20 Best Things to Do in Marfa

Marfa, Texas

If you ever happen to be near West Texas, you must visit this small city located between the Davis Mountains and the Big Bend National Park called Marfa.

Founded in the early 1880s, Marfa was originally used as a railroad water stop and acted as a training facility for thousands of World War 2 pilots.

Its population growth has recently stalled and reversed, and with a population of 1981 in 2010, Marfa is all but a tiny blip on the United States map.

Known for its art and historic architecture, Marfa is home to many mysteries and exciting stories.

In addition to this, Marfa also hosts several festivals like the CineMarfa film festival, Agave Festival Marfa, Viva Big Bend, and the Marfa Lights Festival, to name a few.

What it lacks in numbers, Marfa makes up by offering some very unique and exciting places for visiting tourists.

With attractions that include arts, food, drinks, and shopping experiences, Marfa has something in it for everyone.

Here are some of the best things you can do if you find yourself in Marfa.

Marfa Mystery Lights

One of the best reasons to visit Marfa, the Marfa Mystery Lights are a display of red, blue, and white lights that appear randomly throughout the night at all times of the year.

The source of these lights is not known for certain but are commonly believed to be reflections of car lights or campsite fires.

In addition to this, there is also the Marfa Lights Festival which consists of good music and food along with an exciting parade.

The viewing area for these mystery lights is situated 9 miles east of town on U.S. 90, and it is safe to say that you will have a fantastic night out here.

Ballroom Marfa

The Ballroom Marfa is an art museum located in Marfa with a mission to support the works of artists, musicians, and other independent creators.

The main art space is located under a 1920's era ballroom and is open to all.

Some notable works put up at the Ballroom Marfa include Kite Symphony by Roberto Lange, Indestructible Columns, and Stone Circle by Haroon Mirza.

If you are in Marfa, this place should be one of your top priorities, and time spent here will surely transform and elevate your artistic roots.

Marfa Book Company

For anyone who calls themself a bibliophile or is even remotely interested in reading, books must surely visit the Marfa Book Company.

With a collection that houses thousands of books and artworks, the Marfa Book Company is a literary treat in itself.

To date, many authors like Ali Abunimah, Carl Adamshick, and Rosa Alcala have been to this hub for book readings and other related events.

Apart from this, the store also organizes the Agave Marfa Festival and co-organizes Desert Encrypts.

Chinati Foundation

Chinati Foundation
John Cummings, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Chinati Foundation is an art museum in Marfa where the artworks and the surrounding land are linked to each other.

The collection, which is situated at three different locations, includes scriptures by John Chamberlain, Robert Irwin's untitled Dawn to Dusk work, and works by Carl Andre, among many others.

The museum is located in the Chihuahuan Desert, and one can experience harsh sunlight and weather conditions during their visit.

Open from 8 am -11 am. make sure that you start early for a visit here and carry your own water as there are no water fountains nearby.

Freda

This small boutique houses a range of unique items that include jewelry, special objects, vintage clothing, scented oils, and all kinds of artwork.

The timings to visit are confusing, and one can find the store open on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 am to 5 pm.

On Sundays, the store is open from 11 am to 3 pm, and Mondays and Tuesdays are by appointment only.

A visit here won't take much of your time, and you may even find a thing or two to take back home as a souvenir.

Cobra Rock Boot Company

Known for their small-batch leather boots, the Cobra Rock Boot Company is the place to visit to buy a pair of decent footwear in Marfa.

With the store also being a workshop, this boot company specializes in making durable and sturdy boots that have a touch of Western influence in them.

The Cobra Boot Company has a beautiful Instagram feed, and they recently did some road traveling to take their work to newer areas.

Wrong Store

This little shop hides under the roof of a former church and sells all kinds of stuff ranging from trinkets to minimalist artworks and abstract ideas that you may find nowhere else.

Owned and operated by independent artists, the Wrong Store was inspired by the ideas of Donald Judd.

Judd moved to Marfa in 1971 to create art and leave a generation of inspired followers behind him.

The storehouses all sorts of quirky things like wooden ice cream cones and a silver-painted replica of the Colt 45.

As you enter or exit the store, chances are that you may even spot a golden security camera at the entrance.

Presidio County Courthouse

Presidio County Courthouse
Sean Hannon acritelyphoto / Shutterstock.com

Built in 1886, the Presidio County Courthouse was designed by architect Alfred Giles at the cost of $60,000 and can be seen from almost any place on Marfa.

It has exterior walls made of brick and stone and interiors designed from pecan wood.

The tower is surrounded by Roman arches and has a pink stucco of the Lady Justice on top of its central dome.

The building has entrances on all sides and became a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1964.

If you are planning to visit this spot, make sure that you walk to the cupola, which provides panoramic views of Marfa and all the surrounding countryside.

Cactus Liquors

This shop hosts cactus in its exteriors and liquor in its interiors.

Surrounded by cactus species like Ocotillo, Peruvian Apple Cactus, and Gofer Plant, among many others, you are welcomed into a world of alcohol that may entice even the most experienced drinker.

Cactus Liquors is home to several different kinds of drinks like Mezcal, Tequila, Sotol, and Amaro, to name a few.

