An Honest Gal’s Travel Guide to MARFA

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

“Let’s wander where the wifi is weak.” – Unknown

I always thought that I would have to travel abroad to be data-less on vacation, but it appears that can happen right here in America. Exactly 8 hours away from Dallas, TX (and really close to the border) is a darling town called MARFA. At this point, you probably feel that you know all about it due to the 5 million photos I’ve posted on Instagram. Or maybe you had already heard of MARFA. Regardless, I wanted to be sure to create a post that rounded off my experience for those of you who might be interested in venturing to good ole Marfa one day. One thing that I really loved about this particular trip, is that it affirmed that you don’t have to travel abroad to experience wanderlust, as there is soo much of it right here in our backyard. I’m sure this will surprise some of you guys and gals, but I’ve never actually been out of the country. All the adventures I’ve had to date have taken me some place here in the United States! Yup, you read right. TRAVEL is such a trendy word right (especially for the millennials) and I just want to encourage you to not get caught up in the fact that you can’t go to some epic European country (I mean, I want to go too) or a tropical vacation in South America. Rather than getting disappointed, explore some US gems. And yes, MARFA is one of those gems.

Now that I have semi-preached to you, let’s do this travel guide thang. I’ve gotten it broken down into categories for ya. Based on our trip, here are the primary things you need to know/consider when preparing for Marfa, TX.

While Marfa has really grown in popularity over the last decade or so, it was actually established back in the 1880s. In fact, it was established to be a railroad water stop. Word on the street is that the name Marfa was suggested by the wife of a railroad executive.  It was not until the 1970s that Marfa began to be an art scene and that is thanks to former New Yorker, Donald Judd.

Per the latest Census, Marfa has a population of roughly 2,000 people. Ok, it’s actually 1,733. It’s a small town. Per our conversations with some of the younger locals, it’s an incredibly difficult city to establish yourself in. Based on what we gathered, this town was designed for folk to pass through and not really stay long-term.

To be completely forthcoming, I should/could have done way more research on the weather. But thankfully, I had done a little bit and was decently prepared. So, here’s the thing. Marfa, TX is practically the desert. To get super technical, Marfa is a part of the Trans-Pecos territory of the Chihuahuan Desert, which is the largest desert in America. Told ya it was a gem.  Knowing that you are heading into desert land, you are gonna need a few things:

  1. Sunscreen: The reason why you need it is pretty self explanatory. To put it simply, it’s the desert and it will be HOT.
  2. Good Shoes: Soooo, there’s dust/dirt everywhere. I’m pretty sure we created our own desert in Taylor’s dad’s SUV. Knowing that it is crazy dusty, be sure to bring shoes that you don’t mind getting a little dusty. Although I did take my Superstars, I would not recommend taking them useless you are truly ok with them being DIRTY! Or here’s a thought…if you are gonna take good shoes, be sure to pack the proper cleaning essentials, so you can clean them after your wear.
  3. Breathable Clothing: Y’all, it was REALLY HOT. There’s no doubt about it, you need to bring breathable clothing (especially if you go in April and September). In fact, you may want to pack an extra change of clothing per day. There were definitely a couple of moments when we needed a full wardrobe change thanks to the HEAT.
  4. A Little Jacket: While you need breathable clothing, you will also need a little jacket. Once the sun goes down, the temperature does indeed drop. Think of a crisp Fall evening…that’s kinda how it feels.
  5. Desert Skincare: You’ve got your sunscreen, but you are going to want to pack some additional products that are going to re-hydrate your skin. Since I like to keep things simple on the road, I opted for the cleansing face wipes and a few facial masks! Oh, and I also packed my TULA products. For sure good stuff.
  6. Simple Entertainment: While there is stuff to do in Marfa, you’ll notice that the list of activities isn’t very long. Be sure to pack a few simple entertainment things. Maybe a few magazines, playing cards. etc.
  7. Duffle Bag: So, we stayed at El Cosmico, which we will chat about next! Due to our experience, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you pack your belongings into a duffle bag and not a suitcase. You will literally hate yourself as you drag your luggage across this perfectly cosmic campground.

 

While Marfa does offer more traditional hotels (like Thunderbird Hotel, Hotel Saint George and Hotel Paisano), we opted to stay at El Cosmico. El Cosmico was made for those of us who want to experience nomadic living. With 18 acres of land, El Comisco is a unique campground that offers trailers, tents and teepees. I mean if Beyonce can stay at El Comisco, then it’s definitely good enough for me! Plus you only live once, so why not do something a little different. For adventure, we got both an airstream and a teepee and it was AMAZING. Basically we were glamping! We had a stainless mini fridge in our trailer and the essentials to make a proper French Press…just saying.

