What it's like in Waco, Texas, Chip and Joanna Gaines' 'Fixer Upper' fairytale town bursting with rustic charm

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderIn downtown Waco, ‘Fixer Upper’ couple Chip and Joanna have created a haven for rustic charm.
  • Chip and Joanna Gaines’ new show, “Fixer Upper: Welcome Home,” premieres on January 29.
  • In 2019, I went to Waco, Texas, where the “Fixer Upper” duo opened Magnolia Marketplace.
  • Before the pandemic, tourists worldwide visited Waco to see the Silos and shop for home goods.

As a former Texan, I know Waco as the small city that is half-way between Dallas and Austin, Texas.

Google MapsWaco is a city in central Texas.

But fans of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper” know it for its abandoned silos-turned-marketplace called Magnolia Marketplace.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe Silos in downtown Waco.

The market opened downtown in 2015, as Insider previously reported. From there, tourism in the Texas town increased.

In 2018, Waco saw 2.6 million tourists, according to the Waco Convention & Visitors Bureau. Tourism decreased slightly in 2019, and in 2020 they were more than cut in half.

Read more:
Watch Chip and Joanna Gaines ready for their long-awaited return in a new ‘Fixer Upper: Welcome Home’ trailer

I was one of those tourists in October 2019. While visiting Austin, Texas, I took a Flix Bus to Waco.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderA Flix Bus at the south Waco stop.

Five bucks and two hours later, I was in “bear country.”

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderA Baylor University sign and statue outside of a gas station in south Waco.

Waco, Texas, is home to the Baylor Bears football team at Baylor University – the biggest Baptist college in the world,according to Britannica.

I took a Lyft from south Waco …

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderAn overpass in south Waco.

… to the Silo District in Downtown Waco, a town square with food and shopping, all with a rustic theme.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderA map of the Silo District.

Read more:

15 things you didn’t know about Chip and Joanna Gaines of ‘Fixer Upper’

The Silo district has its own free trolley that stops all over downtown Waco, so shoppers can easily get from store to store.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe trolley is free.

The trolley is on a flag-stop route, meaning if you see a moving trolley that you want to get on, you can flag down the driver.

I got on the trolley at Magnolia Marketplace at the Silos …

Joey Hadden/InsiderInside the trolley in downtown Waco.

… and when I saw a sign that said both “candy” and “soda,” I decided to get off the trolley at the next stop.

Joey Hadden/InsiderThe Sweet Station in downtown Waco.

The establishment was called the Sweet Station.

Joey Hadden/InsiderThe Sweet Station is located at 425 South 8th Street in Waco, Texas.

The building served as a gas station in the 1920s and was renovated in 2019 to accommodate a new business – sugar, as KCENTV reported.

I came in for a soda. This is only about half of the selection of soda available at the Sweets Station.

Joey Hadden/InsiderSo much soda.

Overwhelmed by the choices, I went with the bubbly beverage I already knew was good.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe Sweet Station sold New York Seltzer vanilla cream soda.

I paid $US2.17 for my refreshment and continued on my journey.

Joey Hadden/InsiderThe cash register at the Sweet Station.

When I walked outside, I noticed this little message on the side of the building.

Joey Hadden/InsiderOn the side of the building, a mural reads ‘What a long, sweet trip it’s been.’

I thought it was a nice touch. But it wasn’t the only mural in the area.

Just across the street, a larger and more colourful mural defines Waco as “a city with a soul.”

Joey Hadden/InsiderA mural in downtown Waco.

The mural used to say “Waco feels like home,” Waco Tribune-Herald reported. The new phrase comes from eight articles from the early 1900s that describe Waco as a “city with a soul.”

The mural is behind the Findery — a home goods store that opened in 2015 and is featured on “Fixer Upper.”

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderAlthough the paint has faded, it still says ‘Percy Medicine’ across the top of the building.

The building that is now the Findery was used for a drug store in the 20th century called Percy Medicine, according to Waco History.

The Findery sells all things related to homes, including antique furniture.

Joey Hadden/InsiderA couch and some home decor at the Findery.

Tourists from all over the world come to Waco to shop at the Findery for their homes.

