A visit to Waco, Texas to see where the filming of a favorite TV show, Fixer Upper, takes place did not disappoint. We stayed at the beautifully re-done Mother Neff State Park, about 30 minutes south of Waco.
State Parks are usually the perfect mixture of nature and amenities, which means electric and maybe water with dumping available on the way out of the park. At Mother Neff the weather had warmed up from the recent lows of 28 degrees so we could take advantage of the full hookups in our level, paved, and pull-thru site. We haven’t had full hookups for a while and our last several sites were tough to level the RV. This park felt like a resort in a beautiful wooded setting! A nice hike to a cave, a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) built tower from the 1930’s and a stream got us out in nature. Recent December floods have closed a large section of the park for repairs.
A pull-thru site allows easy parking and smooth setup without having to back in. Disconnecting the tow car can be done on our own time when we are ready to make a side-trip instead of being rushed at the park entrance. Full hookups and warmer weather this time means we can use all of the amenities of our home, washer, dryer, dishwasher and longer showers without having to meter everything.
Breakfast at Magnolia Table
Our morning in Waco started early with breakfast at Magnolia Table, before the typical crowds gathered. We heard it can take over an hour to be seated! Long waits are so typical that they have an auxiliary snack service outside with a large patio waiting area. We were seated right away at this early hour in late January. Our food was served very quickly and was surprisingly good. I guess I was expecting lackluster food because the beautiful design elements of the restaurant would mean the food was only a secondary focus. In contrast, the breakfast was really good and the service was really delightful, although it all came with a fairly hefty price tag. This large meal kept us full the whole day! Don’t even get me started about the strawberry butter that came with my French toast!
An Experience at The Silos
The Magnolia Market at The Silos was like a theme park with a classy vibe and thoughtful design in every corner. A town square feel with re-purposed grain silos as a backdrop made it a visual delight to wander around, all the way to the back where 10 or more food trucks were starting to set up for the day. The turf main square included bean bag chairs, individual picnic tables with unique awnings, lots of metal trellised plantings, everything in classic black and white. The adjacent garden was being tended by gardeners with Magnolia branded buckets, of course. Just like a theme park, staff are plentiful and call out warm greetings as they open doors, smile and neaten things up. It was seriously fun to visit and shop.
Speaking of shopping, the Market was a curated treat for the eyes PLUS a retail home and kitchen goods store. Everywhere I looked, there were beautiful items and again, the register set-up told of huge crowds which we thankfully avoided. I would not enjoy the experience as much during peak season. There was just enough traffic to make me feel comfortable and not enough to activate any claustrophobia. The staff were all sweet, charming and warm. Just like a theme park, no shortage of branded merchandise here. Shiplap cupcakes and other treats in the bakery created a perfect sendoff. Still stuffed from breakfast, we opted for the huge chocolate chip cookies to take home!
Nearby Shops and The Dr. Pepper Museum
A nearby shop called The Findery continued the theme of country chic items artfully displayed. So many beautiful “Finds” to love! A drive through Baylor University showed a big focus on their sports program and surprisingly, not many students around anywhere. It was definitely quiet there and the campus landscaping was not much to see.
Those of you that know me know that Dr. Pepper is my favorite soda. Across from the Silos, is the Dr. Pepper Museum where it all started. The museum included history of the soda, bottling equipment, memorabilia, and a soda fountain / gift shop. My favorite displays were the artesian water well, glass bottles with the first bottle stoppers, and of course, the commercials from our younger days. We went home with bottles of cane sugar Dr. Pepper and some soda stream syrup, not to mention Dr. Pepper candy. Jelly Belly, licorice, and gummy soda bottles. A nostalgic visit and great displays of free enterprise and brand merchandising. Sweet, no really! We are well stocked with sweets now.
Another icon just a short drive away is Harp Design Co which is Fixer Upper’s custom furniture maker. A gift shop with small trinkets and cutting boards, etc. but I wanted to see furniture! It was nice to see the woodshop out back of the gift shop where it all happens.
The theme park aspect was complete with tour buses that could be hired to take guests around the area. We ran into one at Harp Design Co.
Waco Mammoth National Monument
To offset all the retail and merchandising therapy, a visit to a natural space balanced out the day. Coincidentally, this monument was designated in 2015, the same year as The Silos and The Findery opened.
This monument features the nation’s only recorded discovery of a Columbian mammoth nursery herd and many of the bones are still in situ but exposed in the bone bed in a dig shelter for easy viewing. Columbian mammoths were one of the largest mammals to have lived during the Pleistocene Epoch (ice age). Fourteen feet high at the shoulder and weighing up to 10 tons, these babies were two to four feet taller and weighed up to 8,000 pounds more than their distant relatives, the woolly mammoths.
After a couple of restful days, we were prepared to move south for a stay right on the gulf beach in Galveston.