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Visit Marfa, Texas

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The Marfa Texas Bucket List: What to See and Do

Are you seeking a distinctive and thrilling escapade? If so, Marfa, Texas, ought to be your superior choice! Whether you are a lover of culture, an avid fan of the outdoors, or simply searching for a novel experience, Marfa encompasses all. We have compiled a compendium of our preferred activities and attractions in this quaint Texan municipality, ensuring you maximize your visit.

Marfa’s History and Culture

Marfa boasts a rich history and culture that is truly unique to the region. In 1945, western murals were commissioned to depict Marfa’s past, portraying the battles between Native American tribes, Spanish explorers, and settlers. Recently, Marfa has garnered attention from a new generation of visitors, including millennials ticking off their bucket lists and tourists alike, drawn in by its vibrant art scene. A stroll through the downtown area will lead you to discover local galleries and museums. At the same time, the town’s many coffee-culture establishments offer a delightful respite for a refreshment and a bite. With so much to explore, Marfa promises an unforgettable experience for all who venture into this charming town.

The History of Native American Tribes, Spanish explorers, and settlers’ Battle in Marfa Texas

The town of Marfa, located in Texas, has a rich history that dates back to the era of Native American tribes, Spanish explorers, and settlers. In 1532, four survivors of an expedition embarked on a gruelling journey across what is now Texas and its neighbouring states. During their travels, they were captured by the Karankawa Natives. They were forced to march into the territory of Ais and Caddo in present-day East Texas.

In their quest for resources, Spanish soldiers attacked Caddo towns and looted the Native Americans’ food stores. As time passed, Marfa saw an influx of settlers, including African Americans who settled alongside Anglos. The town’s establishment by Anglos is believed to have occurred in the late 1820s or early 1830s.

The town’s history is intertwined with that of cowboys, Texas Rangers, Buffalo Soldiers, and pioneers. In recent times, archaeological studies have been conducted to learn about the significant impact of these diverse groups in Big Bend National Park, situated along the Mexican border. Today, Marfa’s vibrant history continues to endure as a testament to the enduring legacy of these groups.

Western Murals 

In 1945, a collection of murals was unveiled in Marfa, Texas, providing a vivid portrayal of the town’s history. The artwork illustrates the tumultuous battles that occurred between various groups throughout the Indian Wars, including Native American tribes, Spanish explorers, and settlers who were seeking land and resources. This conflict, which spanned almost two centuries, saw Europeans and the U.S. government clashing with the indigenous peoples of North America.

The murals depict a group of French men standing passively next to a group of Native Americans who are described as resting submissively below them, with goods draped from outstretched arms. These powerful images are a poignant reminder of the long and complex conflict between settlers and indigenous peoples in Marfa and North America.

Best Accommodations

In the town of Marfa, in Texas, a reasonable number of lodging options are available, catering to various budgets. From lavish establishments to cosy abodes and even vintage trailers, a wide range of alternatives suits every preference. For a truly distinctive experience, one can consider the El Cosmico – a hotel and campsite that offers accommodation in vintage trailers, teepees, and safari tents. Alternatively, one can opt for the Hotel Paisano, which provides a luxurious stay and boasts of being the same hotel featured in the iconic film Giant. However, if affordability is a concern, Marfa Inn and Dunes Motel are ideal options. It is common to have budgetary constraints while travelling, and one can be assured that a suitable lodging option can be found in Marfa, regardless of one’s financial limitations.

El Cosmico

El Cosmico is a 21-acre nomadic hotel and campground far west of Marfa, Texas. It boasts a garden, terrace, and bar surrounded by vast open spaces and a seemingly endless sky. The hotel draws inspiration from the rich American history of nomads, bohemians, hippies, and those who have chosen a life of self-determination. The unique destination also reflects Liz Lambert’s distinctive style, which allows visitors to balance adventure and relaxation. El Cosmico is a vibrant community hub that encourages creativity and intellectual exchange, all while embracing its charmingly eccentric atmosphere.

Hotel Paisano

Nestled in the heart of Marfa, Texas, lies the illustrious Hotel Paisano – a distinctive haven offering guests a remarkable and unforgettable experience. Constructed in 1930 by the esteemed architects Trost & Trost, this hotel boasts 41 lavish rooms and suites with a heated pool for enjoyment during the warmer seasons. A gift shop and art gallery also await exploration, adding to the delightful allure of this enchanting destination.

