And now, we bring you another episode from Far West Texas …
Spending time in Marfa and Fort Davis primed the pump, so we had a fairly good idea of what to expect when we got to Alpine and Marathon. Though each town is unique with it’s own treasures to discover, we were thrilled to find the area brimming with more kind, open-hearted people.
The towns of Marfa, Fort Davis and Alpine make a near-perfect triangle with Fort Davis at the top and Alpine, twenty-six miles away, forming the bottom right point. Given that it’s situated between the Davis, Glass and Del Norte Mountains, Alpine was aptly named and has a climate to match its spectacular scenery. Marathon sits thirty miles to the east of Alpine and is the jumping off point for people heading down to Big Bend National Park.
With a population of 6,001, Alpine is the largest town in this part of Texas. Add to that the 2,000 students that attend Sul Ross State University, and Alpine dwarfs the surrounding communities.
It’s hardly a secret that one of our favorite things to do is eat … and Alpine offered some great options. Food trucks have become a bit of an obsession for us and, after the fantastic experience we had at Food Shark in Marfa, we couldn’t wait to try Cow Dog! Located right on the main drag outside the (pet friendly) coffee shop, Plaine, the creative motif and caninesque name immediately caught our attention.
Add to that the covered, dog friendly seating, friendly service, and quality food and we give this place two dewclaws up! Cow Dog sells soft drinks, but if you really want to make the most of your experience give them your food order and then duck inside Plaine to order a smoothie. You won’t be disappointed!
You won’t catch me touting a lot of places that don’t welcome pets on this blog, but an exception has to be made for the Museum of the Big Bend. Housed on the Sul Ross campus, this free museum offers a collection of exhibits describing the geography, prehistoric inhabitants, and human history of the Big Bend region that shouldn’t be missed. Pet are welcome to stroll the campus with you, so take turns perusing the museum and while the other lazes in the grass under a shade tree with the dog.
Continuing the theme of beautifully restored historic hotels like Hotel Paisano in Marfa and Hotel Limpia in Fort Davis, the pet friendly Holland Hotel in Alpine is big on atmosphere. Pets of any size are welcome for a $30 fee per pet per stay – bed and treats included. Though we opted for the nearby RV park, we thoroughly enjoyed dinner and live music in the hotel’s cozy courtyard.
There’s nothing worse than outing yourself as a tourist, so the first thing you need to know about Marathon is that it’s pronounced Mara-thin. Birthed by ranching and the railroad, Marathon is known for its relaxed atmosphere and friendly people. We also found it to have one of the nicest RV parks in the Big Bend region, the best off-leash area we’d seen since Austin, and another beautiful old hotel.
There are only 19 full hookup sites at this little RV park that sets along side the Marathon Motel, and on the surface it looks like many of the other RV parks you’ll encounter in the area – gravel spaces without much shade. What sets this place apart is the lush courtyard where the hotel patrons and RVers congregate to relax. The grass was so green and as thick as carpet – the boys just wanted to lounge IN it. Then, when the sun goes down and the temperature quickly follows, the fireplace is lit and it’s the perfect spot to star gaze.
If you haven’t joined the RV crowd yet, there are equally serene accommodations for you in Marathon. The pet friendly Gage Hotel is another of the historic railroad hotels that’s undergone a tasteful renovation. Complete with a restaurant, spa, and bar, they welcome pets of all sizes for $20 per pet per night.
Across the street from the hotel you’ll find the 26-acre Gage Gardens, which they use as a venue for weddings and other events. The gardens and orchards there also help supply the restaurant at the hotel. Meander the pathway around the water fountain and past the putting green and you’ll find the footbridge that leads to the off-leash area … complete with pond.
Of course, we can’t sign off without giving you a pet friendly restaurant recommendation, and this time it’s for Marathon Coffee. The covered patio out front is pet friendly and breakfast there really hit the spot!
Come back next week when we’ll conclude our tour of Far West Texas with a post on Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Terlingua, and the River Road.
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