Have you ever heard of a little show on HGTV called the Fixer Upper? Well, millions of people have. And although I heard Chip and Joanna Gaines, the endearing couple that made the show such a hit, have moved on to other things, the one thing they didn’t forget about… is Waco. We have been long-time fans of Chip and Joanna Gaines, so selfishly, our only reason for visiting Waco was to check out the Magnolia Market at The Silos. Our visit wasn’t planned around sightseeing or learning anything about Waco’s history (shameful, I know, but true), it was simply to visit the place created by the people behind a show we used to watch all the time, and loved.
The Magnolia Market at The Silos is located at 601 Webster Ave. in Waco, TX. We arrived around 2:00 pm on a Saturday and found it almost impossible to find a parking spot, even with the huge (and I mean huge) lot designated for visitors. After driving up and down all the streets in the immediate area, we finally found a place to park a couple blocks away. There is a trolley to pick-up and drop-off visitors, but it wasn’t around when we parked so we didn’t know it existed until we arrived. I’m not sure we would have been able to hop-on, anyway, since we had Richey with us. No worries…a short walk up a couple of blocks and we were there. It was quite busy, but the twenty-minute drive around the neighborhood prepared us. The Magnolia Market at The Silos is obviously a very popular destination that draws-in a ton of visitors!
The first thing you notice when you arrive, and even before that, are the huge silos towering over the grounds. They tower over most of the neighborhood, for that matter. Even if you had to park much farther away than we did, you wouldn’t have a problem finding your destination… just walk in the direction of the silos! The next thing you might notice, at least we did, is the feeling of surprise to encounter such a happenin’ spot in the middle of what might otherwise be considered a less than lively area. I wonder how many cars would be on the streets if the Magnolia Market at The Silos didn’t exist. My guess is… not many. Nonetheless, it seems to be just what this little neighborhood needs.
The only entry way, which is located behind the bus/trolley in the above picture, will lead you to the front doors of the Magnolia store and the family (and dog) friendly grounds consisting of a grassy area for kids to play, food trucks serving up a variety of casual foods, and shaded picnic tables to either eat at or just relax. We saw kids kicking around a ball, people of all ages lounging in the beanbag chairs scattered about, and people walking through the area with their furry four-legged friends. And whether you’re coming or going, the entry way also seems to be the place people memorialize their visit with a photo, which the employees are more than happy take for you.
We were hungry when we got there and really wanted to stop into the bakery and grab a snack (Hakam LOVES bakeries), but the line was an hour-long and the employee we were talking to didn’t know anything about the menu, other than it was very limited. We weren’t willing to stand in such a long line without knowing what was on the menu, or at least that there would be a variety of baked goods to choose from! Well, Hakam would have, but I wasn’t going to. And even though there were food trucks on the premises, we didn’t see anything we wanted to eat. Even if we had, finding an empty space at a picnic table might have been a challenge.
The inside of the Magnolia store is nicely staged and very attractive, but it’s also a mad-house. I actually waited for a lot of the crowd to exit the store before I went in, but it was still never more than a matter of seconds before I was either saying “excuse me” to get around someone, getting bumped into, or moving to accommodate someone else. I would have liked to actually pick up the merchandise and check out the prices, but I grew annoyed with the intense atmosphere and chose instead to take my pictures and leave. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I saw anything in the store that I wouldn’t be able to find at a Pier 1, World Market, or something similar. If I’m being fair, though, I only walked around the store for about ten minutes before I waited in the bathroom line for thirty-minutes, and then left. I did appreciate the structure of the pitched-roof in another section of the store, but there was no air-conditioning so it was unbearable to be in. In short, my experience inside the store was not a good one, and only two words come to mind when trying to describe it… Cattle Drive!
Overall, the Magnolia Market at The Silos just wasn’t what we expected. I’m not sure exactly what we did expect, other than to fall in love with the place like we did with Chip and Joanna Gaines and the Fixer Upper, but what we didn’t expect is the over-commercialized experience we walked away with. We did like the silos, though! I will say this, whether you love or hate the place, I’m more than certain it has done wonders for the local economy.
Hakam and I always say… We’ll never know if we like a place until we go, right? So for that reason, we’re glad we went, but we couldn’t recommend anyone driving as far as we did (three hours) to reach the destination. Luckily, Waco had more in store for us and we didn’t even know it!
We Parted ways with Magnolia Market and grabbed a bite to eat at Hecho en Waco (included in our “Texas Restaurant Reviews” post), a Mexican restaurant within walking distance. It’s actually the only restaurant within walking distance, according to a Market employee. After dinner we walked the deserted streets snapping pictures of some interesting sites including the Dr. Pepper Museum, train tracks, and the Silos from afar, but there wasn’t much else to look at. We headed to our truck so we could drive into downtown Waco and look around a little before starting the long journey back to San Antonio.
Downtown is very small, with only a street or two of shops and restaurants, but very quaint, nevertheless. Not much was open (that we saw) other than a few restaurants, but the area was interesting enough to keep us rolling down the streets in search of something else. We stopped to admire the McLennan Court House and the ALICO building, which is the tallest building in Waco, and then drove a little more and saw the McLennan County Sheriff’s station, and later a cluster of eclectic shops.
And with that, and already much later than originally planned, we pointed our truck in the direction of the highway to head back to San Antonio. That is, until we saw…..
Indian Spring Park at The Waco Riverwalk
Only two minutes into our trip back to San Antonio, and we were already making a detour to check out this lovely green and hilly park we spotted on our way out. After a somewhat disappointing trip to the Magnolia Market at The Silos, we were desperate to find something that would justify our three-hour trip to Waco. We had a feeling Indian Springs Park at the Waco Riverwalk just might be what we were missing.
The Waco Riverwalk, which is accessible from various points throughout downtown Waco, stretches approximately seven miles along the banks of the Brazos River. Its lighted trails pass underneath several bridges including the iconic Waco Suspension Bridge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It spans 475 feet and was built with steel and cables supplied by the John Roebling Co., which is the same company that designed and supervised the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. The Waco Suspension Bridge is undoubtedly the centerpiece of the Waco Riverwalk and certainly photo-worthy. We know we did not do it justice.
Even though the suspension bridge was easily seen as we approached the park, the first thing we were actually drawn to was the Peace Officer Memorial. It sits right up front, unobstructed, and is provided a backdrop of blue skies, nature, an iconic bridge, and several other uniquely beautiful bridges.
Although the Waco Suspension Bridge is the “star of the show”, and rightfully so considering its history and design, we got just as much joy from looking at and photographing the other bridges we either crossed over or passed under while walking along the trails.
The Waco Suspension Bridge is bordered by two parks: the Indian Springs park on the west side and the Martin Luther King Jr. park on the east. We happened upon Indian Springs. The park is green with lots of trees and flowers, plenty of picnic tables and benches throughout, stone walls that line the walking trails on one side, bridges and memorials, and impressive displays of public art sculptures everywhere, including the Branding the Brazos, a reminder of Waco’s early history.
There were many more sculptures to see and photograph, and quite a bit going on in the surrounding neighborhood, but we still had a long drive ahead of us so we had to get back on the road. This time, however, instead of being disappointed we drove three hours to visit a place that didn’t live up to our expectations, we were disappointed we didn’t have more time to explore the great area we accidentally discovered. If you’re ever in Waco, you should add Indian Springs Park to your itinerary.
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