West Texas Road Trip
When I started seeing a Prada shop trending on instagram a few years ago, I knew I needed to go visit this one of a kind art installation in the West Texas Desert. From Dallas, its about an eight hour drive to a place called Marfa, Texas. This sleepy West Texas town is known for its mellow, quirky vibes. Starting as a ranching community and water stop back in the 1800’s, it has developed it an art lovers paradise. In addition to making it to this town, there are the hidden gems you will find along the way. I totally didn’t know we had sand hills in Texas or even a target where you get front row parking every time. We traveled with our lil cavapoo, Milo, as this town is pet friendly. Any chance we get to take our little guy is a bonus. As for getting here, I truly recommend the road but if its not your thing, you can fly into El Paso, Midland, or Lubbock and take the few hours drive from either of those destinations. Also, if your coming from Austin or Houston you can reverse my itinerary and hit all the same stops.
Saint George - It’s the new kid on the block, all shiny and glowing. This is the modern choice when staying in Marfa. We booked one night in the big sleek mid century modern room. They have a great hotel bar. A short 2 minute walk down the street you will find the pool, Bar Nadar, which is a great place to sun bask with a margarita in hand. You’ll also find the Marfa Book Co. inside this hotel, any coffee table book lover will appreciate this and its the perfect memento to return home with.. The location is great, as it is in walkable distance to the town square and many restaurants. Book early, it tends to sell out in this sleepy lil’ town.
El Cosmico - Are you feeling adventurous and super cool? Then book it here! We booked our second night here in a teepee, in the middle of August..why you ask? Well because I was doing it for the gram and my hubby wasn’t having it. I got to stay here a whole 30 minutes! So, although we did not make a great decision initially wth booking I still highly recommend to book here but only if you can get an airstream during the summer months. I’d say late fall and early spring, opt for the teepee experience. The grounds are so cool and offer many great photo ops. I mean Beyonce stayed here…so if you don’t want to take my word…take the queens!
Hotel Paisano - Our Teepee failure lead us here to this vintage long standing hotel right up the street from Hotel Saint George and right in town square. It’s truly a time warp hotel but in a cool sense. You feel like like you’ve stepped right back into 1956, the famed year the movie, The Giant, was filmed in Marfa. Candids from the making the movie adorn the mint colored walls although the hotel. There’s only been some quick cosmetic paint touch ups here but it has been kept in really great shape. I’d totally recommend a night here if you are looking for the culture and history of West Texas.
AirBnB - If hotels aren’t your thing, there are actually quite a few cute rentals around town, from tiny houses to storm cellars, you can find a unique stay.
Gage Hotel - This hotel is located an hour outside of Marfa in Marathon, TX. It’s a bonafide Texas experience. If you are traveling to or from Marfa and want to stay the night in this tiny town, this is the place to do it!
Art Galleries - Aside from the whole town of Marfa being art itself, within this town are many independent art galleries for your viewing pleasure. We got a change to see a private collectors gallery on Andy Warhol here. It was incredible to see something that a famed artist created privately that has not been publicly displayed before. Experiences like that are what make Marfa so unique.
Explore Marfa by Bike - There’s a few bike rental stations around town and you can rent by the hour. This is a perfect way to explore all of town, from the square to the outskirt.
Prada Marfa - This is what made Marfa instagram famous. Thirty minutes outside of Marfa, people have traveled from all over to get the famed Prada, Marfa picture, photographers from all over the country adding this installation to their portfolios and to couples taking their engagement and wedding photos here. Created by artists Elmgreen and Dragset, this permanent installation showcases Prada accessories from the 2005 Fall/Winter collection. It’s a must do. One thing I didn’t know prior to going is to bring a lock. Fans have started a love lock fence here and it’s filling up fast.
Chinati Foundation - This contemporary art museum is reflects the ideas of its founder and artist, Donald Judd. It houses the works of many contemporary artists, and includes Judd’s concrete installation thats also become popular on instagram.
Balmorhea State Park - This is a little gem on the drive in. It’s about an hour north of Marfa and offers Texas’s largest natural swimming pool. You can dive in with the fishes and turtles in this clear spring water pool. It’s a great hour stop when driving into Marfa.
Monahans Sand Hills - I had no idea Texas had sand hills, a national park to be exact. This is also another hidden gem stop you will find on your drive in. We rolled into the park around 3pm and there was no one in sight. These hills just roll on. My only tip here is to go at either sunrise or sunset so that the sand is not fire on you feet. I learned this the hard way but got a great pic for you guys anyways!
