Marfa, TX


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There is something mysterious and magical about Marfa, Texas. Located in the high desert near the state’s western border, Marfa is known as a contemporary art and design headquarters that attracts glamorous stars, creatives and artists of all kinds.

Visitors looking for an interesting place to stay might consider Hotel Paisano, among the finest hotels in Marfa and an attraction all its own. Located in the heart of town along Highland Street, the hotel hosted Hollywood legends James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson during the filming of Giant in 1956. Mediterranean architecture lends a majestic quality to Paisano’s beautiful suites, including the Rock Hudson Suite, where the actor stayed during production. Visitors can enjoy browsing the film memorabilia, perusing local artworks at Greasewood Gallery, and sampling the famous Paisano margarita at Jett’s Grill.

The Thunderbird Hotel offers another out-of-the-ordinary experience among hotels in Marfa. Once a roadside motel, the Thunderbird now boasts a collection of minimalist art and caters to creatives and other iconoclastic travelers. At the hip, stylish hotel, guests lounge next to the pool, rent bicycles for a trip around town or retreat to rooms where they can be inspired by vintage record players or old-fashioned typewriters.

Both of these unique accommodation options in the heart of downtown offer tourists easy access to the top attractions in Marfa. Ten miles east of town, along the foothills of the Chinati Mountains, folks gather to witness the mysterious Marfa Ghost Lights. The strange lights dance across the desert night sky, seemingly without explanation or source. They appear in various colors, at any time of year, moving without pattern, rhyme or reason. A festival is held annually in their name over Labor Day, with live music and a parade.

Another of the top attractions in Marfa is the contemporary arts museum, the Chinati Foundation. At the museum, modern-art aficionados discover creations of paper, steel, concrete and other media in a brilliant permanent collection by artists such as Donald Judd, Dan Flavin and John Wesley. Tours of the complex are offered twice daily, Wednesday through Sunday, and during an annual open house in October, when the town sees a huge influx in tourism due to the event.

Another favorite stop of writers and artists visiting Marfa is the Marfa Book Company on Highland Avenue. Lovers of literature peruse titles with an espresso or Cabernet in hand from the coffee and wine bar. Then, it might be off to nearby Maiya’s restaurant for dinner, where the menu includes Northern Italian specialties like penne puttanesca entrees and profiteroles for dessert.

The magic of art entertains locals and visitors who frequent the Ballroom Marfa on San Antonio Street. Dedicated to contemporary visual art, film and live music, the location acts as the entertainment capital for the town. During the afternoons on Thursday through Sunday, the space opens its doors to gallery gawkers, while weekend nights bring a variety of film screenings and concerts by local and national bands.