Marfa is a small, but incredibly unique artsy town located deep in West Texas. Located on Route 67/90, Marfa is the perfect quick stop on your way to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park or Big Bend National Park. It may seem like nothing when you are first driving through, but there is so much life and art in this incredible little town. This list will help you plan the absolute best things to do in Marfa, Texas.
1. Take a Photo By The Visit Marfa Sign
Have you really visited a place in the social media era if you don’t document it properly? Just kidding. But in all seriousness, one of the fun things to do in Marfa is to take a picture by the Visit Marfa Mural. This mural is actually located outside of FRAMA coffee (which also sells ice cream) and is right off the main road that runs through Marfa.
Pro tip: If you need to do laundry while in Marfa, the sign is right next to the only laundromat in town!
FRAMA Coffee is located at 120 N Austin St, Marfa, TX 79843.
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2. Experience Prada Marfa
Prada Marfa is a famous art installation that features a non-functioning, fake Prada shop in the middle of nowhere. Prada Marfa is actually located in Valentine, Texas which is a town over from Marfa. Visiting the Prada Marfa is probably one of the absolute best things that you can do in Marfa, Texas, and also the most famous thing.
The Prada store was created in 2005 by two German artists who wanted to make a commentary on consumerism over time. The store was made to look like a fully functioning Prada store except for a few unique features.
The store was made of entirely biodegradable materials. The artists hoped that the fierce desert environment would aid in the quick decay of the structure so that eventually the store itself would be simply remains of once expensive products.
The shoes inside the structure are genuine Prada, however, they only have the right shoes in the store to deter thieves from trying to steal them.
This art installation makes for an amazing Instagram photo, but it’s definitely one of those art pieces that you either “get or you don’t.”
3. See the Frida Khalo Mural
The art scene in Marfa is so unexpected, at every turn you see a mural or street art on a building or an art gallery on the corner. Being so close to the Mexican border, Marfa also sees a huge Mexican influence on its town culture. One evidence of this influence is in the giant Frida Khalo mural that is located on the main street of the town.
This mural is definitely one of the awesome things to do in Marfa, Texas because it is easily accessible and the perfect backdrop for any Instagram photo. This mural is actually on the side of an auto parts building which is just another example of how art is interwoven into Marfa culture.
If you want to find this mural, it is located at 310 W San Antonio St, Marfa, TX 79843.
4. See the Marfa Lights
The Marfa Lights are one of Marfa’s obscure claims to fame. They are also known as the “Marfa Ghost Lights.” Every night, a bunch of lights of different colors flicker on and off in seemingly moving locations along a hillside. People flock from all around to sit out at the Marfa Lights viewing area and witness this odd event.
There are many different claims as to what the lights are, but there is recorded history of them being witnessed as early as the 1800s! It’s definitely something to come and view with an open mind. If nothing else, bring a chair, a blanket, and some hot cocoa and enjoy the show.
The Marfa Lights Viewing Area is located at US-90, Marfa, TX 79843.
5. Go To an Event at the Ballroom
The Ballroom is a contemporary art museum located in the heart of Marfa. One of the best things to do in Marfa, Texas is to go to one of the events that they periodically host. From art shows to film festivals to symphonies, the Ballroom hosts a little bit of everything. When planning a trip to Marfa, make sure to check out what events are happening at the Ballroom so that you can plan to attend!
The Ballroom is located at 108 E San Antonio St, Marfa, TX 79843.
6. Walk Around Town
There is so much to be seen just walking around Marfa. When I was there I saw multiple groups of people just exploring the streets, taking a nice walk, and checking out all of the different stores. There were people with their camper vans parked on the side of the road who were enjoying a local cup of coffee and people who had traveled crazy distances. The town is a perfect travelers stop and a great place to meet other travelers.
This town is full of unique little boutiques and old (I mean like really old) buildings that have been converted into art galleries or shops. There are so many things to explore or photograph that just walking around the town is one of the best things to do in Marfa.
