Big Bend Day Trips

When Matt and I were planning our trip out to Big Bend National Park, we knew we wanted to knock out some other attractions in the area because hey, when in west Texas right? This region of Texas is so remote, and there are so many little gems to be discovered out there, so we decided to tack some on to our itinerary. Here are some towns and attractions we visited which would make great Big Bend day trips!

Marfa

This little town is a hipster oasis in the deserts of west Texas. It’s a cool town, but definitely not a destination in itself, just a stop along the way. There are some cool spots to explore around town, but it’s hard to catch the museums, shops, and restaurants when they’re open since they all keep odd hours. We visited on a Sunday and many of the places we were interested in visiting were closed or open at such random times that we weren’t able to go. Some of our stops in Marfa included:

  • The Chinati Foundation: We arrived at 11am, and they told us we couldn’t enter the gallery until noon so we decided to check out the outdoor art installation and then leave.

    The Chinati Foundations iconic outdoor art installations

  • Pizza Foundation: We really enjoyed eating here! The pizza was delicious!
  • Hotel Paisano shops: These shops have some really cute Marfa gifts and souvenirs. They’re a little pricey, but everything in Marfa seems to be…
  • El Cosmico: Super cute and kitschy accommodations with yurts, safari tents, and airstreams. We wanted to stay here so bad, but they booked up so fast we weren’t able to reserve in time.

    The Airstream of my dreams at El Cosmico

  • Marfa Book Company: We wandered into this bookstore and had fun looking around. The books range from popular fiction to history books on the Big Bend area to art books about Marfa.
  • Prada Marfa: This famed photo op is not actually in Marfa, but half an hour up the road. The drive was worth it for me since this place has been on my travel to-list since I first saw photos of it years ago.

    The oh so Instagrammable Prada store

  • Frama: A cute little laundry/coffee shop with yummy baked goods, and a good Marfa selfie mural outside.

There are a few famous Marfa attractions we weren’t able to make it to due to those weird hours/just having too little time.

McDonald Observatory

The only photo I got from the observatory was of this super cool, retro poster in the lobby

We went to the McDonald Observatory after a full day of traveling out west, so we weren’t able to explore during daylight. I reserved tickets to a Star Party a few weeks in advance, and I wish we could’ve gone to a Twilight Party but we couldn’t have been able to make it timewise. Matt is a total astronomy nerd, so he was fanboying all over those telescopes and constellations. We had a blast visiting the observatory!

Terlingua

  • Terlingua Ghost Town: This area is very reminiscent of the old Wild West. I had a very clear picture of what I thought Texas would be when I moved here. The areas I’ve lived in are nothing close to that idea, but Terlingua’s Ghost Town is.
  • Terlingua Trading Company: Inside the store, you can find walking tour guides of the Ghost Town. It’s informational but easy to miss if you’re not paying attention! Otherwise, this store has a bunch of cool products and goodies. The porch in front of the house is a local favorite when it comes to hangout spots! We grabbed some bottles of soda from the store and enjoyed them on the porch in true Terlingua fashion.

    A glimpse of the eclectic offerings of Terlingua Trading Company

  • La Posada Milagro: Cute cafe with great atmosphere, delicious smoothies, and food!
  • Starlight Theatre: A Terlingua classic. This place has live music and lots of great food!
  • La Kiva: Another interesting, Terlingua establishment and a great dinner spot. If you’re interested in true crime, read this article before visiting.
  • Chili Pepper Cafe: Amazing place for a desert breakfast! Matt got this life-changing chocolate milk there, it was kind of a cinnamon-y chocolate. 10/10 recommend.
  • Terlingua Cemetery: Y’all know how much I love cemeteries! This place is one of the most unique I’ve visited. The combination of Dia de Muertos Mexican culture with that old Wild West feel makes it unlike any other cemetery I’ve visited.

    Graveyards, old Western style

  • Many Stones: This little store has rocks, minerals, fossils, and succulents galore! Makes it a good souvenir stop along your way.

And if you decide to stay in Terlingua for a night or two like we did, I highly recommend the Tiny Terlingua Airbnb! We loved this tiny house in the middle of the desert!

Lajitas

  • Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center: This is the visitor center for the state park and definitely worth a stop! They have a wonderful little museum that is loaded with information on the geological history and biological diversity of the Big Bend region of Texas. I loved getting to learn more about the area!

Big Bend Ranch State Park

Most people who visit Big Bend National Park never venture over to Big Bend Ranch State Park, which is right next door. The state park has 238 miles of multi-use trails (for hiking, biking and horseback riding), along with 70 miles of unmaintained dirt roads. I honestly believe the drive through the state park is more scenic than the national park.

An example of the gorgeous views in the state park

The views of the river, valleys, and mountains are absolutely breathtaking. You can even spot a few hoodoos from the road. We only got to hike one of the trails during our visit, so we chose the Closed Canyon Trail.

Matt next to the impassable tinaja

It was a super cool trail, but pretty technical in places. We eventually had to turn back because one of the tinajas (small pools of rainwater collected in a depression in the rock) made it too hard for me to climb around and continue on the trail.

I hope you get to take advantage of these Big Bend day trips during your trip out west! This region is truly unique, and worth exploring in more detail.

Happy wanderlusting, friends!

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