Summing up, this store is a must-visit for anyone wanting to try something fresh and new to drink.

Marfa Burrito

If you are a foodie and love burritos, Marfa Burrito must be on the top of your bucket list.

Owned by chef Ramona Tejada, this eatery has a menu that boasts of salsas, tortillas, and burritos, all being cooked right in front of you.

Every item on the menu is handmade, and Marfa Burrito's taste has attracted tourists and even celebrities like Matthew McConaughey to its doors.

Most of the items on the menu involve eggs, and the restaurant is open only during the breakfast and lunch hours.

Marfa Maid Dairy

This small dairy is a licensed goat milk farm that produces artisan goat cheese and is owned by Malinda Beeman and Allan McClane.

Once you reach the dairy, you can take a tour given by the couple and learn how the whole dairy process works.

First, the couple will explain the process of dairy and cheese making before moving on to demonstrating the milking process.

If you are lucky, you can also feed the baby goats some milk and have a wonderful experience hanging out with the animals.

In the last leg of the tour, you get to taste some actual Chipotle Chevre and Dill/Chive Chevre and conclude an experience that you won't forget easily.

Big Bend Coffee Roasters

This haven for coffee lovers is known for producing high-quality coffee since its inception in 2008.

Owned by Joe Williams, Big Bend Coffee Roasters was born from the fact that the weather in West Texas didn't support growing coffee, so Williams started roasting it instead.

The master roaster of the company is Tyler Spurgin, and the coffee beans they use are sourced from places like Bolivia, Peru, and Ethiopia, to name a few.

Make sure you visit this land of coffee beans and get yourself a pack of Big Blend of Texas or Bolivia Caranavi.

Chinati Hot Springs

The Chinati Hot Springs are located near the Big Bend Region of the Chihuahuan Desert.

The water here is laced with minerals like Aluminium, Cobalt, and Cadmium.

Known for curing conditions like arthritis, skin diseases, and also stomach ulcers, a visit here would do you more good than harm.

With small cabins and camping areas surrounding the lands, you will enjoy every moment you spend in this magical area.

Building 98

Located at Fort D.A Russell, Building 98 was the US army base bachelor officer's quarters and also houses World War 2 German POW murals.

The murals painted by Hans Jurgen and Robert Humpel were created in the dining room and base library and were completed in 1945.

Open to the public and available with guided tours, building 98 is currently owned by The International Woman's Foundation.

It is being restored to its original form and has also been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Marfa Gliders

Owned by Burt Compton, the Marfa Gliders provide you an aerial view of West Texas that you won't be able to take your eyes off from.

The perfect wind conditions of Marfa combined with the awe-inspiring landscape below make gliding in Marfa is one of the most exciting experiences one can possibly have.

The ride lasts for around 30 minutes and boasts views that include the Davis Mountains, the Chinati Mountains, and the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park.

For all the adrenaline junkies out there, this right here is the closest you can get to touching the sky.

El Cosmico

Teepees in El Cosmico
Emma Backer / Shutterstock.com

This unique concept hotel is home to vintage trailers, yurts, and teepees, making for a perfect camping site.

The land, which consists of amphitheaters, shed pavilions, and lots of trailers and RV's, will surely make a good backdrop for a few Instagram posts.

El Cosmico is known for the lovely vibe that it exudes and has many fun events like yoga and live music for those who are interested.

Jett's Grill

Jett's Grill is one of Marfa's most famous and dining places.

The place boasts of a menu that includes main courses like pistachio-crusted sirloin steak and the Black Angus GIANT burger, along with salads and freshly made desserts.

The restaurant offers a full bar and has a comfortable lounge area filled with leather chairs and sofas.

It is open from 7:30–10:00 am in the morning, and after 5:00 in the evening.

Jett's grill is indeed the place to be if you want to treat your taste buds to some delicious flavors.

Prada Marfa

Prada Marfa
Jo Hunter / Shutterstock.com

The Prada Marfa is a sculptural art installation created by artists Elmgreen and Dragset and is located near US Highway 90.

Originally costing around $120,000, this site was designed to look like a Prada Store and houses actual Prada collections like shoes and handbags.

The place was vandalized a day after it was completed and that changed things.

Now all the items it holds have a security system attached with them that alerts authorities if they are moved.

The Prada Marfa has been seen as a criticism of consumerism, and as a result, many people have left their business cards held down by rocks near the ledge around the building.

Marfa Brands

This store sells soaps, glassware, and other similar items and is owned by Ginger Griffice.

Taking inspiration from the desert around Marfa, Ginger creates natural soaps from vegetable and essential oils along with tea which is added for scent and texture.

The perfect place to buy a small souvenir, hop into Marfa brands and take a piece of Marfa back with you home.

Stardust Motel Sign

Stardust Motel Sign
jmanaugh3 / Shutterstock.com

This ancient sign, with its peeling blue paint, doesn't guide you to any motel. If there was one here before, it is long gone.

The sign looks lonely and gives the surrounding area an eerie, artistic vibe when combined with the night sky filled with hundreds of glowing stars.

In its final years, have a look at this old-timer before it is gone forever.