When I first told my friends and family back home that I intended to spend a week in Marfa, Texas for a road trip/vacation- I was typically met with two questions back-to-back. The first being “where?” and the second being “why?” Understandable, of course. I’d never been before, after all- and it wasn’t like Marfa is a heavily advertised or a particularly well-known tourist destination. But after over a year of being significantly limited to where I could go and what I could do because of COVID- and my job putting a little pressure on me to use up some of my vacation time before the end of the year- I decided to go someplace completely new and do some exploring in unfamiliar territory. I turned to a location that had popped up on Pinterest a few months ago while I was looking at vintage campers, of all things- and I decided to book a flight, a car- and a couple of different places to stay in town to get the best Marfa experience I could.
Located in Western Texas, about 200 miles away from El Paso- Marfa is a small desert town with an equally small population- but what they lack in numbers they more than make up for with their creativity, uniqueness and appreciation/encouragement of the arts and aspiring artists. Marfa is a popular attraction for travelers looking for something new and different as there are a ton of museums, murals, sculptures and oddities at every turn and down each dusty pathway. And when you need a break from walking around (and saying hello to the locals since everyone here is unbelievably friendly, helpful- and eager to offer recommendations!)– you can grab some food and/or a drink at a great selection of independently owned restaurants, cafés, food trucks, etc.
My only warning, if you could even call it that- about visiting Marfa- is to choose your arrival/departure dates carefully. While there are many, many incredible places that are open daily- the town is predominantly active Fridays-Sundays. So far I’ve seen pretty much everything I had wanted to leading up to my getting here- but there’s a few places I’m unfortunately going to miss out on since I’m scheduled to head out early Friday morning.
Although it gives me a reason to come back again, for sure!
I drove into Marfa this past Monday, after an early and post-Hurricane Henri flight to Austin. The drive is long- like, really, really long- but picturesque. It was a little surreal to go through a variety of landscapes in one car ride. From the city, to vast vineyards, to high and rocky mountains, to flat prairies and ranches and finally to the desert and my destination. It felt like I had driven cross-country when in reality I’d only driven about six hours to the other side of the state.
For the first half of my trip, I stayed at the Hotel Paisano. Built in 1930, the hotel gained national attention when it became the temporary home for Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean while they were filming 1956’s “Giant.” I stayed in what had been James Dean’s room during my time there- and it was cute and cozy- with a small balcony overlooking some of downtown Marfa and their courthouse.
The hotel features a lot of behind-the-scenes photos from “Giant” on display throughout their halls and common areas. There’s also quite a few shops and galleries- and Jett’s Grill- which is where I enjoyed a couple of fantastic meals and cocktails during my first two days here.
In the spirit of “Giant,” a classic movie I like very much- I took part of my morning/afternoon earlier this week to head a little further West towards Valentine, Texas to see both Ryan Ranch where the movie was filmed- and a nearby roadside tribute depicting the actors/characters and a large cutout of Little Reata- the ranch at the center of the film. Solar panels near the display keep an interesting soundtrack of classic rock playing non-stop throughout the day- which is a little funny given that there is nothing else around for miles.
And seeing as how I was near Valentine, I finally got to see the famous Prada Marfa display. Since it was a weekday- there were no other people around- and I got to snap plenty of photos. I can officially scratch this one off my Bucket List!
When I returned to Marfa, and got a little more acclimated to my surroundings- I grabbed a coffee at The Sentinel– which is a multi-tasker of a building and operates as a café, a boutique shop, an event venue and the HQ for Marfa’s newspaper. My iced caramel latte was superb- and I plan on going back a few more times before I head out of town a little later on this week for my much-needed caffeine fixes.
Today I’m going to be leaving the Paisano to spend the second half of my trip somewhere a little smaller and a little more rustic- which I’ll talk about next week. What I also plan on talking about after I return home are the other locations/hot spots in town I’m going to be visiting in the days ahead- and sharing some of the local art that has completely captivated me since my arrival!
But before that, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite things from this past month this coming Friday- and this trip has definitely been one of them so far!