If you’re searching for the perfect mix of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture, look no further than San Marcos, Texas. Nestled in the heart of Texas Hill Country, this gem of Central Texas is teeming with activities sure to fulfil every traveller’s desire.
Whether you’re a seasoned explorer, a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or a foodie, the city offers a plethora of outdoor and indoor activities for you.
In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the list of 30 exciting things to do in San Marcos, highlighting the city’s rich heritage, cultural offerings, outdoor adventures, and culinary delights. So, grab a pen and paper and get ready to plan an unforgettable trip to San Marcos, Texas!
30 Best & Fun Things To Do In San Marcos, TX in 2023
1. San Marcos River
One of the best things to do in San Marcos, TX, is to explore the San Marcos River. Emerging from hundreds of springs in the city center, the San Marcos River is an oasis of clear, 72-degree water year-round.
The San Marcos River is an excellent spot for water activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, tubing, snorkelling, fishing, and swimming. On your visit, rent a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard to explore this unique body of water truly.
Address: San Marcos, TX
2. The Meadows Center Glass Bottom Boat Tour
One of the fun things to do in San Marcos is to immerse yourself in nature at The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. The Meadows Center, which is a part of Texas State University, offers a one-of-a-kind glass bottom boat tour.
The Meadows Center offers glass-bottom boat tours that provide an intimate view of the life teeming beneath the surface. In addition to these tours, the center conducts educational exhibits, research initiatives, and nature-focused programs. It’s a place where visitors can appreciate the intricate relationships between water, wildlife, and people.
Address: 201 San Marcos Springs Dr, San Marcos, TX 78666
3. San Marcos Downtown Square
One of the fun things to do in San Marcos, TX, with family and kids is to set into the vibrant culture of San Marcos at Downtown Square.
Downtown Square is a hub for local boutiques, art galleries, and cafes, offering a taste of San Marcos’ creativity and spirit. Also, satisfy your cravings by savouring rich local flavours.
The weekly farmers market is a must-visit for fresh local produce, homemade goodies, and unique crafts. Some great places for breakfast at Downtown Square include Cafe on the Square and Stellar Cafe. You can also have lunch at Root Cellar Cafer and have a beer at Sean Patrick’s Irish Pub.
Address: 202 N CM Allen Pkwy, San Marcos, TX 78666
4. LBJ Museum
One of the free things to do in San Marcos, TX, is to step back in time at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Museum of San Marcos.
Named after the 36th president of the United States, this museum offers an intriguing look at Johnson’s early political life. You’ll find exhibits showcasing his local roots and how these experiences shaped his presidential policies. Don’t miss the audio-visual presentations for a deeper understanding of this influential figure.
Address: 131 N Guadalupe St, San Marcos, TX 78666
5. San Marcos Art Center
Step into creativity by visiting the San Marcos Art Center. Located in the heart of Downtown San Marcos, the art center encourages, fosters, promotes and nurtures the San Marcos arts community.
It regularly hosts exhibits featuring stunning works from local artists. You can not only appreciate the creativity on display but also interact with artists and like-minded enthusiasts. Moreover, by buying a piece, you’ll be directly supporting the local art scene.
Address: 117 N Guadalupe St #101, San Marcos, TX 78666
6. Purgatory Creek Natural Area
Your visit to San Marcos would not be complete without visiting Purgatory Creek Natural Area. Covering an impressive 570 acres, the Purgatory Creek Natural Area is a testament to the natural beauty of San Marcos.
Offering over 12 miles of well-maintained trails, it’s perfect for an afternoon stroll or a challenging hike. The landscape varies from verdant woods to rocky paths, providing habitat for diverse flora and fauna.
Birdwatchers and botany enthusiasts will find much to appreciate in this urban wilderness. Take your camera with you to capture incredible views and shoot Instagram videos to showcase your hiking skills.
Address: 2102 Hunter Road, San Marcos, TX 78666
7. San Marcos Farmers’ Market
One of the things to do in San Marcos, TX, this weekend is to immerse in the local flavour at the San Marcos Farmers’ Market.
Held every Saturday in Downtown, the San Marcos Farmers’ Market brings together local farmers, bakers, and crafters. At the market, you’ll find stalls overflowing with fresh produce, homemade pastries, artisanal cheeses, handcrafted jewellery, and more.
Enjoy live entertainment while shopping, making the market a fantastic place to spend a leisurely weekend morning.
Address: 251 N City Dr, San Marcos, CA 92078
8. Stokes Park
With the San Marcos River flowing nearby, Stokes Park is a serene place for relaxation and recreation. Secluded from the city, Stokes Park is one of the best places to visit in San Marcos.
The park is especially popular among bird watchers, as the park’s varied habitats attract numerous bird species. Other facilities include picnic spots, walking paths, and fishing spots. You can your family can walk, hike and swim while enjoying the natural space and wildlife.
Address: 600 Cape St, San Marcos, TX 78666
9. San Marcos Premium Outlets
The San Marcos Premium Outlets are two huge shopping malls combined into a mega-mall with over 240 stores and over 145 luxury and name-brand stores.
