ODP Adventures - Marfa City Guide


As a native Texan, I was intrigued by all of the recent buzz about Marfa, Texas. So what better time than to spend my mid-August Italian holiday and head west into the scorching-hot desert? ;)

Despite all of the recent press as a new hotspot, upon first glance Marfa still seems to be a typical Texan small town: gas-stations and churches on every corner, shops with odd-hours and “We'll be back” signs posted randomly throughout the day (with exception of the local barber who is always on duty), and the Dairy Queen is the most-referenced landmark when asking for directions (“go down two blocks past the Dairy Queen...”). 

Yet now the gas stations and old warehouses have been transformed into contemporary art galleries, yoga studios and artisan coffee shops have popped up around town, and tourists are rolling into Hotel Saint George with their sleek Rimowa trunks. Hey Toto, are we in Texas anymore?

It is a town that offers a little bit of everything, from world-class art to small-town hospitality and charm. I recommend planning enough time to also visit nearby Alpine and the Big Bend National Park for a true feel of West Texas.

Where to stay:

Hotel Saint George is a modern hotel that will keep you from missing big-city conveniences, complete with Aesop toiletries in the bathrooms and to-go coffee (because surprisingly, there ISN'T a Starbucks here... yet).

Thunderbird Marfa  offers a modern “motel” experience.

Hotel Paisano is the best choice for cinema fans: the cast of "Giant" stayed here while filming, and the entire hotel is filled with photos and memorabilia.

For a real West Texas experience, venture out to El Cosmico where you can sleep in a tee-pee or deluxe camper (complete with outdoor shower and private sun deck).

Grab a bite:

Stellina - Mediterranean with a local twist and great atmosphere.  

Capri:  Small plates with a Mexican flair, perfect for a quick bite and with a beautiful outdoor seating area. 

Jett's Grill: Classic American fare, located conveniently in the Hotel Paisano.

Grab a drink:

The bar at Hotel Saint George is the hip place to be for happy hour, or you can also cool off at the bar near the pool (the hotel sells day passes to the pool, but after 6 it is open entry, coinciding nicely with happy hour).  Also the Capri serves up great cocktails.

Take home:

Woven textiles from from Garza Marfa (make an appointment beforehand to visit the showroom)

Felt and palm-leaf cowboy hats from Communitie

Anything from Freda, a tiny little boutique packed with the most beautiful clothing and accessories from indie designers.

Cobra Rock boots:  modern cowboy boots made with exquisite traditional craftsmanship - what's not to love? 

Don't miss:

The Marfa Lights. You can google it... but you really have to see for yourself. The best area to view is the observing station east of town on Highway 90, and go well after dark. Also, a picture next to the Prada, Marfa installation west of town towards Valentine is mandatory.

What bag?

The ODP Micro Safari, because less is more in Marfa. Everything is casual, and you don't need more than your room-key and credit card. Leave your phone in the hotel... here it is more about striking up conversations with the “locals” (who are mostly transplants from other cities, but are eager to chat).


Clockwise from left:  The interior of the Paisano hotel; the main street and view of the Courthouse; Marfa Public Radio housed in a renovated filling station; Historic storefronts under renovation;  Prada Marfa sculpture by Elmgreen and Dragset near Valentine, Texas.