Marfa Tourist Information: What To Do In Marfa

If you’re thinking about visiting Marfa, here are some suggestions on what to do, based on how much time you’ll be here. Read on for ideas for: 

  • A virtual visit
  • Just passing through
  • A half-day
  • A few days
  • More

A virtual visit

Not ready to make the schlep to Marfa? Check these sites.

www.marfalist.org is Marfa’s answer to Craig’s list. Check it out to find out what’s going on in town and to get a sense of the locals.

www.marfacc.com – Marfa’s Chamber of Commerce. Lots of info about the town, things to do, and lots of links (although they tend to only include businesses who are members).

www.MarfaPublicRadio.org – Listen to the local NPR station online.

www.vrbo.com – Check out Marfa homes for rent for short-term stays. I’ll be posting some tips on renting a house in Marfa.

Websites for some of Marfa’s best-known attractions:

www.chinati.org – Perhaps Donald Judd’s greatest work: the former army fort that now houses site-specific art by Judd and some of his friends (Dan Flavin, Claes Oldenberg & Coosje van Bruggen and others).

www.juddfoundation.org – The keepers of Judd’s personal buildings in Marfa – his home, offices and studios.

www.hotelpaisano.com – One of the town’s architectural gems and a National Historic Site. Where Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and Rock Hudson stayed while filming Giant.

Here’s a look at the Giant house set from a few years ago

marfa texas tourist information

From a photo at the Chamber of Commerce. The set is on a privately-owned ranch.

Marfa in the movies: Check out the scenery in Giant, There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men , which were all filmed in the area. If you’re thinking of coming, you might want to save No Country until after you return. The president of the Marfa National Bank has a cameo as a vicitim.

Prada, Marfa http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prada_Marfa If you’ve heard of Marfa, you’ve probably heard about this art piece disguised as a Prada store.

The Food Shark – the town food truck that has deservedly gotten a ton of press. Drool at the photos of their specials.

Padre’s – Bar, food joint, game room, music venue, and social center of the town. See what’s going on and pretend you’re there, along with hipsters, ranchers, guys in cowboy hats or trucker hats, everyone having a good time.

El Cosmico  Check out pix of this unique lodging alternative where you can stay in a furnished Airstream trailer, tee pee or yurt (or pitch your own tent or hook up an RV).

Hotel Thunderbird – Take a look at this old motel, remodeled for minimalist hipsters. Lots of Marfa and area links on their About Us/Marfa page.

Just Passing Through

If for some unfathomable reason you are in the area but are just passing through Marfa, here’s some “drive-by” activities:

Tune into Marfa Public Radio at 93.5FM

Drive through the main intersection, where Highway 90 and Route 67 cross. Marvel that “traffic” at this crossroads is controlled by a blinking yellow light.

Drive or walk north on Highland Avenue (Route 67), admire the architecture and the Courthouse and Marfa water tower at the end of the street.

Check out the authentic Judd furniture in the shade shed by the rail road tracks.

Pop into the Hotel Paisano and check out the courtyard, bar, mini Giant museum, massive animal heads in the lobby, and the pool (follow the signs at the steps towards the back right).

If it’s open, climb up a few flights of stairs to the dome in the Courthouse for an amazing 360 degree view of the area from one of the highest points in miles.

Drive on Highway 17 just south of town and get a view of Judd’s 15 concrete works, which stretch out over a kilometer.

donald judd untiled works in concrete chinati marfa texas

Drive on Highway 90/San Antonio and take in the 1950’s buildings, some of which have been remodeled as homes, galleries, and other businesses.

If you have time:

Have a drink in the Paisano courtyard

Grab lunch at the Food Shark in the shade pavillion, Tuesday – Friday, 11:30 – 3pm, and some Saturdays.

Have a really great slice of pizza at The Pizza Foundation.

Pick up some snacks at The Get Go Grocery

Have a coffee or ice cream at Frama. It’s surprisingly good coffee, especially considering that the place is connected to the Tumbleweed laundromat. (Cutest name ever, right?)

Or, if DQ is more your taste, there is a Dairy Queen in town (though it’s never mentioned in the travel pieces on Marfa).

Have a drink, play some pin ball, or get something to eat at Padre’s. Bring your kids! Children are welcome in bars in Texas.

If you’re heading into or out of town via Highway 90, you can’t miss Prada, Marfa (which is actually outside of Valentine, about 37 miles from Marfa). Well, if you’re barrelling along at 60 miles an hour you can miss it, but once you pass it you’ll realize it, and it’s easy enough to turn around on this empty stretch of road. (Can you tell that’s what I did?)

A half day

Judd Judd Judd.

Donald Judd is the man who put Marfa on the map. If  you’ve heard of the place, you probably know that. He’s the “minimalist” artist (tho he hated the term) who kind of bought the town and created www.Chinati.com as a non-museum showcase for his art and that of his friends.

Go.

Sign up for the tour. Take in the grounds. Walk the kilometer. Listen to the crickets. See the shrine of his house and studio. Do it all.

Eat at Cochineal. Twice if you can.

A few days

For most people, this is probably the ideal amount of time in Marfa. You will be able to do pretty much “all that Marfa has to offer”:

Judd

Poke into every store and gallery

Have breakfast burritos and home made donuts at xxx if it’s still open.

Go to an event at the Bookstore.

Check out www.marfaslist.com for fun to see what the locals are up to.

Become a regular at Frama or Squeeze Marfa or the Paisono Hotel or Food Shark or Padres. Or all of them.

See the Marfa Lights. Or think you did.

Be woken up by the trains in the middle of the night. Again. And again. And again.

Fall in love with the place.

More

Explore the region.

Big Bend National Park

Chinati Hot Springs

Museum of the Big Bend at Alpine.

Star gazing at Davis.

Maybe even drive 100 miles for pie.

Hotel in Valentine.

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