Last week I crossed a destination off my travel bucket list that has been on it for years. I finally made the road trip journey to Marfa, Texas! It started with a night in Austin & then a few nights in Big Bend, which I’ll share more about soon. I’ve been putting off visiting because of the long drive, but there felt like no better time for a long AF road trip than 2020. I loaded up with two girlfriends & spent two nights in this fun little town! Today, I’m sharing my Marfa travel guide with you all. There is also a giveaway at the end!
Marfa Travel Guide
I’ll give a little disclaimer that a lot of places originally on the list were closed due to COVID. We also visited during the week & learned that a number of places are only open on the weekends. With that said, I would plan to visit Marfa on a weekend so you can maximize what you do! Below I’m rounding up what we did & what is on my list for next time including why visit, where to stay, where to eat, what to do, & some travel tips.
Marfa is a really cool small town in West Texas. It’s been put back on the map because of the local art scene, including a Prada installation outside of it in basically the middle of no where. It has a lot of character & just a really cool, laid back vibe. It’s awesome to see a small town become a global destination! It’s not too fast paced & has all sorts of people. Plus, it’s really beautiful!
Getting to Marfa
Marfa is not super easy to get to hence why it has been on my list for years. Texas is HUGE & you can drive for what seems like forever & still be in the state. I live in Dallas & prefer to fly whenever possible. We broke up the trip & drove all around in a week when visiting, which worked well. However, in the future I will definitely be flying to one of the closest major airports & renting a car. Marfa is about 2 hours & 45 mins from both El Paso & Midland/Odessa. Should you be #blessed enough to have access to a private plane, there are quite a few smaller airports that some people fly into all around West Texas.
Where to Stay
It’s a small town, with a population of about 2,000, so places to stay are limited. I’d book early! We opted for an Air Bnb, which I really enjoyed. There are so many cool ones that people have decorated well that we found. Most seem to be very conveniently located! I will likely go the Air BnB route again on my next visit.
If you are wanting a hotel over an Air BnB a few Marfa travel guide options are below:
- El Cosmico: You’ve probably seen photos of El Cosmico online. It’s wide open property with air streams, tepees, tents, & more to rent. It books up very fast! They are known for a really fun scene on the property, particularly on the weekends. They often have live music & other things going on. We wanted to see the space, so we rented a tent to go hang out in! It was really chilly that night so there was no chance we were sleeping there, but at least wanted to be able to go check it out. I’d describe this as a #glamping experience. I’m not super into communal bathrooms, etc but it’s definitely an experience to stay here! A lot of the campers at least have their own bathroom & AC/heat inside, but the shower is right outside.
- Hotel Saint George: This is the most updated, major hotel in town. There were a few other spots with a few rooms (Thunderbird, for example), but this one is probably your best bet if you don’t want to rent an Air BnB. They have a bar downstairs & a restaurant on site, as well as a pool. It was recently renovated & the inside of the rooms are nice!
Other Options: Hotel Paisano (Famous from the movie Giant), The Lincoln Marfa, Thunderbird Hotel
Where to Eat
Ah, my favorite travel activity. Food. I’m rounding up all of the restaurants we ate at & the ones on my list for next time below. My Marfa travel guide would not be complete without tons of good food options!
- Jett’s Grill: this restaurant is located in Hotel Paisano & has great, classic American food. We snacked on quite a few different things & everything was good! The atmosphere was lively & service was good, too.
- Stellina: this little market was only open for takeout while we were in town, but oh my gosh it was delicious. We shared a sandwich (they were accommodating enough to make me a meatless option) & some salads that were all amazing! I heard they have great pasta & cheese boards, too. This is a must no matter where you eat it!
- Waterstop: We at here for dinner on our last night & I loved the atmosphere. They have a little of everything on the menu & were accommodating enough to make me a meatless version of a pasta dish. My girlfriends both got green chili cheeseburgers that looked amazing. We all shared fries with a special sauce they had that were so good. The salads & appetizers were amazing + we tried both desserts & they were great.
- Do Your Thing: We grabbed coffee + breakfast here before leaving town. Honestly, they made one of the best oat milk chai lattes I’ve ever had! They have several different toasts available for breakfast. I got the avocado toast on homemade sourdough & it was incredible.
- Sentinel: Great for coffee, cocktails, snacks/food, & shopping!
- LaVenture: We were going to have dinner here one night, but they ended up closing last minute. This is the restaurant located at the bottom of Hotel Saint George. They had a spicy Cesar salad on the menu + some pizzas we were so excited to try. Next time!
- Capri: This spot looked adorable inside & was recommended to us multiple times. However, they were closed while we were in town due to COVID. I’m definitely looking forward to trying it if it reopens the next time I’m in town.
- Marfa Burrito: Just like it sounds, this is a popular spot for burritos in town. The owner turned her home into a burrito shop & has been crowned The Burrito Queen of Texas!
- Cochineal: This is one of the nicer restaurants in town offering European-style food. However, they were closed while we were in town so we weren’t able to try it out this time.
- Pizza Foundation: The go to pizza spot in town! They were only doing take out for dinner & closed sort of early compared to when we were eating, so we didn’t eat here, but definitely would try it out on our next trip.
- Food Shark: This is a cool food truck in town that Beyonce famously at it when visiting Marfa. They were closed when we were there, but it looked really cool & is supposed to be delicious!
