guide

The Ultimate Guide to a Weekend in Marfa, Texas

"What is Marfa?"

Despite it' s recent popularity, Marfa is most certainly off the beaten path. You might just miss it if you blink. Sitting between Big Bend National Park and the Davis Mountains, Marfa is a small Texas town that offers more than meets the eye. Up until the last few years, I'd never heard of this slice of Heaven in the middle of the desert. After seeing celebrities & bloggers alike rave about this town as a place to slow down, I was dying to visit.

So Last weekend we made the 5.5-hour drive from San Antoni to Marfa. "So this is it?", I thought to myself as we pulled in. I had yet to discover all that lies beyond the surface in this town of nearly 2000 people (Heck, my high-school had a population twice this size).  Once you dive into some of Marfa's best art galleries, locally-owned restaurants, friendly people, and relaxing atmosphere, you'll realize just how much it has to offer.  

My sweet friend Tori(The Marfa Queen) from Raba Vintage said that I'd experience a change in the air as soon as 2 hours outside of town and she was right. The stillness of Marfa is almost chilling, yet provides a feeling of instant relaxation. All of the townspeople know each other by name and the town doesn't operate on normal hours. There is only one fast food restuarant in town & the darkness of the night allows you to see all the stars in the sky. Marfa is definitely different, to say the least. 

Learn a bit more about Marfa and see where you can stay, eat, & play when you visit! 

Where to Stay in Marfa

IMG_0910.JPG

With only 4 hotels in town, you' ll need to book a place to stay months in advance. We stayed at El Cosmico for one night and really enjoyed the experience. We stayed 20 min outside of town at Indian Lodge for our first night in the area, and I'd recommend this place to anyone I know. 

  • El Cosmico - Do some 'glamping' in this collection of teepees, tents, and trailers on an 18-acre campground under the stars. Unique, adventurous & relaxing. Worth visiting at the last. Check out my guide to El Cosmico here

  • Thunderbird HotelThe place I plan to book next time I'm in town if I don't opt for an Airbnb. The decor looks simple, yet beautiful. 

Hotel Paisano, Hotel Saint George, and Riata Inn are the remaining hotels in Town . Airbnb is always an option, too! If everything in Marfa is sold out, you can look at hotel options about 30 min down the road in Alpine, Texas. 

Indian in Lodge in Fort Davis 

Indian in Lodge in Fort Davis 

What To Eat in Marfa

 

Most restaurants in Marfa have funky open/close times, so you should have an idea of where you want to eat beforehand. If you go during the less than busy weekdays or holidays, you might find yourself with few food options - if any. 

Bar Saint George - Try the Pork Belly Sliders during Happy Hour!

Bar Saint George - Try the Pork Belly Sliders during Happy Hour!

Delicious pizza from the Pizza Foundation! 

Delicious pizza from the Pizza Foundation! 

  • Pizza Foundation - Call ahead to order. They get very busy! A bit pricey, but the pizza is really good!

  • Bar Saint George - Visit during happy hour and order the Pork Belly sliders!

  • Food-Shark - Yep, Beyonce ate here! A Mediterranean food truck. Unfortunately, it wasn't open when we went but it's first on our list for our next trip. 

  • Marfa Burrito - People rave about the breakfast burritos! Oh, & Matthew McConaughey - You'll see what I mean! Cash only. 

  • Boyz II Men Tacos - A bit sketchy looking on the outside, but aren't those the best places? 

  • Do Your Thing Coffee - Coffee, pastries, & art! 

  • Cochineal - Many would say that this is the best restaurant in town. The menu changes regularly. You NEED to make a reservation.

  • Marpho - The only pho in town. We ate here and found it to be decent at best, yet pricey. I liked the vibe, but I'd skip this place next time around!

  • Grilled Cheese Parlour - Late Night grilled cheese? Yes, please!

I'd really recommend doing a bit of grocery shopping before you get into town, as there are only two small stores and every place has funky hours. Check out Stripes & The Get-go for any of your grocery needs should you decide to wait. 

Marpho

Marpho

What to do in Marfa

Marfa By Night

  • Planet Marfa - An eclectic beer garden full of character Make sure you play the pointless, yet addicting 'Ring on a String' game in the back. 

  • Lost Horse Saloon - A rustic Texas saloon that will make you feel like you're in the wild, wild west. Skulls, horns & antlers decorate the walls. So Texas. And SO Marfa.

  • Marfa Mystery Lights -Drive thirty Minutes outside of town to see these mysterious lights in the darkness. We didn't see any, but plenty of people have. They say you'll see different patterns & formations from a distance. 

  • Stargazing - With minimal city lights, you'll be able to see all the stars above. 

  • McDonalds Observatory30 minutes outside of town, star parties(~2hrs) are hosted here. See millions of stars in the sky with the mountains right below. Dress warm!

 

    Marfa By Day

    • Rent Bikes - from El Cosmico or Thunderbird Hotel & explore the town. 

    • Shop - Check out Marfa Book Company & shop for goods at Freda

    • Chinati Foundation & Judd Foundation See the contemporary work & living space of Donald Judd, a large driver behind the arts community in Marfa. 

