Your guide to the top things to do and see in West Texas.
Davis Mountains – Far west Texas isn’t just open desert like the movies would have you believe. Explore Davis Mountains State Park’s miles of trails, camping, and informational programming… More
McDonald Observatory – The stars at night are extra big and bright at this West Texas mountaintop observatory. Hundreds of miles from bright city lights, the McDonald Observatory offers unbeatable star gazing… More
The Gage Hotel – This historic desert oasis in Marathon, TX was voted among the top Texas hotels by Condé Nast. Talk about old country charm!… More
Marfa – In this tiny West Texas town, there’s a Gram-worthy photo around practically every corner that is sure to elicit jealousy from friends… More
Alpine – Explore the town of Alpine, located between Marfa and Marathon. Catch a semi-pro Cowboys baseball game at historic Kokernot Field… More
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The stars at night are extra big and bright at this West Texas mountaintop observatory. Hundreds of miles from bright city lights, the McDonald Observatory offers stargazers unbeatable views. Plan your visit around catching a Star Party where you’ll have access to outdoor telescopes at the observatory’s park and an interactive overview of the night sky. Star Parties are offered on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Dress warmly with layers because nighttime temps dip, even in the summer. Daytime activities are also offered if you’re not a night owl.
Weather conditions can quickly change near the observatory, so if the skies are overcast in the morning, things may clear up by evening. If it happens to be cloudy during your visit, you’ll be offered alternative programming indoors, or you may be able to reschedule.
Stay the night at accommodations close to the observatory. Options include Indian Lodge, or for the more adventurous, pitch a tent at Davis Mountains State Park.
Nearby things to do:
The Gage Hotel
The Gage Hotel is located in the charming town of Marathon that still has a frontier feel to this day. On the U.S. National Registry of Historic Places, the Gage Hotel was built in 1926 by successful rancher Alfred Gage and later converted into a hotel.
Guests can stay in the historic Western style hotel, pueblo style adobe brick rooms in Los Portales, or have complete privacy in casitas. Enjoy the hotel pool, gym, White Buffalo bar, and V6 health conscious foods for your coffee and smoothie needs.
Watch people and trains passing by from the ivy covered porch in a wooden rocking chair, mediate in a courtyard, or cool off in the pool with a frozen drink from the White Buffalo bar. With so much old country charm, its no surprise that this historic desert oasis was voted among the top Texas hotels by Condé Nast Traveler.
Located a short distance across the train tracks is the manicured Gage Gardens, covering a lush 27 acres. We recommend visiting early in the morning to enjoy cooler temps and beautiful lighting.
Learn more about the Gage Hotel and make reservations.
Things to do nearby:
Far west Texas isn’t just open desert like Hollywood movies would have you believe. The Davis Mountains rise up above the open plain and exposing interesting rock formations along the canyon walls. Explore Davis Mountains State Park‘s miles of trails, camping, and informational Ranger programming. Trails range from easy stroll to challenging, offering something for every level of hiker. Remember to bring plenty of water on hikes, and keep in mind that burn bans may be in effect during your visit, so plan accordingly. For those looking for further hiking and camping, the Davis Mountains also serve as a gateway to nearby Big Bend State Park.
Checking information boards near the entrance of any park or campsite will give valuable information, such as check-in/out procedures, information on burn bans if applicable, maps of the area, and more.
We enjoyed a ranger programming event on our visit with a costumed Civilian Conservation Corps soldier. He discussed events of the particular time period and demonstrated what soldiers would have carried with them to set up camp. Check upcoming Ranger events before you go.
The McDonald Observatory is a short 15-20 minute drive away from Davis Mountains State Park. Plan to work this into your West Texas travels–it’s an incredible experience!
Other nearby things to do:
The Gage Hotel
Check out more hiking inspo from our trip to Jackson Hole.
A tiny blip on the radar, Marfa is a far West Texas town turned cultural art mecca. Getting there won’t be easy though — the nearest airports are located in El Paso and Midland and are both about 3 hours away — but we promise the extra effort will be worth it! In this tiny West Texas town, there’s a Gram-worthy photo around practically every corner that is sure to elicit jealousy from friends. Here are our top photo op picks and things to do in Marfa.
The Paisano Hotel
The historic Paisano Hotel has old world charm, so its no wonder the film stars of the movie epic Giant, including Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean chose to stay here when filming nearby. The hotel courtyard offers a tranquil relaxation spot, and the bubbling fountain makes you almost forget you’re in the west Texas desert. Step inside the lobby to view photography on exhibit from the making of the film epic Giant. Bonus: Grab a super cheap and delicious breakfast burrito served up at the hotel restaurant in the am for just $5.
Presidio County Courthouse
The charming pink building is nestled at the end of Marfa’s main street and can be seen from almost any spot in town. The view from the top of the courthouse tower is phenomenal, especially if you get up early to catch it at sunrise.
The surreal Prada Marfa shop is a short 30 minute drive from Marfa through ranch land and desert. You’ve probably seen celebs like Rihanna pose in front of this false storefront, so why not snap a picture in front of it yourself? Plan to drive out in the evening to catch sunset for great lighting.
El Cosmico campground
Just minutes from the heart of Marfa, El Cosmico campground offers visitors an eccentric glamping paradise. Stay overnight in colorful trailer homes, teepees or yurts. Communal spaces with hammocks and an outdoor kitchen give guests a chance to meet fellow travelers and exchange stories.
Renowned artist Donald Judd created larger than life installations in and around Marfa. The Chinati Foundation building in town exudes desert vibes with its dusty colored exterior. This converted building was formerly the Marfa Wool and Mohair Building in the center of town located just off the railroad tracks. Today, the building houses the installation of John Chamberlain’s 22 sculptures in painted and chromium-plated steel. Take a short trip out of town to visit more contemporary art installations that are part of the Chinati Foundation.
Pure Joy Marfa tower
Located a few blocks off of the main street, this silo will remind you to find happiness in the little things.
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