The city of Alpine is a remote gem in the west Texas desert located 90 miles north of Big Bend National Park. If you are looking to see why everyone says the stars at night are big and bright, then is the place to go!
This is a small city that you need to include on your West Texas road trip. Alpine attractions that the entire family will enjoy include checking out an art installation, staying in one of the historic hotels, visiting the state parks, strolling through the downtown area, eating delicious food, and taking the Alpine historic walking tour.
Fun and unique things to do in Alpine
The McDonald Observatory is an astronomy facility operated by the University of Texas at Austin and is located on Mount Locke and Mount Fowlkes.
Guest can take a free daytime tour and solar viewing or a nighttime star party viewing. Visitors drive to the visitor’s center, then board a bus to take you to the top of the observatory. Be sure to book in ahead of time, as the star parties typically sell out weeks in advance.
There is also a free museum to explore in the visitor center as well as a small cafe. This is a great activity for those in the area and it’s a bit of a relief in the summer. As it’s about 20 degrees cooler on top of the mountain.
Fort Davis National Historic Site
Fort Davis was a frontier military post that helped protect emigrants, mail coaches, and freight wagons on the Trans-Pecos portion of the San Antonio-El Paso Road and on the Chihuahua Trail from 1854 – 1891. Today more than 100 buildings remain.
While there is no camping or overnight stays at Fort Davis National Historic Site, guests can stay at nearby Davis Mountain State Park.
My son enjoys anything related to history and especially military-focused. So this is a must-do! Guests can visit for free if they have a National Parks Service Pass, if not entrance is $10, and those under 16 are free.
Fort Davis Drug Store
After exploring the Fort Davis National Historic Site, grab a bite to eat at Fort Davis Drug Store. IT’s a combination of restaurant, gift shop and hotel and the building is full of charm.
Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center
The center is run by volunteers and for a small fee, guests can walk through and learn about the desert plants. Proceeds go to the protection of the Chihuahuan Desert.
Take a stroll downtown and view the main local businesses that have to adorn the walls with gorgeous murals. They give you a glance at the local history and folklore of the area. There are also multiple murals scattered around town. The Alpine Alley Art runs east-west through downtown Alpine between Holland Avenue and Avenue E. The block between 5th and 6th Streets is quickly being filled with multiple murals, including a desert nature scene by Pauline Hernandez with ceramic details, a celebration of Big Bend’s Dark Skies by Carolyn Macartney, and Liz Sibley, a mountain landscape by Juliana Johnson, and more!
Davis Mountains State Park
Davis Mountains State Park offers a unique and remote destination for all sorts of adventures. Here you can hike, backpack, mountain bike, or horseback riding, take a scenic drive through the mountains, go camping, stargaze, geocache, and study nature.
If you have kids, they need to take part in the Junior Ranger Program. The kids can borrow an explorer pack that is filled with tools to let them look into nature up close and personal. Once they complete activities in the workbook, they will earn a badge.
Hike the Hancock Hill Trails
Head to the top of Hancock Hill and get your photo at the famous desk. It’s said that during the 1980s a few students from Sul Ross State University wanted a quiet place to study, so they carried the metal desk to the top! The hike is about a 2 mile round trip trek and the view at the top can’t be beaten.
Kokernot Field and Park
Home to the Alpine Cowboys, catch the semi-pro baseball team in action. This is one of the most beautiful ballparks in the nation with its detailed ironworks, open-air seating, and scenic backdrop. The field is next to Kokernot Park, which features a pool, tennis courts, and walking trails. You can also catch outdoor performances a the Theatre of the Big Bend during the summer months.
Big Bend National Park
You can’t stop in Brewster County without hiking your way through Big Bend National Park. Spanning across 800,000 acres, the park has multiple elevation changes, forested mountains, cactus desert floors, canyons, and the Rio Grande running through it. If you only have a day to spend exploring the park then the best things to do is visit the Chisos Basin, Rio Grande Village or hike the Window View Trail.
Museum of the Big Bend
Located on the campus of Sul Russ, the museum features natural history, human history, and the Borderlands. If visiting during April and May, guests can view the annual Trappings fo Texas exhibit and sale of western art, which is the oldest exhibit of its kind in the nation.
Wassermann Wrang is a hobby ranch and farm where guests can book a 90-minute tour for $10 and get an up-close and personal with the farm animals. The ranch features donkeys, alpacas, kangaroos, and more.
Where to stay in Alpine, Texas
This boutique, historic hotel built in 1928 is located across the street from Sul Ross State University. It has 27 guest rooms, Texas Bistro, bar and spa.