A Guide to Planning a West Texas Weekend in Marfa

I recently came back from a weekend long (read: whirlwind!) trip to Marfa, Texas. I’m from Austin, Texas, which means, in the most direct shot, is approximately 6.5 hours of driving, covering approximately 428 miles. You might have heard about Marfa, Texas, in passing. A small, sleepy town in west Texas, Marfa has recently had a resurgence of popularity from the hipster art scene. It’s a tiny, sleepy town, but it’s absolutely worth the stop, especially if you’re en route to Big Bend National Park (still on my bucket list of National Parks!).

Where to stay

You have a few options when staying in or around Marfa. Fort Davis is a neighboring town, approximately 20 miles away. Keep in mind that Marfa is tiny, so rooms book up pretty quickly in Marfa. Either option is great, but Fort Davis definitely has the “no stoplight” little town charm.

Fort Davis:

Indian Lodge - This is where we stayed our two nights. The lodge recently underwent major renovations and you can tell. The lodge is gorgeous and has a restaurant (Black Bear Lodge) on its property. Great stopover point if you’re looking to do a little hiking in Davis Mountain State Park.

The Black Bear Lodge, Indian Lodge, Fort Davis. Photo credit: Brittany Dunning

The Black Bear Lodge, Indian Lodge, Fort Davis. Photo credit: Brittany Dunning

Indian Lodge, Fort Davis. Photo credit: Brittany Dunning

Indian Lodge, Fort Davis. Photo credit: Brittany Dunning

Fort Davis Drugstore and Hotel - There are only a few rooms upstairs, but nothing says “small town charm” like walking up a flight of stairs to a very B&B style stay.

Marfa:

El Cosmico Lodging & trailers - photo from El Cosmico website

El Cosmico Lodging & trailers - photo from El Cosmico website

El Cosmico Lodging & yurts - photo from El Cosmico website

El Cosmico Lodging & yurts - photo from El Cosmico website

El Cosmico - Of course, if you are able to stay in Marfa, the place you want to stay is at El Cosmico. It’s widely renowned for it’s trailers and yurts, but it books up quickly. Definitely worth checking out if you are coming at a cooler part of the year. Just remember, these spots are not air-conditioned.

Hotel Paisano - A classic in Marfa, this hotel was opened in 1930, and was the site of filming for the movie Giant.

Hotel St. George - If you’re looking for a touch of class in Marfa, then the place to stay is definitely Hotel St. George. New, modern, and sleek, this hotel is throughly outfitted and designed with class in mind.

What to do

McDonald Observatory Star Party - If you’re staying in or around Marfa, you have to head out to McDonald Observatory for a little star gazing! It is an approximately 2 hour long outdoors (so dress warm!) viewing party of the night sky. Bring blankets and warm coats if you’re headed there in the winter!

Prada Marfa Art installation - photo credit: Brittany Dunning

Prada Marfa Art installation - photo credit: Brittany Dunning

Prada Marfa - The quintessential photo of Marfa, this Prada “store” (read: art installation) is actually located outside of Marfa, in the town of Valentine. I’m not sure what more to say about it, other than it’s an essential piece of West Texas art (and definitely worth a quick stop).

marfa texas west texas sawtooth ridge photoshoot

Scenic Drives - There are some beautiful stretches of roadway out in this area of Texas. This is a great chance to see the countryside, find some long stretches of road, and just cruise with the windows down. If you’re headed south, you can check out Sawtooth Ridge, approximately 100 miles north of the entrance to Big Bend.

Marfa Lights - Perhaps the strangest thing in Marfa, no trip is complete without a trip to the roadside stop to view the Marfa Lights. No one knows exactly what causes the lights (they look like dancing, far off headlights), but they are only able to be seen approximately 30 times a year. Numerous scientists have attempted to document and understand the cause of the lights, but no one has been able to find an answer.

Marfa Lights rest stop viewing area at sunset. Photo credit: Brittany Dunning

Marfa Lights rest stop viewing area at sunset. Photo credit: Brittany Dunning

Where to eat

Marfa:

Planet Marfa - If you’re looking for a great place to hang out, Planet Marfa’s chill, laid-back vibe offers a variety of beers and a community teepee to gather in.

Large pizza at Pizza Foundation

Large pizza at Pizza Foundation

Pizza Foundation - Made from a recycled gas station, this small restaurant is the perfect place to grab a slice to eat before heading out to watch the Marfa Lights. Call ahead or go early, this place tends to have a sizable wait! The best part? A domestic beer is $2!

Frama - If you’re looking to chase down your pizza with a little ice cream, find this little ice cream shop nuzzled up next to Tumbleweed Laundry. Whether you’re looking for a simple vanilla cone, or more exotic (try Lavender Cream!), you’ll be able to grab a scoop to enjoy!

Greetings from Marfa mural at Frama / Tumbleweed Laundry . Photo credit - Brittany Dunning

Greetings from Marfa mural at Frama / Tumbleweed Laundry . Photo credit - Brittany Dunning

Fort Davis:

Fort Davis Drugstore & Hotel - One of the cutest little places to grab a bite to eat for dinner in Fort Davis, the Drugstore boasts a hotel above and an old-fashioned soda bar. A good place to grab a bite to eat as you head in (or out!) of town on the way to Marfa. Keep in mind, they are not open Saturdays!

The Porch - Always a great place to grab a brunch before you head out from your long weekend. The Porch has a casual, down-home style breakfast featuring scrambled eggs, bacon, and homemade biscuits and gravy.

Brunch at the Porch in Fort Davis, Texas

Brunch at the Porch in Fort Davis, Texas

Things to Note:

  • Depending on your cell phone carrier, reception can be very spotty! Wifi is usually accessible or free in most hotels and Airbnbs.

  • Many of the restaurants and locations are CASH ONLY. Keep that in mind as there are no major banks in Marfa.

  • There are no major retailers around (except for a Dollar General), so make sure to pack anything you might need!

Leave your recommendations below on any must-dos!