I was pleasantly surprised at the "love" I was getting on social media when I would post about my trip to Waco this past weekend because I knew I was in good company. After all, anyone who loves Chip and Joanna is family, right? My mom, my sister and I heard that their Magnolia Market was becoming quite the tourist destination, so we decided to make the trip down to Texas (which was only a 2.5 hour plane ride!) to check it out for a girls' weekend. If you're thinking about doing the same thing, make sure to add a few other spots on your "to-do" list!
Here's what we did:
Waco Mammoth National Monument: This was about five minutes from the airport, so we made a stop on our way to the hotel. The park was only about $5 for adult admission, and you got to see a former dig site that had some pretty cool mammoth fossils. Guests can see fossils from female mammoths, a bull mammoth, and a camel that lived approximately 67,000 years ago. This was my mom's idea because we landed way before our hotel check-in time and thought, "What are we going to do?" She kept joking about it being the "best part of the trip," but I really enjoyed it. You probably don't need more than an hour, and I would recommend you hop on one of the tours. It's really just one room with a worker talking, but I thought it was informative! Click here for more info.
Dr. Pepper Museum: For this only being a $10 admission price, I thought it was worth it! You get to see the history unravel of Dr. Pepper and the bottling process, alone! I'm a tad naive, but I never knew that soda bottles were similar to the way we operate our Bier Gartens...you put a deposit down for the glass bottles and get it back when you return them! Click here for more info.
Balcones Distilling: I'm not a big drinker, but my sister likes to experience a lot of these types of tours and breweries, so my mom and I went along. Little did I know, this would end up being one of my favorite things on the trip! If you like whiskey, this'll be your spot. It was cool to hear about the history of the building and the fact that it started from a few buddies joking around one night about starting a distillery to the following week with one of them actually buying a building. This was also a great spot to just meet people, too, because everyone was a little more sociable with some liquid courage in them! Click here for more info.
Barnett's Public House: It was St. Patty's Day weekend; it was an Irish bar; we had to go. The bartender/waiter was really nice and making not only recommendations on what to eat but other spots to see in Waco. Their menu isn't the largest, but this ended up being one of my favorite meals on the trip. We got the queso for an appetizer, and I had the Italian flatbread (minus the sausage). Delicious. So good. I also had the best Imperial Stout that I've ever tasted. Wild Acre, which is a local brewery, and the waiter said that it was a beer soaked in a bourbon barrel. Click here for more info.
Magnolia Baking Co: We spent our Friday at Magnolia Market, but to start it off, we had to go to Magnolia Baking Co. My mom had received a tip from a friend at church who had already visited the popular destination to get there before open. Because we were at Magnolia during "Spring at the Silos," we decided to follow that recommendation. We got there about 15 minutes before open, and once doors were unlocked, we only had to wait about 15 minutes. Overall, I thought the cupcakes were pretty good. You placed your order while you were in line (they handed out cards), and by the time you got up to the front, they were boxed up and ready to go. I had The Classic, my mom had a smores one, and my sister had a coconut flavor. There was a LOT of frosting, but isn't that the best part? Click here for more info.
Magnolia Silos: As I mentioned before, we were at the silos during a major event known as "Spring at the Silos." I'd highly recommend going to the market during this time of year. Even though it's crowded, the streets are surrounded with some of the nation's best hand-picked boutique stores. Businesses like Gigi Pip, Fontenelle Supply Co., Simply Beauty Headbands and more, loaded the streets around the silos in a flea market fashion for visitors to enjoy. When it comes to the actual market, you should be ready to wait in line to get into the store. We didn't have to wait too long, but when we got in the store, it was PACKED. So, maybe go one day and scope the place out. The next day, come back and know what you want to get and where to get it.
The other part about the market was that they have the Magnolia Seed + Supply which is based around gardening and Joanna's obsession with plants. You can seeds, special tools and more. It's just a little shop, but why not stop while you're there!
You can make a day of the market because they have a huge green space where kids can play soccer or you can sit on bean bag chairs and all of that is surrounded by food trucks! We tried the grilled cheese place which was delicious. We also tried the Sweet Tea food truck that had lines up the wazoo...and yes. It was worth it. For eight bucks, you got your own personal mason jar glass full of sweet tea - which you have to get while you're in the south!
Here's one thing about whoever Chip and Joanna hired for marketing: he or she is a genius. Every bit of the Magnolia "campus" is full of photo opportunities and Instagram opportunities. You might call me a young millennial for saying that, but it's free marketing for their store! And, of course...I had to stop at every spot to take a picture.
Spice Village: The cool part about Waco is that it's full of fun antique and boutique shops. Spice Village was one that'll take you a decent amount of time to walk through. It's eclectic and has something for just about everyone! Check out the website, and you'll know what I mean (click here).
Waco Winery: Ten bucks for a five glass tasting and well worth it! Texas prides itself on being Texas, so all of these wines were made in Texas. Our waiter was excellent with making recommendations. My mom and sister walked away with a bottle of the Cab. I almost walked out with the Chocolate Rose wine, but restrained myself. Click here for more info.