For those seeking a touch of Hollywood glamour, the Paisano has it in abundance, a favoured haunt of the iconic Liz Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean whilst filming the acclaimed movie Giant. The hotel’s extensive gift shop is adorned with a wealth of cherished memorabilia from the film, perfect for those looking to relive the captivating era.

Riata Inn Marfa

Nestled on the outskirts of Marfa, Texas, the Riata Inn Marfa offers a comfortable and spacious hotel experience that is also pet-friendly. For visitors seeking a West Texas retreat, the hotel’s affordable rooms are perfect for unwinding. With a promotional offer of $98 per night (usually priced at $123), the Riata Inn Marfa provides guests with exceptional value for money.

The hotel’s convenient location makes exploring the local area easy, with attractions such as Carmen’s Boutique Hotel, Cibolo Creek Ranch, and El Cosmico nearby. Marfa is a small town with a population of 2,127 and an elevation of 4,685 feet, characterized by an expansive sky and vast open spaces. Guests of the Riata Inn Marfa will have a delightful and unique stay in this beautiful part of West Texas.

Dunes Motel 

The Bend Dunes Motel is worth considering for those seeking a cost-effective travel option in Marfa, Texas. This charming establishment provides 24 well-appointed guest rooms, complimentary parking, and convenient laundry amenities. Several dining venues are also situated within easy walking distance of the motel, catering to the varying tastes of visitors. Moreover, those keen on immersing themselves in the local culture will appreciate the motel’s warm Southern hospitality and superior level of service.

Food and Drinks

Marfa, located in Texas, boasts many delectable dining options, catering to even the most discerning food connoisseurs. From traditional Tex-Mex establishments to gourmet eateries, there are various choices to satisfy every palate. The restaurants in Marfa are continually evolving, allowing visitors to revisit their favourites while discovering new culinary gems during each visit.

For a quick snack or a leisurely lunch, the options are plentiful. Savour the mouthwatering chorizo burrito at the Marfa Burrito Co, or indulge in the fluffy pancakes at Marfa Diner. For lunch or dinner, a must-visit destination is the Food Shark, renowned for its signature tacos. Alternatively, Cochineal serves up farm-to-table cuisine that is sure to impress. Lastly, a visit to Gibson’s Frozen Custard is ideal for those craving a sweet treat to round off their dining experience.

Chorizo Burrito at Marfa Burrito Co!

The highly acclaimed Marfa Burrito Co is located in the charming town of Marfa, Texas, offering customers the authentic taste of homemade Mexican cuisine. For an exceptional breakfast experience, indulge in their signature chorizo burrito, a must-try for all visitors. The delectable burrito is carefully crafted with perfectly seasoned chorizo and eggs. It is accompanied by two tantalizing salsas – a spicy green and a savoury red – made from scratch in the kitchen.

One of the most notable aspects of Marfa Burrito Co is the opportunity to observe the skilled kitchen staff preparing the mouthwatering dishes. The friendly ladies in the kitchen are more than willing to explain each step of the cooking process, making it a truly immersive and engaging dining experience.

Aside from the signature chorizo burrito, guests can also delight in other delectable breakfast options, such as eggs and bacon burritos. It’s important to note that this establishment only accepts cash payments. Remember to bring some along to avoid disappointment.

Marfa Diner’s Pancakes

One culinary delight to be noticed when traversing through Marfa, Texas is the delicious pancakes served by the town’s numerous diners. Marfa’s diners have made a name for themselves by crafting thick, wholesome pancakes that gratify your taste buds. From the classic buttermilk flapjacks to the more inventive banana nut and blueberry options, the diners cater to all preferences. Each restaurant in Marfa puts its twist on the beloved breakfast staple, allowing for a diverse range of culinary experiences. The jalapeno corn pancake or the green chilli pancakes are highly recommended for those seeking a little spice. Regardless of your pancake of choice, Marfa’s diners serve up some of the most delicious flapjacks around.

