Filed In: Travel
Do you ever fall into the deep hole of Instagram and realize an hour later you’re scrolling through vacation photos of someone you don’t even know?! Guilty. Social media can be a total time waster, but it can also be a source of inspiration. I love getting ideas after seeing beautiful vacation photos and it’s fun to keep up with friends’ summer travels too. I was looking at photos from my parent’s trip to Italy just imagining my afternoon sitting on a balcony on the Amalfi Coast enjoying wine and a charcuterie plate. Doesn’t that sound divine? Sadly that’s not on today’s agenda, but here’s how-to get that glam “On Vacay in Italy” look even if you’re stuck stateside!
Get that “On Vacation in Italy” Look
Straw Hat: Hat Attack (less expensive option here) / Sunglasses: Ray-Ban / Cropped White Tee: Topshop / Circle Earrings: Soko / Gold Cuff: Soko /Headband: Missoni / Wicker Satchel: J.McLaughlin (straw clutch here) / Skirt: Dodo Bar Or (also available here and here)/ Lace-Up Sandals: Madewell
- Blue ruffle wrap skirt here. Hurry it’s selling out quickly! ($98 before 25% discount)
- Black & White gingham skirt by English Factory here. Available in all sizes. ($50)
- Pretty, pink, and pleated skirt here. Matching halter crop top sold separately here. ($95 and $60 respectively)
Need a little height with the comfort of sneakers? These darling ‘lemon’ espadrilles will give you an inch and play into the southern Italy theme.
See more summer styles in my last post here.
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw pictures from my recent West Texas road trip. My Dad and I drove over 1,500 miles during our six day trip. (He did all of the driving!) We visited Big Bend National Park in addition to small towns: Marathon, Alpine, Fort Davis, Terlingua, and Marfa. I’ve lived in Texas for most of my life, yet this was my first time to visit that part of the state. I’m excited to share my experience with you!
Top Left: Chimney’s Trail, Big Bend National Park / Top Right: Gage Hotel, Marathon / Middle: Prada Marfa, Valentine / Bottom Left: 12 Gage Restaurant / Bottom Right: Hiking at Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center
Getting to West Texas is not a hop and a skip from Houston. It’s a LONG journey, but depending on where you’re traveling from, there are different ways to make the trip. Options include: driving the whole way, taking the train to Alpine, or flying to Midland. If you take the train or fly through Midland, you’ll still need to rent a car. Here is a good resource for car rentals in El Paso, Midland, and Alpine. West Texas is desolate, so it’s not like you can rent a car anywhere. Plan ahead!
I starred the towns we stopped or stayed on the map above.
My Dad and I broke up the drive by stopping at our ranch on both ends of the trip and then taking U.S. 90 West through Uvalde along the border until we reached Marathon, TX. We drove through the Amistad Resevoir, which is beautiful! (Amistad is Spanish for friendship in case ya didn’t know.) We heard you can take boat trips there too! I was surprised to see so many U.S. border patrols and drive through multiple border checkpoints, but I guess that is to be expected given our location! We drove right along the Texas/Mexico border for a good stretch of the drive.
Marathon, Texas (Mare-a-thun)
Where To Stay: Gage Hotel
We stayed in one of the Gage’s 20 los portales on our first night. Covered porches flanked the pueblo-style adobe brick rooms uniquely furnished with authentic Saltillo tile floors, cowhide rugs, western furnishings, stone tile baths and one-of-a-kind antique Mexican double doors. There was even a working fireplace in the room. Be prepared for no TV’s in the rooms.
The hotel was built by architect Henry Trost in 1927, but has been owned by Houston businessman J.P. Bryan for the last 26 years. Bryan bought it in 1978 for a mere $30,000 and has completely transformed the property over the years.
I was shocked to drive up and see the hotel right on the side of the main road. There is literally nothing else in Marathon except the Gage compound, a small convenience store (The French Grocer), and Marathon Coffee. It’s crazy! It’s definitely worth the experience though! While you’re there, have a drink at the White Buffalo Cantina and dine at the hotel restaurant. Our drinks were iffy, but the food was solid. I had the Southwest Caesar Salad and the Texas Quail stuffed with bleu cheese, almond and cherry stuffing served with a sweet corn fritter and port wine reduction.
We had breakfast at the Gage V6 Coffee Bar, but I’d definitely try Marathon Coffee if I ever went back! I can guarantee the Gage breakfast spot is the only place you can find a green smoothie made with kale and almond butter for MILES.
Between Marathon and Alpine, there is an old railroad building converted into a “Target” guerilla art installation. It’s not as legit or impressive as the Prada Marfa, but it’s certainly worth stopping! My Dad was thrilled about the photo op…ha
Where To Stay: Holland Hotel
We didn’t spend the night in Alpine, but walked through the Holland lobby. It’s a historic, quintessential West Texas hotel. We had a late lunch at the bar; they had solid burgers and local beer. Fun fact: Alpine is home to the Cowboys Baseball team and world famous Kokernot Field. Sports Illustrated called it “The Best Little Ballpark in Texas (or Anywhere Else).”
We had every intention of staying at El Cosmico for our last night, but cancelled at the last minute. Due to poor planning, we ended up just driving through and heading home a day early. We got to Marfa on a Tuesday and all of the recommended restaurants and galleries were closed. I was excited to see Marfa after hearing so much hype around its art/music/dining scene, but honestly it was my least favorite stop on our trip. I think it’d be vastly different if you visted over a weekend or for a music festival/event!
