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Things to Do

The Greater San Marcos region invests in its natural assets that make this a great area to thrive personally as well as professionally.

It’s the region’s high quality of life that propels its economic ecosystem and serves as a catalyst for business growth. From the crystal waters of Spring Lake to the tall trees of the Texas Hill Country, the community takes special care to maintain and nourish what makes the region attractive. Whether you prefer to float down the river on one of the beautiful sunny days, volunteer to host a Cottage Kitchen luncheon or spend the day shopping at the world famous Outlet Malls located in San Marcos, there is something for everyone here.

For a look at the upcoming events offered by GSMP, visit our events page. You can also visit the CIty of San Marcos Calendar for a complete list of events happening in the city.

Parks & Rec

The San Marcos River flows approximately 44 miles, offering vast opportunities for water recreation.  Residents and visitors choose to tube, snorkel, kayak, canoe, swim and fish in the San Marcos River at least six months of the year. The river winds through 150 acres of parkland offering jogging trails, picnic space, playscapes, and areas for sports maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department.  The City finalized plans for a skate park in 2011, providing the community with an extreme sporting outlet. San Marcos residents enjoy a variety of festivals and concerts throughout the year at City Park, such as Sights and Sounds of Christmas hosted annually in December.

The source of life for the San Marcos River is found at Spring Lake in the Aquarena Center, managed by Texas State University and the River Systems Institute. Formerly a theme park known as Aquarena Springs, the Center now provides visitors with an educational opportunity to discover the significant ecological presence in the area. Glass bottom boat tours allow for up-close exploration of the underwater species living in Spring Lake, while the center’s wetlands boardwalk allows visitors to learn about multiple land species. The Aquarena Center is also home to a resort-style golf course maintained by the university. Local golfers can also choose to check out Quail Creek Country Club and the Southwest Golf Range.

Another environmental treasure native to the area is Wonder Cave the oldest commercial cave in Texas. The cave was discovered in 1893, and candlelight tours began in 1903. A.B. Rogers, who also created the Aquarena Springs theme park, purchased the cave in 1916 and installed modern lighting, handrails and other touring necessities in 1958. The cave was later sold to the Mostyn family, who still oversees its operation as Wonder World Park. In addition to guided cave tours, the park features an anti-gravity room, 180-foot viewing tower, wildlife park, gift shop, and picnic area.

While Wonder Cave provides visitors with an underground experience, those seeking an above-ground adventure can find one at Skydive San Marcos. The center features skydiving experiences for first-time jumpers and to those at a professional level. Structured training for those wishing to obtain a United States Parachute Association license is also offered.

For those seeking a more educational experience, San Marcos is home to several museums. The LBJ Museum, located in the Downtown Historic District, sheds light on the former U.S. President’s impact on San Marcos. The municipal airport’s Commemorative Air Force exhibit celebrates the armed forces through a complete collection of preserved combat aircraft used during World War II. The Calaboose African American Museum, located in the Dunbar Historic District, gives insight to life in the local African American community throughout the years. Automotive enthusiasts should visit Dick’s Classic Garage, home to several types of vintage vehicles ready to take you back in time.

Still can’t find what you need to relax or explore? San Marcos is only a short drive from the Hill Country, the Texas state capitol in Austin, as well as San Antonio attractions like the Riverwalk, the Alamo and several theme parks.

Shopping

San Marcos offers a wide array of shopping choices from the country’s largest outlet mall, to a historic downtown center, to regional retail centers.

Home to the largest outlet shopping centers in the U.S., the San Macros outlet malls, Tanger Outlet Center and San Marcos Premium Outlets are named among the top tourist attractions in Texas each year. Featuring more than 240 shops, restaurants, a food court, plentiful parking and free trolley service, the San Marcos outlets are sure to please.

The Historic Downtown Business District offers a unique alternative the outlet malls and regional retail centers.  The downtown square, anchored by the fully restored 1909 Hays County Courthouse, is home dozens of locally owned restaurants, cafes, bistros, coffee houses, night clubs, and live music venues. The downtown business district also is home to the LBJ Museum, many historic buildings and sits at the edge of Texas State University.

Libraries

The region offers a number of public libraries for it's local residents. Below is a listing of some of the main library systems that serve the region.