    • Ball Room Marfa - A non-profit modern art gallery at the corner of the only stoplight in town. 

    • Marfa Contemporary - We LOVED the virtual reality room - so cool! Free, but donations accepted. 

    • Do Nothing - The beauty of Marfa is that the atmosphere encourages relaxation & just 'going with the flow'. We all need a little bit of that in our lives! 

    • Prada Marfa - Despite it' s name, Prada is located about 30min outside of Marfa in Valentine, texas. A stand alone Marfa store in the middle of the dessert - so eerie.    

    Ballroom Marfa 

    Ballroom Marfa 

    Day Trips from Marfa

    Davis Mountain National Park 

    Davis Mountain National Park 

    • Big Bend National Park - Great for camping, hiking, and stargazing at night! 

    • Davis Mountain National park- Amazing Mountain views! You can stay right in the mountains at Indian Lodge.  

    • Chinati Hot Springs - A natural oasis in the middle of the dessert. Sounds like heaven, right? 

    • Balmorhea state park - Apparently, the world's largest spring-fed swimming pool. This wasn't recommended until I left the area, but it's at the top of the list when I return to west Texas!

    • Scenic Drive - Driving along the west Texas open roads was so relaxing. Such beautiful and quiet landscapes! 

    Enjoy the scenery along the open road!

    Enjoy the scenery along the open road!

    PRADAMARFA
    marfa

    Additional Tips

    • The air is dry - drink lots of water and use plenty of lotion!
    • Consider that visiting during off-season will provide you with very few food and activity options
    • Mondays & Tuesdays are the worst days to visit - most places are closed.
    • You may not have cell service, at all.
    • Only 2 ATMS in town. Take out cash beforehand
    • You'll need to embrace the slowness of things 
    • Visit neighboring towns like Alpine & Fort Davis
    • You may have to go through border patrol depending which direction you're coming from
    • Please respect the town & the people that live here.
    • You can see everything in a weekend - but you'll probably be back for more
    Transportation by horse in the middle of town....If this isn't quintessential Texas, I don't know what is. 

    Transportation by horse in the middle of town....If this isn't quintessential Texas, I don't know what is. 

    "Tough to get here. Tougher to Explain. But Once you get here, you'll get it. "

    A Guide to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica - The Caribbean Coast

    puntauva

    I wasn't sure what to expect of Puerto Viejo. I hadn't heard people speak of it as much as other places in Costa Rica like Manuel Antonio & Monteverde. I did a little bit of research and read about stories of crime, which made me a bit concerned. It didn't seem like the best idea for me to travel alone to a place like this but I kept an open mind. 

    Once I got to San Jose, I asked everyone I spoke with about Puerto Viejo. They literally raved about the Afro-Caribbean culture, food & people. They claimed it was one of the few places in Costa Rican that hadn't gotten overrun by tourists and expats. After a few conversations, I decided that I had to go and see this place for myself. 

    I'm so glad I decided to go because Puerto Viejo is such a beautiful place with the most beautiful people. Sure, it's a bit rough around the edges but there lies the charm. As you walk down the unpaved roads, you'll witness colorful homes, unmarked streets, jungle lined beaches, caribbean eateries, yoga studios, natural and smoothie shops. The locals bike or walk along the roads to the sounds of reggae music. Everyone I met was so warm & friendly, making my time in Puerto Viejo so memorable. I had the most life-changing conversations with some awe-inspiring people. From natives who live & breathe the 'Pura Vida' lifestyle to expats who visited once and never left. Life is so different in Puerto Viejo - so laid back & simple. This place left a mark on me and I cannot wait to return. 

    GETTING THERE

    I arrived from La Fortuna via 'Adventure Transfer' because there was no scheduled bus from the area. Exploradores Outdoors picked me up in La Fortuna and we did a Pacuare river rafting trip to Puerto Viejo! It was amazing!

    From San Jose - Take the public bus for $6-$8. You can also arrange a shared shuttle or private transfer for $50-$70. If you have a rental, you can drive & the ride is around 4-5 hours. 

    IMG_6860.JPG

    WHERE TO STAY

    You won't find any big name resort & hotels in Puerto Viejo. You'll see more cabins, lodges, hostels & smaller accommodations.

    Hostels - Rocking J's is really well known for its fun & friendly atmosphere. I stayed at Kalunai hostel for a few nights, which was much smaller & carried a family vibe. We went to dinners together & even cooked together some nights. Also look at Casa Caribe & Hostel Kinkaju. Check out hostelworld.com for reviews. 

    Hotels - Check out Hotel Banana Azul, Hotel Shawandha Lodge, & Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel. 

    House Rentals/Airbnb & VRBO - There's a good amount of house/cabin rentals on sites like AIrbnb. I stayed in an open-air treetop home via Airbnb & it was probably one of the best experiences I've ever had. 

    THINGS TO DO

    Take a Yoga Class - So many yoga studios & teachers in the area! Be sure to take a class and grab a natural fruit smoothie after! 

