Everyone wants to go to West Texas these days…
On this fun virtual road trip, we’re shining a spotlight on towns with equal amounts of cultural quirkiness as Marfa, yet that are less well known. Towns like Big Spring offer the historic Hotel Settles, Marathon features the gorgeous Evans Gallery, and Alpine has Big Bend Brewing. Linked together with Marfa, these towns make for an unbeatable trip.
Now, read on for some top places to eat, play and stay.
Stop 1: Big Spring
Eat: Executive Chef Rob Cook’s dishes at Settles Grill are unrivaled by other dining destinations in the region, offering cuisine that combines West Texas comfort food with Southern elegance. Over the years, the restaurant has hosted notable guests such as Elvis Presley, Lawrence Welk and President Herbert Hoover.
Play: Big Spring State Park opened in 1936 and offers dramatic views off the 200-foot bluff. Catch the sunrise or sunset, hike, bike or have a picnic on this preserved land and take in the fresh air. Don’t forget to check out the historic totem pole and the Native American artifacts and fossils from the area, on display at a seasonal interpretive center.
Stay: Hotel Settles originally opened in 1930, where the building consisted of a hotel, restaurant and pharmacy that served as a hub for the bustling community. (Read our Dec. 29 #TravelTuesday article on Historic Texas Bars for more on the pharmacy). After undergoing a $30 million renovation, Hotel Settles reopened in 2012 and evokes Southern charm honoring the building’s original elegance.
Stop 2: Marathon
Eat: White Buffalo Bar is a legendary watering hole that features an extensive tequila selection, fresh squeezed margaritas and delicious signature cocktails that can be sipped inside by the fireplace or outside on the patio while listening to live music.
Play: Austin transplant James H. Evans has been a Marathon fixture since 1989, capturing breathtaking shots of the West Texas landscape, flora, and fauna. Visitors can see his work in the Evans Gallery down the street from the Gage Hotel. They can also likely find Evans himself in the gallery on Saturdays and Sundays.
Stay: Built in 1927 by acclaimed architect, Henry Trost, the legendary Gage Hotel is located just outside Big Bend National Park. It offers authentic laid-back luxury with premier accommodations, top-notch service and a first-class dining experience.
Stop 3: Alpine
Eat: The original Reata Restaurant, nestled in the southern end of the breathtaking Davis Mountains, has been providing fine dining to residents of and visitors to Big Bend for nearly two decades.
Play: Big Bend Brewing is located in the backyard of Big Bend National Park. Venture out West and visit the tap room, tasting brews that are a tribute to the trailblazers that came before.
Stay: The Holland Hotel, open since 1928, still serves as the epicenter of the Big Bend community. Located walking distance from shopping, galleries, dining, and entertainment, you’ll feel at home with the Holland Hotel’s southern charm and hospitality.
Stop 4: Marfa
Eat: Stellina is a restaurant with an ever-changing menu of Mediterranean home cooking, wines and beers.
Play: The Chinati Foundation is a contemporary art museum founded by Donald Judd.The Chinati’s mission is to preserve and present to the public permanent large-scale installations by a limited number of artists.
Stay: Today’s Hotel Saint George is the reincarnation of the old hotel, originally built in 1886. It incorporates locally-sourced elements and repurposed materials from the original building, all melded with world-class contemporary works by artists living in or tied to the community.
Cover photo: South Rim Vista and Claret Cup Cactus Photo NPS Photo/Reine Wonite