The mall offers an unparalleled shopping experience. You’ll find everything from designer clothing and accessories to home decor and gourmet foods. You can also take your kids to the mall, where they will enjoy playing at Adventure Kids USA onsite.
Visiting the mall is one of the family-friendly things to do in San Marcos, especially with kids, as you get to shop at brands like Gap Kids, Nautica Kids, and more.
Address: 3939 S Interstate 35, San Marcos, TX 78666
10. Rio Vista Park
Rio Vista Park is a beautiful 13-acre outdoor recreational facility with free access to the San Marcos River. The park is a favourite among locals and tourists alike for its serene beauty and range of amenities.
With volleyball courts, picnic areas, and a vast playground, there’s something for everyone. You may bring your own tubes, kayaks, canoes and paddle boards or rent one from the Olympic Outdoor Center near the park and go swimming.
The park also has other amenities such as a tennis court, 1/2 basketball court, picnic tables, a pavilion, a City swimming pool, benches, and hike and bike trails. Visiting this park is one of the unique things to do in San Marcos with family.
Address: 555 Cheatham St, San Marcos, TX 78666
11. Hays County Historic Courthouse
The Hays County Courthouse is a historic courthouse located in the center of downtown San Marcos, Texas. Built in the Classical Revival style in 1908 and restored to its original glory, this historic courthouse is an impressive piece of architecture that stands as a testament to the city’s history.
Hays County Historic Courthouse is also recognized by both the National Register of Historic Places and the Texas Historical Commission.
Touring the courthouse is among the free things to do in San Marcos, learning more about local history through various exhibits.
Address: 111 E San Antonio St, San Marcos, TX 78666
12. San Marcos Mermaid March
One of the many free things to do in San Marcos, TX, is to embark on a self-guided tour of the Mermard March. The Mermaid March is a public art project that adds a magical touch to San Marcos.
Scattered across the city are ten enchanting, seven-foot-tall mermaid statues, each reflecting the unique artistic flair of its creator. A walk to find these statues turns into an unforgettable adventure, merging art appreciation and urban exploration. Don’t forget your camera!
Address: San Marcos, TX
13. Root Cellar Cafe
One of the best romantic things to do in San Marcos is to have a fancy dinner at Root Cellar Cafe. Nestled beneath the streets of San Marcos, the Root Cellar Cafe offers a unique dining experience.
This underground gem, locally owned and operated, prides itself on its farm-to-table menu. From freshly baked pastries in the morning to gourmet sandwiches for lunch and succulent entrees for dinner, every meal here is a delight.
Pair your meal with one of their in-house brewed craft beers for a truly local flavour.
Address: 215 N LBJ Dr, San Marcos, TX 78666
14. San Marcos Discovery Center
The San Marcos Discovery Center is an educational gateway into the city’s natural landscapes and wildlife. The center features a variety of interactive exhibits and educational programs, including guided nature walks, citizen science projects, and a demonstration garden.
This center has become a must-visit spot for nature lovers and families with children.
Address: 430 Riverside Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666
15. The Price Center & Garden
One of the fun things to do in San Marcos, TX, is to catch a show at The Price Center & Garden. The community center offers a mix of arts, culture, and social services.
It has several unique spaces, including a converted 1893 chapel that now serves as a theatre for live performances. From local theatre productions to concerts and art shows, this venue offers cultural enrichment in a historic setting.
The Price Center also has a down location, historic and various venues and a spectacular natural garden.
Address: 222 W San Antonio St, San Marcos, TX 78666
16. Cheatham Street Warehouse
Known as a breeding ground for Texas music legends like George Strait and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cheatham Street Warehouse is one of the best places to visit in San Marcos for music lovers.
This historic music venue offers live performances almost every night, showcasing both local talent and well-known artists. Step inside and experience the soul of Texas music firsthand.
Besides concerts, Cheatham Street Warehouse also hosts various special events like open-mic nights, poetry readings, and art shows. Packed with Texas history, the venue, originally built as a warehouse in 1910, will inspire constant nostalgia.
Address: 119 Cheatham St, San Marcos, TX 78666
17. Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park
Wonder World Park offers a one-of-a-kind adventure for both kids and adults. The park is the site of America’s only accessible earthquake cave, and it’s also the very first show cave in Texas, opened as an attraction in 1903 after its discovery a decade prior.
On your visit, explore the Balcones Fault Line Cave and many other attractions for family fun and entertainment. Don’t miss the anti-gravity house, wildlife park, and the Tejas Observation Tower for a panoramic view of Texas Hill Country.
Address: 1000 Prospect St, San Marcos, TX 78666
18. Wittliff Collections
Located in the Albert B. Alkek Library at Texas State University, visiting the Wittliff Collections is one of the fun things to do in San Marcos today.
The Wittliff Collections house an impressive array of Southwestern and Mexican photography, literature, and music memorabilia. Notable items include a comprehensive collection of Selena’s outfits and artifacts related to prominent authors like Cormac McCarthy.
Address: Alkek Library, 7th Floor, Talbot St, San Marcos, TX 78666
19. Participate in the Float Fest
One of the fun things to do in San Marcos, Texas, in the summer is to participate in the Float Fest. This annual summer music festival uniquely combines live music with river tubing.
