Oddly enough when people find out I am a travel writer from Texas the #1 thing they ask me about is Marfa. Now I am from West Texas and I find this extremely odd. Marfa is out in the middle of nowhere and when I found out that people were traveling there for their vacation it blew my mind. Not only is it difficult to get to, it’s tiny. The population is 1,772. I would be hard pressed to recommend visiting here, especially if you are flying across the country to see it. Now if you are driving from San Antonio to El Paso that’s a different story or maybe out to Big Bend.
Since I kept getting asked and I hadn’t been to that part of Texas in decades, I finally broke down and road tripped all the way out there. I was in Odessa, Texas for Christmas which is only three hours away. Please read the “only” with dripping sarcasm.
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How to Get to Marfa, Texas
You can fly into Midland/Odessa International airport (MAF) and rent a car. The Midland/Odessa airport is 182 miles from Marfa. El Paso is 190 miles from Marfa, so that is good another option. If you have a private jet you can fly into the nearest town, Alpine. Make sure you rent a car that has cruise control, otherwise it will be a miserable drive.
2019 Volkswagen Jetta
I drove a 2019 Volkswagen Jetta, which was perfect for the drive. Why was it perfect?
- Cruise control – It’s a long drive you are going to use it.
- Automatic wipers – It rained
- Automatic high beams – Once the sun sets it is pitch black out there. You are going to be switching between back and forth constantly.
Road Tripping to Marfa
In my opinion the drive between Odessa and Marfa is scenic. I know that there are many that would disagree. But I grew up out here and find the desert quite beautiful. This drive will take you through a small part of the Davis Mountains.
Things to do in Marfa
Despite its small size, there are a few things to do. Parents looking for quality time with kids will appreciate that everyone’s cell phones most likely won’t work.
Marfa Lights – You can attempt to see the mysterious Marfa lights, but just a heads up this is highly unlikely. Eden and I were there for quite a while after it got dark and we didn’t see anything. Although my friend Bryan swears he has seen them.
Art – This is an art town and it has quite a few galleries. Thanks to Donald Judd a sculptor who thought this should be an artsy town.
- Donald Judd Aluminum Boxes at the Chinati Foundation
- Ballroom Marfa has rotating art displays.
- Judd Foundation: Two tours are offered, the Block Tour (11am daily plus 4:30pm Thursday to Sunday) explores Donald Judd’s residence, three studios (which hold early works) and his library; the a Studios Tour (2pm Thursday to Saturday) which tours studios that display furniture by the artist and his paintings from the 1950s and ’60s.
Prada – That famous tiny Prada store that you cannot shop in the middle of nowhere is here. Well, not really. You can find it 33 miles west of Marfa along the side of the road.
Nowhere but here sign – Drive around and find the Nowhere but here sign.
Marfa and Presidio County Museum – A low key museum about local settlers & military history in a humble 1880s adobe home.
Blimp – One of the things I read about before we went was this allusive blimp flying around. Supposedly no one knows what it’s for. I’m going to guess, based purely on the location that it has something to do with border patrol.
Where to Stay in Marfa
El Cosmico – If you’ve ever wanted to stay in a teepee here’s your chance!
Hotel Paisano – A historic hotel with lots of charm, 41 rooms or suites, and a seasonally heated pool.
Hotel Saint George – If you prefer a more typical hotel stay, be sure to check this more modern hotel out.
Holmes House – If you would rather stay in a house be sure to check out this restored Adobe home. It sleeps 8 and has a pool!
Luxury Compound – If a house isn’t big enough, check out this lavish compound, it also has a pool.
AirBnB is an excellent way to find somewhere to stay out here considering how few hotels are available. If your next stop is Big Bend you may want to find a hotel between Marfa and Big Bend. There are some super interesting places to stay out here. You can also find a few some VRBO.
Chinati Hot Springs – This is a property made up of small cabins and a communal kitchen out in Pinto Canyon. The perk of staying here is access to the hot spring. This is a two hour drive from Marfa. Based on TripAdvisor reviews people really enjoy staying here.
Marfa is definitely one of those places that is going to continue to get better. The locals are using the spaces around town in interesting ways. For example, I saw some people walk into the laundromat. I decided to follow them thinking it was most likely another art installation. It wasn’t. It was their hotel room. Oops.
Absolute tourist trap in every sense. The locals are priced out by the 1%ers looking for a trendy “art” weekend home. Everything in Marfa was pretentious and fake and way overpriced, even the gasoline. We’ll never return. Instead see Alpine, Fort Davis or Presidio for a reality check and the real West Texas.