Portofino's Italian Restaurant: This was a recommendation the waiter at the winery made when we said we were in the mood for pasta. I'm thinking that there aren't a lot of "fine-dining" establishments in Waco, but nonetheless, this was a local restaurant owned by an authentic Italian family. I had the manicotti which wasn't too bad. My mom had Chicken Alfredo which fell kind of flat, and my sister had a Eggplant Parmesean sort of dish and didn't seem to think it was too bad. Click here for more info.
Bare Arms Brewing: Your going to think my family is a bunch of lushes, but I promise! We were just trying to find things to do! We stopped here based on a recommendation from a Waco native we met at Balcones. We also wanted to make sure we knew where we were going on Saturday morning when we visit Magnolia Table, so this was a "practice drive." I had a lager which was pretty good, and my sister and mom had a flight. They agreed on their favorite: 1849 - which ironically is "Waco's Beer." Click here for more info.
Magnolia Table: Chip and Joanna recently opened this restaurant which is only open for breakfast and lunch. We received another tip to get there before open, so we headed out around 6:30AM and waited for the doors to open, but we were seated instantly even though there's a little bit of a line. I'd like to say my family and I were interesting and all tried separate things, but we didn't. We all tried the Farmer's Breakfast, which was good, but it wasn't anything super special. The Lavender Donut Holes were FANTASTIC, though. Definitely get those when you go, as well as the biscuits with jam. They were probably even better than the biscuits at (dare I say it?)...Loveless Cafe. Definitely worth the visit just to see the decor and meet some more of the workers! I will say that about the whole Magnolia experience, the employees are very welcoming, friendly, conversational.
When you do stop at the Table, make sure to get to the gift shop, as well! They sell these spectacular carmels that you get at the end of your meal. More info here.
Harp Design Co: Just a short drive away from our hotel was Clint's woodshop! You know Clint, right? He creates all of those beautiful tables and wood pieces Joanna designs. He recently opened his shop where you can buy some of his handmade furniture and other goodies like potholders, wood jewelry and more! It's worth the trip even though it's a little shop. Click here for more info.
Fuzzy's: Our hotel was right across from a bar that was always hoppin' because of the solid patio situation they had. We stopped in and had some nachos, margaritas and burritos. This was probably my least favorite of the meals, but I'd say for a drinking atmosphere, it was a great place to be. Click here for more info.
Cricket's Draft House + Grill: With more than 100 beers on tap, we figured this would be the perfect place for our St. Patty's Day dinner. The bar was full of games, like pool, shuffle board, air hockey, fooseball. If Barnett's wasn't my favorite meal, it would have been this place. I had the bean burger with half and half fries (half sweet potato and half regular). That's the thing about every place we went to in Texas: they always had sweet potato fries! It was fantastic! My mom had a burger, and my sister had a salad - I think everyone pretty much finished what was on their plate. Click here for more info.
Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream: Have you ever watched ice cream turn from liquid into, well, ice cream? That's the whole point of this place. You tell the counter what flavor you want, the put the liquid in a bowl and freeze it right in front of you. It was probably some of the best ice cream I've had, too. I had the butter pecan. Click here for more info.
Ninfa's Mexican Restaurant: We had some time on the first day to grab lunch before we checked into our hotel, and my mom is obsessed with Mexican food, so we hit up Ninfa's! It's one of the many restaurants (including Cricket's) that's connected to Spice Village. It was a good place for lunch. Quick, easy. Decent food. Click here for more.
Twisted Root Burger Company: This place was cool, man! You walk in, and there are huge screens to watch sporting events on, and there are more big screens that have 80's music videos on repeat. There was a lot of memorabilia from movies - like the leg lamp from A Christmas Story. Also, the burger menu is insane - AND THEY HAD FRIED PICKLES!! Of course, I was in heaven. Here's one other unique thing that happens: When you order, they call your name...well, not YOUR name. They assign you a name. I was Reba, which I was stoked about. Click here to see this rad place.
We spent our last day in Austin, which was great, too. But because it was a Sunday, there wasn't too much going on. We went to the capitol, walked around 2nd street and did some shopping. We walked through the park, and hit up Rainey St for some of the local bars and music scene. That was a little more college-driven I think, but it was still cool to see.
Take advantage of other antique shops while you're in Waco. Some of our favorites included The Findery and Simply Irresistible.
We stayed at the Hilton, and it was perfect! We were within walking distance to pretty much everything. We also stayed on the executive level - which I think was only $6 more per day. This gave us access to free breakfast, soda, juice, water, appetizers and snacks from 6:30AM-10:30PM. WELL worth the $18 we spent!
One of the biggest recommendations I can make is this: we took all of our pictures at Magnolia right after we went to the bakery...so, before the market even opened. I think we were there around 7:15AM and didn't have to deal with anybody walking in our shots, and we could visit all of the photo stops without waiting.
I should also mention that we rented a car. Like I said, we walked pretty much everywhere, but it was nice for convenience when we wanted to go to Magnolia Table and Clint's shop because those two places are NOT within walking distance to our hotel.