If you decide to stay at El Cosmico, just do your homework and make sure you are cool with the experience! Between the little wild rabbits running around, the outdoor showers and the Stumptown coffee in the lodge, I was perfectly happy. The only thing that would have made it better is if I had brought a dang duffle bag and not a suitcase.


I apologize in advance for the lack of food pictures, but I was way too busy eating it to take pictures. When it comes to food in Marfa, there aren’t a lot of options. In fact, you are pretty limited! But limited is ok when the food is actually good. Here’s a quick rundown of our eats:

  1. Capri: With this stop, we didn’t actually eat there…but the bar area sure was AMAZING. Of all the restaurants, this was definitely one of the more pricier options in Marfa. However, the vibe and decor was BEYOND.
  2. Dairy Queen: I mean, it’s Dairy Queen. There’s nothing more magical than an ice cold coke and an order of fries. Also, this is like the only chain in Marfa.
  3. Do Your Thing Coffee: Coffee snob here and my latte from Do Your Thing Coffee was a dream. They definitely landed a spot on Candace’s favorite coffee shops. The overall vibe of the space is a little eclectic, but that’s most of Marfa!
  4. Food Shark: I have a thing for food trucks and Food Shark is a Mediterranean food truck. Serving lunch-only, this spot is a gem. Vintage cars, classic cokes and seating in an old school bus…I think yes. If time permitted, we would have totally eaten there again. If memory serves me correctly, we all got the Marfalafel.  Soooo good.
  5. Jett’s Grill: Located in Hotel Paisano, Jett’s Grill has a menu full of Americana food. I’m pretty sure we all did a round of burgers at this spot.  We dined al fresco and the atmosphere was just perfect! Our waiter even gave Harley an avocado to go.
  6. Ranch Candy Marfa: Old fashion candy store vibes…yup. The owner is a photographer and we enjoyed some great conversation with him! He even invited us to the community cookout 🙂
  7. Stellina: Our first dining stop in Marfa and it did not disappoint. With community seating, the charm of this restaurant is darling. The menu changes daily and our waiter Alex was awesome. He totally entertained us and all of our 5 million questions about Marfa.

While we were mostly drawn to Marfa for El Cosmico and Prada Marfa, there are definitely a few more things to see! It’s really the arts that bring life and culture into the city. So most of the activities revolve around art in some capacity…if art appreciation isn’t your thing, then I’m not 100% sure that you will enjoy Marfa to the fullest!  But if you do, here’s what you should check out while in town:

  1. Ballroom Marfa– An old fashioned dance hall, now cultural arts space. I was captivated by “ballroom,” but the fact that the space has been converted to accommodate all sorts of art makes my heart even happier.
  2. Freda- One of the only boutiques in Marfa. It’s tiny and cute!
  3. Marfa Contemporary- Service station turned art gallery. Just as their mission states, they are dedicated to artistic expression through education and exhibitions.
  4. Marfa Mystery Lights- They really are a mystery. After dining at Jett’s Grill, we drove to the observation deck and did not see a thing. However, per the people, the random flashes of light really do exist. I’m not sure if I’m a believer, but it’s still something to experience!
  5. Prada Marfa- Located in Valentine, TX (roughly 25 minutes from Marfa), is a vision. It’s just one of those thing you need to experience for yourself. In my opinion, it is one the coolest installation art pieces out there.
  6. The Chinati Foundation- We totally ran out of time and was unable to see this spot! But word on the street is that it is amazing. The Chinati Foundation is one of the two foundations that aims to keep Donald Judd’s legacy alive in Marfa. Judd is the guy really responsible for the minimalist art movement that is a part of the city’s identity.

In addition to this list of specifics, I would also encourage you to just walk around downtown Marfa and take in the local culture! Also, be sure to spend some time just hanging out at El Cosmico. With 18 acres of land, there’s a lot to see!

ALL IMAGES DARIAN KAYCE

And I think that’s a wrap. This post only took me about 5 hours and I sure hope you enjoy it! If you have any other specific questions about Marfa, just shoot me an email to hello@liveloveandread.com or drop a comment down below! I’m currently trying to figure out when Jason and I can make a trip to Marfa together! I think he would really love it.

 

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28 Responses

  1. Stephanie

    I have to admit I’ve never heard of Marfa, but now I’m really curious and hoping I get to visit there someday! It looks like such a cool place. I love that Prada location! These photos are amazing, girlfriend!

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