Desert or art enthusiast? There are already heard of Marfa, chances are this can be a place you're going to love. Situated at an altitude of four,830 feet above sea level and surrounded by the Chinati, Chisos, and Davis Mountains, Marfa has garnered plenty of attention because of its mysterious Marfa Lights as well as becoming the film location for Giant, James Dean's final picture. Then, within the 1970s, acclaimed minimalist artist Donald Judd left New York City, settled in Marfa, and it's been a destination for artists and art-lovers since.
Despite its destination status for those things creative, Marfa is a generally quiet, sleepy town that has a tendency to come to life for fun on saturday as more businesses open and also the visitors pour in. Generally, the very best times to visit are Wednesday-Sunday, and making reservations as many things as you can is usually recommended, as hours and events can alter pretty quickly around here. Another key to enjoying your stay in Marfa? Flexibility! Arrive with a good attitude, be respectful of those as well as your surroundings, and believe that you may not have the experience you'd planned. But you will have the knowledge that Marfa wants to provide you with, and that's often a pretty spectacular time.
Where To Stay
Hotel Saint George ($$$)
This cushy 55-room hotel stands around the original Hotel Saint George site, that was built-in 1886. Sip on the spicy margarita at the bar downstairs, make reservations for supper at La Venture, or walk next door to Pool Marfa for a soak in the hot tub as the train rolls by.
The Lincoln ($$)
Located right next door from the courthouse on Lincoln Street (see what they did there?), the Lincoln is a gorgeous, colorful lodging community for travelers and Marfans. It's also located right next to Aster, so that you can scoop up some baked goods or a Benedict each morning.
El Cosmico ($+)
Chances are, you have often seen these technicolor trailers all over Pinterest and Instagram already. And whether you're here to pitch your own tent or spend the night time in one of the renovated trailers, there's something here for all kinds of camper.
Where To Eat and Drink
The food situation in Marfa is always changing, therefore it is better to not test and over plan your trip. With that being said, if you're able to secure reservations for Cochineal – do it. The ever-changing menu happens to be served prix-fite with an A+ cocktail menu.
New(ish) to the scene, this dinner diner is offering up everything from *delicious* tuna melts to bolognese created using local beef in the town's own Marfa Meats. Just be sure and save room for a slice of key lime pie!
Whether the previous night involved an excessive amount of wine or excessive stargazing, replenishing your caffeine levels in Marfa isn't a problem. Peep the attractive Instagram-famous mural outside this coffee shop/laundromat hybrid and attempt to add a scoop of homemade ice cream for your order.
The Sentinel is a restaurant, coffee shop, bar, and event venue serving locally inspired food, cocktails, and news to both locals and visitors. With lots of seating both inside and outside, it is a great spot to enjoy a drink and browse the paper (available to buy in the counter, obviously).
The months between Spring Break and Thanksgiving is really a magical time for locals and visitors – it's when Planet Marfa is open for business! This wine-and-beer outdoor bar features different vignettes for socializing or isolating, from the treehouse over the bar to a tipi having a fire bowl. I highly recommend the nachos – the smoky pico de gallo is incredible.
Serving breakfast tacos, burgers, and other homemade and locally-sourced items, you'll definitely want to hit this food truck up – whether you're staying around the El Cosmico grounds or elsewhere. Their menu changes often, check out their Instagram to determine what's up for the week.
Do Your Thing
Breakfast can be a tricky situation in Marfa, but when you find yourself here on the weekends (or just any time after Tuesday night), you are in a good spot. Do Your Thing offers organic coffee and delicious homemade sourdough toasts, such as the Solidarity toast with avocado, tahini, za’atar, chili Flakes, toasted sesame seeds, and Maldon Flake Salt.
Available for online orders for fun on saturday, Convenience West offers a revolving menu of delicious smoked meats and treats. Make sure and visit their website to place your order a day ahead of pickup and when there's banana pudding around the menu, don't think twice.
