From big cities such as San Antonio and Dallas-Forth Worth, a scenic train ride aboard the Sunset Limited will take you to remote spots in far west Texas that still look like part of an unexplored frontier. The winding rivers, hilly patches of desert brush, and dramatic mountain peaks of Big Bend National Park sprawl across more than a million acres of the Chihuahua Desert. The small town of Alpine—a stop along the train’s route—is considered the unofficial gateway to Big Bend. Located in the heart of town, the historical Holland Hotel has been accommodating travelers making their way through the vast desert expanse for more than 80 years.
Built in 1928 and recently restored to its former glory, this boutique hotel offers Old West grandeur and modern-day amenities. Outside, the Spanish Colonial–style building still boasts its original signage, and a massive common room indoors features Tiffany lamps, button-back leather sofas, and exposed wooden beams. The guest rooms' ruddy tones and period furnishings complement the hotel's western vibe, and wireless Internet makes it easy for cowboys to locate lost livestock via Google Street View.
A new addition to the property, Century Bar & Grill serves up Texas cuisine with slight European twists. Specials here run the gamut from Southern staples such as quail and fried green tomatoes to ravioli made with rabbit confit. Dinner is served in the dining room—casually laid out with tables and chairs—or on an outdoor patio. There’s also a section of booths by the kitchen where diners can eat beside one of famous WPA artist Xavier Gonzales’s oversize landscape paintings; the piece is on permanent loan from the Museum of the Big Bend.
Alpine, Texas: Old West Hospitality in Rugged Desert Setting
Located near the Mexican border in southwestern Texas, Alpine feels like an Old West town, right down to the desert setting and Spanish Colonial architecture. Rustic saloons, antique shops, and art galleries line the streets. You can even stop by a tack shop to get custom-made cowboy boots or hats. The downtown drag is usually buzzing with homespun entertainment. There are live blues and country music, frequent street festivals and parades, and even the occasional cattle auction. At the weekly farmers' market, you can pick up homemade sweets, fresh produce, and handcrafted items.