History buffs will tell you the tiny West Texas town of Marfa was flippantly named for a character in a Russian novel. Folks who go there, however, suspect it’s more likely a secret acronym meaning "money and respect for arts." Three hours from the nearest commercial airport, this cultural oasis is, at the very least, intriguing; at best, phenomenal. Underneath the mysterious glow of something locals call "the Marfa lights," a confluence of contemporary creatives practice their literary, visual, musical, and performance arts at a pace that depends more on internal rhythm than it does on external clocks.In this "Capital of Quirky," where the population is less than 2,000, it takes a bit of mental reboot to get in sync. Try parking your car and renting a bicycle for exploring. Book a room at a retro motel, where you can rent a turntable and a typewriter for entertainment. Get fitted for a pair of handmade boots. Go gallery hopping. Order a Marfalafel sandwich from the food truck parked by the railroad tracks. Check out the world’s largest hydroponic tomato-growing research center. Drop in at the bookshop. And hang out with locals at the farmers’ market on Saturday mornings. Then decide for yourself: Did CBS’s 60 Minutes get it right when it came to town?
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Things You Can't Miss
Works of the Chinati Foundation are displayed at varied sites around Marfa, including a former military base. Guided tours are lengthy but instructive.
The “Marfa lights” have been observed for more than a century. To see for yourself — or try, anyway — head to the viewing site 10 miles east of town.
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Climb to the cupola of the 1886 Presidio County Courthouse for a great panorama of the town, the Marfa Plateau and distant mountain peaks.
Use this checklist to mind the details you need to consider when signing a rental car agreement. Don't forget about gas, insurance, and what rules and restrictions the rental agency demands.
Twenty-one miles from Marfa is one of the best surviving examples of a southwestern frontier military post, active during the period from 1854 to 1891.
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These unique, 50-plus-year-old structures still stand — and they still intrigue.
A 75-mile loop starts in Fort Davis and follows routes 118 and 166 for beautiful vistas of the Davis Mountains. It’s the state’s highest public highway.
Wonderfully weird, kitschy, fun or historic places that are worth a pit stop.
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Shared Trips to this Destination
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