Located inside Hotel Paisano, Jett's Grill offers outdoor and indoor seating round the hotel's fountain. Choose a mezcal cocktail and if you see the pistachio-crusted steak on the menu, I urge you to definitely do it now.
Positioned on the west side of town, Water Stop is open for lunch and dinner with a stellar all-day cocktail menu. I suggest the Marfa Mystery Lights gin cocktail, the cheese plate, and whatever pasta they've on the menu.
What To Do
For those seeking a really unique shopping experience, check out Wrong. With treasures ranging from hilarious cross-stitching kits to custom-made works from Camp Bosworth, this is where you want to scoop a souvenir for the absolute favorite person.
The Get Go
For all of the organic and “city” range of snacks and goods, the Get Go is your spot. Make sure to browse the cooler in front of the counter for their ever-changing range of chilled snacks and pre-made meals, and don't forget to grab certainly one of their iconic canvas totes. (Seriously, they're everywhere.)
You're in Far West Texas – a solid pair of boots is a must. So pop inside Cobra Rock's new space, located right next door from the Get Go. Each pair is perfectly constructed and honestly, will probably outlast you.
Between the high elevation, beating sun, and dry air, the skin could possibly use a little TLC. Mira Marfa offers services, products, SPF, along with a gorgeous range of vintage goods, all handpicked by Licensed Medical Esthetician and skincare expert Jacqueline Del Olmo. If you're lucky enough to locate an open spot in her calendar, book a WB Elevated Mira Treatment ASAP.
Shopping for vintage goods or something special to bring home? Pop into Raba to look everything from beautiful perfumes to some top-notch range of vintage clothing and vinyl.
Stop & Read
Marfa offers plenty of time to slow down, stop, and browse, so it's only right that there's a local bookstore that gets it. Pop in over the past weekend to browse the selection, or you can also sign up for a monthly subscription service that sends the books to you – together with access to a community of other readers. It's simply the book club of the socially distanced future.
What to Do
Located right on the outside of town, this contemporary art museum should be on everyone's list. Stop inside the visitor's center for a pass to view the concrete works outside (do not lean, stand, or sit on them!) or book a tour to see some incredible functions by Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin, Donald Judd, and much more.
Ballroom Marfa is a contemporary art and performance space is housed inside a 1920s-era ballroom. Free and available to the general public, Ballroom commissions new site-specific and site-inspired projects, giving both artists and musicians the chance to share the work they do with the Big Bend region. Take a look at the website during your visit to see about any current or upcoming events.
“The Desk” at Hancock Hill
Technically situated in Alpine about 25 miles away, Hancock Hill rises directly behind Sul Ross University at an elevation of 4,849 feet (that's about 350 feet above the university). Once you get towards the summit, you'll see an old beat up desk that overlooks the east, toward Marathon and the Glass Mountains. Take a bit, write down an email within the notebook in the drawer, and just be.
The Marfa Lights
Once you move to Marfa, you'll hear one question over and over: “Have you seen the Marfa lights?” The answers may vary, however, you can invariably experience this phenomenon on your own in the Marfa Lights Viewing Center, located east of town. Arrive at dusk, bring a blanket, and see if you're able to spot them!
Big Bend National Park is just a couple of hours away, together with Big Bend Ranch State Park, Davis Mountains State Park, and Balmorhea State Park. I highly recommend taking at least a day or so to visit a number of them. But if you're tight on time, Davis Mountains State Park is just about Half an hour away, in Fort Davis. Bring lots of water, make sure your phone is charged (you probably won't have a signal, but just just in case!), and get ready for some spectacular views.
The Marfa Open Gallery is a historic train depot turned art HQ for community art, music, exhibitions, film screenings, and much more. Drive over close to the Dairy Queen around (hint: it's the just one), and if the signage is out on the corner, stop in and find out what's happening.
Chances are if you are coming to Marfa, this really is already in your list. This permanent land art project by artists Elmgreen & Dragset is really situated in Valentine about 30-35 minutes away. Make it happen early and become ready to wait. You're not the only one that rolled into town for that selfie.