Food Shark’s Signature Tacos

In the charming town of Marfa, Texas, one can discover a one-of-a-kind dive bar named Food Shark. This remarkable establishment results from a collaboration between the renowned Food Shark food truck and Casita Bar, housed within a 1970s-era abode.

Operating exclusively on Thursdays through Saturdays from noon to 3:00 pm, Food Shark offers a menu combining Mediterranean cuisine with a Texan twist. Diners can enjoy their meal under the pavilion located between the railroad tracks.

Of the many delectable dishes, the signature Marfalafel taco has earned a devoted following among local patrons. This innovative creation is generously sized and packed with flavour, satisfying its consumers.

Cochineal’s Farm-to-Table Cuisine

Marfa, Texas, is renowned for its flourishing art scene, but it has become a culinary destination too. Cochineal, led by Executive Chef/Owner Alexandra Gates and Partner/Owner James Harkrider, is a remarkable example of farm-to-table cuisine, upholding The Scout Guide’s philosophy. The restaurant offers a delectable dining experience with prices ranging from $2 to $36. Cochineal features European and Central European cuisine, including vegetarian options. Signature dishes include cucumber gazpacho, farmers’ pate, barramundi fish entree, and more. With its commitment to top-quality ingredients and modern American cuisine, Cochineal will satisfy even the most discerning palates.

Gibson’s Frozen Custard 

Gibson’s Frozen Custard is a delightful treat for both locals and tourists. Established in 1919 by Archie and Elton Kohr in Coney Island, New York, this unique frozen dessert uses cream, sugar, and eggs. The custard is kept at a higher temperature than regular ice cream, creating a smoother texture and a richer flavour. Gibson’s Frozen Custard is recognized globally for its delectable taste and superior ingredients. One can visit one of Marfa’s best ice cream parlours, such as Frama, The Get Go, Porter’s, or Jett’s, to savour a scoop of this classic delicacy.

Marfa Lights Viewing Center

Located just east of Marfa is one of Texas’s most captivating attractions – the Marfa Lights Viewing Center. This newly constructed, well-lit viewing area is designed to enable visitors to experience the enigmatic Marfa Lights. The Marfa Lights Viewing Center, located 9 miles east of the town along Highway 90, is an ideal spot for an overnight stay and an opportunity to glimpse these mysterious lights. Visitors can come with an open mind and enjoy the view year-round. For a more intriguing experience, the Center even features two red lights southwest of its location. With its picturesque setting and convenient location, the Marfa Lights Viewing Center is an exciting attraction that will delight visitors from near and far.

Top Attractions in Marfa Texas

The rural town of Marfa, Texas, has become a magnet for global travellers seeking a unique cultural experience and historical intrigue. Among the top draws in Marfa is Ballroom Marfa, a renowned non-collecting contemporary art museum that stages a range of cultural events and exhibitions. Visitors can also bask in the stunning night sky at the Marfa Lights Viewing Area or encounter the quirky Prada Marfa art installation that sits stranded by the roadside, beckoning those seeking an injection of the town’s creative spirit.

Ballroom Marfa 

Ballroom Marfa is a must-see destination for anyone touring this charming enclave. This subtle and elegant museum houses art that would be at home in the finest institutions of the world’s most significant cities. Exhibiting artists usually retain ownership of their work, which can be seen in global galleries. This exceptional location is undoubtedly one of Marfa’s most remarkable features, and travellers are encouraged to discover all its wonders.

Prada Marfa 

A remarkable attraction awaits those who venture off the dusty highway to explore the celebrated Prada Marfa. This stunning permanent sculpture, crafted by Scandinavian artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, presents a non-functioning replica of a luxury Prada boutique. Built in 2005 to gradually deteriorate over time, Prada Marfa is modelled after the design and aesthetics of Prada’s signature brand. Visitors have been known to mistake it for an open store, an intriguing testament to the artists’ vision. Prada Marfa is a unique spectacle that should be noticed.

