Marfa is truly an enigma. It’s a quaint town (population about 1,900) in the middle of nowhere West Texas. The closest airport is almost 200 miles and it’s quite a trek to get there, no matter where you are coming from. So why is everyone dying to get to Marfa? No, not just because Beyonce went once and instagrammed the entire thing.
In the 1970s, Donald Judd, a renowned U.S. minimalist sculptor who basically invented loft-living (the appropriation of industrial space for urban residential living) got bored of SoHo, married a Texas oil heiress, and bought several old agricultural warehouse buildings in the small trans-Pecos town in Texas. Transfixed by how remote it was, he took the walls out of the buildings and filled them with his best work and the work of his friends, and thus created one of the most spectacular twentieth century art installations and collections in the world.
Since then, the tiny town has become a hub for the arts and a frequent of the creative Austin crowd. Apart from the galleries and renowned food, the true charm of Marfa is the small town life, wide-open spaces, never ending sky, scenic mountains, and remoteness. It’s the perfect place to get away (you’ll see many artists and creatives doing exactly this) and experience the indescribable charm of the city.
When To Go
It’s most important to note that Marfa is best experienced Thursday through Sunday. The town essentially closes down from Sunday afternoon to Thursday at lunch making it truly a weekend getaway destination. Also, rent a bike or pack your walking shoes because everything is so close that driving is just silly. Because of how remote and disconnected Marfa is, I think the ideal trip is a weekend getaway with friends you don’t see often. Between the long road trip and fireside chats, it’s an intimate place to relax and catch up with people you care about.
Where To Stay
Source: El Cosmico
There are a few places to stay in Marfa, but none compare to El Cosmico. Think of it as the chicest and most charming campground in existence. Depending on your budget and availability, you can take your pick from vintage airstream trailers, teepees, and safari tents that are Instagram heaven. Have your own gear? You can opt to tent camp which includes access to all communal spaces and the bath house.
Source: El Cosmico
Source: El Cosmico
El Cosmico even has wood-fired hot tubs, a hammock grove, workshops and activities (everything from movie night with free popcorn to a class on learning to ferment your own kimchi) depending on the schedule, and the best gift shop of any hotel. Also, it’s rumored Beyonce stayed here…so duh.
What To Do
Source: Lonestar Looking Glass
Chinati Foundation—the most expansive collection of art in Marfa. Most known for the “15 Untitled Works of Concrete by Donald Judd” scattered across 1.5 miles of Chihuahuan Desert, but there are multiple collections to see and appreciate. This is a must!
Prada Marfa—ahhh the famous store you cannot shop at. Located about 45 minutes outside of Marfa, it’s an installation by Elmgreen and Dragset that fuels an ongoing dialogue about permanence, minimalism, and consumerism. It may not be open, but it’s spectacular to take in.
The Marfa Lights—they can’t be seen every night, but try try and try again until you are able to. Drive out to the viewing center around sunset, pack a picnic (and a blanket for warmth) and wait. You’ll know them when you see them.
Source: Huffington Post
Ballroom Marfa—a dynamic, contemporary cultural arts space where varied perspectives and issues are explored through visual arts, film, music, and performance. The gallery is housed in a converted dancehall that dates to 1927.
Source: Conde Nast Traveler
Marfa Contemporary—year-round art exhibitions that are free to the public.
Source: Texas Architects
Marfa Courthouse—the largest building in the city with a spctacular view of town if you climb to the top.
Source: Big Bend Coffee
Big Bend Coffee Roasters—stop by and grab a few pounds of this delicious coffee, chat with the owner, and see how the beans are roasted.
Big Bend National Park—an hour and a half outside of Marfa, but it is a MUST for nature lovers. Spend the night camping or the day hiking and taking in the breathtaking views.
Where To Shop
Source: Camille Styles
You’ll be surprised at just how small Marfa is. Walk around and peruse the stores (it won’t take you long), but make sure not to miss our favorites: Marfa Book Company, Cobra Rock Boot Company, Wrong Marfa, and Freda.
Where To Eat
Source: Instagram @beyonce
Source: Blue Eye Brown Eye
Food Shark – $ – Probably the most well-known Marfa staple. A gourmet mediterranean food truck with weird hours and a constantly rotating menu among a graveyard of vintage foodshark vehicles. Bonus points if you can catch the Museum of Electronic Wonders and Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour.
Source: Shoot Big Bend
Planet Marfa’s Beer Garden – $ – Beer garden with bar appetizers. Yes, we said beer garden and it’s awesome.
Marfa Buritto – $ – You have to order in Spanish and pay in cash at this homestyle kitchen, but it is SO worth it. This is authentic tex-mex in large portions and the photos of Matthew McConaughey everywhere (a frequent visitor) are too hilarious not to love.
Source: Daniel Krieger
Boyz 2 Men Tacos – $ – Comedy with your breakfast tacos. You’ll understand when you get ready to order.
Source: Forage and Fodder
Pizza Foundation – $$ – Some of the best pizza you will ever have. Yelpers describe it as “pure magic.” OK, you don’t have to convince us.
Source: Forage and Fodder
Cochineal – $$$ – Gourmet new american featuring dishes like pan seared duck, Texas ribeye, and a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate soufflé. They only order enough food for their estimated guests, so reservations are essential.
Source: Jett’s Grill
Jett’s Grill – $$$ – If you can’t get in to Cochineal, Jett’s is an equal contender. The food is just as mouth watering and despite the miniature size of the drinks, they pack a flavorful punch that will knock you out. Go for the margarita. Bonus: It’s in the Hotel Paisano, which is where the cast of Giant stayed and it’s a magical step back into time.