San Marcos Public Library
625 E. Hopkins St.
San Marcos, TX 78666
512.393.8200

Albert B. Alkek Library
601 University Drive
San Marcos, TX 78666
512.245.2686

Kyle Community Library
550 Scott St.
Kyle, TX 78640
512.268.7411

Buda Public Library
303 Main Street
Buda, Texas 78610
512.295.5899

J.B. Nickells Memorial Library
215 S Pecan Ave
Luling, TX 78648
830.875.2813

Dr. Eugene Clark Library
217 S Main St
Lockhart, TX 78644
512.398.3223

Tri-Community Library
6910 San Marcos HWY
Prairie Lea, TX 78661
512.488.2328 ext. 4

Wimberley Village Library
400 FM 2325
Wimberley, TX 78676
512.847.2188

Dripping Springs Community Library
501 Sportsplex Dr
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
512.858.7825

Sports

Texas State University - San Marcos is home to nine NCAA Division I men’s and women’s athletic teams, in addition to several club and intramural teams. Games, matches and tournaments are held weekly, providing sports enthusiasts with optimal opportunities to support the Bobcats. Additionally, the university showcases its fine arts departments on a regular basis.

Nightlife

The Square and surrounding streets feature local restaurants, coffee shops and even mobile food kiosks, providing everything from laid back lunch atmospheres to fine dinner cuisines. For after-dinner entertainment, San Marcos provides a variety of nightlife venues. The square provides something for everyone – from dancing and drinking to comedy shows and live music. San Marcos is just 30 minutes south of Austin and 40 minutes north of San Antonio, so those who are still looking for more nightlife can find it conveniently.

San Marcos also utilizes Uber, Lyft and various taxi services to provide safe, alternative forms of mobility.

Places of Worship

The Greater San Marcos area provides a wide variety of churches and places of worship for its residents. The cities of Austin and San Antonio are in close proximity, providing an even wider array of places of worship for anybody residing in the region.

History of San Marcos

Edward Burleson, North Carolinian native, arrived in Texas in 1838 and served alongside Sam Houston as a general in the Texan Army during the Texas Revolution. In 1848, Burleson founded San Marcos, together with Eli Merriman and William Lindsey, and built his home on a tract of land overlooking present-day Spring Lake. At the time, Burleson’s two-roomed cabin was located at the highest point in the town and included a well and other necessities. Burleson also established the first school in San Marcos, and a gristmill where the Salt Grass Steakhouse now sits.

Although a storm destroyed the original Burleson cabin in 1917, a replica was erected decades later under the orders of A.B. Rogers, creator of the Aquarena Springs theme park. The park itself hosted several attractions such as historical replicas, gondola and glass-bottom boat rides, resort accommodations, amusement rides, and an underwater submarine theatre. Aquarena Springs had several owners during its tenure until it was acquired by Texas State University- San Marcos in 1994. San Marcos founder Eli Merriman originally established his homestead along the southern banks of the San Marcos River. Merriman, a Yale graduate, became known as one of the first physicians in the area and served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. His cabin was moved twice and also existed for several years as an Aquarena Springs attraction. When Texas State acquired the park, the university gifted the cabin to the Heritage Association of San Marcos and it was relocated to the Veramendi Plaza history park on C.M. Allen Parkway. The Heritage Association restored the cabin and furnished it with period pieces reflective of Merriman’s time there. It has been featured on historical home tours throughout the years.

In addition to the Merriman cabin, the Veramendi Plaza is home to the Charles Cock house, a limestone residence also currently curated by the Heritage Association. The association hosts weekly Cottage Kitchen luncheons at the site and invites the community to join in the celebration of historic preservation. Other homes of influential community leaders include the Ulysses Cephas house, located in the Dunbar Historic District. Cephas, an African American businessman, lived in the house during the first part of the twentieth century and served the community as a mentor, musician and blacksmith. Famed African American musician Eddie Durham also called San Marcos home prior to becoming a jazz music pioneer, and plans for a park commemorating Durham are underway. The Dunbar District, the Belvin District, the Lindsey-Rogers District, Burleson District and the Downtown District are each dedicated to sustaining historic preservation within the community. Click here for more on the rich history of San Marcos, Texas. Click here to learn about the Historic San Marcos Square.