I am not a reader, in the traditional sense. I read blogs, newspapers, articles online, and everything that comes my way via social media. I rarely will sit down with a book. However, when my mom gave me “The Magnolia Story” by Chip and Joanna Gaines, I truly couldn’t put it down. I’d been a fan of theirs since their show aired on HGTV, rarely missing an episode. After reading their book, however, I knew a visit to Waco would need to happen. Reading about their simple beginnings, raising a family, and managing all of it with the cameras rolling was intriguing. I love their entrepreneurial spirit that is so obvious.
With my spring Junk Bonanza earnings burning a hole in my pocket, I booked tickets for a Texas-sized family adventure. My wish list included Magnolia (obviously) and a visit to the Junk Gypsies. Ethan wanted to see the Dude Perfect HQ2 and nab himself a belt buckle in the Forth Worth Stockyards. Jon wanted to experience the Riverwalk in San Antonio. And Claire, just wanted to fly on an airplane.
In the wee hours of the morning, “Uncle Aaron” brought us to the airport. Our direct flight to Dallas had us all pretty excited.
Once in Dallas, we hopped in our cute little KIA rental car. We quickly (literally) acclimated ourselves to the speedy folks in Texas with the posted 80 MPH speed limits on the interstates.
We were Waco bound in no time.
While in Waco, we tried to take in as much as we could within our 1-night stay. Luckily, my family has become accustomed to my love of everything Chip & Joanna and were good sports.
After a refreshing dip in the pool from a lengthy morning of traveling, we immediately headed to the silos.
The family-friendly environment at the Magnolia silos was obvious from the start. Upon arriving, they handed us their lovely white umbrellas, so we could catch some relief from the sweltering Texas sun. While the boys hit up the food trucks, Claire and I headed straight for the silos to take in all of their chippy, rusty goodness. Next, we headed into the grain barn for shopping and inspiration, which it was packed full of both. The boys especially liked Chip’s Corner. We heard mutterings that Chip is going to expand his “store” into one of the silos. Who knows if that is factual, but definitely would merit a trip back to check it out.
All of the employees were contagiously welcoming and happy. They all wanted to know where we traveled from to visit Waco. We playfully bantered back and forth over our accents. We teased about their Y’alls and they joked about our Min-nes-oooota, questioning if our snow had melted yet. I was curious with every conversation if the employees had met Chip and Joanna. Some had, others hadn’t. Apparently the day we visited, Chip had been at the silos most of the morning filming. That led me to believe they were in town. We are definitely happy we did our research and visited on a week day when things are less crowded, as they welcome 40,000+ visitors a week. I also am glad we went first as a family for the evening and then I returned again the next morning while the fam slept in.
We enjoyed the short line at the bakery and were ordering our cupcakes within no time. We were sure to check out the bathroom in the bakery, as suggested by most of the research I did. Like most visitors, we took time to just lounge and play in their park-like setting to let our cupcake-filled tummies settle from the sugar rush.
We cruised around Waco a bit and made it a point to check out a few key places featured on the show. These included Clint’s woodshop, Harp StudiosCo, the original Magnolia store, a coffee shop frequented by the Gaines’, the walking bridge, and the many neighborhoods (some of which we certainly needed the doors locked for). We headed to the neighboring town, McGregor, Texas to snoop around at the Magnolia House, the Bed & Breakfast owned by Chip and Joanna. And, with some simple Google searching, we were able to find the address of Chip & Joanna’s farmhouse, often featured in the Fixer Upper episodes. Just days prior to our family arriving in Waco, news surfaced about the newest project the Gaines’ were adding to their bag of tricks. They purchased a dilapidated restaurant and will be bringing the Magnolia Table to Waco. Despite some construction going on, I poked my head in to check it out. Although I didn’t see Chip in action on Demo Day, I can say that I at least got my foot in the door.
Our visit to Waco and everything Magnolia was simply lovely. I look forward to watching and re-watching Fixer Upper episodes, which have just that much more meaning now that we’ve been there. I will definitely still remain a super fan, using much of their entrepreneurial vision within my own business and in my business classroom. And…I need to start planning my return trip to Waco, as I am certain I am not done visiting.
