Alpine blends old west history with quirky street art in the West Texas high desert. Learn more in this guide to Alpine Texas.
Is West Texas calling you? This guide to Alpine Texas is your source for things to do in Alpine to help you plan your best adventure.
Ultimate Guide to Alpine Texas
Alpine is a small West Texas city located in the high desert that’s a great jumping-off point for adventure seekers who want to explore the rugged beauty of West Texas. It is also a great destination on its own. This guide to Alpine Texas gives you the scoop on what’s fun to do in town and the surrounding area.
Getting to Alpine
If you’re going to explore Alpine and the surrounding area, you will need a car. Travelers from elsewhere in the United States will find the closest airport is Midland, 140 miles away. Midland has a small, regional airport, so you’ll likely be connecting in Dallas or Houston to get to Alpine via air.
Amtrak also has service in and out of Alpine. The Texas Eagle and the Sunset Limited that run through San Antonio stop in Alpine. Trains come and go three times a week. If you’re going to take the train in, make sure you plan to rent a car. There’s only one car rental place in town, and they book up quickly during peak periods.
Things to Do in Alpine Texas
I’ve also included a section on things to do near Alpine, Texas, but here are five things you can do while in the city.
Head to the Visitor’s Center
The Alpine Visitor’s Center is newly remodeled and a great place to orient yourself to the local area or to get information on any local events happening during your visit. They have plenty of printed resources, such as maps of where the murals are, plus routes for Alpine Walking and Driving Tours. They can also provide trail maps for local hiking trails.
The Alpine Visitor’s Center is also a great place to get restaurant recommendations or info on the local food truck scene.
Take in the Street Art
Grab a mural map from the visitor’s center, as mentioned above, or just wander through the streets and check out the art—it’s everywhere! Most of the art depicts the history of Alpine or scenes from nearby Big Bend National Park.
Museum of the Big Bend
The Museum of the Big Bend is on the campus of Sul Ross State University. The exhibits give information on the history of this area and a great “lay of the land” perspective if you can schedule this near the start of your visit. Admission is $5 for adults and free for kids 12 and under.
Hike Hancock Hill
If you’re up for some outdoor adventure, you don’t have to go to Big Bend National Park or Fort Davis. There’s a network of trails on Hancock Hill, located directly behind the university dorms.
I recommend hiking up to “the desk,” a 1960s-era heavily graffitied office desk overlooking the Big Bend Canyon. Open the drawer, and you’ll find a notebook and writing utensils to record your thoughts. There’s been a notebook in the drawer for the past 40 years, and filled notebooks are maintained by the archives department at Sul Ross State.
Some of the trails on Hancock Hill cross private lands, while other parts of the trail belong to the university. Make sure you heed the posted signs—some, but not all, of the landowners, allow hikers to pass through. Most of the trails are moderate. It’s about a 1.8-mile loop trail to get up to the desk and back down.
If you are traveling with kids, I highly recommend making a reservation to check out Wasserman Wranch, a hobby ranch home to several varieties of donkeys, alpacas, and other animals. A 90-minute tour includes lots of photo ops and one-on-one time with these gentle animals.
Don’t rule this out if you don’t have kids in your travel party. I believe I enjoyed interacting with these lovely creatures just as much, if not more, than my kids did.
The Wassermann family also operates a store in downtown Alpine that sells products made with alpaca fibers as well as other gifts. Their hours are limited, but they’ll open by appointment if you’d like to shop here.
Food in Alpine
Alpine seems to be a booming place for food trucks, but you might find the hours limited unless you’re going in peak tourist season (generally March through May). The Alpine Visitor’s Center is great to get info on available food trucks.
Cow Dog is the one food truck I’ve seen consistently open on my visits to Alpine. It’s currently parked across the street from Plaine Coffee and Laundromat, another fun place to check out for coffee or sweet treats.
As the name suggests, Cow Dog specializes in beef hot dogs but offers a few vegetarian options.
Spicewood Restaurant and Bar
Spicewood offers a little bit of everything: steaks, seafood, sandwiches, and pizza. They’re closed on Tuesdays and Sundays but open for lunch and dinner on other days.
Guzzi Up is a great place for pizza, pasta, and sandwiches. One word of warning: they don’t keep their website or social media pages up to date, so it may be challenging to get information on hours. If you get a chance to have one of their hand-tossed pizzas, definitely do it.
Century Bar and Grill
The Century Bar and Grill, located inside the historic Holland Hotel, has favorites like steaks, seafood, burgers, and several plant-based options. They also serve Sunday brunch.
