Prada in the desert

I finally made it to Marfa.


For those of you who don’t know, Marfa is in West Texas in what many consider to be the middle of nowhere.  You drive 8.5 hours west on the I10 and it is located between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park.

The distance and remoteness make this an intimidating drive in Texas.  But now that I have been, I can definitely recommend the visit.

Marfa used to be a railroad stop in the 1880s but is now a tourist destination with a major focus on minimalist art.


Whilst this is a small town, there is plenty to do and see:


We stayed at the Thunderbird Hotel, an old hotel built in the 50s that has been recently remodeled but in keeping with the 50s stylings.


Another fun option is El Cosmico.  They describe themselves as an 18 acre nomadic hotel and campground.  What makes this place so adventurous is their fun accommodation options.  You can stay in vintage trailers, safari and scout tents, Sioux-style tepees – and these all look glam!

For a fancier option, Hotel Paisano is right in the middle of town and has an old world charm to it.  Even if you don’t stay there, grab a drink in their beautiful courtyard in the evening – it is just stunning.


Food Shark: This is a super popular food truck set up at the railway station.  The weekend we visited was the Marfa film festival so everything was busy, this had wait times of 40 minutes, and people were waiting!

Cochineal: Drive by and you will miss this one.  It is a small, discrete, trendy restaurant with a cute patio area.  The food is fresh and has a great wine and cocktail menu, this would be one of your trendier options in Marfa.

Padre’s:  This is a live music venue with casual eating and drinks.  It is an institution in Marfa complete with a dance floor and a great sound system.  The patio area is kid (and dog!) friendly.

Frama @ Tumbleweed:  Tumbleweed Laundry is a laundromat with a coffee shop and juice bar connected.  It was favored by all the hipsters and the coffee was great.


Chinati Foundation: The Chinati Foundation is a contemporary art exhibition based on the ideas of its founder Donald Judd.  Their aim it to preserve and present permanent large scale installations.

What I loved here were the 15 untitled works in concrete that run along the border of Chinati’s property, they are breathtaking.


Marfa Lights: This famous phenomenon is described as bright glowing balls floating above the ground in colors such as white, yellow, orange or red.  No one can explain these lights so they are often called the Marfa Ghost Lights. They have erected a viewing platform that was packed with people star gazing hoping for a glimpse of the lights.  I “think” I saw them, but it was an experience none the less!

Prada Marfa:  To be honest, it really isn’t in Marfa, it’s actually 1.4 miles northwest of Valentine Texas.  The permanent art installation is designed to resemble a Prada store complete with Prada products, the idea is that it will weather and be a part of the landscape.



Balmorhea State Park: The world’s largest spring -fed swimming pool is definitely an oasis in the middle of the desert.  You were swimming amongst fishes and turtles in a gorgeous pool.  It is a slight detour on the way back to Houston, but definitely worth it!


Big Bend:  You may have read our article on some of the other national parks, but Big Bend is the largest and most remote national park in the US.  It is also the least visited. Their primary activities are hiking and backpacking trails.

Extra notes: Expats – bring your passport.  Marfa is in the very west of Texas and you could be asked to show your passport by border patrol.  I know a number of people who didn’t have theirs and had to wait over an hour for verification at border patrol.

Have any other readers been to Marfa?  What are your favorite spots?

– Emma



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