Let’s face it; summers in Texas are hot. We try to escape the heat by retreating indoors, finding reprieve sipping tall glasses of iced tea near the air conditioner vents. But, after a while, we miss that good ol’ Texas air, its big skies, and rambling vistas. A sure remedy is the Texas mountains, where average summer temperatures range from the lower 60s to the upper 80s.
Alpine, Texas, is in the heart of the beloved Big Bend country. This Far West Texas town is known for its laid-back attitude, renowned art, stylish bars, distinctive shopping, and live music. It’s where time slows down, and we remember to celebrate Texas artisans and history. It’s home to Sul Ross State University, the Museum of the Big Bend, and Alpine Cowboys baseball games at Kokernot Field, which Sports Illustrated has called the “best little ballpark in Texas.”
Downtown Alpine is easily walkable and provides the perfect spot to marvel at the surrounding mountains. While you won’t get lost (most attractions are located along Holland Avenue and Avenue E, two one-way streets next to each other), you may lose yourself in the many shops, art galleries, and watering holes along the way.
Stop in at the Alpine Visitor Center for a Historic Walking Tour map of downtown Alpine to learn a bit of trivia as you walk the streets and enjoy architecture preserved from the 1800s and early 1900s. Vibrant murals, many painted by Western muralist Stylle Read, provide perfect souvenir snapshots throughout downtown.
A day of shopping in Alpine won’t produce the generic, tired gifts found in giant department stores. This is a place to snag hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind treasures. Alpine has become a mecca for artisans and craftsmen, and it’s here where you can stumble into their studios for original pieces. You’ll find clothing boutiques, custom hat shops, antique stores, and places to find things you never realized you wanted, but simply couldn’t return home without.
Peruse the truly impressive collection of artwork, jewelry, and clothing at Kiowa Gallery, where you’ll find everything from Carolyn Schmitz’s fantasy desert scenes to chic straw hats and handmade knives. Obtain your own Tom Curry original illustration from his studio on Murphy Street or one of artist Nancy Whitlock’s neon pastel Chihuahuan Desert landscapes from her studio on 6th Street. Shop several artists working with different styles and media at artist co-op galleries like Catchlight Art Gallery and Gallery on the Square.
Grab an espresso at Plaine Coffee or Cedar Coffee & Supply then peruse the well-curated collection of reads at Front Street Books. Get a pair of leather boots and beaded belts at The Dimestore Cowgirl. Beef up your vinyl collection at RingTail Records and up your music game at Transpecos Guitars where they sell new and vintage guitars.
Speaking of music, you’ll find plenty of it performed live when you’re in town. Alpine’s live music venues range from restaurant patios to dance halls with plenty of space to spin around. Annual events like Viva Big Bend music festival (in July) attracts high-caliber acts like Josh Abbott Band, Los Lonely Boys, Shinyribs, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Aaron Watson to Alpine’s stages.
Hang out at the popular Railroad Blues, named one of the “Best Small Town Live Music Clubs in Texas” in 1999 by Texas Monthly. The Ole Crystal Bar is back by popular demand and regularly hosts musicians, as does the Holland Hotel, Come and Take It BBQ, and Harry’s Tinaja. Check out Alpine’s newest hangout that hosts live music every Sunday evening: The Ritchey Wine Saloon and Beer Garden in the recently renovated Hotel Ritchey. Local favs like Anthony Ray Wright and The Swifts pair well with their wine and beer selections from near and far.
So, when you visit Alpine, pack your boots and head downtown for days full of shopping and evenings filled with strumming guitars and crooning voices. There’s no better way to beat the heat than in the cool mountains of Alpine.