Outdoor Activities that you and your family can do in Marfa Texas

Marfa offers a wealth of activities for families to enjoy. The town’s diverse outdoor offerings include horseback riding, camping, hiking, biking, and bird watching, ensuring everyone can find something that appeals to their interests. The stunning Big Bend National Park provides ample opportunities to explore the region’s natural beauty. The Marfa Lights Viewing Center is famous for visitors to witness the elusive Marfa Lights. Trails such as the Window Trail and Balanced Rock Trail offer breathtaking views and a chance to experience stunning vistas. For those seeking a more relaxed pace, Marfa’s Town Square is an ideal spot to unwind and explore the nearby shops. Festivals and events occur throughout the year, providing endless entertainment for visitors of all ages.

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park, situated in Texas, is a stunning location to immerse oneself in natural beauty. With three distinct regions to explore, visitors can choose from the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive region, Chisos Basin, and the Rio Grande Village. The park boasts the largest protected area of the Chihuahuan Desert and the awe-inspiring Chisos Mountains. Along with plunging river gorges and jagged peaks, Balanced Rock is also a noteworthy attraction and one of the most photographed sites in Big Bend. For hiking enthusiasts, the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail is a scenic route to traverse. At the same time, campers can enjoy full hook-ups at RV Campground. Regardless of whether one seeks rugged adventure or wishes to absorb the natural splendour of Big Bend, it is a location that promises to satisfy every outdoor enthusiast.

Mysterious Marfa Lights

Witnessing the enigmatic Marfa Lights is an unforgettable experience that will linger in my memory. Located in Far West Texas, just a few hours from the charming town of Marfa, these lights have been an inexplicable phenomenon for over 135 years. The elusive orbs are described as flashes of red, blue, and white light that appear randomly throughout the night, irrespective of season or weather. A visit to this unique location is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience that will foster a greater appreciation for the mysteries of nature. Prepare for an exciting adventure and book a trip to Far West Texas to witness these elusive Marfa Lights!

Window Trail and Balanced Rock Trail

One of the most frequented trails in Big Bend is the Window Trail, situated near Terlingua and offering a 1.4-mile out-and-back hike. Hikers can relish the breathtaking views of the Chisos Mountains and the Rio Grande River along this trail. The Balanced Rock Trail is another highly recommended trail for hikers, providing them with awe-inspiring vistas of Santa Elena Canyon. It is a 2.0-mile loop trail that is considered moderately challenging. The Nature Trail near the Rio Grande Village is also an option for those seeking a more straightforward hike. It is a 0.8-mile loop trail that takes one through desert vegetation and offers glimpses of local wildlife. Regardless of the chosen path, a memorable experience is guaranteed while exploring Big Bend National Park!

Marfa’s Town Square

One can relax and explore Marfa’s Town Square for a leisurely activity. Embrace the small-town charm and take in the spectacular views of the Big Bend region. Browse the local shops, art galleries, and pottery shops, and indulge in craft brews and comfort food. A trip to the African American Museum near Big Tex at the entrance to I-45 in Dallas is also recommended. With great activities and sights to see in Marfa and its surrounding areas, it is an ideal location to escape and relax during one’s winter getaway.

Festivals and Events in Marfa

Marfa is a haven for art lovers, with a unique and vibrant art scene. There is excellent art to explore, from the Chinati Foundation to the numerous galleries around town. Marfa also hosts several festivals and events that are worth attending. The annual Marfa Myths music festival is one of the most popular events in the area, with performances by some of the best indie musicians. The Trans-Pecos Festival of Music & Love is another great event that features art installations, live music, and workshops.

Marfa Myths Music Festival 

Welcome to Marfa, Texas, where music lovers and art enthusiasts gather for a weekend of unforgettable experiences every year. The Marfa Myths Music Festival, co-curated by the Brooklyn-based label Mexican Summer and local arts non-profit Ballroom Marfa, is an annual pilgrimage showcasing music, film, and visual art worldwide. This one-of-a-kind festival attracts hundreds of people who celebrate the power of art and music. On Day 1 of the celebration, a former Army hangar is transformed into a vibrant space for attendees to explore and enjoy live performances. It’s an excellent opportunity to discover new music, meet talented artists, and have a good time. Take advantage of the chance to experience Marfa Myths Music Festival!

