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The best bookstore in the entire region is the sophisticated Marfa Book Co., 105 S. Highland Ave. (tel. 432/729-3906; www.marfabookco.com), which features a coffee and wine bar and a deep inventory of art and architecture titles.

Gallery Hopping in the Big Bend

Marfa might be one of the most buzzed-about art towns in the West, but -- outside of the Chinati Foundation -- it has only a handful of galleries. Art aficionados can cover Marfa's gallery scene proper in a few hours, but a day can be made of visiting galleries in not only Marfa, but Alpine and Marathon as well. Here are my favorites.

Marfa -- I like Ballroom Marfa, an installation-oriented space at 108 E. San Antonio St. (tel. 432/729-3600; www.ballroommarfa.org), that also hosts film screenings, lectures, and musical performances; and the photography-laden Highland Gallery, 119 N. Highland Ave. (tel. 432/729-3000).

Alpine -- Keri Artzt's Kiowa Gallery, 105 E. Holland Ave. (tel. 432/837-3067), is my favorite in the region, with an eclectic collection of mostly regional work, ranging from elegant to oddball. Ivey's Emporium, 109 E. Holland Ave. (tel. 432/837-7474), has a wide range of artworks and gifts.

Marathon -- Baxter Gallery, 209 W. U.S. 90 (tel. 432/386-0689; www.baxtergallery.com), specializes in landscapes and wildlife sculptures by local artisans. The fine art photography at James Evans Gallery, 21 S. 1st St. (tel. 432/386-4366; www.jevansgallery.com), is alternately sublime and stunning.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.