Photography by The Dani Creative
Marfa, Texas, a renowned West Texas town, has held a coveted spot on my bucket list for the past decade. Finally realizing this dream on my second visit, I’ve gathered valuable tips for an unforgettable experience. Navigating the 7-hour drive from Austin to Marfa to Terlingua along Highway 90 may seem daunting, but with a well-curated playlist and ample snacks, the journey becomes surprisingly enjoyable. Discover the town’s minimalist charm, explore historical sites like Fort D.A. Russell, and visit attractions such as the Presidio County Museum. Indulge in the best restaurants, peruse unique shops, and choose from top-notch hotels. Don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself in Marfa’s distinct ambiance and explore hidden gems like the enchanting Hot Springs and the captivating Cochineal.
SEE ALSO: 19 Best Road Trips From Austin
Here is our travel guide on all the things to do in Marfa, Texas!
Table of Contents
When is the best time to visit Marfa?
We went mid-October and this year the weather was high 80s to low 90s during our trip so it was pretty hot. The first night of our trip the temperature did drop to the low 50s. Generally, the best time to visit Marfa is from March through October. During these months, you can expect warm, pleasant weather and minimal rainfall. The temperature normally hits the high 80s in August and drops down to the high 70s in October.
Marfa does get cooler at night so I wouldn’t recommend camping towards the end of Nov – January.
Where To Stay In Marfa
We stayed at Hotel Saint George on our recent trip to Marfa, and it’s dog-friendly! The hotel is not only known for its rich history as the first grand hotel in 1886 but also for its stunning murals. The amenities offered at Hotel Saint George include:
- Hot tub
- Gym/fitness center with a full and spacious suite of cardio and strength-training equipment
- Bar Saint George
- Laventure Restaurant
- A gift shop.
105 S Highland Ave
El Cosmico is a 21-acre hotel and campground in Marfa that’s conveniently located right in the middle of the town. You can pick from renovated vintage trailers, safari and scout tents, yurts, tent campsites, and even teepees. We stayed in a safari tent on our first night and then a trailer on the second night.
If you want more of a camping experience that’s not pitching your own tent on the ground, I recommend the safari tent. There isn’t a heater or A/C so keep that in mind. The first night in Marfa was in the low 50s so I was pretty cold even with the heated blankets in the safari tent. The trailer is insulated and has its own set of outdoor shower and toilet.
Other hotels in Marfa:
- Hotel Paisano – Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean called this Spanish colonial-style hotel home in 1955 while filming their famed film Giant
Things To Do In Marfa
Marfa is a small desert city in West Texas (193.9 miles from El Paso, 21 miles from Fort Davis, and 27 miles from Alpine) with a population of barely 2,000 residents. This town is filled with art galleries and local shops, including the popular Jett’s Grill, where locals and visitors alike can enjoy delicious meals in a cozy atmosphere.
Snuggled into a corner of the vast desert is Prada Marfa – this art installation is a required stop on any Marfa journey. This landmark is a replica of some of the world’s most famous Prada stores, such as the iconic shops in New York and Milan, by artists Elmgreen and Dragset. While you can’t make any purchases at Prada Marfa, simply catching a glimpse of this slice of Marfa history is an entire experience unto itself. Its shelves of untouched shoes and handbags only add to its unique atmosphere, reminding visitors that this historic Prada is its own work of art.
Tip: Come early because there will be crowds standing in line to get a photo at the Prada store.
14880 US-90, Valentine, TX 79854
Marfa Lights Viewing Area
You can’t go to Marfa without going to the Marfa Lights (also known as Marfa ghost lights) and watching the mystery lights. These mysterious http://theshoalspharmacy.com glowing orbs that appear in the desert near U.S. Route 67 on Mitchell Flat east of Marfa have mystified people for generations.
US-90, Marfa, TX 79843
Marfa Mystery Lights
The actual See Mystery Lights sign is actually located at the Thunderbird Hotel, a contemporary boutique hotel.
