This month we take a long, strange trip West.
Marfa is an unlikely mixture of art, culture, and creativity located in the high desert of the Trans-Pecos in far West Texas. The city was founded in the early 1880s as a water stop; the population increased during World War II, but the growth stalled and reversed somewhat during the late 20th century.
Things to do in Marfa
Today, Marfa is a tourist destination with both historical and contemporary attractions including Ballroom Marfa, Building 98, Blackwell School, the Chinati and Judd Foundations, and the Presidio County and Marfa Museum, as well as artisan shops, historical architecture, and a classic Texas town county courthouse.
Fill your imagination by day with a visit to galleries and museums. Take a stroll around the downtown area and check out local shops like CobraRock Boot Company, Marfa Brand Soap, Ranch Candy, or the classic Livingston’s ranch store.
For a complete list of where to find inspiration visitmarfa.com has links to all the city’s wonderful creative spaces, restaurants, shops, and hotels. Be sure to stop by the Marfa Visitor Center, located in the former USO building, for maps and itineraries to guide you around Marfa and the surrounding area.
Engage your curiosity by night. The Marfa Lights are one of the greatest mysteries in Texas.
Accounts of strange and unexplained phenomena just outside of Marfa began during the 19th century and continue to this day.
Ranchers, Apaches, high school sweethearts and famous meteorologists alike have reported seeing seemingly sourceless lights dance on the horizon southeast of town, an area that is nearly uninhabited and extremely difficult to traverse.
The mystery lights are sometimes red, sometimes blue, sometimes white, and usually appear randomly throughout the night, no matter the season or the weather.
Just look to the sky and dare to dream.
This Texas town can be toured by traditional ways, but to really see the diversity of the area take a tour high above in a glider!
Soaring is nothing new around Marfa. The mystery lights have been flying across the desert east of town for years. Part of a much newer phenomenon, glider pilots have discovered that the area’s winds and thermal updrafts power some of the best gliding in the country.
Check out Marfa Gliders for more information on pricing and current schedule.
Where to Stay
The diversity of this town isn’t just witnessed in its culture or arts; it’s also found where you choose to lay your head. From Teepees to entire Ranch houses, Marfa has the lodging to satisfy your fancy.
There may not be a cooler hotel than El Cosmico, a souped-up campground. The 21-acre property is centered on a store selling serape robes and vintage army jackets, and each birch-paneled airstream has air conditioning and heating, a mini bar and fluffy robes. If you need any more proof that staying here’s not quite roughing it: it’s where Beyoncé stayed when she was in town.
Things are even more traditionally luxurious at the new Marfa Saint George, a glossy 55-room hotel that’s the fanciest thing Marfa’s ever seen.
There’s Aesop in the showers, sheepskin rugs on the floors, and an impressive array of local art on the walls. And you can actually buy a lot of that art at the downstairs MarfaBook Co., which is chockablock with thick art tomes and original prints and paintings made by local artists.
For those seeking a bit of Texas history and architecture, the historic Hotel Paisano won’t disappoint. Designed by architect Henry Trost and built in 1930, the hotel was headquarters the movie Giant. Book in advance to reserve the Rock Hudson, James Dean, or Elizabeth Taylor suites.
Fill ‘er up!
The food scene in Marfa has everything from fine dining establishments to fascinating ones, like Food Shark, a Mediterranean food truck famous for its “Marfalafel” salads and wraps. Food Shark’s co-founder, Chef Krista Steinhauer, recently opened her own restaurant, Stellina, on Highland Avenue with a rotating seasonal menu and excellent wine list.
For Tex-Mex, head to Mando’s, the local gathering spot for breakfast and lunch, or try the burrito-only restaurant in the home of Ramona Tejeda. She speaks little English, so brush up on your Spanish (or your hand signals) and brace yourself for the best gastronomic pleasure you can get for less than $7.
How to get there:
At roughly twelve hours of travel time from most major cities, Marfa is indeed off the usual beaten path. Most flights to El Paso or Midland require a connection.
Marfa is southwest of Midland/Odessa and southeast of El Paso, between Carlsbad Caverns and Big Bend National Parks, near the Davis Mountains. Most major airlines (American, Southwest, Delta, and United) serve Midland (MAF) and El Paso (ELP) airports. The Marfa Airport (MRF) is just 3 miles north of town on highway 17 and services smaller passenger planes.
For expert advice on all things Marfa, contact the city’s local experts today to explore the magic and mystery for yourself!