Do the words “shiplap” and “demo day” mean anything to you? If not, chances are pretty high that you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years.

HGTV made Chip and Joanna Gaines household names through their show called Fixer Upper. However, long before the show went on the air, the Gaines were building an empire in Waco, Texas- one house at a time.

Chip and Joanna Gaines are not only successful TV personalities, but they are also incredibly talented designers and business entrepreneurs. One project they’ve passionately created is a mini village called Magnolia Market. Lately, I’ve seen this charming little destination pop up on so many travel bucket lists.

So naturally, visiting Magnolia Market went straight to the top of my list too.

In an effort to deliver completely honest content, I will say that the reviews on Magnolia Market are mixed. Some people love it, and others feel let down by the experience. And I can easily see how that can happen.

To make the most out of your trip you need to go in with the right expectations. You also need a plan.

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At the risk of sounding a tad boastful, I will say that we did Magnolia Market the “right” way. And we had THE BEST experience! It was truly a memorable day for our family and my kiddos have asked several times when we can go back!

Although I may one day regret sharing all these secrets, here are my tips for visiting Magnolia Market:

  1. Read The Books: Even if you’ve watched every episode of Fixer Upper, you still don’t know the whole story. In fact, you know very little of it! Read The Magnolia Story by Joanna Gaines and Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines. You will gain such a wonderful appreciation for the empire they’ve built in Waco. Plus, it’s really neat to see so much of what they describe in the books when you are able to visit. We listened to the audio version during our drive to Waco. My children really got into it and enjoyed Magnolia Market so much more.
  2. Go EARLY: After much debate we opted to spend the night in Waco. This was probably one of the best travel decisions we’ve ever made! We woke up at 5:45AM to be at the restaurant, Magnolia Table, close to opening. Although it was a little painful pulling everyone out of bed, it was so worth it. By the time we finished our breakfast (around 7:15AM), there was a 2 hour wait to be seated! The food was a.ma.zing. But I’m not 100% sure my kids would have felt the same way if we’d had to wait that long to eat breakfast. 
  3. Experience Magnolia Closed: Magnolia Market doesn’t officially open it’s doors until 9AM. However, the grounds are accessible early. We went straight from Magnolia Table to the Market (FYI, they are not in the same area of Waco!) It was so amazing to walk around the deserted destination. Our family took tons of pictures, walked through the garden, and even played a bit. Other than several employees who were painstakingly manicuring every inch of the place, we were the only ones there! 
  4. Know the Bakery Hours: Magnolia Bakery opens at 7:30AM. Although after eating a huge breakfast at Magnolia Table we weren’t ready for cupcakes, we decided to buy some before it got crowded. We walked right in, and spent a ton of time drooling over the selection. We chatted with the super sweet employees and even met one of the team’s managers who was picking up cupcakes to take to a job site. Later that day we saw the line for the bakery wrapped out the door and around the building. It was nice to have our cupcakes waiting in the car!
  5. Come For The Experience: The actual shop at Magnolia Market market is really amazing. I wanted two of everything. But it isn’t like going to an antique store (Fixer Upper style) and finding a one-of-a-kind, rare piece that you can repurpose into something fabulous. It’s more like going to a nicer, less crafty version of Hobby Lobby. There are also a couple sections with souvenir-type items. Don’t come to Magnolia planning to go on a day-long shopping spree. It’s more about the whole experience and brining home a special item (or three!) 
  6.  Stay A While: The one thing you can’t do at Magnolia Market is rush. It’s all about the ambiance and quality time you spend. Plan to stroll through the garden, eat from a food truck vendor, sit back and relax.
  7. Embrace Waco: There is a lot more to Waco than just Magnolia Market. We spent some time touring the Fixer Upper side to the city (like the suspension bridge featured in almost every episode, and Harp Design Studio), but we also found some awesome other stops. We really enjoyed exploring the Dr. Pepper Museum. And, what’s now one of my children’s favorite places in the world- The Waco Mammoth National Monument. 

As a general rule of thumb, I’d say you probably need one full day in Waco. No more, no less. Dallas is about an hour to the north so if you are coming from a distance, you’ll want to spend time there to get the most out of your trip!

I hope you use these tips to enjoy visiting Magnolia Market as much as we did!

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