Marfa Travel Guide

lifestyle travel Jun 02, 2019

When Sam surprised me with a trip to Marfa for Valentine’s Day, the excitement and planning started immediately. We’d long talked about making the trek out to this West Texas desert oasis that’s been getting a lot of attention these days.

While Marfa’s community of artists has more recently put this town on the map, it originally became known as the location of the movie Giant with Elizabeth Taylor. Last summer, I watched this old film for the first time and absolutely fell in love. So when I realized that Marfa was the home of these iconic characters, I was even more sold.

Personally, I was absolutely blown away by just how much I enjoyed this trip and town. All of those whom I’d spoken to beforehand warned me that there simply wasn’t much to do, so I set my expectations accordingly. And yes, while it absolutely is a small town, I was impressed by the quality of the food, shopping and overall atmosphere. The vibe is a mixture of cowboys and Indians meets crystal-loving earth mama, and I couldn’t be more on board.

While we only spent a weekend in town, our days were packed as we explored, ate and took in the wonders (and weirdness) of Marfa. And though we crossed off most of my to-do list, several places were unfortunately closed, which is just another reason to return soon.

Below are my top recommendations for all things Marfa, a place I couldn’t urge you more to see and experience for yourself!


Where to Stay

El Cosmico

Many of the pictures you’ve seen of Marfa have probably come from this beautiful campground. Well, it’s more “glamp-ing” that anything else. Yes, there are communal bathrooms and showers, but they were clean, cared for and rarely occupied when we were in need.

The rooms and amenities vary depending on the level of accommodations you choose, but regardless you’ll be in awe of the natural beauty and “do nothing” culture of El Cosmico. Plus, the lobby shop carries the coolest collection of clothing, jewelry, incense and pottery that sets the scene for your trip from the moment you arrive.

Though the campground was completely booked for the weekend we stayed, Sam and I both commented that it still felt serene and wonderfully isolated. To say that staying here is a break from the “real world” is an understatement.

Hotel Saint George

If you’re not sold on the idea of sharing your shower space, the Hotel Saint George is another incredible option. New, sleek and chic, the space is lovely and has all of the conveniences you’d expect. Plus, it’s in the heart of town, so it makes all of your shopping and dining options just walking distance away.

What to Do & See

Prada Marfa

If you didn’t get a picture in front of the Prada store, did you even go to Marfa?! I know, it’s cliche, but we couldn’t help but take a peak while we were out there. This work of art is intended to be a criticism of consumerism, as the minimalistic structure stands in juxtaposition to the barren landscape.

While it’s a 30-40 minute ride from Marfa, this iconic store is a must see. Plus, on the way, you’ll pass massive caricatures of the Giant cast, which brought the whole experience full circle for me.

Bar Nadar Pool + Grill

After we’d explored the sites and shops to our satisfaction, Sam and I stumbled upon this tropical refuge. A part of the Saint George Hotel, Bar Nadar is obviously the place to be in town with cocktails and poolside grub flowing.

We sipped on (several) Ranch Waters and munched on the chicken fajitas while soaking in a little hot, afternoon sun. For only $20 a day, we both agreed that these few hours were a major highlight of the trip!

Judd Foundation

The Judd Foundation, in both New York and Marfa, exhibits the living and working spaces of Donald Judd, a notable American artist known for his minimalistic style. Plan ahead to schedule a guided tour of Judd’s art and collections in this convenient downtown museum.

Chianti Foundation

This massive space was actually created by Judd himself. It’s located on 340 acres and exhibits the work of various artists. The concept behind the Chianti Foundation is to communicate the link between art and the surrounding landscape, and thus the artwork is minimalist, modern and thought-provoking. The foundation offers guided, self-guided and private tours Wednesday-Sunday.

What we want to hit next time: Big Bend National Park & Marfa Lights


Where to Eat & Drink

Cochineal

In all of my online research and from others’ suggestions, Cochineal was repeatedly recommended, and we were not disappointed. The food is farm fresh and highlights interesting and tasty local flavors. Our favorites included the artichoke, crispy trout, filet and vegan board (which is a beautiful spread of grilled vegetables with a lemon herb vinaigrette). But the real star of the show: the bread pudding. This was one of my all-time favorite desserts, and Sam and I continued to talk and dream about it for the rest of the trip.

