I recently made the trip from Austin to Marfa with hopes of seeing the Marfa lights. Until my wife told me about the lights a few weeks prior I had never heard of them. Although we didn’t see any lights, the Marfa trip was a fun change of pace from our normal highly populated destinations. There were plenty of hidden gems out in the desert.
There are more pictures in this post than I usually include but I decided to chronicle the whole trip over five days rather than a few smaller posts.
As you can see on the bedside clock we didn’t check in until around 2 AM Saturday morning after 7.5 hours on the road. The hotel had a historic vibe and presented itself as a guaranteed good nights sleep. Oh boy, was that wrong. Check out the video, the walls and windows stood no chance in blocking out the rumble and constant train whistle throughout the WHOLE night!
We actually got into Alpine around 1:30 AM, just enough time to grab a few drinks before last call. Hesitant to tote my camera along I snapped some pictures the next day. As we walked in Del Castillo, an Austin based band, was just finishing up. There was a surprisingly large selection of beer and wine.
Some prior research indicated that you had to stop at the Apache Post on the outskirts of Alpine and on the way to Marfa. Although not to different from other trading posts they did have a back room where you could watch a 10 minute video on the Marfa lights along with a great selection to topographical maps of the area.
Welcome to Marfa
If I lived in Marfa this would be my hangout. With happy hour all day every day, except Saturdays, Padres gives you a little sports bar, live music venue, game room and restaurant all in one.
It is unassuming from the outside but it was the closest thing to a grocery store that I found in Marfa holding a good variety of items. Marfa, and the surrounding towns, are very organic and that is what you will find here also.
I was not expecting to find this type of place in Marfa. Even more unassuming than The Get Go, this is fine dining in Marfa. Be ready to drop at least $100 for two people. You will have a difficult time finding a menu online since they usually change their dishes daily but one thing is consistent, and highly recommended by everyone I asked, get the date pudding for dessert!!
Chinati is a contemporary art museum with the intention of preserving and presenting to the public permanent large-scale installations by a limited number of artists. Located on 340 acres of land and formerly the site of the military installation Fort D.A. Russell. If you are big into art, go here. Even if you are not big into art, go here and check out the old barracks.
Pretty cool for a book store. They have after hours live music and other events. We saw the rapping cowboy there while drinking our BYOB bottle of wine.
In an old gas/service station, and with multiple ovens churning out fresh pizza this place is a must. The pizza is not the best in the world, but it’s the best in Marfa. They also have a good selection of beer and wine.
Opened in June 1930 and one of the most historic places in Marfa, Hotel Paisano touts it’s claim to fame as the resting place of cast and crew, including James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson, of the 1955 movie Giant.
We chose an Original Historic Room with a shared patio. We never had company on the patio and the only thing that seemed out of date was the bathroom. Comparable to my bathroom on a cruise ship it is not a place for the claustrophobic.
Fort Davis and the The Davis Mountains was one of my favorites places in the area. Beautifully scenic and equally historic you can easily spend a few days here alone.
Established in 1854, and surprisingly well preserved, Fort Davis became the most important town in the Trans-Pecos country in the 1860’s. In In June 1891 the Army abandoned Fort Davis citing that it “outlived its usefulness”.
Fort Davis is a zero stoplight town but you will still find plenty of interesting small shops to stop in.
Stone Village Market
Oh yeah, what about the lights? There are plenty of things to do that make the trip worthwhile even if you don’t see the lights. We spent two nights at the observatory outside of Marfa, drinking a bottle wine (which I thought might help the lights appear) for about 1.5 hours each nigh but still no joy. These are about 30 second exposures.