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The best places in Marfa are small and quaint.

Is this artsy small town worth the hype?

Marfa, Texas, was first established as a railway freight headquarters and water stop in 1883. The town is named after a fictional character in Fyoder Dostoyevsky's novel, The Brothers Karamazov who is known for her creative and free spirit. Called one of America's last frontiers, Marfa became a base for World War II flight training in the 1940s.

It wasn't until the 1970s that Marfa's reputation was deemed a place for creativity when artist Donald Judd left New York City to live there and create permanent installations. The film Giant, James Dean's last feature with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson, took place in town and brought interest to the Marfa Ghost Lights. To many today, Marfa is known for its Prada installation—a sculpture by Elmgreen and Dragset—that at first glance looks just like an ordinary storefront.

Some of the best places in Marfa are quirky hotels.

If you've read enough of my newsletters by now, you know that I'd rather take the road less traveled by any day. I love to take a break from reality – to escape the noise when it gets loud out there. Small towns, in a way, are living American time capsules. And my "top things to do" Marfa bucket list offers exactly that.

The closest way to get to Marfa is by flying into El Paso, Texas and driving 3 hours. I do believe that Marfa is worth the hype. It's so much more than just the “Prada store”. I don't believe it's for everyone, but if you experience it right, you'll appreciate this town of 1,974 residents that's been built on a love for creating art and hard work.

One of the best places in Marfa to visit is the Prada pop up.

Top Things To Do in Marfa: What to See.

Prada Marfa Located 30 miles from Marfa's town, this storefront is an art installation and not an actual business (you can't go inside). Created by artists Elmgreen & Dragset, there are shoes and bags from Prada's 2005 collection. Some may believe it's a take on American consumerism, but to many, (including Beyoncé), it's an Insta-worthy photo op.

Giant The 1956 film Giant, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean took place in Marfa. This was Dean's last role as a leading actor and earned him an Academy Award nomination. Unfortunately, he was killed in a car accident before the film was released. As you drive past Prada Marfa, look for this bigger-than-life cutout from the film on the side of the road.

The Block at Judd Foundation Donald Judd brought art to Marfa and made this town what it has become today. This guided tour (where photos are not allowed) will take you into his compound, surrounded by a massive cement wall including his gallery and studio space as well as his private living quarters.

Ballroom Marfa Whenever you come here, you'll experience a different exhibit in this contemporary museum from a different working artist.

Chinati Foundation This minimalist art museum was founded by Donald Judd. He believed in large, minimal, permanent installations and that's what made this tiny town nationally recognized. Here you'll find Judd's 100 untitled works made in mill aluminum, housed in old military camp buildings.

Marfa Lights Viewing Aside from the art, Marfa is known for a phenomenon of lights in the sky. Since the 19th century, there have been reports of mystery lights dancing in the sky – sometimes red, blue or white. Like the Northern Lights, there's never a guarantee to see anything. I went to the viewing and didn't see anything because it was a beautiful full moon – can't complain about that.

Art Galleries and Shops Wander through the (very few) streets of town and discover vintage shops, galleries and grab a good ol' souvenir.

The best places in Marfa to eat are where the locals go.

Top Things To Do in Marfa: Where to Eat.

Convenience West BBQ Come hungry because honestly, this is some of the best BBQ I've had. I went bike riding with the owner and his girlfriend the next morning without at first realizing he owned the BBQ joint. Get there early because once they're sold out, they're not making more. We got the last of the brisket at about 6:30PM!

Marfa Burrito If you want to meet local celebrity Ramona Tejada, come to Marfa Burrito. With huge portions and a simple menu that's handwritten on pink paper, it's widely acclaimed by many. Don't forget to look at their photo wall of past customers including Matthew McConaughey and Mark Ruffalo.

Lost Horse Saloon Definitely an interesting place to stop in for a Lone Star beer to get a real feel for Texas. Absolutely no frills but there is a pool table. Fun fact: Anthony Bourdain filmed one of the final episodes of his show Parts Unknown here.

Marfa Spirit Co. Located in a tin building, Marfa Spirit Co. is a tasting room, distillery and a restaurant. What's better than ordering a steak with the distillery's very own “Chihuahuan Desert” liquor?

Cochineal If you want something fancy, Cochineal was nominated for a James Beard Award. It's West Tex mixed with European flair with a seasonal menu that ranges from elk osso buco to venison meatballs.

The Sentinel Breakfast tacos are the go-to here, located just off the main drag. They also sell artisan goods from woven baskets to candles and colorful blankets.

Capri The bar attached to the Thunderbird Hotel. Very modern looking and intricate and it draws a crowd of true Marfa locals. Try not to seem too much like a tourist :)

Aster Great breakfast spot from eggs to some serious croissants.

El Cosmico is one of the bet places in Marfa to camp in style.

Top Things To Do in Marfa: Where to Stay.

Hotel Paisano A classic hotel perfectly located in town. You'll find many candid photographs throughout from the filming of Giant. During production, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean and 150 crew members made Hotel Paisano their headquarters for six weeks. The average price per night approximately ranges from $180-$220.

Thunderbird Hotel A contemporary boutique hotel that leans into the artistry of Marfa culture. The Capri bar is attached to the hotel and it's a vibe. The average nightly price is approximately $200.

El Cosmico If you want something different, El Cosmico definitely has you covered. This boho-chic campground has living spaces from teepees to trailers and even a micro-home called “Cosmic Casita”. Prices vary for each type, but you may need to book months in advance.

Send this to your travel buddy and get planning. Maybe even your BFF?! Where should we get lost next?

Be good,


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