Tiny Target - “Someone vandalized the train watch station and the deputy was not to happy about it!” The owner of the Main street shop in Marathon, TX which is 15 minutes from the new “Target”. Someone didn’t want Prada getting all the attention and opted for a more mainstream retail installation. I dig it! I suppose the deputy got on board too because it was never removed and the town has seen a bump in visitors. It’s a win win for all!
Marfa Wine Co. - This is a new dig in town and its a great stop in while touring the town. For $5 you;; get a wine tasting of 3 house chosen wines and I don’t doubt you’ll discover something new for your tastebuds in a Marfa kinda way.
Bar Nadar & Pool - This is the Hotel Saint George pool but good news, if you rant staying here you can still buy a day pass and chill. They have a great drink and food menu with a modern pool ambiance. It’s where the cool kids go.
Marfa Lights - We can not forget the famed unsolved mystery of the Marfa Lights. Is it a bird, a plane, a UFO? No one has been able to figure the mystery out. The town has built a Marfa Lights viewing center just ten minutes outside of town where vistiors come and bring chairs and get settle in for the night waiting for the glimpse of the famed lights. Unfortunately we did not see the lights after a full one hour and a half commitment. There are many theories here but one things for sure…its a true mystery.
The Capri - I saw charcuterie and a swanky bar and I knew I was there. Located across from the Thunderbrid hotel in Marfa, this concrete swanky western bar needs to make it one your dining list. We enjoyed the trio of charcuterie boards and the duck plate which was excellent. DOn’t leave without trying this chefs special receipe for “ice cream”.
Frama Coffee - Wake up and walk on over to grab your cup of joe here and leave with a mural photo of Marfa on the way out. This was the best the coffee I had in town while visiting.
Food Shark - I’m not sure how to even explain this junk yard, garage sale, Mediterranean serving time machine in a couple words so thats how I’m i’m describing it. You can dine in a bus or dine in the yard next to a TV with boots but either way you gotta try the food. It’s actually really good! Go for lunch, they close at 3.
Al Campo - Hands down my favorite dining experience in Marfa! I thought I knew charcuterie but then I found out I was wrong. This wine garden is serving up some great vino alongside some incredibly tasty food. Don’t worry they didn’t leave out the photo ops either. This place has it all!
Cochineal - The locals recommend it, although we didn’t get to personally make it. We look forward to trying it our next visit.
Do Your Thing - Coffee, toast and magic is what they are serving up. WE took a morning walk here to enjoy some unique coffee options that we enjoyed. You can also get breakfast toasts here in a variety of ways.
Buns N Roses - WE wanted so bad to make it here, but we just didn’t have the time. It’s got great breakfast so the locals says. Another next time!
Aster - This is the breakfast spot you do put on your list. From cinnamon waffles to eggs benedict you won’t be disappointed. Its located right in town square, on the back side of Hotel Paisano.
Brick Vault - How could I do west Texas cuisine without BBQ? Not happening, Located in Marathon, this is the perfect stop for lunch after your trip to Tiny Target. They offer BBQ and 6 home made brews on tap for the beer happy paps! Be sure to get there early, once they run out…its game over and I’m sorry your late for the party attitude.
11:00am depart road trip to Marfa, TX
Monahans, TX - sand hills
Balmorhea State Park - springs
8:00pm arrive Check in Hotel Saint George
8:30pm Dinner at The Capri
8:00am Coffee at Frama, Breakfast at Aster, then walk around town
10:30am Bar Nadar - Pool
12:00pm Check out
12:30pm Prada Marfa, Chianti Foundation
2:00pm Marfa Wine Co
2:30pm Food Shark
3:30 Check in Hotel Paisano
6:30pm Pre Dinner Drinks at Hotel Saint George Bar
7:00pm Dinner at Al Campo
8:30pm Dessert at Cochineal
9:30pm Marfa Lights
9:00am Breakfast at Do your thing
11:00am Depart Marfa
11:30am Greetings from Alpine Photo Stop
12:00pm Tiny Target
12:15pm Gage hotel
12:30pm Brick Vault for lunch
1:30pm Depart for Dallas
4:00pm Greetings from Big Spring Photo Stop
8:30pm Arrive home
Being a born and raised Texan, I am embarrassed it took me so long to take this worthy road trip but it did make me an even prouder Texan after discovering this soul feeding journey exist right here in my home state. Marfa, in whole, is an installation of art in the middle of nowhere, Texas. I hope this blog inspired you to make a playlist and road trip with your favorite person and enjoy the ride. As always, please email me with any questions about this destination.