601 W San Antonio St, Marfa, TX
Stargaze the Milky Way
You can see the entire Milky Way in Marfa Texas – this was the view from El Cosmico!
If you’d like to continue exploring the artistic side of Marfa, make Ballroom Marfa the next stop on your trip. This non-profit cultural space is solely dedicated to representing the most cutting-edge artists in the area. From visual arts to music, there are various aspects of this ballroom that play a significant role in illustrating the Marfa art scene.
Ballroom Marfa is a non-collecting contemporary art space that supports the work of artists, musicians and visionary thinkers of
all kinds. Ballroom Marfa commissions new work, collaborates across disciplines, and produces exhibitions, public artworks
performances, screenings, concerts, and publications. “Exhibitions and programs are free and open to the public.
108 E San Antonio St, Marfa, TX
Judd Foundation is a non-profit organization that facilitates public access to artist Donald Judd’s permanently installed living and working spaces in downtown Marfa. The Judd Foundation spaces include studios installed with early works by Judd, libraries, and living quarters that reflect the diversity of his life’s work.
104 S Highland Ave, Marfa, TX, juddfoundation.org
The Chinati Foundation
The Chinati Foundation expands upon the artistic scene in Marfa. Founded in 1987, this independent, non-profit contemporary art museum fuses the worlds of art and architecture to truly embody what Marfa stands for. As part of its cultural experience, the Chinati Foundation offers public tours and viewings, education programs, lectures, exhibitions, performances and more.
1 Cavalry Row, Marfa, TX, chinati.org
University of Texas McDonald Observatory
The location of the observatory is under some of the darkest skies in the continental United States. Approximately 60,000 visitors per year attend star parties and exhibits, and continuing education programs for teachers. Weather permitting, guided star parties are held weekly in the Rebecca Gale Telescope Park, which now features, among a wide variety of 8-24 in telescopes, the Wren-Marcario Accessible Telescope (WMAT) with wheelchair access, available to all guests.
Star parties are $25 per person and includes a lecture in an outdoor amphitheater and easy access to the Rebecca Gale Telescope Park located next to the Visitors Center. Held three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Tours: The observatory also offers guided tours ($10), self-guided tours ($3), and solar viewings ($5).
Hours: open to the public from Tuesday – Saturday 12-5 pm, and is closed on Sunday and Monday
3640 Dark Sky Dr, Fort Davis, TX 79734, mcdonaldobservatory.org
Presidio County Courthouse
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, the Presidio County Courthouse is a 1886 Second Empire style courthouse with Italianate details of Alfred Giles.
The interior and the overall exterior form and detailing remain remarkably intact. The building’s most significant alterations occurred in 1915 and 1925 with the plaster coating of the exterior porous brick.
300 Highland St, Marfa, TX 79843
Established in 1993 with the formation of the Arnulf Rainer Museum in New York City, the Ayn Foundation is committed to comprehensive, large-scale projects by major international artists. It currently includes Andy Warhol’s The Last Supper and Maria Zerres’ September Eleven.
107 – 109 Highland St, Marfa, TX 79843
Local shops in Marfa
Loved Raba Marfa and this is a must if you’re visiting Marfa! I bought a couple of items for my home here.
212 E San Antonio St
Located down the street is Raba Marfa is the Marfa Store that features items from local artists.
208 E San Antonio St
Marfa Art Supply
Marfa’s one and only alleyway art supply store, stocking products to support a range of art practices.
120 North Austin Street
Cobra Rock is a small leather goods store that hand makes boots in-store with American leather.
Located around the corner from Do Your Thing Coffee is this cute little store that makes homemade soaps and a curated home goods collection. I stocked up on palo santo here!
Marfa Film Shop
Mara Film Shop offers 35mm, instant and other types of film, as well as new and used cameras for sale.