The festival brings a range of music from indie-pop and electro to hip-hop and progressive rock to Texas each summer. Float down the San Marcos River during the day and enjoy live performances from renowned artists at night. It’s a festival experience like no other!
20. San Marcos Tanger Outlets
Your visit to San Marcos would be incomplete without going on a shopping spree at the Tanger Outlets. Sitting on 400,000-plus square feet, the San Marcos Tanger Outlets offer an extraordinary shopping experience with a wide variety of high-end brands at great prices.
The center features over 100 of the world’s brand names and designer outlet stores. From designer clothes and footwear to electronics and home decor, there’s something for everyone.
Address: 617 IH 35 North, San Marcos, TX 78666
21. Three Dudes Winery
Located on the banks of the San Marcos River, Three Dudes Winery offers an exceptional wine-tasting experience.
The winery is famous for its Texas-style wines, which you can enjoy on a gorgeous deck overlooking the river. Their knowledgeable staff can guide you through their wine selection, providing a delightful experience for both novice and seasoned wine enthusiasts.
Address: 125 Old Martindale Rd. San Marcos, Texas 78666
22. Prospect Park
One of the fun outdoor activities to do in San Marcos, TX, is to explore the scenic trails of Prosper Park. The 47-acre space is a wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts.
The park offers a network of hiking trails that wind through lush greenery, blooming wildflowers, and rock outcroppings. Whether you’re in the mood for a challenging hike or a leisurely stroll, the park’s varied terrain caters to all preferences.
Address: 1414 Prospect St, San Marcos, TX 78666
23. Calaboose African American History Museum
The Calaboose African American History Museum is a small specialty museum that focuses on local African-American history.
Housed in the city’s former jail, the Calaboose Museum showcases the rich history and contributions of African Americans in Hays County. Exhibits include photographs, artifacts, and biographical sketches of prominent figures, offering a poignant look into the area’s past.
Address: 200 Martin Luther King Dr, San Marcos, TX 78666
24. San Marcos Cinema Club
The San Marcos Cinema Club is a laid-back community of cinema-loving locals. The San Marcos Cinema Club hosts various film events, including outdoor screenings, film festivals, and director Q&As.
The club’s commitment to building community through cinema makes for an engaging and enriching cultural experience.
25. Veramendi Plaza
Veramendi Plaza is one of the most scenic, historic and popular parks in San Marcos, Texas. Named after the influential Veramendi family of the 19th century is a cultural hot spot.
The plaza features several historical markers and monuments and is the site of former Texas governor Peter S. Veramendi’s home. Walking through the plaza, you can practically feel the history seeping through the stone streets.
Address: 617 IH 35 North, San Marcos, TX 78666
26. San Marcos Plaza Park
Located on the banks of the San Marcos River, the 5.1 acres include hike/bike trails, a wooden deck, a permanent stage, and the Fish Hatchery Building.
The beautiful green space also plays host to various community events throughout the year, including music festivals, art markets, and holiday celebrations. It’s a wonderful place to mingle with locals and immerse yourself in the San Marcos community spirit.
Address: 617 IH 35 North, San Marcos, TX 78666
27. Commemorative Air Force Central Texas Wing
Housed in a 1943 vintage wooden hangar, the Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force is an air force base and aviation museum that features different aircraft.
The museum is home to airworthy historic military warbirds, which include a B-25 Mitchell Bomber (Yellow Rose) and a newly restored C-45 (Lone Star Lady). In addition to a military museum, the hanger also features the Stokes Library, one of the largest collections of military books.
Address: 1841 Airport Dr Blding. 2249, San Marcos, TX 78666
28. Texas State University Bobcat Stadium
The Texas State University Bobcat Stadium is a 30,000-seater football stadium located on the campus of TSU-San Marcos.
Built in 1981, the stadium is the home of Bobcat Football, and watching them play a game here is one of the best things to do in San Marcos, TX. Sometimes, the stadium plays host to other events, and it’s even been used as a set for various movies, such as The Ringer, and some TV shows, like Friday Night Lights.
Address: 1100 Aquarena Springs Dr, San Marcos, TX 78666
29. The Marc
Visiting The Marc is one of the best things to do in San Marcos at night. The Marc is a multi-level nightclub with a variety of live bands located on The Square downtown.
With state-of-the-art sound, lighting and production equipment, three full-service bars, an upper-level balcony, a capacity of nearly 1,000 fans, two projector screens that show off the stage and a large dance floor.
Address: 120 E San Antonio St, San Marcos, TX 78666
30. Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos
One of the best things to do in San Marcos is to explore the city’s rich history and culture at the Centros Cultural Hispano de San Marcos. The center is an art gallery, library, and cultural museum that focuses on local Hispanic heritage.
The museum house some of the city’s historical artefact and a lovely art gallery. The center is also home to a library and book exchange, and they regularly hold special educational events.
Address: 211 Lee St, San Marcos, TX 78666
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, a food lover, or an adventurer, San Marcos, Texas, has something for everyone. Its charm lies not just in the wide range of activities but also in the friendly local community that brings the city to life.