“We have to stop in Waco,” I said to my boyfriend.
“The Branch Davidian place?” he asked.
We were planning a little road trip through Texas, a portion of which would take us from Dallas to Austin—and therefore right through Waco. He was technically right about the Branch Davidians and the Waco Siege, of course, but over the last several years, the city has become better known as the mecca of Magnolia.
I’m not one to watch TV very regularly (I only started watching Game of Thrones this year, whoops!), but during the five-season run of Fixer Upper, I tuned in for practically every new episode. I, along with half of the country, was hooked on the Gaines family, their wholesome humor, and the feel-good nature of their home renovations. So if I was driving through Waco, you better believe I was going to pay homage to my favorite TV family.
The Gaines have multiple enterprises in Waco, the most famous of which, at least on Instagram, is Magnolia Market at the Silos. In 2015, the couple renovated a former grain complex in downtown Waco—complete with two massive silos and a 12,000-square-foot barn—into what is basically a Disney World for Fixer Upper fans. Naturally, this was the primary stop on our visit.
While the complex is absolutely swarming on weekends, the crowd was pretty thin on a Tuesday afternoon. The first thing I spotted was Silos Baking Co., set on the corner of the property right near the entrance. I had heard through the grapevine that people queued up for up to three hours for Jo’s famous cupcakes on the weekends, so seeing as there were only 30 or so people waiting in line, we joined them.
I was incredibly impressed by how efficient the whole operation was—a cheerful employee handed us a menu card while we were waiting in line, which we marked down with our order and brought up to the register. Then there was a short wait as an assembly line of staffers packed up our cupcakes into a to-go box. Altogether, we were in and out in less than ten minutes.
The one “negative” to my experience, if you can even call it that, was that I fell in love with the adorable ceramic mugs lined up on the shelves, but they cost a whopping $24. Sorry, Jo, but I had to pass. On the bright side, the cupcakes were hands down the best I’ve ever had.
The Best Part
More on those cupcakes: We ended up ordering six in total (The Classic, chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream; Silobration, vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream and sprinkles; Strawberries ‘N Cream, strawberry cake with vanilla buttercream icing; Lemon Lavender, lemon and lavender vanilla cake with lemon buttercream icing; the Chocolatier, chocolate cake and chocolate buttercream icing; and the seasonally available Carrot Cake, carrot cupcake with cream cheese icing).
I’m not one for overly sweet frosting, but Jo’s got it just right, and the flavors are all really well balanced. If we had to pick favorites, mine was Carrot Cake and my boyfriend's was Lemon Lavender, but you can't go wrong with any of them.
After the cupcakes, we wandered through the main complex at the Silos. There’s the iconic lawn with striped bean bag chairs and families playing corn hole, plenty of picnic table seating, a beautiful garden next to the Magnolia Seed & Supply shop, and a slew of food trucks by local vendors, a few Magnolia-run spots, including an outpost that sells bites from the Gaines’s Magnolia Table restaurant. Everyone orders the sweet tea in mason jars, but personally, I recommend the hot dogs.
The weekday crowd is a mix of all types, from gaggles of girls to multi-gen families to couples, primarily visiting from elsewhere in Texas, though there are visitors from farther afield, too (including Australia!). As you can imagine, everyone is running all over the place taking Instagram photos—how could you not, with Jo’s iconic rustic-chic farmhouse aesthetic as far as the eye can see? And many of those visitors are dressed to the trendiest nines for those photos, too. But given the relative calm of our weekday afternoon visit, many people were simply lounging about enjoying the cloudy but warm day.
Finally, we dropped by the official Magnolia Market, housed in the aforementioned barn, which is filled to the brim with the Gaines’s homewares, books, floral arrangements, and souvenirs, like the T-shirts the Gaines wore on Fixer Upper. The store itself is beautiful, as are all of the products, but unfortunately for us, we couldn’t fit many of the things we wanted to buy in our suitcases. We left with just a T-shirt, a magnet, and an issue of Magnolia Journal (all of which were more reasonably priced than the mugs).
Had we planned our trip a little differently, I would have loved to stop by Magnolia Table, which is only open for breakfast and lunch—the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait hours—and the Gaines’ original Magnolia Market outpost, now called the Little Shop on Bosque, which is an outlet store. But those will just have to wait for the next trip!
The Surrounding Attractions
Instead, we decided to drop by a few other Waco attractions: the Dr. Pepper Museum & Free Enterprise Institute, which is within walking distance of the Silos, and Waco Mammoth National Monument, where you can see the bones of mammoths found right in Waco. There’s definitely more than enough to do in town than just experience the Gaines’s Magnolia empire, so you can appease all parties in your group. (For the record, my boyfriend has since watched Fixer Upper, and he’s totally on board with my minor Gaines obsession.)
Ultimately, we were pretty impressed with the Silos—especially by the excellent, efficient service of all the employees. They were really, really stellar. But for us, the star of the show was absolutely the cupcakes. In fact, we stopped by on our way back to Dallas to buy a few more for the road. Thanks, Chip and Jo!
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