Spring is a great time to visit Magnolia Silos, especially with the Spring at the Silos event occurring in March (read on for more information). Here’s the scoop on what awaits you and tips for enjoying this Waco adventure to the utmost.
In the five or six years since we visited Waco while on a wedding/vacation trip in Austin, Texas, a lot has been goin’ on.
We mean, a LOT.
Magnolia Market and the Silos grew from an already sizable two-plus acres of retail and dining space to two entire city blocks. Yep, you can enter the enormous outdoor plaza from either 8th Street or the original entrance on Webster Avenue and spend half a day or a full weekend exploring. Chip and Joanna Gaines, who started with a tiny home decor shop in 2003, now run a large media company, with their own network, books and a monthly magazine. They’ve poured their heart and soul into creating beautiful homey spaces and it’s all there to be touched, smelled, shopped, eaten and enjoyed in downtown Waco.
What’s New at the Silos
Magnolia Press — could be the first place you go, with early opening hours and incredibly fresh coffee and baked treats. Try the 1905 latte infused with toasted marshmallow and vanilla; then try and choose between the apple pie cinnamon roll and the savory artichoke croissant.
Whiffle Ball Playing Field — the Gaineses have respected Waco history at every turn, even down to its ball-playing fields. The old Katy Park, where Wacoans cheered on their minor league teams for 30 years in the early 20th century, is now paved over but it was once part of the Magnolia property. A new green field is now in place complete with backstop and painted diamond for rousing games of whiffle ball.
Shops at the Silos — Magnolia Market is the mother of all shopping at the Silos but recently six new shops have heightened the retail joy. Browse through Chapter One with its array of fine paper and good books; No. 16 (the number on Chip’s high school jersey) for retro sporting goods and apparel; Tried & True for Joanna-approved bags, jewelry and accessories; Vie Bien Aimee stocks bath and body products that will give you a reset; Juniper + Crew for kids’ stuff; and Reverie with offerings of well-made women’s apparel that is flattering and timeless.
The Old Church — Some years ago, Joanna spotted a late-19th-century church that after a century of worship was quietly going to seed. The Gaineses bought the property and held onto it while Magnolia was being expanded. Too frail to move in its entirety, the church was gently dismantled and then rebuilt in the place of honor at the Silos. Nearly all of the original interior elements including the flooring, corbels, pews and rich mahogany wainscoting, were saved and restored. It’s an unexpected and delightful oasis for families to take a pause, admire the colored glass windows and sit on the smooth pews.
Enhanced Picnic Areas — Perfect for families and casual dining, the grounds at Magnolia have been expanded and enhanced. Large shade structures now cover most of the picnic tables and the food truck area has been paved — less dirt, more fun.
Spring at the Silos — Spring at the Silos is a weekend event that occurs annually at Magnolia. While not new, the event had to be canceled in 2020 and then minimized in 2021. It’s time to go back and enjoy a gathering of nearly 50 vendors hand-selected by the Magnolia team — and if they pass the Joanna litmus test, you know they won’t disappoint. All this plus live music at Magnolia’s outdoor stage, rooftop picnics with panoramic views of the city and special spring menus.
Waco on the Horizon
Waco is about 90 minutes from Austin. When we went, we piled in two cars and proceeded on our road trip. The scenery along the way was very enjoyable, especially all of the barbecue joints we counted and added to our list of great food places to go back to. At that time, the food options in Waco were not as plentiful as they are now. Besides Magnolia Table, a sit-down homey restaurant offering a delicious array of breakfast, brunch and lunch items, there are also numerous food trucks to choose from.
We took some time to drive through Waco’s quaint small downtown area and saw old and unique buildings, some empty, some not. As we turned the corner we found the Magnolia Market at the Silos. We didn’t have much trouble parking even though the crowds seemed to already be gathering. Honestly, we were so excited, I had the same feeling I had when I went to Disneyland as a child.
Our favorite tips for Magnolia Market:
Some of the best things are not for sale. Magnolia Market offered mostly new things designed to look old. I will say, some of my favorite things were old and not for sale. I prefer the real deal but appreciate the difficulty of supplying antiques to such a huge market. Joanna has an easy, impeccable style in her merchandise that is captivating.
Make a beeline for the backyard. You’ll frolic on a large green lawn with croquet and other simple outdoor activities. Adjacent to the lawn area was what I call the garden sanctuary. There was Magnolia Seed and Supply, created from a classic garden shed of course, and many beautiful plants lined up to form a quadrant area. Nestled in the plants and rock were beautiful tiny fairy gardens. The beauty of nature was abundant.
You will want at least two hours to fully enjoy. It was packed and yet so big. Every corner has a story and I wanted to read every story. It’s a feast for the eyes and also the mind. The patina on those 1950s-era silos was something I could look at for a long time. But by then my nose and stomach were heeding the call of the food trucks lining the back of the grassy area. My favorite was the crepe wagon. (Food trucks do change around from time to time, so let us know what you find when you go.)
You get out what you put in, timewise. The Gaines are super hospitable and one of their thoughtful offerings is this itinerary, which gives recommendations based on how long you wish to stay at the Silos.
It’s in my nature to see opportunity wherever I go. Waco was no exception. I looked at real estate in the area and seriously almost bought a place walking distance from the silos. Sometimes I have to laugh at myself and wonder how some things come to fruition and some do not. This one got away but there’s always something better just around the corner.