Marfa, TX

In case you ever road trip to West Texas from Austin, here’s our itinerary. It’s about a 7 hour drive from Austin and the nearest airport is El Paso which is 2 1/2 hours away so plan accordingly. And 3 days is the most you need in Marfa, so you can do it all in a long weekend but we figured since we had the time and it is such a long distance away, we tacked on a side trip to another west Texas town and see Big Bend national park making it like two trips in one.

Note it’s a very tiny (and popular) town so not everything is open every day of the week (or all days of the year). Plan (way) ahead and book your accommodations, look up restaurant hours before you go. The last thing you want to do is make the trip all the way out there and not be able to enjoy anything.

DAY 1 (FROM AUSTIN)

  • LBJ State Park in Johnson City, TX
  • Becker Vineyard’s Boxing Day Celebration in Fredricksburg, TX
  • Dinner at Fredericksburg Brewery
  • All Seasons Bed & Breakfast

DAY 2

  • Drinks at Harry’s Tinaja in Alpine, TX
  • Stay at Thunderbird Hotel
  • Bike Tour of Marfa
  • Dinner at Cochineal (reservations required)
  • Drinks at Padre’s

DAY 3

  • Chinati Foundation Full Collection Tour (Tickets requird, buy in advance)
  • Food Shark food trailer for lunch
  • Drinks at Lost Horse
  • Marfa Lights
  • Dinner at Miniature Rooster

DAY 4

  • Prada Marfa
  • Lunch at Pizza Foundation (we say David Byrne of the Talking Heads there!)
  • Shopping at The Get Go
  • Gallery Tours around town
  • Drinks at Q Cafe
  • Tour of La Mansana de Chinati Block
  • Star Party at McDonald Observatory (30 min drive from Marfa, tickets required)
  • Sleep under the starts in a Teepee at El Cosmico

DAY 5

  • Driving tour of Big Bend State Park including a dip in the hot springs
  • Picnic Lunch at Lajitas
  • Contrabando Mesa Horseback Ride
  • Pooltime at Resort
  • Dinner, Shopping & Live Music at Starlight Cafe in Terlingua Ghost Town

DAY 6

  • Big Bend National Park Langford Hot Springs
  • Lunch at Rio Bravo
  • Couples Massages
  • New Years toast overlooking the Rio Grande River/Mexico
  • Dinner & Live Music at La Kiva

OUR TRIP IN NUMBERS

Just for fun (and because we had a few hours to kill in the car sans radio and cell phone reception) here’s a quick summary of our trip via stats:

  • Days: 7
  • Miles traveled: 1,518
  • Average gas price $3.37 (highest = $3.79, lowest = $2.95 in Fredericksburg)
  • Photos taken (total): 1,360
  • Hours in the car: 20
  • Counties: 10 (largest = Brewster 1,600+ sq. miles, 3x the size of Delaware)
  • Mountain Ranges driven past/through: 7 (highest peak = Emory 7,825 feet)
  • Rivers crossed: 14 (largest = Rio Grande, duh)
  • Interstates: 4
  • Average speed limit: 75 miles/hour
  • Speeding tickets: 0

HIGHLIGHTS

MOST IMPRESSIVE

Wifi in the Wilderness. Despite the lack of civilization and cell phone reception, gotta give credit to west Texas for (free) wifi (including parts of Big Bend national park). And, even more impressive was our willpower to not post any status updates, tweets, or check ins. (well, maybe just one exception)*

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE

Getting to the Thunderbird in Marfa and discovering that bike rental (which is usually $20 a day per person) was *FREE* for the week…merry Christmas to us! Even burnt orange and baby blue bikes to boot! (Bonus).

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE (RUNNER UP)

Despite the snow on Christmas eve, a couple of days before arriving…the snow melted and we lucked out with a week of gorgeous weather as high as the mid-80’s & sunshine the entire time!

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

The Marfa Lights (or lack there of). We had hope, but not enough patience to wait for the mysterious lights to appear!

BEST MEAL

Not a bad dining experience on the trip, but hands down the winner of best restaurant goes to…Cochineal. Can’t say a bad thing about the food, the service, the atmosphere, the ambiance…

MOST EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE

Props to the hilarious astronomers at the McDonald’s Observatory. Both informative and entertaining (whew knew there were so many star jokes?)

MOST EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE (RUNNER UP)

The Becker Vineyards wine tour (who knew how much work went into a bottle of Chardonnay?)

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT

There were lots, of course including running into David Byrne (lead singer of the Talking Heads, oh yeah and Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe awards winner who is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) at the Pizza Foundation which was pretty unexpected and exciting…

But we both agree, the mostest memorable moment goes to….(drum roll please) our last night of the trip on New Years Eve. The bar we went to La Kiva was full of locals, cheap eats & drinks and a local band who played a cover of one of our faves: Robert Earl Keen’s “Gringo Honeymoon” – he prefaced it by telling a story behind the song. Which, despite the title, neither of us knew that it was written by REK on his honeymoon crossing the Rio Grande in West Texas…

“And we were dreamin’ like the end was not in sight, And we dreamed all afternoon, We asked the world to wait so we could celebrate A gringo honeymoon”

That was the cherry on top to our first vacation as a married couple and the perfect way to end an amazing year! Happy new years, we are so blessed and so thankful and grateful for all 2011 has brought us and look forward to many more memories in Marfa & beyond…

Have you been to Marfa? Any new places to check out?