As an isolated college town with sweeping views, few neighbors, and relatively mild weather thanks to its 4500 feet of elevation, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of quirky sights and things to do in Alpine, Texas.
Alpine is one of those towns that’s simply easy to love: situated in Big Bend Country, several hours from any of Texas’ major population centers, Alpine’s constant heartbeat of college kids paired with wide-open spaces leaves plenty of room for creativity and artistic expression.
As a result, downtown Alpine often feels like a mash-up of art class meets the wild west, in all the best ways.
Heading to Big Bend National Park and planning to visit Alpine when you’re in the area?
Here’s what to do in Alpine, TX!
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The Best Things to Do in Alpine, TX
Check out the Museum of the Big Bend.
Dedicated to exploring and preserving the history and culture of the Big Bend region in both Texas and Mexico, the Museum of the Big Bend is one of the most interesting Alpine attractions and an excellent addition to a visit to Big Bend Country as a whole!
As the museum is located on the campus of Sul Ross State University, visiting will also give you a chance to get a quick look at campus life in this college town.
Take a historic walking tour of charming downtown Alpine.
From historic homes, churches, and shops to a railroad station to a post office to hotels, there is so much history in Alpine.
Many of the buildings in downtown Alpine have a decades-long history and plenty of stories to tell–and with a little help, you can learn a lot when strolling through downtown!
This self-guided historic walking tour published by the Alpine Historical Association is a fantastic addition to any trip to Alpine, Texas.
… and snap plenty of mural photos while you’re at it.
Alpine has a seemingly endless number of colorful murals to enjoy and snap photos of!
If you’re looking for the classic “Greetings from Alpine” postcard mural, you can find it in the food truck park at Holland & Fifth Street.
Check into the historic Holland Hotel.
Gorgeous and potentially haunted, we stumbled across the Holland Hotel on a whim when researching where to stay in Alpine, and absolutely fell in love with the hotel while we were there!
Built by local rancher JR Holland in 1928, the Holland Hotel boasts a bit of glitz and glamour that you frankly don’t expect when coming to Big Bend Country.
The hotel was designed by architect Henry Trost, whose name you might see again when traveling through the area, as he’s also responsible for the Gage Hotel in Marathon and the famous Paisano Hotel in Marfa.
One possible downside was the earplugs left in each room in case the train noise from the tracks across the street bothered us at night–but for what it’s worth, I am a notoriously light sleeper and had zero issues.
We would absolutely stay at the Holland Hotel again on a return trip to Alpine!
Take yourself out to the ball game at Kokernot Field.
Want to enjoy a local taste of small-town Texas?
Head out to a ball game at Kokernot Field, which Sports Illustrated named “The Best Little Ballpark in Texas (Or Anywhere Else)“.
(Okay, yes, they did that in 1989, but Texans don’t forget, and the ballpark has continued to collect accolades since).
A handful of teams now play at the historic park, you can check details and schedules here.
Leave a note at the desk on Hancock Hill.
Situated above Sul Ross University, featuring magnificent views of the sweeping countryside, is Hancock Hill.
And on Hancock Hill, there is a desk, and in the desk, a notebook.
Sharing a few thoughts here and leaving them–anonymously or otherwise–for the hikers after you is a local tradition going back decades, and one of the best things to do in Alpine.
The climb itself only takes about 20 minutes (assuming you don’t get turned around, of course, which is easy to do)–and it’s absolutely worth the effort when visiting Alpine.
What to Do Near Alpine
With a population of about 6,000, there’s no denying that Alpine is small.
But, once you enjoy all the fun things to do in Alpine itself, there is plenty to enjoy in the surrounding area–starting with the attraction that draws visitors to this region of neverending wide-open spaces in the first place.
Explore Big Bend National Park.
Without a doubt, Big Bend National Park is the main attraction of the region and the reason that a large percentage of visitors find themselves in Alpine!
From the stunning views of the Chisos Mountains from the Lost Mine Trail to the gorgeous views of the Rio Grande cutting through Santa Elena Canyon to the mesmerizing views from Emory Peak and the Windows Trail, there is no shortage of incredible things to see in Big Bend National Park.
Keep in mind that Big Bend is one of the largest and most remote national parks in the USA, and visiting from Alpine means lots of time in the car!
Plan on long and exhausting, but memorable and exciting, days when exploring Big Bend National Park.
… and Big Bend Ranch State Park.
Big Bend National Park’s less-famous neighbor is a fantastic destination in its own right!
While you’re there, be sure to hike Closed Canyon (one of the few accessible slot canyons in Texas), admire views of the Rio Grande (and maybe get in it!), and drive El Camino del Rio, the park’s scenic drive that is frequently ranked one of the top scenic drives in the country.
If you make it all the way to the western edge of the park, Fort Leaton State Historic State is also worth a visit.
Snap photos at Prada Marfa.
As one of the most popular roadside attractions in Texas, Prada Marfa is a must-visit when exploring the best things to do in Alpine.
Set up as an art installation in 2005, this Prada has never been open for business–but that doesn’t stop eager visitors from glancing at the bags and shoes through the window every day!
Prada Marfa is not, technically speaking, in either Marfa or Alpine, but in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Valentine.
Admire the night sky at the McDonald Observatory.
As one of the top attractions in West Texas, there’s no doubt that the McDonald Observatory should be on your radar when visiting Alpine, Texas!
As one of the premier centers for astronomical research and public outreach in the world (fun fact: the Davis Mountains are home to some of the darkest skies in the continental USA), the McDonald Observatory is affiliated with the University of Texas.
Plan ahead if you have your heart set on visiting–but it’s well worth the advance planning in order to see the night skies as you likely never have before.
Visit Fort Davis National Historic Site.
The entire town of Fort Davis, located a short drive north of Alpine, is well worth a visit, but Fort Davis National Historic Site deserves a special mention!
Active from 1854 to 1891, Fort Davis is set dramatically against the Davis Mountains and is considered one of the best-preserved frontier forts in the country.
During its time as an active fort, Fort Davis was tasked with protecting mail deliveries, freight, and travelers as they passed through the desert.
Today, the remains of more than 100 buildings can be seen at the site, with some having been rebuilt to reflect the fort as it stood in the late 19th century.
Where is Alpine, Texas?
Alpine is located along US-90 W in southwest Texas, in the area known as Big Bend Country.
It’s located roughly halfway between Marfa (which is about 30 minutes, or 26 miles, west of Alpine), and Marathon (which is roughly 30 minutes, or 30 miles, east of Alpine).
The Chisos Basin Visitor Center in the heart of Big Bend National Park is about 2 hours (106 miles) south of Alpine.
The town of Fort Davis is set about 25 minutes (24 miles) to the north.
Despite the long distances, Alpine is among the best places to stay when visiting Big Bend National Park (especially for those hoping to stay in a town rather than camp).
Exploring the best things to do in Alpine is a fantastic addition to a Big Bend Country road trip!