Yes, I’m a Fixer Upper fan. I think I started watching religiously in season 2. I wouldn’t say I have the same exact style as Joanna, but I love everything she does. Who doesn’t? I mean, I’m sure there are some…but they’d be in the minority. If you’re a fan of the Gaineses, you’d also most likely be in the minority if you don’t desire to go to Waco and visit Magnolia. The hubs and I have talked about going for a while. Finally, we made the plans. Actually, he made the plans.
A couple of Thursdays ago, I arrived home from a short 3-day visit with family about 3 hours away. When I got home, Matt told me he’d booked a hotel near Waco for the following week. Fast forward to the following Wednesday, and we were headed toward Waco.
Matt booked the trip because he found a great points deal at a Hampton Inn in Hillsboro (which, if you watched the show, you’ve probably seen is a neighboring town to Waco). He booked a 3-night stay (all with Hilton hotel points) in Hillsboro for less than half of what one night would’ve cost in Waco. We’re totally game on booking the nice hotel or other accommodation when it makes sense financially and/or adds to the trip experience. But we’ve been able to save a lot of money and take fun overnight trips to nearby cities by using points.
Our hotel preference is usually always Hampton Inn. They always feel clean, and they have a pretty decent free breakfast (especially if you know how to use that waffle maker). So, Matt decided a while back to acquire an American Express Hilton Honors credit card in order to accrue hotel points that we could use to save money on some of our little adventures. There are little tips and tricks to using the card most effectively in order to earn points faster. Matt’s the guru in that area, and I’m hoping he’ll write a blog post on it soon. But I can provide you with this link that will give you 75,000 points (and us 15,000) should you decide to sign up for the Hilton Honors card. Note: I’m not your grandma or your momma or your knowledgeable big sis, but please pursue this with wisdom and use your credit card like a debit card. Okay, I feel better having said that. Moving on.
So, we arrived in Hillsboro last Wednesday evening after a 6 hour drive (and multiple stops) from our hometown. We sat in the parking lot of the hotel for a while because the baby was sleeping for the first time the whole day. Once he woke up, we headed to our room. I looked up some local restaurants, and we decided on Up In Smoke BBQ. Matt went to pick it up while I nursed Brigsby. He came back to the room with what we ordered plus some free peach cobbler! We were in Texas, so the barbecue was good. After we ate, I ran to a nearby WalMart (there’s not a Target in Hillsboro…) to get some bottled water and a few snacks for the next couple of days. Then, we settled in for the night with plans to head to Magnolia Market in the morning. And we did just that. We got up, got dressed and headed to Waco. The drive from our hotel to Magnolia was right at 30 minutes (in which we passed multiple antique shops that I’ve noted for potential future visits). We arrived shortly after open. We made a couple of loops in search of a parking spot and scored a free parallel park on the street just one block away from the silos! I’d heard that if you wanted a free park, the best bet was to park somewhere else and ride the free trolley. However, with a baby, we didn’t want to ride the trolley or chance needing to leave quickly and not having the car available immediately. There are plenty of other parking spots around the silos, but the majority are the property of churches. So, there’s a fee ($10 on that Thursday…not sure if that amount ever changes) to park in them. I actually think this is pretty cool. Obviously, I was happy about not having to pay to park. But if we had needed to, I like that the money would’ve gone to a church. Matt and I talked about what an incredible fundraiser that would be for our church! Anyone want to build an awesome marketplace that thousands of people want to visit next to Landmark?
Okay, the main reason for our visit to Waco was Magnolia. And here’s how we structured our visit:
We saw that the line to the bakery seemed fairly long (on a week day…I can’t imagine the masses on a weekend), so we decided to do that first since it would just keep getting hotter outside. Unsurprisingly, the system to get people through the line quickly and comfortably was great. They had a tent set up with fans under it, so that was nice. And an employee came through the line with an order card that you filled out ahead of time. Once inside, you took the card to the cashier and paid for your order then waited for them to call your name and hand you a box of some delicious treats. We took the treats to a table in the outdoor patio. There we sat down, and I ate what I really think might be the best cupcake ever. Lemon lavender. The lemon flavor was slightly stronger than the lavender, but not overpowering. It was perfectly light and delicious even with a huge pile of scrumptious icing on top. And I must say, the lemonade we grabbed from the cooler inside the bakery complimented it quite nicely. Matt enjoyed his cupcake too (Silobration was his choice), but he’s not as into sweets like that as I am. Cupcake eating tip: Grab one of the cute wood forks in the bakery to use to devour your cupcake. It’s much easier that way. Matt can attest to this.After we finished up our mid-morning goodies, we decided to go into the market to try to cool off a bit and do some shopping. It was busy. And it wasn’t even busy. Ha. But that didn’t take away from our browsing experience. Just like every other part of the property, you can tell thought goes into every detail. Every display is perfect and pretty. The rails in the checkout line were cute, tattered black and white fabric. There were plenty of employees on hand. Two people checked you out…one rang up your purchases, the other wrapped them. Also, Jimmy Don was there. And so was the pottery guy from Black Oak Art that’s been on the show. So, that was neat.Once we finished shopping and appreciating the market, we decided to do a quick walk outside and leave because it was pretty hot. I wanted to try something from the food trucks (another day not in the middle of July, perhaps). But even with covered tables, we both agreed it would probably be best (especially for baby’s sake) to leave and eat in an air conditioned restaurant. So, we said goodbye and drove a few miles to one of the only In-n-Outs in Texas. It was our first experience. It didn’t disappoint. But Judice Inn is still my favorite burger.
We drove back to our hotel so Brigsby could get a good nap that afternoon, then we went back to Waco to hit up the Spice Village. It’s super close to Magnolia and a really neat place to do some local shopping. It was also really not busy on a Thursday afternoon.
After that, I looked up some local restaurants and told Matt to choose between two. He decided on George’s. It’s a very Baylor-centric casual eating place that’s won a bajillion “Best Of” awards. And rightfully so. I would tell you more of what type of foods they offer, but I really didn’t look at the menu much because I decided on the special that day, which was chicken fried steak. Matt did too. It was yum.
We woke up the next morning and decided to drive halfway back home, which would put us in Houston for the night. For just 8,000 more points than we would’ve used for the hotel room another night in Hillsboro, we got a room at the Hampton Inn by the Houston Galleria. Yay for another good deal.
On our way out of town, we made a last minute decision to swing by Harp Design Co. It was a good decision. It’s a small place, but worth the stop. Matt got a shirt. I got a wood slice thing and regretted not getting a shelf. We admired the Harps’ Fixer Upper next door to the business, then said, “Peace Out,” to Waco. It was a good trip. (I even got to go to Ikea in Houston the next morning…and spent less than $20. Miracle. The Jimmy Don sign I bought was prophetic.)