s (Get the chicken fried steak!) and Papa Rollo’s Pizza.
Of course, there are several places we were unable to squeeze in, including the Baylor campus and the popular Spice Village. I would love to spend more time roaming the historic downtown, too. As a Fixer Upper fan, a visit to the Texas town was a dream come true. But even for those who have never watched the show, Waco still has much to offer. I hope to return for a girls’ trip, but also appreciated the family-friendly atmosphere of the city. Either way, I look forward to logging another 427 miles to Magnolia very soon.
– By Brittany Ransom
This article appears in the November 2016 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine.