Southwest Texas, Part 2 - Marfa

Marfa, Texas is a far away destination that is worth the effort to get there!

Marfa, Texas has been a bucket list destination for me ever since I learned about this destination from a visiting architecture professor.  Ever since his colorful description and stories of this southwest Texas destination, I have dreamed of going there.  But it is just so far away and that distance requires some carved out time to make such a long trip.  Finally, after all of these years, I made it happen!

I don't know who was more excited about this part of our journey in Far West Texas!

Southwest Texas, Part 2 - Marfa

Marfa, Texas is a small desert town with a population of about 1,700 residents.  It is known for being an artist community.  And it is an eclectic mix of people, art, and food.  I was so incredibly excited about this part of our journey.  We arrived with an RV spot for camping and one dinner reservation that I made at the last minute.  Aside from that, I left everything else to chance.  I wanted to see what we would stumble upon while we were there and let the moment take us where it may.  Our family travels best this way, and our adventures feel more authentic as we explore and talk to locals.

I will tell you that traveling during COVID has drastically impacted businesses, restaurants, and travel.  Some stores in Marfa were closed because of the pandemic.  Other stores required scheduled shopping times and reservations.  This was true for galleries as well.  We only found one open gallery during our late December visit.  And for this reason, I feel like we didn't get the whole Marfa experience.  But, that is okay too.  What we did experience was great, and I think we will plan a trip back to check out some things we missed.

The Tumble In RV Park in Marfa was the perfect spot to stay and enjoy Marfa as well as a snow day while we were there.

Where to Stay

We stayed at the Tumble In RV Park.  We had a large, pull through site that cost $32 a day that was complete with full hookups.  There is Wi-Fi that is reliable at the park.  They offer a communal space for a fire pit and an honor system laundry space with an excellent washer and dryer.  It was super close to town, clean and safe.  You could easily bike back and forth into town from this spot.  If you are planning to take your RV and camp in Marfa, this is the place to stay.  You check yourself in upon arrival at a little vintage camper that serves as the office.  

We loved our snow day in Marfa!

While we were in Marfa, there was a short, winter storm with a fair amount of snow.  This kept up there an extra day.  The campground manager was easy to work with to extend our stay.  It was a fun place to hang out and have a low key snow day.  

If you aren't bringing your RV, you can still have a camping experience.  El Cosmico offers trailers, yurts, teepees, and more for a completely different travel experience.  I originally wanted to stay at this location, but it does not have RV hookups for campers to bring their own RV.  They only offer dry camping, and I didn't want to do this.  

The Hotel Paisano was the location for the cast and crew of the movie giant.  You can book a stay at this historic hotel, browse their shops or dine in their restaurant.

If you are looking for a hotel in Marfa, the Lincoln has long and short term accommodations.  For a historic spot to stay, The Hotel Paisano provides you lounge in the rooms of James Dean, Rock Hudson, or Elizabeth Taylor.  Both the Lincoln and the Hotel Paisano are located in the heart of Marfa and within walking distance of many shops, galleries, and restaurants.  

Prada Marfa is a permanent art installation located about 35 miles from town.

What to Do

If you know anything about Marfa, you might know that the movie Giant was filmed there.  The Paisano Hotel was the headquarters for the cast and crew of this movie in 1955.  We visited the retail shops while there and enjoyed seeing the memorabilia from the movie.  We even purchased a DVD of the classic movie and watched it while staying in Marfa.

Another well-known landmark is Prada Marfa.  This permanent art installation project is located about 35 miles from Marfa.  It is a beautiful, flat drive out to the location from town.  We drove out in the late afternoon of a sunny day just before the cold and snow moved in.  I was surprised at the line of cars with people all taking photographs at the spot featured on social media.  I enjoyed the drive out as much as the storefront.  

I was surprised at how many people were at the Prada Marfa location to take photos and look around just like us!

If the weather is nice, bring a bike or rent one from a local rental spot in town.  Marfa is slow-paced and made for walking or biking and just soaking it all in.  Don't get in a hurry.  Marfa is hard to get to and far from everything.  After all of that effort, there is no need to rush around to do anything.  Relax and take your time.

Ballroom Marfa was closed while we were there, but I plan to go back to visit this museum as well as other things we missed on this trip due to COVID.

One thing that was disappointing about our stay was that the galleries were closed.  Ballroom Marfa is known for contemporary art is currently closed, and hopefully, we will have the opportunity to visit again and take in the exhibits then.  It is certainly understandable but also sad.  

The shops in Marfa were fun to visit.

We masked up and enjoyed taking it all in while in Marfa!