We bid farewell to Waco and headed south for San Antonio. We discovered the unique feel of the downtown Riverwalk in San Antonio wasn’t for our little small-town boy Ethan. He was a good sport, though, as we poked around the San Antonio must-see. We had a fun river boat cruise, at river-side supper at the Hard Rock Cafe, and “didn’t forget the Alamo.”
Uncommon to post hotels in Minnesota are outdoor pools (for obvious reasons). We enjoyed this amenity at all of the Texas hotels we stayed at. Our San Antonio hotel even had outdoor “swim up” movies, complete with popcorn.
We had a beautiful view of the Texas sunsets from our upper level room and cozy evenings in our cool room.
Our next stop was San Antonio’s Sea World. My 3 kids (yes, you read that correctly…Jon + 2 Children) loved Sea World. Between the whale and dolphin shows, rollercoasters, and water rides…they all found Sea World to be a blast. Momma, however, wasn’t digging the 104 degree heat My favorite part of the park was this:
I’ve just never been a waterpark, “walk around in my swims”, or fish kind of gal. You might ask, “Why in the world did you take your family to Sea World on a 100+ degree day then, Jenny?” Like most mommas, I set aside my sanity, and hunkered in for a full day of Sea World. Bud Light helped make my stay more enjoyable, as well as the people watching. Seeing my family enjoy all of the it was nice too.
We didn’t leave Texas without a stop at an authentic BBQ joint, complete with twangy music, beef brisket, and vintage country decor.
As we mapped out our route north back to Dallas, we opted to take the back country roads instead of the interstates. This made for the most memorable lag of our trip. Jon and Ethan really enjoyed seeing the many ranches, miles of fence, and the oil farms. Claire seemed to have an enjoyable rating system for the gas stations we stopped at.
I somehow convinced Jon to take a 2 hour detour to the junking belt of Texas. For about 10 miles, flea markets, occasional stores, and vendor swaps were nestled around the most lovely little town of Round Top, Texas, with it’s booming population of 90. Returning to this area is definitely on my bucket list. This junker definitely will “winter” in Round Top during retirement. My real reason for visiting this quaint part of southern Texas was to pay a visit to the Junk Gypsies. This sister/mother trio left their corporate jobs to let their gypsy spirit free. They’ve created a brand like none other, catching the attention of celebrities such a Miranda Lampert and Dierks Bentley. Their country glam, rockstar, bohemian feel of their store left me so inspired. Their pink vintage suburban named Large Marge welcomed up. Be sure to check them out at gypsyville.com
When anyone asks my kids how their recent trip to Texas, they both are quick to respond, “Mom got pulled over.” And, are they accurate. I mentioned that Texans have lead foots. Even on their country roads, most posted speed limits are 70 MPH. Things were going well, until I failed to slow down through a tiny town. I truly hadn’t seen a police officer in hundreds of miles, but they found me. I respectfully told the officer I was a Minnesota gal in a rental car with Florida plates in the middle of Texas driving way too fast. I fully expected a ticket, but instead was issued a warning. I really should have found the nearest Texas casino with luck like that.
After the back roads shenanigans, we arrived back in Dallas for the final lag of our trip. We paid a visit to Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, the assassination site of JFK. We didn’t miss the Dude Perfect Headquarters, more commonly known as HQ2. Although the building is never open to the public, there were plenty of fans there checking it out just like us. We enjoyed a meal at the Gas Monkey Garage too. We soaked up more Texas rays in yet another hotel pool. We drove to the historic Fort Worth Stockyard to watch the daily Texas Long Horn Cattle Drive, take part in some rootin’ tootin’ fun, and took in Billy Bob’s (the world’s largest Honky Tonk). Ethan found a belt buckle, the key item on his souvenir wish list.
Like any good trip, it feels good to be home bound. Thanks Texas, for a memorable Maras family trip.