Plus, if it’s not too warm (and it does cool down significantly at night in Marfa), request to sit outside in the restaurant’s adorable outdoor courtyard.

Stellina

This bustling spot is another highlight of the food scene in Marfa. As they don’t take reservations, I recommend getting there on the early side to put your name in. Grab a drink at the bar and enjoy the people watching while you wait for a table!

As for the food, order several of the delicious small plates to share, including the seafood tostada, burrata and roasted broccoli. Sam dove into the grilled flank steak, while I had the wild salmon veracruz, and both were absolutely mouthwatering. And while you’re at it, order a warm apple cobbler for dessert, because it’s good for the soul (and tastebuds).

Bar Saint George

Because many restaurants in Marfa have unpredictable hours (especially in the mornings), we ended up grabbing breakfast at the Hotel Saint George lobby bar. Their breakfast and lunch menus have a variety of options, including a cozy bowl of oatmeal with berries, loaded egg and sausage burritos and dreamy huevos rancheros.

Plus, this is another great spot to come for a cocktail before you head out to dinner in the evening!

LaVenture

This restaurant inside of the Hotel Saint George serves up fresh and delicious New American cuisine. Their menu changes seasonally and reflects both the elegant and casual atmosphere of the hotel itself.

Sam and I ended up sitting at the bar, where we munched on tempura cauliflower with the most mind-blowing cumin cilantro yogurt. We then moved on to the pan seared scallops and roasted spaghetti squash with sausage, both of which we’d order again in a heartbeat.

Planet Marfa

This weird, hole-in-the-wall bar is the epitome of all things Marfa. Complete with a school bus and teepee, the outdoor space is filled with hippies, cowboys and travelers of all types. While they only serve beer and wine, it’s absolutely worth coming for a cold one to people watch and take in the Marfa culture.

Frama at Tumbleweed Laundry

Yes, this coffee shop is located in a laundromat. It’s Marfa; what else do you expect? Sam and I stopped in for some morning fuel before heading out to the Prada store, and the coffee and matcha didn’t disappoint. Plus, they have an incredible variety of homemade ice creams, vegan cookies and granola if you’re needing a real pick-me-up. Don’t forget to take a picture outside with the iconic Marfa mural while you’re there!

Do Your Thing

For a mid-shopping break, we headed into this cool coffee shop with the best array of specialty lattes and snacks. When I walked in, the whole place smelled like fresh toast, and I knew I’d found a winner. I snagged a minty matcha latte (I never knew I loved this combination before now), while Sam ordered a turmeric latte with espresso.

What we want to hit next time: Capri Bar & Restaurant, Aster Marfa, Al Campo Wine Garden


Where to Shop

Cobra Rock Boot Company

This place was just COOL in every way. It’s the definition of western chic with handmade leather boots galore, and I fell in love with all they had to offer. I even picked up my major memento of the trip, a brass and moonstone bangle that’s perfectly Marfa in every way.

Communitie

 

When I die, I beg of y’all to sprinkle my ashes here. The moment I walked in and spotted a mountain of healing crystals, I knew I’d be here a while. While I did end up picking up a crystal or two (…okay, three), the variety of other goods were just as amazing. They have the most unique, airy clothing, woven textiles, beautifully made leather goods and hats that’ll make you fit right in with the Marfa locals.

Freda

We stumbled upon this tiny little shop while we walked around town, and I fell in love with the ecclectic clothing, accessories and fun house items they carry. Freda even has a website if you want to get a sneak peak of the goods ahead of time!

Mano Mercantile

Sam and I originally walked by this store that’s directly next door to the Hotel Saint George early in the morning before they opened. We remembered to pop back in later that day, and boy, were we happy that we did.

Their collection of silver and turquoise jewelry is desert chic at its finest, and Sam even came away with the coolest silver cuff as a remembrance.

Marfa Book Company

All of my book lovers, this one’s for you. Located in the Hotel Saint George, this book store carries an interesting collection of prints, coffee table books, vintage collectors’ items and novels that’ll appeal to just about anyone.

I couldn’t help but pick up a copy of No Country For Old Men, a recommendation from my dad and so fitting for the setting. Take a look around, and you might just find a hidden gem of your own!

What we want to hit next time: Raba, Garza Marfa

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