Last week my friends and I took a weekend trip to Marfa, Texas. The coolest, tiniest, and artsiest town west of the Mississippi. The place is mostly full of art junkies and southern hipsters who exiled themselves to such a place for the good of their own work — even the longtime locals are far out.
There are galleries and shops and cafes, swimming pools at western chic hotels, all speckled throughout the town of nearly 2,000 individuals. The eclectic Marfans own and open their superettes only when they feel like it. Now, I say this with the utmost admiration for these folks, really. Marfa living is easy living and I am all for it. This town reps and proudly embraces the Mañana mantra: the belief that time allotted to do sweet nothing is time well spent. And what’s more, necessary.
My friends and I fully embraced this Marfa mindset by chilling out (only somewhat literally of course, thanks to the 100+ degree weather) and getting some thorough relaxation in during our weekend stay.
We bunked at El Cosmico, a sister property to Austin’s very own Hotel San Jose and the Austin Motel. However, this place is unlike its siblings in that guests must throw their traditional hotel room expectations out the window. In fact, there aren’t really any “rooms,” or windows for that matter, at all. The first night we stayed in a safari tent, complete with a bed, fan and mini bar. And that’s about it. No AC, no room service, no glamorous balcony overlooking the west Texas desert plains. At El Cosmico, you’re pretty much right up in it. They’ve got outhouses for showers and wood fire Dutch hot tubs that look like bowls for salsa. It’s a bohemian’s paradise. They also offer other forms of lodging like tepees, yurts, and trailers ranging from tiny to extra large, which are really something else, inside and out. The trailers were so enticing in fact, that we decided to upgrade ourselves to a small trailer, called Amigo, night two. Worth it.
The campsites were great, however, the heat of the West wastes no time in essentially forcing you to get up and get to it. So once we were up and at ‘em by 8am, our days mostly consisted of a schedule as follows: breakfast, gallery viewing and chotsky shopping, lunch, pool, dinner and drinks… then maybe some more drinks, stargazing, and good conversation in the comfort of our hippie hideouts. I’ve included a list below of some of our favorite spots to see and places to dine.
The Mañana Mindset
My favorite part of the trip, aside from all the pool lounging and art gawking, was the mood that Marfa inspired within me and those who I was with. El Cosmico calls it a “liberation from an obsession with productivity. A revolutionary act rather than a dereliction of duty. A declaration of total freedom to say, “now, I do nothing for a little while.” It might sound like a far out, utterly unattainable way of being, but if there is anywhere that can inspire your stress to flee and your mind to rest, it’s Marfa.
We met some incredible people in Marfa. Some who have lived there all their lives, and others who spend the summers there making art, or music, or simply finding their zen.
TO DO + SEE
- Chianti Foundation — Donald Judd, patron art saint of Marfa who also owns most of the city, created an art installation of 100 unique boxes that live inside two large warehouses located on this property. Also located at the foundation are several other buildings full of works by artists like Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, John Chamberlain and more. Definitely worth checking out.
- Ayn Foundation Kruger Gallery — We were lucky enough to come through when the Ayn Foundation was hosting three massive Warhol paintings: versions of his famous project, The Last Supper. This was #1 on my list of coolest things we saw, for sure.
- Ballroom Marfa — A great gallery with unique exhibits and installations that come and go frequently.
- Marfa Book Company — Great place to go if you forgot to pack a book for a trip to the land of no wifi especially. But in general a shop worth checking out.
- Hotel Saint George — Located in the middle of downtown, this place is great for food, drink, and there’s even a pool across the street. The watering hole at Bar Nadar was our oasis from the midday heat.
- Vending Machine — This is a shop, or a room rather, with only a vending machine inside. It’s contents are more than just chips and crackers though. You can purchase sunglasses, t shirts, candy, buttons and more. A novel idea I could get used to seeing more of around town.
- Marfa-Recs — Visit this website for even more Marfa recs!
- Al Campo — This place has some damn good tapas and wine. Plus, the ambiance is everything. This is where the locals hang, we know because there are so few of them that after two days in the town, we recognized them. All.
- Squeeze Marfa — Our go to breakfast spot. Coffee, pastries and yummy breakfast sammys – what more could you want?
- Stellina — Italian food with family style seating.
- Marfa Burrito Co. — I’ve never seen a bigger burrito.
- Planet Marfa — Pizza and beer garden.
- Do Your Thing Coffee Shop
- Frama Coffee