Entry No. 47: Marfa, Texas
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, husband and I decided to set out on a road trip over Memorial Day weekend to Marfa, located the West Texan Chihuahan Desert. This was such an amazing escape from living in the city and I think it would make a fantastic locale for a chill honeymoon. There’s a whole lotta nothing but lots of beauty. This is what our drive mostly looked like:
The sky was the most beautiful I’d ever seen. It just seemed to open up and feel so wide and engulfing … big puffy white clouds everywhere and the bluest of blues. This may sound silly but it felt alive!
The lobby of our hotel, The Holland Hotel, in Alpine, TX
We stayed in a little town called Alpine, TX, about half an hour away from Marfa. Like always, I waited too long to make reservations and the hotel I wanted in Marfa (El Paisano – read more about this gem in the tips below!) was fully booked. Maybe it was meant to be, though, because we actually ended up loving our hotel, The Holland Hotel, and the sweet little town it was in!
Our first night we spent exploring the streets of Alpine. We had dinner in a converted gas station (Guzzi Up) and it was awesome! Then we walked around, found a shaved ice place and hunted around for the best view for sunset. It happened to be the steps of an old Spanish church.
The next day, we headed over to Marfa:
It was just as rad as I had hoped … a tiny little desert town sprinkled with art galleries and shops and fantastic eateries (I’m sharing my faves in the tips below). But the locals … the locals were by far my favorite part of the town. Everyone was so friendly and down to earth and wanted to get to know you and where you were from. Time felt a little slower in Marfa and I loved it.
We had lunch at the famed Food Shark food truck and it was SUBLIME. We had to wait about 30 minutes for our food but the shaded communal picnic tables made the wait go by quickly and the food was to die for – yummmm.
After exploring Marfa, we set out to see Prada Marfa which is actually about 35 min away in Valentine, TX. Here’s what we saw along the way:
And then, just when I was beginning to wonder if we were on the right road, it appeared!
Of course, I couldn’t drive all the way to Prada Marfa and not have my own Queen Bey moment!
Then I had the idea of getting weird and doing some artsy photos with my Benedict bag that I had packed in the trunk …
While we were there, several other cars came and stopped for photo opps, too. It was a fun time!
That night, we had bar food for dinner at Planet Marfa and chilled out by the teepee until the sun started to set. As it started to get dark, we drove over to the Marfa Lights Viewing Platform a few miles out of the town. Quite a crowd had already gathered and as the sun dipped even lower, we started seeing what everyone had been talking about! We saw the mystery lights!! Well, J doesn’t think we saw anything but everyone there (including myself) will tell you they exist. They’re strange little orbs that dance around and then disappear and reappear. I have no idea what they really are but it was pretty incredible to see them. Even if you don’t witness the mystery lights, the sky itself is worth viewing … I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a clear sky filled with stars – truly amazing. On our way home, we also saw a faraway lightening storm that lit up the sky.
Lana Del Rey was on repeat for this trip – see why? 😉
CB’s Top Tips for Marfa, TX:
– Where to stay. We stayed at The Holland Hotel in Alpine, TX, and it was great! It gave us a chance to get to know another little Texan town and the hotel itself was quite a gem. It dates back to the early 1900s and has a wonderful Spanish-Texan feel to it. If you want to stay in Marfa, El Cosmico offers airstream trailers and teepees. This was a little too roughin’ it for me, so I wanted to stay at Hotel Paisano – the hotel where Elizabeth Taylor stayed while filming Giant in the area. You can even stay in the suite she stayed in!! Don’t be like me and wait till the last minute to book – do it early and then tell me what I missed out on. 😉
– Where to Eat. We had so much yummy food on this trip.
My recommendations for Alpine:
– Guzzi Up, a pizzeria that is in a converted gas station. It’s also right across the street from The Holland Hotel. Great pizzas, great drinks and they’re open super late.
– Railroad Blues, a bar just a block down from The Holland Hotel. We didn’t actually make it to this bar (it was closed when we tried) but it looks awesome and has great reviews. The local music sounds like it would be fab and the local scene would be fun. Try it out!
And my recs for Marfa:
– Food Shark. Don’t go to Marfa and not eat here – it’s an experience. And one that tastes pretty darn delicious.
– Planet Marfa. This bar is more like a mini community. They have a giant teepee, a ping pong table, a resident parrot, a fluffy dog with one eye blue and one brown who likes to beg for food, and an amazing central bar with great conversation. And the bar food was actually super good!
– Ballroom Marfa. There are several galleries in Marfa but this one was probably my favorite – it’s a contemporary cultural arts space gallery housed in a converted dancehall that dates to 1927. When we visited, there were several films to watch, each pretty interesting. / 108 E. San Antonio St. / Highway 90 West. Open Wednesday through Saturday, 10am-6pm, and Sunday, 10am-3pm.
– Secret little gallery! Yep, you might walk right by this one but I’m going to tell you all about it so you don’t miss out. Go inside the Marfa Book Company and head toward the back to discover a “secret” little art gallery. I’m not sure if it has rotating exhibits but when we visited it was all about “haunted pieces” which I looooved. There was a model of the Amityville house and lots of Victorian-era ghostly things. It was fantastic!
Prada Marfa. You definitely want to see this if you’re in the area. This ironic/iconic art installation is definitely what prompted me to plan this vaca. It’s technically in Valentine, TX, which is about half an hour north of Marfa on U.S. 90. It was created by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset and unveiled in October 2005. If you’re not familiar with the story, click on the link to find out. 😉 / GPS coordinates: 30° 36′ 12.37″ N, 104° 31′ 6.52″ W’
– Day trips. If you’ve made it all the way to Marfa, make sure to check out the surrounding area. We visited Fort Davis one day and I’m glad we did. It was interesting and the town was cute. Big Bend National Park is also nearby – you could canoe to the Santa Elena Canyon for impressive views. I wanted to do this but my fear of snakes held me back.
All images by moi.