It’s really cool to see how old buildings have been redesigned into something new in such creative ways. It’s also worth noting that everything in Marfa seems to have more than one job which is fun to look out for. Some cool examples of this are a cactus shop that is also a liquor store, the town newspaper which is also a coffee and cocktail bar with a full kitchen, and the auto parts shop that is also the Frida Khalo Mural as well as hosting an outdoor thrift shop on the other side.
7. Go to an Art Gallery
Marfa has more art galleries than grocery stores. One of the most famous galleries in town is called the “Marfa Open.” Originally a historic train depot that was built during WWII, the Marfa Open has been transformed into an art gallery that showcases community art as well as offers classes and film screenings.
Visiting one of the local art galleries should definitely be on your list of things to do in Marfa, Texas because they have so much to offer. They both showcase community talent and reference the history of the town. The art scene in Marfa is incredible and definitely worth exploring.
8. Visit the Wrong Store
If you are looking for the right place to visit in Marfa, then you can’t go wrong with the “Wrong Store.” This uniquely named boutique is located right off the main street of Marfa near multiple art galleries and the Judd architecture building. Visiting this shop is definitely one of the quirkier things to do in Marfa, Texas.
Like everything in Marfa, this boutique is more than one thing. It is both a store and an art gallery. The shop features unique items that range from original nude photography and photos of “swingers” to jewelry with swear words. There are a lot of quirky items that are worth checking out.
The Wrong Store is located at 110 Highland St, Marfa, TX 79843.
9. Visit the Chinati Foundation
The Chinati Foundation is an internationally famous contemporary art museum. The museum and foundation were founded by famous New York artist and minimalist Donald Judd. The museum itself is famous for its minimalist square architectural structures that have inspired many minimalist architects over the years. The foundation’s building was also built upon the old grounds of Fort D. A. Russell which has its own unique history. If you are an art lover or an architecture lover, then this is an awesome little place to visit.
10. Look at the Street Art
There is art all around Marfa. When I was there I saw a Pink Panther mural on someone’s garage. There were even murals INSIDE the laundromat where I was doing my laundry! Art is everywhere in Marfa and worth taking the time to look at. While you are in Marfa, plan to take some time just walking the streets and seeing where they take you. It is a small town and a safe place to walk around, so doing a self-guided street art tour is an awesome way to spend your time there.
11. Grab a Cup of Coffee
Due to the type of crowd that is attracted by the art scene of Marfa, there is also a booming coffee scene. There are multiple cute little coffee shops all across town. Many of them have their own claim to fame or unique thing that set them apart from normal coffee shops. For example, Frama also sells ice cream, the “Do Your Thing” coffee shop is famous for its toast and sourdough menu, and The Sentinel is both the town newspaper and coffee shop.
Either way, you can’t go wrong with taking time to grab a cup of joe while you are in Marfa.
12. Visit the Marfa Holocaust and Historic Model Ship Museum
This seemingly random museum is filled with handmade model ships from multiple different time frames. There are more than 144 handmade ships in the museum and even historical artifacts from the Holocaust and Jewish refugees. The museum is relatively new to Marfa, but WWII did affect the local area. Marfa does have a historical significance as a German POW camp during WWII and also as an airforce landing strip location during that time. If you are interested in WWII history or model ships, this cute little museum should definitely be on your list of things to do in Marfa, Texas.
The Marfa Holocaust and Historic Model Ship Museum is located at 901 East Oak St. Marfa, TX 79843
13. Have a Drink at Marfa Spirit Co.
The Marfa Spirit Co. is the local distillery that is actually built in the historic Godbold Feedmill. If you are looking for a night “out on the town” then this is the place to be! They offer pre-booked tastings of their products as well as a full-service cocktail bar in the evenings. This local distillery has a lot to offer the community and is definitely a hip place to hang out.
