Marfa, Texas, that small town in far West Texas, has long been known for its art-world, off-beat cool factor. There's the appropriate mix of kitsch and bizarre (the Marfa Lights Festival kicks off at the end of August). Yet, not 60 miles down the road from Marfa sits Marathon, which seems ready and willing (it remains to be seen if its able) to give Marfa a run for its money.
In a lot of ways, Marathon is nothing like Marfa. The town's population has seen a population decline since the 1900s. Now, roughly 500 people live in the town. There's no fun Prada installation, like there is in Marfa. Yet Marathon--which on their very own tourism page says "there's nothing to do"--is dotted with adorable old-timey eateries and other super Texas-y things, and like Marfa, is used as a gateway for drivers to Big Bend National Park, which lies some 36 miles to the south.
In an attempt to perhaps claim the title of "the next (next next?) Marfa", the historic Gage Hotel--one of the only joints in town--will reopen Captain Shepard's House, a 1899-built two-story, five-bedroom spot one block from the main hotel building this month. The theme, fittingly, is "turn of the century western elegance". Named for the founder of the town, the spot will have four common rooms and a two-bedroom carriage house (the property can be booked as individual rooms or in its entirety).
The Gage Hotel is home to many of the town's most popular (read: sole) hangouts. White Buffalo Bar has--you guessed it--buffalo heads on the walls and an extensive tequila offering; the hotel's 12 Gage offers regional cuisine. Off site, there's Marathon Coffee, a breakfast spot and Shirley Burn't Biscuit Bakery (YUM!). French Grocer, seen below, is essentially the town's general store. Fun fact: There has been a grocery store on that piece of property since 1900. Lecheguilla Liquors is the town's festive liquor store--and sits conveniently next to the post office. Despite the limited options, Marathon, it seems, is prepping to snatch a bigger portion of the Big Bend visitors market.
Check out photos of the property and Marathon below.