5 West Texas Destinations (Other Than Marfa) You Need to Visit

There's something romantic about exploring West Texas. The roads seem to stretch on forever, the sky looms larger, and the spaces are wide open. Nothing fills a Texan with wanderlust like the thought of cranking up Willie and Townes and pointing their vehicle towards the west. Marfa is often the big draw to visitors wishing to explore West Texas. But there's a lot more to explore. 

If you're dreaming of a western getaway, here are five other West Texas towns you need to visit.

1. Marathon

Marathon, Texas is a small town (pop. 430) just outside of Big Bend National Park. The quaint town attracts visitors from all over the country who are on their way to Big Bend or stopping to stargaze under Marathon's incredible dark skies. (The town is designated as "Class 1 Dark Sky," a rare status achieved by communities with little to no light pollution.)

To get a glimpse of West Texas nature, visit Post Park, where javelinas, turkeys, and jackrabbits can be seen in the early mornings and late evenings.

One of Marathon's most cherished historic landmarks is the Gage Hotel, built in 1927 for San Antonio banker Alfred S. Gage. The hotel features fine dining at the 12 Gage Restaurant and drinks (they are famous for their Prickly Pear Margarita) at the charming White Buffalo Bar. Don't forget about the stunning Gage Gardens on the property. 27 acres full of lush landscaped gardens are a must-see. 

2. Big Spring

Centered between Midland and Abilene, Big Spring is home to the nearly century-old Hotel Settles. The 15-story, 150-room hotel was once the tallest building between El Paso and Fort Worth. Hotel Settles offers comfort food at the Settles Grill and a social gathering spot with cocktails, beer, and wine at the Pharmacy Bar.

For an incredible view of the city, hike the 200-foot bluff at Big Spring State Park.

3. Balmorhea

West Texas may be associated with tumbleweeds and cacti, but it's also home to the world's largest spring-fed swimming pool. Balmorhea, Texas, is an oasis in the middle of the West Texas desert. Balmorhea State Park, a 46-acre park located on the San Solomon Springs, is the perfect place to swim or scuba dive in crystal clear waters, picnic, or camp.

4. Alpine

Alpine, which sits on a high plateau in the Chihuahua Desert and is centered between the Davis and Chisos mountains, is known as the center of the Big Bend region. The scenic town offers plenty of attractions, including the Museum of the Big Bend, located on the Sul Ross University campus. The museum offers a unique look at the history, art, and culture of the Big Bend region.

Marathon Texas

Consider booking a room at the charming Holland Hotel, a popular place to stay in downtown Alpine.

Any trip to Alpine should include a visit to Big Bend Saddlery, the beloved western supply store that's been serving West Texas cowboys for over 100 years.

After exploring, quench your thirst at the Big Bend Brewing Company, the most remote brewery in Texas.

5. Terlingua

If your idea of a great getaway is going off-the-grid, Terlingua is the ghost town for you. The ruggedly beautiful and remote former mining town is now a home for off-gridders and a beloved tourist destination for travelers en route to Big Bend National Park.

Terlingua's Starlight Theatre is the center of community entertainment, providing live music and world-famous chili for patrons.

Each year, Terlingua holds a chili festival, featuring live music and a much-anticipated chili cook-off.

For a unique Terlingua experience, stay at the Holiday Hotel, the El Dorado Hotel, or the Chisos Mining Company Motel.

While in the area, be sure to visit the nearby communities of Lajitas and Study Butte.

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