    Visit the Farmer's Market - Try delicious, local fruits every Saturday morning!

    Visit a Cocoa Farm - Learn how chocolate is produced. Some of the best in the world!

    Visit Indigenous Tribes - Immerse yourself in native culture by spending a day in an indigenous community. Be respectful of these communities. 

    Try Local Caribbean Dishes - You won't find any fast food in Puerto Viejo. \

    Visit Bocas del Toro, Panama - Take a boat to this charming beach town in Panama for $25/one way.

     

    Rent a bike at $5/day - Ride to nearby towns along the main road. 

    Visit the Jungle Lined Beaches - Punta Uva & Playa Chiquita are known to be the best in town. Playa Negra is a black sand beach!

    Cahuita National Park - Spot monkeys, sloths, birds, & other animals along this beach where entrance is free(donation recommended)! 

    Jaguar Rescue Center $20/pp - See rescued wildlife & learn about the rehabilitation program. Perfect for animal lovers! You can even volunteer! 

    Go Surfing - Puerto Viejo is known for surfing! I took a class from a guy on the national Costa Rican Surf team & it was so much fun! Due to strong currents, be sure to ask locals which areas are safe to surf!


    TIPS

    Dont walk alone at night, especially as a female

    Do not leave anything on the beach as you go swimming

    Taxis are cheap, but not metered - you'll need to negotiate a price 

    You can walk most places, and bike others 

    There are 2 ATMs in town - it is best to use cash 

    Don't carry around alot of valuables during the day 

    Ask locals about beach/water currents

    Don't drink the water

    Use plenty of mosquito repellant

    Have fun :) 


    This was the most informative site I found while researching Puerto Viejo -http://www.puertoviejosatellite.com/

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A Quick Guide to San Juan, Puerto Rico

    I'm just returning from San Juan, Puerto Rico & I put together a quick guide for you all. I had an absolute blast visiting with my best-friend! One of the things that stood out to me the most about visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico was how friendly and helpful the people were. Like I said in my Puerto Rico Photo Diary, the locals didn't hold back on showing love for their home. Upon our arrival, a man working at the car rental place sat us down and told us everything we needed to know within about 15 minutes. It got to the point where we had to stop him mid-conversation and say 'Um, so....where is our car?'. It wasn't just him though. For the remainder of our trip, locals would share with us the best places to go and various other tips without us even asking. Needless to say, I learned a lot about the best parts of San Juan. I'm sharing some of these tips with YOU because SJ is definitely a place you want to visit. It offers great beaches, historic sites, weather, nightlife, and people.


    What to Do in San Juan, Puerto Rico


    What you should know: If you live in the US, you don't need a passport! 

    This is common knowledge, but I think it makes PR a great destination for new and seasoned travelers alike. So if you've never been out of the country and don't know where to start, you should definitely look into PR. You get the out of country experience without all of the extra work. No passports, visas, or shots needed.


    predit2.jpg

    Beaches

    This is a given! Although all of the beaches are nice, Culebra and Vieques are known to be the best islands. You can catch a ferry to either by booking tickets online or fly from the mainlands. Top beaches in San Juan include Escambron, Isla Verde, Condado, Luquillo and Ocean Park. We went kayaking and jetskiing, but there are other water sports as well.

     

     

    El Yunque National Rainforest

    Cost?  Free

    How to get there? You can either pay for a tour ($60-$70)  or drive if you've rented a car.

    We rented a car because you don't need a tour guide to visit the rain-forest, it's free, and the cost of a tour was the same price we each paid for our rental car for the full 4 days.

    Best part? La Mina Falls. Oh, and Did I mention that it's free?

    LaMina Falls

    LaMina Falls

    Old San Juan

    Old San Juan

    History

    Castillo San Felipe Del Morro - A fortress that protected San Juan for hundreds of year. You'll see people flying kites on the grounds and spending time with family/friends

    Castillo de San Cristoba- Another fortress near Del Morro with great views.

    Old San Juan - Roam the cobblestoned streets, stop in coffee shops, enjoy live music, and marvel at the beauty of this old town. We stayed 'in the heart of San Juan' and absolutely loved it! We never used it, but there is a free trolley that runs all day.

    Cathedral of San Juan Bautista

     

    Nightlife

    Old San Juan - Nuyorican Cafe(Salsa Dancing), La Factoria, and other small bars.

    La Placita(Plaza del Mercado) - Several streets of markets & restaurants that turn into bars at night. SO much fun! We wanted to go back each night, *best nights are Thursday & Friday*

    More things to do: 

    Rio Camuy Cave Park

    Bioluminescent Bay at Fajardo

    The Bacardi Factory Tour


    More than anything, just explore! Wander the streets and talk to as many locals as possible to really get a feel for the city. With everything that we did, we still didn't scratch the surface in San Juan. We did have such a great time though and I know that we'll make our way back soon. If I missed any gems, please leave a comment so others can check it out!

    Have you been to San Juan? If so, what was your favorite thing about it? If not, what's something on this list that you'd like to do? 

    If this was helpful, share it on your social media!