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marfalous: marfa in 36 hours

We got back on Sunday from a great weekend in Marfa. It was our first time, and it was so fun to experience the quirky little West Texas town together. We are obviously not experts, but I want to share how we did Marfa in 36 hours in case any of you are looking to plan a similar trip. We felt like 36 hours was definitely brief, but in a “leaves you wanting more” kind of way and not a “well this was way too short to enjoy” kind of way. Major, major props to my friends for pitching in with recommendations ā€” we would have been lost without you!

A note on the drive from Austin – > Marfa…it really wasn’t that bad. When you say out loud “13 hours in the car over a weekend” (6.5 hours each way), or “900 miles,” it’s easy to puke get intimidated. But with music, podcasts, and road trip snacks, it went by really quickly. The drive out there is sooo pretty, there’s very little construction to deal with, and in most places the speed limit is 80 mph. Pew!

awfully big adventure stellina

Eats & Drinks:

Bar St. George: Our first stop on the way in for wine and “real food,” and our last stop after dinner on Saturday night for more wine (and more wine) and conversation with new friends we met at dinner. It’s pretty and modern and apparently not at all lacking in wine supply.

Do Your Thing: This place was the Marfa-est. Tucked away in essentially a shack, they served up deliiicious coffee, quiche, and toast to start our day on Saturday. They don’t open until 8:30, which I think is kind of hilarious for a coffee shop and yes I was mad about it at 6:45 a.m. on Sunday when I needed coffee and we were leaving town, but then I remembered their quiche and I forgave them.

Food Shark: Super delicious Mediterranean food truck with plenty of outdoor seating where we grabbed lunch on Saturday. You’ll see everyone you saw at Do Your Thing that morning, but you won’t get brave enough to talk to them until you see them again at dinner. 

Hotel Paisano: The gorgeous historic hotel where the cast of Giant stayed during filming. We heard the food was “eh,” so we just stopped by for a drink on the way to dinner. The inside was a little stuffy, but the courtyard was perfect. 

Stellina: Just the gosh-darn cutest little restaurant, conveniently steps away from the Hotel Paisano. To be fair, most things in Marfa are steps away from each other, but when you’re wearing heeled booties every step counts. I digress. Go here! The menu was perfectly petite, the food was great, it was always buzzy and busy but never overcrowded. 

Activities:

awfully big adventure prada marfa

Star Party at the McDonald Observatory: We did this on Friday night and it was so fun! The gist is this: you head up to an observatory run by *The* University of Texas at Austin. For the first hour, you sit outside and a guide shows you constellations, planets, satellites, etc. with a military grade laser pointer which kind of blew my mind. Then for the second hour, you can look in their massive telescopes. We got to see Venus, the moon, a NEBULA which is creating stars…Oh frick, my nerd is showing. Anyway, it’s a 45 minute drive from Marfa up into Fort Davis but very worth it. We lucked out with a pretty clear night and it was cold but not freezing. I highly recommend it. (p.s. Book tickets in advance here as they do sell out.)

The Chinati Foundation: Because we were only in town for 36 hours, we opted for an self-guided tour. (The guided tours are a minimum of 2.5 hours, we just didn’t want to commit to that.) We timed it so that we’d be able to see all three of the installations available for self-guided viewing. The installations were so cool and we both nerded out on the history of the property. If you want to fall down a similar nerdhole, here’s the Wikipedia article on what the property used to be. 

Prada Marfa: The pretend Prada store in the middle of the desert that I’ve been ogling images of for years and years. Being there was kind of like seeing a celebrity in public. I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was even cooler in person. 

Shops:

awfully big adventure el cosmico

El Cosmico Provision Co.: I mentioned in my last post that I’m on a buying freeze when it comes to stuff for the apartment, so I wasn’t super interested in shopping. But…I couldn’t not get this poster that I’ve eyed for years.  

Stay:

awfully big adventure marfa airbnb

Airbnb: There are several cute hotel options, but we wanted to try out an Airbnb. (This one, specifically.) The price could not be beat, the location was amazing, and though it was pretty minimally outfitted we knew we wouldn’t be spending much time there. A bonus was the huge gorgeous courtyard that the guests are invited to use. And the local beer the host stuck in the fridge for us. šŸ™‚

awfully big adventure fort davis

Next Time:

These are all the places we either tried to go to and they were closed, or didn’t get to, or didn’t even know we wanted to get to but realized once we were in town: Marfa Burrito, Rotunda at City Hall, Garza Marfa, Moonlight Gemstones, The Capri, Dixon Water Foundation and Big Bend Brewing Co. (not in Marfa, but in Alpine on the way in.)

If you are at all interested in design, history, desert landscapes, historical architecture, or feeling like you’re on the set of a Wes Anderson movie, I highly recommend a Marfa visit. Have you been? Am I missing anything?

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3 Comments

  1. Meredith Meredith

    i read this whole thing and my 2, main takeaways were:
    1) the little cones at the fire station are SO dang cute
    2) cool hat!

    i’d like to hear more about about that adorbs El Cosmico store. and your wine drinking friends in Marfa. i also didn’t realize you were only there for 36 hours! you guys did so much, and it looked incredible. Marfa is near the top of my list when i go home, now.!

    did you stay at the observatory for the full, 2 hours? was it super easy to see the constellations?

  2. Sydney Ross Sydney Ross

    Molly, as always your posts make my wee Texas heart sing!

    Marfa is just a lovely little place that is full of whimsy, Texas weirdness, I’ve loved every second of those trips out that way. I might recommend going to Balmorhea on the way to Marfa, should yall have more time. The natural spring pool is a great place to stretch your legs and take a dip. El Oso Flojo is a small but cute place to stop for the night as well.

    Also, as soon as that spending freeze is done, TREAT YO SELF to that cute af Marfa poster. No regrats.

  3. Thanks for the AirBNB info! We’re planning a trip soon and will definitely book this place when we go. And you DESERVED that poster if you’ve waited on it for years.

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