The Marfa Spirit Co. is located at 320 W El Paso St, Marfa, TX 79843.
If you love Texas and are looking for a fun weekend trip, check out this Eco-Friendly Weekend in Galveston.
14. Visit the Hotel Paisano
The Hotel Paisano is a historical landmark in the town and still a fully operating hotel and restaurant. The hotel itself had its groundbreaking in 1929 just DAYS before the great stock market crash that started the Great Depression. Originally the hotel was mostly a stay for cattle farmers and ranchers who were traveling. However, in 1955, Warner Brothers Studios made the hotel its headquarters for the filming of the movie “Giant.” During this time Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and other incredibly famous actors took up residence at this hotel.
Since this time the hotel had begun following apart until recently when it was completely refurbished and is now a working hotel once again and a tribute to the famous movie that was filmed there.
The Hotel Paisano is located at 207 Highland St, Marfa, TX 79843.
15. Fly in a Marfa Glider
If you are looking for a more adventurous activity in Marfa, then you HAVE to try the Marfa Gliders. These gliders are similar to small, private planes, but instead of flying through the air, you are gliding! If you have a fear of heights or flying then this activity is not for you. During the excursion, you will head up in the air with a well-trained pilot who will fly you through the air as you glide using the wind as your guide. If you would like to book with Marfa Glider, you can contact them through their website.
16. Visit Big Bend National Park
This may seem like a strange suggestion since Big Bend National Park is 136 miles away from Marfa, but in reality, Marfa is one of the closest towns to Big Bend! Big Bend is one of the least visited national parks in the United States due to its remote location, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth visiting.
This incredible national park has so much to offer its visitors. From incredible hiking to canyon views, mountain overlooks, and even the opportunity to cross the border into Mexico! Marfa is a great jumping point on your way to Big Bend as it offers you the opportunity to have a nice place to stay before making the long drive to the park.
17. Visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located 137 miles from Marfa, but it is easily accesible on a straight shot drive to the park. Guadalupe Mountains National Park is famous for being the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef. There is incredible geographical historical perfectly preserved in the mountains, and it also is home to the 4 highest peaks in all of Texas. This national park features hiking, animals, and fossil exploration, and is definitely worth a day trip out from Marfa. It is also only located about 30 minutes from Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the New Mexico border.
18. Visit the Giant Marfa Mural on the West Side of Town
Located at Wyatt Ranch just outside of town on the westside is this odd “Mural.” It’s not really a mural at all, but more of a cardboard stand-looking setup. It reminds me a bit of an old fake Hollywood set that has nothing but the storefronts visible. Either way, this is a nifty place to stop and take a quick picture on your way out of Marfa.
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Wow! I’ve never heard of this town. The Prada store is a clever idea. Would love to visit nearby Big Bend NP, too. Saving this for later!
The Prada store is definitely the biggest draw to Marfa! It was cool to see.
I would love to see Marfa lights in person one day.
They are definitely interesting! The flicker on an off all over the hill
I had no idea that Marfa has more art galleries than grocery stores. WOW! I would love to see the town & its murals.
It’s honestly so cute! I highly recommend visiting if you are ever in West Texas
I love learning about towns I didn’t even know existed! This looks like a such a fascinating spot. I may be spending more time in Texas soon, so definitely keeping this on my radar. Thanks for sharing so much about this unique spot. My teen daughter would LOVE the Prada store!
I’m so glad that you enjoyed it! Marfa is an awesome little town. I also recommend looking up Fredericksburg (I’ll be writing a post on it soon so subscribe to the blog if you’re interested). It’s an awesome little German town in central Texas that is super cool. There’s even a restaurant in an abandoned hospital from the 1800s, and the town boasts one of the only peace treaties that was made with Native Americans that was actually 100% kept.
I came so close to visiting Marfa on a road trip last summer. Now I wish we would have stopped. Maybe next time!
It’s definitely worth visiting next time!