Inside a Safari Tent at El Cosmico, Marfa, TX
Since we only had one meal in Marfa, I’m not at liberty to recommend the best restaurants. All I can say is steer clear of Mandos! Based on this list, I’d want to try Cochineal, Food Shark, and Marfa Burrito on a future visit. Before we hit the road, I convinced my Dad it was worth driving 40 miles out of the way to Valentine to see the Prada Marfa. 🙂 I’m glad we did!
Big Bend National Park
Where To Stay: Chisos Mountain Lodge
Chisos Mountain Lodge is the only hotel in the park, so you can imagine it books up very quickly! I’ve heard up to a year in advance. The lodge offers free standing cottages or motel-style rooms. We planned our getaway at the last minute, so we weren’t able to stay in the park, but I would love to next time. Big Bend National Park is over 800,000 acres, so even if you’re staying in the park it still takes time to drive to various trails. For reference, the park is bigger than the state Rhode Island.
Sunglasses: Elizabeth & James / Top & Sports Bra: Lululemon / Hiking Pants: ExOfficicio (These pants were a GREAT purchase. They roll up and give you coverage from brush, bugs, and sun but aren’t hot.)
The highlight of our visit was definitely the Emory Peak hike. The trail is 10.6 miles roundtrip and takes about 5-6 hours at a slow to moderate pace. The trip down is MUCH faster than the journey up. We had cooler weather with a lot of cloud cover, which was nice for such a long day outside. Don’t be fooled by people who tell you you’ll just have to scramble up some boulders to reach the top. Summiting the peak requires climbing straight up, like legit rock climbing! I was scared for my life, but conquering that fear and making it to the top for the 360 degree view was INCREDIBLE. I posted a video on my Instagram, but it doesn’t do the views justice. It’s something you have to experience for yourself! Luckily there were a couple guys at the top to A: take my picture (#priorities) and B: help me down.
Hiking Shoes: Merrell (I was so glad to have these waterproof, outdoor sneaks! They’re super comfortable and worth buying if you’ll be out hiking for more than a couple miles.)
Santa Elena Canyon (above) is another must-see in Big Bend. Unfortunately the river was too high for us to cross and get to the trailhead. I was so bummed and wanted to wade across anyways. I got a big fat no on that one… Instead, we did a desert hike nearby.
You can see that the desert landscape is quite a change from the Chisos Mountain hike. It was so hot that day, but would be a really cool place to stargaze at night or see wildlife at sundown.
We stayed in the #36 condo. I was a little nervous about staying there because it was the ONLY place available in the area; everything else was booked. When we drove into Terlinqua, my jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe we were still in Texas. The landscape was drastically different from the views we’d seen in Marathon, Fort Davis, and Alpine. We got our keys and were directed about 1/2 mile down the road and up a hill to a pink condo with a view. I wish I had a pic! It turned out to be perfect for what we needed. We even grilled steaks for dinner one night over mesquite that my Dad brought from the ranch.
Where To Eat:
Espresso…Y Poco Mas – This is a local breakfast spot in Terlingua’s Ghost Town. The food is good and it’s quite a scene, but expect to wait a long time. We loaded up with eggs and waffles here before our Emory Peak hike.
La Kiva – This is a dinner only spot that also seemed to draw a large local crowd. We had the best burgers and fries.
Chili Pepper – We had another breakfast here. Good food and service, but lacked the local flair of Poco Mas.
Starlight Theatre – We didn’t get a chance to go here, but hear it’s good!
- Terlingua is the closest town to Big Bend National Park. It took about ten minutes to get to the park entrance, but once inside it’s another 30 miles to the visitor’s center.
- The grocery store in Terlingua carries everything you need including Kombucha. I seriously shrieked when I saw it in the cooler.
- Bring a wifi hotspot or be prepared to go completely off the grid.
I hope you enjoy reading and are inspired to venture to West Texas one day. It was such a special and adventurous trip with my Dad that I’ll remember forever.
I’m spending Labor Day Weekend with my family in Pirate’s Beach, Galveston. Its been a relaxing weekend full of eating, drinking, and hanging out on the beach! I’ve also had time to check out all of the great Labor Day sales happening right now. Below, I’m sharing some of my top picks to help you navigate the holiday sales this weekend!
This is the first one-piece swimsuit I’ve probably worn since swim team as a kid. I remember getting the craziest tan lines from those sporty Speedo suits. I found this one on clearance at Target and linked to the same one in blue above. They also have it in snake print.
Aren’t these the cutest beach dogs?! I saw one with the preppiest Vineyard Vines dog leash.
Labor Day Weekend Sales
Nordstrom: Save up to 40% through September 11th. There are tons of steals in the Home department, including Le Creuset cookware. While it’s a pricy line, it’s high-quality and will last a long time with good care. I like this enamel cast iron skillet that comes in several colors. An extra set of bed sheets is also a great item to buy on sale. Check out this 300 Thread Count Sheet Set.
Neiman Marcus: Save up to 65% off in Women’s Fashion. I love this Lace Maxi Dress that recently linked to in my post about wedding guest attire. There’s also a darling (work appropriate) Silk Chiffon Blouse that can definitely be worn through the fall. Lastly, this Striped Wool Scarf is only $48, so buy now and save for the winter!
Pottery Barn: With the code *SAVEMORE you can save 10% on order totals of $100 or more, 15% on $250 or more, 20% on $500 or more, and 25% on $1,000 or more through tomorrow. Stock up on simple items, like bath towels and casual drinkware or a cozy new robe for yourself or a Christmas gift.
Anthropologie: Extra 40% Off Sale Items. There are several items in Anthropologie’s sale section that can easily transition into fall. I like this long cardigan for a casual look with jeans. I tried on these wide-leg palm print pants in-store and might have to get them now that they’re marked down and take them on my Barbado’s trip!