- Buns ‘N Roses: A coffee, breakfast, or light lunch spot. They are said to have amazing donuts!
What to Do
Marfa is known for it’s art & also has a lot of great shopping. We spent an afternoon shopping & found so many cute things! You can check out marfalist.org to see what is happening in town when you visiting. My Marfa travel guide recommendations for what to do are broken down below by art, shopping, & other!
- Prada in Valentine: This is what drew me to wanting to visit Marfa. We brought some snacks & champagne to hang out for awhile, snapping pics & watching the sunset. It’s about 30 minutes outside of Marfa pretty much in the middle of no where.
- Chinati Foundation: a minimalist art museum that is said to be the reason for Marfa’s resurgence as a major cultural center. Chinati was set up to preserve & present permanent large-scale installations by a limited number of artists.
- Judd Foundation: this holds & maintains Donald Judd’s private living and working spaces. These properties include studios installed with artwork by Judd and others, living quarters, ranch, architecture offices, & libraries. He is said to be the reason for the Marfa of today.
- Ballroom Marfa: Outstanding contemporary art foundation that contributes to the local community & the national arts scene. Also known for hosting incredible musical talent.
- Eugene Binder: this gallery is housed in a former auto service shop. The beautifully restored space showcases all kinds of art from paintings, installations to video & performance.
- Marfa Contemporary: Housed in an old auto service station, Marfa Contemporary has featured some hits including portrait photography by musician Bryan Adams.
- Rule: a gallery with spaces in Marfa and Denver is a welcome retreat from from the minimalist art that dominates over Marfa. Rule shows a diverse range of work from a solid stable of artists. It’s a quirky little space that’s worth checking out.
- Cast + Crew: Cody Barber owns this shop & has awesome art + furniture.
- The Marfa Store: This was probably my fav little shop. They had everything from clothing to gifts & more. The owner was so nice & friendly, too!
- Communitie: the perfect store for a new hat (or accessory), chic Texan kaftan, rocks/crystals, or a fun souvenir. It’s so minimally chic!
- Freda: A small boutique the size of a large closet. They have locally made items & items sourced from all over.
- Cobra Rock: handmade boot store where they will make boots just for you! They have been featured in Vogue. The wait time can be long (6+ months) for your boots, but they are supposed to be worth it.
- Wrong: this is a really cool store featuring tons of art, books, jewelry, & more. They had so may cool pieces in here!
- Mano Mercantile: a cool shop with clothing, art, & other small goods.
- Moonlight Gemstones: who doesn’t love a good gemstone find?! They make great souvenirs!
- Garza: A family-owned furniture shop with leather goods, as well as other modern pieces with hints of Texas tradition.
- Marfa Book Co: Located in the Hotel Saint George, we were told by many to go here. It felt more like a deserted library when we were in town, which may have been due to COVID. They are a publisher & also have live performances here sometimes.
- Rent a bike from Bike Marfa.
- Grab a drink at Planet Marfa, Lost Horse Saloon, or Hotel Paisano.
- Check out the Marfa Lights. These are the famed Marfa lights phenomenon that no one can explain. Keep an eye just over the horizon for small floating lights that appear & disappear + move in different directions.
- Drive to Alpine to see the Tiny Target. Chances are you saw it on your way in, but it’s a fun parody on the Prada store on the other side of town.
- Visit Balmorhea Park. This is a great summer option, as it is one of the largest spring-fed swimming pools. They only allow 1,000 visitors a day, so go on the early side in the warmer months to ensure you can get in. You can also swim with fish & scuba dive.
- Go to the McDonald Observatory. This operates in conjunction with UT Austin & is located on Mount Locke in the beautiful Davis Mountains of West Texas. The drive to & through these mountains is said to be beautiful. The observatory hosts a star party every Tuesday, Friday & Saturday where visitors can stargaze using the telescopes provided.
- Visit Big Bend National Park: This is the National Park along the Mexican border. It features spectacular mountain ranges, rafting trips on the Rio Grande, & tons of wildlife. The main entrance is about two hours from Marfa (east to Marathon & then south to the park). Bring your passport and cross the boarder while you’re there if you want! Stay tuned for my full Big Bend travel guide, soon.
- Ride on a Marfa Glider. Take a ride on a glider for magnificent views of Far West Texas. You can go up in a glider to get a better view of the landscape!
- Go to the Chinati Hot Springs. For hundreds of years, Chinati Hot Springs has been a meeting place for the desert traveler in search of repose, solitude, or rejuvenation. It’s privately owned, so call for availability. The straight shot there is a two-hour drive on twisty unpaved roads that require a high-clearance vehicle.
My biggest travel tip for my Marfa travel guide would be to go on a weekend. Quite a few things were closed while we were in town during the week! We were in town for two nights which I feel like was a pretty perfect amount of time. It’s a small town so the pace is slower. The vibe here is sort of Austin-like in that anything goes. Dress up if you want, be super casual, anything works! Also, of note is that the altitude in Marfa is really high. It’s the same as Denver! Stock up on water or bring some Liquid IV to help you stay hydrated & be sure, as always, to use sunscreen.
I hope you all enjoyed my Marfa travel guide & found it helpful when planning your trip. I’ll have a Big Bend travel guide up, soon. In the mean time, check out my Austin City Guide for more fun, Texas travel content. XO
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