Reata is self-described as “Legendary Texas cuisine.” Like other places listed, Reata offers steaks, seafood, and burgers, but its menu also contains several Mexican food options.
Visit Alpine maintains a more extensive list of restaurants and food trucks which you can check out here. My advice is to call in advance of your visit to avoid disappointment. Some of the local eateries have limited hours since the pandemic. There are also a few fast-food options in town, such as McDonald’s, Subway, and Little Caesars.
Where to Stay in Alpine Texas
As with many small towns across the US, there aren’t many options for lodging in Alpine, Texas. I recommend making reservations as far in advance as you know your plans.
The Historic Holland Hotel
The Holland Hotel is a cute boutique hotel originally built in 1928. It sits on Holland Avenue, which is Alpine’s main drag, so you can walk to many places in the downtown area. The expansive, comfortable lobby is filled with historic furniture and books. There are 27 guest rooms and suites. The rooms are comfortable with Southwestern-style décor that compliments the lobby.
No pool or fitness center exists, but guests may use the pool at The Maverick Inn.
The Maverick Inn
The Maverick Inn is the Holland Hotel’s sister property. It’s a budget-style/outside corridor property with Western and Mexican-inspired décor. There is a pool that guests of the Holland Hotel are welcome to use. The Maverick Inn is very popular, and books up far in advance.
The Hampton Inn in Alpine is located just a short drive from downtown. I’ve stayed at this Hampton Inn and found it on par with Hampton Inns everywhere. It has a little Alpine-inspired lobby décor, but otherwise, it is like any other chain hotel room. That’s not necessarily bad—travelers who want familiar amenities may enjoy staying here.
If you’re looking for something a little larger, more private, or more charming, several casitas and cottages are listed for rent on Airbnb. Visit Alpine has a few of them on its lodging page.
Things to Do Near Alpine
Alpine is a small and relatively remote town. While there’s enough to keep you busy for a few days, with so much to do in the surrounding area, most travelers won’t make that their sole destination. Here are some of the great things to do near Alpine, Texas.
Big Bend National Park
Alpine is often advertised as the gateway to Big Bend National Park but make sure you understand how far away the park is and how much driving is involved in getting from Alpine to the park entrance. The park entrance is 80 miles from downtown Alpine, and the drive will take approximately 90 minutes each way. There are minimal opportunities for comfort stops along the way. Don’t plan on cell service after you’re a few miles outside of Alpine, and be prepared to unplug for the day.
When exploring Big Bend National Park, put Santa Elena Canyon, Panther Junction Visitor’s Center, and the Fossil Discovery Exhibit at the top of your list. Tour companies can pick you up from Alpine and take you sightseeing for the day. I recently went out with Go Big Bend and learned about the three unique ecosystems inside the park. Go Big Bend offers a variety of day and overnight tours, including excursions crossing into the Mexico side of the preserve.
There are many hiking trails to choose from, but if you’re day-tripping into the park with plans to hike, you’ll need to exercise some actual planning, especially if you’re going in the winter months when the sun sets early. Here’s a list of day hikes to check out as well as info on ranger-led programs.
The town of Fort Davis is just 27 miles from Alpine. There’s a cute main street to explore—don’t miss a milkshake at the Fort Davis Drugstore—and plenty of outdoor adventures. Explore Davis Mountains State Park, Fort Davis National Historic Site, and the McDonald Observatory. Read more in-depth info about Fort Davis here.
Marfa, Texas, is only 22 miles from Alpine. Popular with glampers and art lovers, this neighboring city has a completely different vibe from Alpine. Shop, check out quirky roadside art installations such as Prada Marfa, and if you’re there in the evening, check out the Marfa lights, which are mysterious glowing globes of light that appear in the desert outside of town.
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Alpine Texas in a Base for Exploring West Texas
West Texas is a beautiful, wide-open country that’s particularly enjoyable to explore in the spring and winter. The high temperatures and little shade make this a less comfortable area of the United States to explore during the summer unless you’re sticking to very early mornings and evenings. Even then, the heat gets pretty intense.
Alpine is a great place to establish a base as a jumping-off point to explore the surrounding areas. Alpine is small, but travelers will find all the amenities they need for a great trip. Think artsy/quirky meets old west charm. If that sounds good, put Alpine Texas on your list. Check out Wander for more great ideas on what to see and do when visiting Texas and other family travel adventures.