Trans-Pecos Festival 

In addition to the Marfa Myths Music Festival, another multi-day event draws people from all over the world. The Trans-Pecos Festival, hosted by El Cosmico, the popular hip bohemian hotel/campground, is an annual “music and love” festival that offers something for everyone – from live music to sandlot baseball and star-gazing under the night sky. With workshops, art installations, and more, Trans-Pecos is an unforgettable experience that allows fans and musicians to experience the vast Chihuahuan Desert in an entirely new way.

Local Tips when planning to visit Marfa Texas

If you’re planning a visit to Marfa, Texas, there are some local tips to remember. This small town has some of the most unique attractions in the state and has become a popular tourist destination. Before visiting Marfa, check the weather and be prepared for the heat. The area can be arid, so visitors should bring plenty of sunscreen and water. It’s also important to note that cell phone service can be spotty in this remote area. To experience Marfa Mystery Lights and Prada Marfa, visitors should plan to arrive around sunset and bring binoculars for a better view. Suppose you’re looking for more outdoor activities during your stay. In that case, Cedar Coffee Supply offers excellent hiking trails and activities for the entire family.

Shopping in Marfa Texas

Shopping in Marfa, Texas, is a unique experience. From the iconic El Paisano Hotel to the Prada store in the desert that is never open, Marfa offers a variety of stores and places to explore. Visitors can find everything from vintage clothing and antiques to modern art and furniture. Several stores have locally-made items such as jewellery, pottery, and even traditional Mexican blankets for those looking for souvenirs. Shopping in Marfa is an adventure, as you never know what you might find.

Day Trips when visiting Marfa Texas

When visiting Marfa, Texas, plenty of day trips are worth taking. There is something for everyone from the nearby Davis Mountains State Park, with its stunning views from Skyline Drive to the quirky downtown attractions. Those looking for an outdoor adventure can explore Big Bend National Park and the Chihuahuan Desert, which offers many hiking trails, camping opportunities, and wildlife viewing. History buffs will enjoy a visit to Fort Davis National Historic Site or the Marfa Ghost Lights Observation Center. Head to Alpine or Fort Davis, which has excellent local stores and restaurants for shopping. There’s even an old-fashioned drive-in movie theatre in Marfa where you can catch a double feature on the weekends. Whatever you choose to do during your visit, something fun and exciting awaits you in Marfa, Texas!

Davis Mountains State Park

Nestled amidst the rugged terrain of the Davis Mountains in West Texas, Davis Mountains State Park beckons the intrepid traveller with its vast expanse of 2,709 acres of remote wilderness. This awe-inspiring destination offers an array of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, including hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. A visit to the nearby old fort is highly recommended for the adventurous. With its recently renovated Interpretive Center open daily from 8 am to 5 pm, there is much to learn and discover.

Moreover, visitors can avail of the comfortable lodgings offered by the park’s hotel. However, it must be noted that dogs are not permitted in Texas State Parks. The quaint town of Fort Davis, located just five miles away, provides all the essential amenities one might require, including some charming shops to explore. Davis Mountains State Park offers something for everyone, making it an ideal destination for a truly unforgettable outdoor adventure.

Fort Davis National Historic Site  

For those with a penchant for history, the Fort Davis National Historic Site, located in the vicinity, provides a fascinating glimpse into America’s Indian Wars frontier military post. Dating back to 1854, this historic site covers four miles of back and front trails and houses numerous preserved fort buildings. Additionally, visitors can take a nature walk and explore the area’s natural beauty. For those seeking further insights, tuning into KRTS 93.5 FM Marfa Public Radio is highly recommended. Thus, experiencing this incredible location’s rich history and breathtaking natural beauty is guaranteed to leave visitors in awe!

Marfa, located in the state of Texas, is a destination that boasts a distinct and captivating character. Renowned for its vivid culture, breathtaking landscapes and fascinating attractions, it is no surprise that many individuals return to this locale repeatedly. From the enigmatic Marfa Mystery Lights to the picturesque Chinati Foundation, the town offers an abundance of diversions suited to all tastes. In addition, visitors can indulge in many outdoor activities, festivals, events and shopping experiences. Accommodations are plentiful, with a variety of lodgings to choose from. Furthermore, Marfa’s culinary scene is impressive, offering an array of delectable dishes and refreshing beverages. Marfa is an ideal destination whether you prefer a dynamic or more laid-back holiday.