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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Find Your Inner Film Buff in Marfa

The tiny Far West Texas town is best known for its visual arts scene, but movie obsessives will find plenty to love: film festivals, famously cinematic desertscapes, and bona fide Hollywood history.

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1. Where to Stay

Relax in a hammock or hot tub or simply chill with fellow travelers at El Cosmico's campground.   

Camp out boho-style at El Cosmico, owned by Liz Lambert of Austin’s beloved San Jose and Saint Cecilia hotels. Pick your accommodation type from among the teepees, tents, or trailers situated on an 18-acre stretch of desert just a few blocks outside Marfa’s tiny town center (from $40; or starting at $15 for bring-your-own-tent camping). Visiting bands and other creative types flock to this spot for its communal areas, including a hammock grove, reading room—a collaboration with the town's excellent bookstore, the Marfa Book Company—and outdoor kitchen, plus wood-fired hot tubs available for rent, all designed to foster mingling and idea-exchange.

Bask in the Deco flourishes at the Hotel Paisano (from $99), where Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson, the stars of the 1956 classic film Giant, stayed while filming nearby. Off the lobby, there’s a room that serves as a mini museum-of-sorts for the movie, showing a recording on loop and displaying the original Life magazine cover celebrating the film. Cool off from the desert sun in the kidney-shaped pool, or while away the late afternoon in the 1930 building’s stylish lobby, decked in elegant High Desert chic, with vintage tilework, gleaming wood furniture, and assorted taxidermy. Head to Jett’s Grill for a margarita and, if you’re lucky enough to be there on one of the weekends a band plays, catch some live music in the courtyard.

Nerd out over the mid-century details at the Thunderbird (from $130), a classic roadside motel turned stylish boutique spot. Opened in 1959 but renovated in 2005 by Lake/Flato Architects, the hotel still has its original horseshoe shape with interior courtyard, along with hipper new touches, like record players and typewriters for rent, Malin + Goetz amenities, and minibar baskets stocked with Topo Chico soda water and other with-it essentials. Rooms have a coolly minimalist feel, with queen beds covered in woven Bolivian blankets, recessed lighting, and work by Marfa artists on the walls. Pop out to the pool in the afternoon, where the perfume of orange honeysuckle makes the dry heat a bit more bearable.

Published on Apr 24, 2014 as a web exclusive.

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