Joey Hadden/InsiderThe first floor at the Findery.

The Findery has had customers from as far as Singapore shop at their store, Waco Today reported in 2017.

Some customers even travel by van to get the most out of their trips to the Findery.

A couple drove all the way from Ontario, Canada, and stuffed their van with goods to take home, according to the same article.

But despite its global impact, the Findery is a family-owned business …

Joey Hadden/InsiderThe Findery sells shirts as well.

… and it feels like one too. They even have recipes and suggestions next to some of their cooking products.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThese are easy suggestions for Texas olive oils and vinegar.

After my trip to the Findery, I headed back to the Silos, which are just a block away.

Joey Hadden/InsiderA view of the back of the Silos.

And that’s when I realised the Silos were more than just a store.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe Silos in Waco, Texas.

Magnolia Market has a bakery, food trucks, and a stage.

Joey Hadden/InsiderA map of the marketplace.

The Market is open with measures in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, like mandatory face masks and nightly deep cleaning.

Read more:

Everything you need to know about the real-life love story of ‘Fixer Upper’ stars Chip and Joanna Gaines

The marketplace seemed pretty busy for a Monday, even in pre-pandemic times.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderMagnolia Marketplace on a Monday afternoon.

To me – a 24-year-old renter who spends money on everything but home goods – Magnolia Market was pretty much the same as the Findery, except bigger.

Read more: A woman who lived in a 400-sq-ft London apartment showed us how to ‘maximalize’ a tiny space without making it cluttered

They sold a lot of Magnolia souvenirs, like these mugs.

Joey Hadden/InsiderThe mugs say ‘Magnolia’ on them.

Even on a Monday afternoon, there was a line at check-out.

Joey Hadden/InsiderThe line on a Monday afternoon.

After window shopping at Magnolia Market, I headed towards Silos Bakery, where the line was out the door.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider

Chip and Joanna’s new coffee shop Magnolia Press was much easier to access, maybe because it’s a block away from the Silos.

Joey Hadden/InsiderThe inside of Magnolia Press.

I was surprised to find the coffee shop so calm compared to the bakery after I learned that Magnolia Press just opened in October 2019.

After my trip to the Silos, I explored more of downtown Waco, where many abandoned houses and buildings have renovation plans.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe abandoned building is the future home of the Art Centre of Waco.

The fixed-up homes are easy to spot in downtown Waco …

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderA renovated house in downtown Waco.

… especially because they’re next to houses that look abandoned.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderA house in downtown Waco with a sign the reads ‘This home is coming soon.’

Some homes had succulents out front in true Texas style.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderA front porch in downtown Waco.

My downtown stroll led me to another home goods store called Interior Glow …

Joey Hadden/InsiderThe exterior of Interior & Glow.

… where I saw candles with pictures of Chip and Joanna from “Fixer Upper” on them.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe exterior of Interior & Glow.

I eventually reached the Dr. Pepper Museum, which has been a Waco staple since its opening in 1991. The admission is $US10 for adults.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe front of the Dr. Pepper Museum.

The Dr. Pepper Museum is open with coronavirus regulations in place like mandatory mask-wearing.

The Dr. Pepper Museum is located in Waco because Dr. Pepper was created there.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe side of the Dr. Pepper Museum.

In fact, Dr. Pepper used to be referred to as “Waco” because Waco was the only place you could get it, according to Roadside America.

I ended my Waco journey in Austin Avenue District in downtown Waco.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderAustin Avenue District in downtown Waco.

After a long day of walking, I stopped at Coffee Dichotomy and Spirits for a latte.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe outside of Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits in Austin Avenue District.

I wasn’t too surprised to find that even this coffee shop had been fixed up.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe inside of Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits.

This coffee shop was designed by local businesses, artists, and artisans. It certainly captured the rustic charm in all the home goods stores I had been in that day.

I sat and sipped my lavender latte, which set me back $US4.16 …

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderA lavender latte at Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits is $US4.16.

… and wandered up to the rooftop deck …

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe rooftop deck was on the second floor.

… where only one person was sitting on this Monday afternoon. It was a peaceful way to end my day in downtown Waco.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe rooftop deck at Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warns that “travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.”

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