In downtown Waco, Texas, a pair of once abandoned grain silos have come to embody this college town’s recent resurgence. The silos, along with a 20,000-square-foot barn, have been transformed by Chip and Joanna Gaines, the stars of the popular HGTV home-renovation series Fixer Upper, into Magnolia Market at the Silos. More than just a retail space, the market has become a community hub — and visitor must-see — since opening in the fall of 2015. Magnolia’s sprawling shop sells all kinds of home design pieces and furniture (designed by Joanna Gaines), as well as candles, soaps, jewelry, clothing, gardening tools, plants and seeds.
But the entire property is also meant to be a gathering place, with a large lawn in the center with picnic tables and a big box of games. You can throw a football, play cornhole or even compete in a potato sack race. There are also a lovely garden with flowers and produce and a teepee for kids to dream up their own adventures.
A group of food trucks provides plenty of options for drinking and eating. Quench your thirst at Common Grounds Coffee or Luna Juice Bar, or grab a bite at 900 Degrees Woodfired Pizzeria, Co-Town Crepes, Club Sandwich or Cheddar Box (known for its grilled cheese sandwiches). Finish with a biscuit, cupcake or other treat at Magnolia Bakery, which uses Joanna’s personal recipes.
Magnolia Market is part of a local design scene that has helped Waco go from sleepy college town to hip destination in recent years. If you visit on a Saturday, you can combine your time at Magnolia Market with stops at the weekly Downtown Farmers Market, which is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the Waco Artist Market that takes place some Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. (Note: Magnolia Market is closed on Sunday.)
For more only-in-Waco finds, check out Spice Village for a funky collection of more than 90 shops under one roof. From apparel and accessories to home décor and vintage goods, the former Waco Hardware building offers a wide mix of affordable and luxurious products. Dating to 1908, the 30,000-square-foot landmark still possesses its signature long-leaf pine beams, which separate each of the shops.
Cocktails and Brews
After shopping ’til you’ve dropped, head over to Muddle on Austin Ave. for handcrafted cocktails. The lounge boasts an enclosed patio with a second bar, as well as pool tables and a dart board. Local musicians play every weekend.
For a unique Waco pint, you can’t find fresher brews than at Bare Arms Brewing. Founded by two mechanical engineers turned home brewers, the spot serves a number of flagship beers on tap (try the local-coffee-assisted Java Joule) and hosts trivia night, board game night and an Oktoberfest celebration, among other events. Hours are more limited than at a typical bar: Bare Arms Brewing is open from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and closes at 8 p.m. on Thursdays and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Get an authentic taste of Waco at the old-school spots that should make your itinerary. George’s has been popular with locals for generations — the laid-back restaurant, bar and self-described “party zone” has been serving its Southern comfort food since 1930. The menu features Texas staples, such as chicken-fried steak, fajitas and brisket, while the bar and outdoor area are perfect for hanging out with friends.
Schmaltz’s Sandwich Shop is another long-time favorite. It first opened in 1975 on the Baylor University campus, soon followed by downtown and Valley Mills locations. The secret of its sandwiches is the original artisan bun — light and airy with a crunchy crust.