Greetings from Marfa (and 6AM Campaign Strategist Stephanie Rogers). If you love cowboy boots and country songs, paranormal happenings, and huge pieces of minimalist art, then get in the Chevy — we’re going to Marfa.
Marfa first landed on my radar in 2017. I was on a cross-country road trip and kept hearing about this tiny art oasis in the middle of nowhere, West Texas. When I learned that Marfa was also the shooting location for “Giant,” the 1955 Western starring James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor (Dean’s third and final film), I knew I had to go — and Marfa’s been rolling around my mind like Texas tumbleweed ever since.
- The Marfa Lights: Since early pioneer times, folks have reported sightings of unexplained, ghostly blobs of colorful light dancing on Marfa’s skyline after dusk. Some say it’s paranormal, others say it’s an atmospheric coincidence. I saw them for myself, and can confirm that it’s strikingly weird.
- Donald Judd Chinati Foundation: Artist Donald Judd put Marfa as close as it’s ever been to being “on the map” when he invited friends + artistic collaborators to join him in creating art in Marfa each year during the 70s. Today, there’s a foundation and indoor-outdoor museum of stunning architectural desert installations created in his honor.
- Ballroom Marfa: Keep the artsiness going, and check out the rotating exhibitions of contemporary art at this non-collecting museum in the heart of town.
- The Prada Store: You’ve probably seen photos of this. It’s a real storefront on the outskirts of town, but no designer shoes or bags were ever sold there. Instead, it’s a conceptual art installation, created in 2005 by Berlin-based artists Elmgreen & Dragset.
Act like a local:
- Food: Hotel Saint George’s bar and restaurant is perfect for more upscale dinner and drinks (the cocktails especially are phenomenal), as is Jett’s Grill.
- Drink: Every outlaw needs a good watering hole, and Lost Horse Saloon should quench your thirst for the authentic cowboy experience. Planet Marfa is a quirky, outdoor-only bar that’s proven to be a tried-and-true favorite for locals and visitors alike. The Sentinel offers a little bit of everything (cocktails, coffee, newspapers + food).
- Shop: Marfa Museum Thrift Store showcases historical artifacts from the region, plus the opportunity to score a desert treasure to take back home.
- Day trip: Commune with the ghosts and cowboy spirits at Terlingua, TX, an old mining town-turned-tourist destination just ~2 hours away. If mine shafts aren’t your thing, Big Bend National Park is just a ~1.5-hr drive, with views worth every minute of the journey (I loved the Window View Trail).
Where to stay:
- Vrbo: Fully Remodeled 1950s Texaco Gas Station (~$219/night), or Big Sky Marfa (~$431/night) if you’re traveling with a crew.
- Airbnb: Midnight Train to Marfa (~$125/night) or Sunrise Minimalism Home (~$195/night)
- Splurge hotel: Hotel Paisano (~$250/night) or Hotel Saint George (~$332/night)
- Save hotel: El Cosmico or Marfa House (~$70/night each)