Roughly halfway between Austin and San Antonio lies the charming city of San Marcos, TX, known for its namesake river and home to the Texas State University. San Marcos has many things to do, from enjoying its historic downtown to exploring the local art scene and the natural beauty of the San Marcos River, parks, and reserves.
If you’re a traveler who loves outdoor adventures and shopping experiences, staying at one of our Cozi Vacation Rentals in San Marcos will provide you with plenty of opportunities to explore and enjoy.
We prepared this comprehensive guide to help you plan your activities and make the most of your time during your upcoming visit to San Marcos!
Visit the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment
- Address: 201 San Marcos Drive, San Marcos, TX
- Hours: Every day from 9:30 am to 5 pm
Formerly known as the Aquarena Springs, the Meadows Center is an educational establishment that seeks to preserve the resources of Spring Lake. It is also a place to explore Spring Lake in many ways, including a glass-bottom boat tour that has run since 1945, to paddling, scuba diving, snorkeling, and nighttime kayaking tours. Its Discovery Hall also features a 1,000-gallon aquarium, making the Meadows Center the perfect place to explore with family or for those who are nature lovers.
Try Water Sports and Activities on the San Marcos River
The San Marcos River is known to have the most pristine spring-fed rivers in all of Texas, and the Meadows Center is one of the main spring sources that feeds it. The water is crystal clear and maintains a consistent temperature throughout the year. The river runs through Texas State University before joining the Guadalupe River in Gonzales, TX.
Travelers can enjoy different water activities in the San Marcos River, including tubing, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding. Because it is one of the most popular things to do in San Marcos the city has numerous tubing rental outfitters nearby.
Here is a list of the multiple public access points to the river:
- Plaza Park: 206 N CM Allen Pkwy
- City Park: 170 Charles Austin Drive
- Dog Beach: 300 CM Allen Pkwy
- Veramendi Plaza: 400 E Hopkins St.
- Rio Vista Park: 555 Cheatham St.
- Crook Park: 420 Riverside
- Ramon Lucio Park: 601 S CM Allen Pkwy
The riverfront parks are open from 6 am to 11 pm. Note that some water activities are seasonal, so check with the tubbing outfitters in the area for more information: Lions Club Tube Rental and Texas State Tubes. For those who prefer to do a kayaking glow tour at night, visit Paddle SMTX.
Go Shopping at the San Marcos Premium Outlets Mall
- Address: 3939 I-35, San Marcos, TX
- Hours: 10 am to 8 pm. Sunday from 11 am to 7 pm
For those looking to add or refresh their wardrobe, you can go on a shopping spree at the San Marcos Outlet Malls, filled with a range of name-brand stores. The outlet malls have two distinct malls, the Premium Outlets and the Tanger Outlet Center, which combined offer more than 240 stores, including Gucci, Brooks Brothers, Prada, Lucky Brand, and Aeropostale.
Visit the Downtown San Marcos Square
One of the best things to do in San Marcos is to take a stroll through the historic San Marcos Square on a sunny day. It is filled with locally-owned shops, restaurants, and bistros, making it the perfect place to spend the day.
At the center of downtown, you’ll find the restored 1909 Hays County Historic Courthouse, where the courtyard hosts events during the year, including the Art Squared Market.
Taste Wine at the Wimberley Valley Winery
Approximately 15 miles from San Marcos is the Wimberley Valley Winery in the Texas Hill Country, the perfect location for a mini-day trip and wine enthusiasts looking to sample vinos with views of the Texas landscape. You can take a short drive to this nearby winery and vineyard to sample the local wines and enjoy the food, and you can even bring your furry friend, as the winery is pet-friendly.
Live the Nightlife at the Cheatham Street Warehouse
The Cheatham Street Warehouse has a history spanning since June 1974, and its site will tell you that this location was primed to create Texas music history.
This warehouse located next to the train tracks is one of those things to do in San Marcos that every visitor should do if they love live music performances of honky-tonk music – from country, soul, folk, and blues bands – Cheatham Street Warehouse hosts many artists, so make sure you get tickets during your visit and enjoy a night of Texas music.
Visit the EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens
A place to enjoy the performing arts and festivals is the EmilyAnn Theatre and Gardens, located just 20 minutes away in the nearby town of Wimberly. With an outdoor performing arts theater and expansive gardens, it is the perfect location to spend time with the family and see a Shakespeare Under the Stars performance. There are also interactive activities like a life-size chess board, sculptures, memorial plazas, gardens, and walking paths to enjoy, as well as the yearly Butterfly Festival and the Trail of Lights.
Visit the Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park
Between the cave tours, the anti-gravity house with its optical illusions, the wildlife park with lemurs and deer, and the Towers of the Americas with its observation towers, spending a day at the Wonder World Cave and Adventure Theme Park will become memorable for the whole family.
During the cave tour, you’ll descend into darkness and explore the cave’s geological formations, including the Tejas Observation Tower, Mystery Mountain, and the Balcones Fault Line. You can also enjoy the observation towers’ light and views to see the natural beauty of the Texas landscape. However, note that their hours are seasonal, so you must check their website for updated dates and hours.
Hike the San Marcos Trails
Many scenic paths and hiking trails follow the San Marcos River, providing a peaceful place to do a self-guided hike or walk to enjoy the area’s natural surroundings. Here is a list of the different trails you can visit.
This 2.5-mile paved trail starts at the City Park and follows the San Marcos River to Crook Park. It’s a fairly easy route and takes around forty minutes to complete.
One of the access points to this trail is at the Meadows Center. It is a 251-acre park full of typical meadows and woodlands. Make sure to respect the local wildlife, as some trails are close to nesting areas of the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.
Covering over 830 acres, this natural area features rugged trails leading to a large grotto carved by Purgatory Creek. The park is so large that you’ll find on its map it is divided into Upper and Lower Purgatory.
If you prefer to go on a challenging mountain biking or trail running, Lower Purgatory would be the place to go. The access point is on Hunter Road. For birdwatchers, head to Upper Purgatory on Valencia Way.
Stay and Enjoy all the Things to Do in San Marcos, TX
We aim to ensure that your visit includes all the things to do in San Marcos and ensure your visit isn’t just a trip but an experience to remember.
Between dipping your toes in the San Marcos River to enjoying nature or a round of shopping therapy, we anticipate your stay in San Marcos will be filled with relaxation and enjoyment. As such, we hope this comprehensive guide helps you plan and enjoy the city of San Marcos while staying close to our Cozi Vacation Rental properties!