However, many of the unique shops were open, and we enjoyed browsing in the local spots.  Some of our favorite places that we visited while there were:
  • The Marfa Store - handmade and high design products with a Texas flair and feel.
  • Esperanza Vintage and Art - Lots of vintage and art items that are curated by the shop owners.  I picked up a wonderful vintage print piece to use as a table cloth.
  • Communitie Marfa - Totally Texas with a wonderful selection of Stetson hats and other western flair pieces.  
  • Cobra Rock - Beautiful handmade shoes that incredible!
  • Marfa Art Supply - We purchased some pastels and watercolors that have been great to play with!  The shop owner is so patient and helpful.  She helped us select some excellent supplies for our son.
I picked up this vintage table cloth in Marfa and really love how it adds to our campground table.

The art supplies we bought on our trip were an excellent way to bring a little piece of Marfa and its creative vibe home with us!

The shopping and unique selection of items fun and creative.  I purchased a Frida Khalo patch at the Marfa store that I plan to incorporate into a pillow soon.  I was inspired everywhere I turned by-products and pieces that I saw in each shop.  Go to Marfa with the intention of having a one of a kind experience and bring something back with you to incorporate a little piece of Far West Texas in your space.

On our first night in town, we had a fun family dinner out.  It was the perfect way to start our stay in Marfa.

The Marfa Mystery Lights are another easy sight to take in while in town.  Located about 9 miles from town, you can drive out to an observatory where unexplained lights have been seen on the horizon dating back to native Americans.  Everyone from ranchers to local visitors have reported seeing this phenomenon over the years.  We drove out to this location around 10 p.m. on New Year's Eve.  While we didn't see any mystery lights during our trip, this doesn't mean you won't.  It was fun to drive out into the dark and wait to see if there would be something glowing out in the nighttime desert sky.  The anticipation alone was fun and worth the drive.  And, you might be lucky enough to see something spectacular.

Where to Eat

Marfa has an excellent selection of dining options.  And, not to sound like a broken record, but COVID has affected dining as well in Marfa.  We did enjoy a couple of the culinary spots with really great meals.  Locally owned and small business owners take pride in the food at each spot we visited.  Because of the snow, many spots did not open one day.  We arrived in town to grab a quick take out lunch.  The one spot that was open had gotten so backed up and actually ran out of things so serve.  So, they simply closed their kitchen.  There is a grocery store in town to pick up food, and you can get essential items.  But restaurants and dining is on a small scale and don't expect the same hours and options as a larger city lined with chain food restaurants.

On our first night in Marfa, I made a reservation at Laventure in the Hotel St. George.  They offer seasonal menus, wood-fired pizzas, and delicious desserts.  I loved the small, delicious menu.  Plus, while I love pizza, I wasn't there for this option.  But, pizza made this an easy choice for taking a child to dinner there.  The dining is upscale but not stuffy.  It was the perfect spot for a holiday meal.

While asking for dining recommendations in town, The Water Stop has mentioned hands down as one of the best spots to eat in town.  Each person told us the burgers and chicken and waffles were amazing.  I had a cheeseburger with hatch chilies.  My husband had the spicy chicken sandwich, and our son surprisingly had the mac and cheese.  If you go to Marfa, put this on your list of places to eat while you are there.  Everything we had was amazing, and my husband wanted to go again before we left but they were closed on New Year's Eve.

If you are looking for a coffee spot in Marfa, check out the Sentinel.  The coffee is just right and has a nice patio for your favorite beverage.  Since we were there on a snowy day, the coffee was a welcome warm-up after shopping, but it would be nice to enjoy their outdoor seating in warmer weather.  Several people in town mentioned the outdoor seating there.

The courthouse in Marfa was still beautifully light with Christmas lights during our stay.

Marfa is a place to slow down, relax and just enjoy the scenery, change of pace, and creative vibe.  It isn't a busy or big place, but it is entirely worth the effort to get there, and I plan to go back to take in the art and places that we were not able to visit.  

If you have little extra time, Alpine is only 30 miles away.  I would like to have a little extra time to explore this quaint town as well.  But, this trip just didn't allow for it.  Plus, you are also near Terlingua and Big Bend National Park.  You can read about our trip to these spots in my first post about Southwest Texas.  If you are going this far, take the time to enjoy as much of this corner of the American Southwest.  We had an amazing time on this journey, and I cannot wait to return and explore more!  This trip made me realize that visiting that buck list location doesn't quench your thirst for adventure.  It only leaves you yearning for more, and that is the best way to live.

Until next time...

Pin this post to your favorite Pinterest Board.