If you haven’t figured out yet where to go for a summer vacation, we’d like to recommend a trip to picturesque West Texas. It’s a region of our state that’s often overlooked for more flashy allures such as the beach, Dallas or Houston.
The Gage Hotel
From San Antonio, if you drive along scenic Interstate 90, it’ll take you a little under six hours to get to Marathon, Texas. For couples especially, a one or two night stay at the Gage Hotel is a must. This charming historic hotel, which was built in 1927, is quite literally a desert oasis.
If you’re a history buff, stay in the main hotel, but for access to the gorgeous courtyard, stay in one of the Portales. There’s nothing quite like sitting outside with a couple glasses of wine and enjoying the beautiful night sky. Dinner at their upscale yet casual 12 Gage Restaurant may just be the best thing you eat on your trip, and as if this place wasn’t great enough, just a few blocks from the property they have a private 27-acre manicured garden that you might mistake for Eden.
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend is truly the gem of West Texas. Home to the largest protected area of the Chihuahuan Desert in the United State, the park consists of about a million acres of pristine land that is as untouched as it has been for millions of years.
The park offers over 150 mountain, desert and river hikes and access to a variety of camping sites, canyons and a natural spring. We highly recommend camping, but if that’s just not your thing, the park is home to the Chisos Mountains Lodge, which also has a pretty decent restaurant. Just make sure to book as far in advance as possible. Hotels in this part of the state are hard to come by.
For a day trip, Marfa is a fun little town that’s not far from Big Bend and has earned a reputation as a hub for art and film. Art aficionados or those who appreciate architecture will enjoy the Chinati Foundation, which houses one of the most unique art exhibits as well as pieces from dozens of visiting artists.
As for accommodations, the historic Hotel Paisano is a lovely option and your best bet for any luxury in these parts. They also have a great bar and dining area. It’s nice place to stop for an afternoon cocktail. However, f you’re up for something a little more exotic, check out El Cosmico, where you can slumber in a teepee or a yurt. Yes, a yurt!
If you’re only there for the day, make sure to check out the pop-up restaurant known as Capri Kitchen. This unassuming eatery isn’t easy to come by but it’s well worth it. They make THE most amazing fried chicken you’ll ever eat!
Kids and adults alike will want to check out the Marfa lights, although there’s still no proof they even exist or why!
The McDonald Observatory
You cannot or at least should not visit West Texas without checking out The McDonald Observatory, an astronomical observatory run by UT Austin. Up in the hills in the middle of nowhere in the town of Fort Davis, is an opportunity to have your mind blown. The weekly star parties and twilight programs the observatory hosts are a chance to see the universe from a whole new perspective, quite literally. Last time we were there we got to see Venus and Saturn up close.
You can be sure returning to San Antonio after a trip through this serene and utterly magnificent part of Texas will be a little jolting to your senses, but no doubt, you’ll be happy to be home! Please share pics on our Facebook if you do go.