A couple days before New Year’s Eve, we decided to go to Marfa for a short stay. It is a famous small town in west Texas known for its contemporary minimalist art installations. You might have seen pictures of the iconic landmark – a Prada store, a couple miles outside Marfa, sitting in the middle of the desert.
The weather there was surprisingly nice. I was expecting freezing winter weather, but it was warm and sunny during the day. And it was comfortable with a leather jacket or light coat during the evening. Check out this post for what to wear in Marfa in winter.
If you travel to Marfa the first time, I highly recommend you book the Chinati Foundation tour in advance so you can visit the most famous art installations in the area. We booked the trip just a few days in advance and we were lucky enough to take the last few spots of a full exhibition tour. The tour takes 6 hours and starts in the morning, with a 2-hour lunch break. It might seem super long, but it’s really worth it because it shines a new light on these artworks when you hear the stories behind them. Plus you won’t be able to access most of the exhibitions with the self-guided tour option.
If you have limited time, the selection tour (which lasts 2.5 hours) is the next best option. I would recommend the one that starts in the morning. That way you can see Donald Judd’s 100 untitled works in mill aluminum in stunning light conditions. It was one of our favorite installations. We went back a couple times at different hours and the feel of the place totally changed each time.
A few things to note.
Almost all of the famous art installations are located in different buildings without clear signage and are locked except during the tour. And the self-guided hour is extremely limited. That’s why a tour booked in advance is the best way to go.
You are not allowed to take any photos during the tour or inside of any of the exhibitions. So if photography is a part of your plan, you’ll be very disappointed (I was!). The only installation where photography is allowed is Donald Judd’s 15 untitled works in concrete (which is outdoors). During our visit I managed to snap a few illegal shots with my phone but they hardly caught the magical real-life vibes of the exhibitions. And hopefully I won’t be added to the foundation’s blacklist for sharing these photos.
One word about the famous Prada store. If you plan to shoot there, definitely go before noon. We went at the wrong time and arrived right before sunset. The store was totally backlit and it was next to impossible to take any good pictures.
When you’re in Marfa, you have to try out Stellina, the best restaurant in town. The place has great vibes, superb food, and a huge selection of healthy dishes. You have no idea how happy I was when I saw that beautiful roasted cauliflower and kale salad while most of the meal options nearby were very heavy Tex-Mex. Be sure to arrive early (since they don’t take reservations) or else you could face super long wait times. Also, check out LaVenture at the boutique Hotel Saint George. We only had coffee there, but they also have a great menu and offer lunch.
We spent two quiet and peaceful days in Marfa, enjoying the artwork, the slow pace of the town, the beautiful nature, and the stars in the pitch dark sky. It was a perfect trip before New Year, because it gave me some time to detox from all the buzz and enjoy the peacefulness of the desert. I felt refreshed and ready for the new year. And I’m already looking forward to visiting the place again.
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