902 West San Antonio Street
Marfa Book Company
Local bookstore that is temporarily closed.
Liquor and plant shop with a carefully curated selection of liquor. I picked up a plant here to take home as a sourvenir!
Marfa Wine Company
Mara Wine Co is a West Texas Wine Shop with an ever- growing and thoughtful selection of Natural Wines. Stop by for a drink or an exciting bottle of wine to go!
Marfa Spirit Co
Local distillery with tours and tastings, happy hour, and good eats.
320 West El Paso Street
Road Trip to Big Bend National Park
If you still need more things to do in Marfa, you won’t be disappointed by the breathtaking Big Bend. One of Marfa’s most scenic landmarks, the Big Bend region is situated right where the Chihuahuan desert and Texas mountains meet. There are endless ways to let yourself unwind and enjoy everything nature has to offer in the Big Bend, whether you decide to go river rafting, hiking, or stargazing.
Davis Mountains State Park
Just a 20-minute drive from Marfa is the Davis Mountains State Park, a 2,709-acre state park located in the Davis Mountains in Jeff Davis County, Texas. You can hike, backpack, mountain bike or take a scenic drive through the ountains, go camping, stargaze, and geocache.
Entrance fees: Adult (Day Use Only): $6 Daily Child 12 Years and Under : Free
Hours: Open daily. Park office open: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
TX-118, Fort Davis, TX 79734, tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/davis-mountains
Restaurants in Marfa
Do Your Thing
If you need to satisfy your quirky coffee craving pronto, look no further than Do Your Thing. This trendy and quirky coffee shop offers a mouthwatering variety of beverages, sweet & savory toasts, scones, and other items to tide you over before your next adventure.
We went to Frama on our last day in Marfa for a quick coffee and ice cream (yes for breakfast!). This café is connected to a laundromat for extra convenience, and it offers no shortage of delicious foods and beverages. From oat milk lattes to over 10 flavors of ice cream, there’s something at Frama to satisfy every kind of taste.
The Sentinel is a beautiful coffee shop with a cute curated selection of home goods. Order the lavender latte or Spanish latte!
Opened by the owner of Palamino Coffee and Flat Track Coffee (coffee shops in Austin) is Big Sandy located inside a trailer.
There were a few lunch options in Marfa when we were there. Luckily Para Llevar was open – we had the truffle mushroom pizza and it was delicious!
The Get Go
The Get Go is the local grocery store in Marfa with good wine, beer, organic produce, natural and ethnic foods, chocolates & snacks, eco-friendly housewares and locally-made items.
If you need to satisfy your quirky coffee craving pronto, look no further than Do Your Thing. This trendy and quirky coffee shop offers a mouthwatering variety of beverages, sweet and savory toasts, scones, and other items to tide you over before your next adventure.
Elevated dining and bar experience inside Hotel Saint George. Open for dinner nightly. Bar service all day.
Other restaurants in Marfa:
- Food Shark – Mediterranean food truck famous for its “Marfalafel” salads and wraps
- Bar Saint George – late-night dinner
- Pizza Foundation
- The Water Stop
Mazda’s all-new CX-30 compact crossover is a car for everyone, with openness of the cabin that encourages conversation and a focus on the interior comfort.
Taking the Mazda CX-30 on an 8-hour road trip was the ultimate test for this car and the trip was so smooth to and from Marfa and Terlingua. Mazda was engineered to preserve the peaceful environment by focusing on the noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). Nearly every aspect of the CX-30, from the tires to the headliner, was engineered to minimize any road noise.
Another cool thing about Mazda was the Mazda Connected Services that works with the MyMazda App (a standard feature on all CX-30 models). The MyMazda App allowed us to remotely lock the doors, start the engine, or check fuel and tire pressure status all from the convenience of our smartphone!
We actually almost forgot to fuel up during our trip and the app notified that the fuel level was already 4% in addition to letting us know when we forgot to lock the doors.