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"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
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 Hotel - The 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.
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.
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.
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 Observatory - 30 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.
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.
Day Trips from Marfa
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!
- 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
"Tough to get here. Tougher to Explain. But Once you get here, you'll get it. "
All we needed was one night, but I could have stayed forever.
Indian Lodge is positioned perfectly within the Davis Mountain National Park. I booked a stay at the Indian Lodge based off of google photos, unaware of what I was in for. All I can say is this place far exceeded my expectations.
We arrived late at night, when the temperatures had dipped pretty low. Even though the sky was black, we could tell that this place would be breathtaking by morning.
We couldn't help but notice the amount of stars in the sky as we walked across the property. The sky was glittering with stars. It was just insane. So of course, we grab my blanket and headed to a rooftop to stargaze.
Within 5 minutes, we saw 3 falling stars and 1 shooting star. I was SO hype! haha. Never in my life had I seen a single shooting star, let alone 3. We saw galaxies, clusters, and twinkling stars. This is sight that really put things into perspective.
In the morning, we wandered around the grounds and were amazed at our surroundings. I honestly haven't seen Mountains in Texas so this was such pleasant surprise.
The white adobe at Indian Lodge reminded me so much of Greece, without the water of course. And I loved it. The morning was quiet and peaceful, which made me so grateful to be there. I'd recommend getting there asap and booking early! We absolutely loved it! They have a couple of hikes & its worth the stop before heading to Marfa!
In these photos, I'm wearing a washed linen dress from http://www.rabavintage.com/