Cruising through Texas on your South Central US road trip? Take out some time to comb through all the best things to do in San Marcos, Texas. Sandwiched between Austin and San Antonio, the Central Texas college town is a must-see stop when traveling through the Texas Hill Country.
On your trip to San Marcos, you can spend your days tubing on the San Marcos River or gazing at masterpieces at Wimberley Glassworks. The shopaholics in your travel group will love spending their bucks at San Marcos Premium Outlets, the largest outlet mall in Texas and one of the city’s top tourist attractions. In the evening, relish the town’s lively nightlife, teeming with restaurants, bars, clubs, and live music venues to keep you entertained.
Can’t decide what to do? Blast off on a perfect itinerary with this complete guide to the best places to visit in San Marcos, TX.
Best places to visit in San Marcos, TX
Rio Vista Park
If your kids love outdoor activities, add Rio Vista Park to your San Marcos trip itinerary. Connected to the San Marcos River, the park is one of the top San Marcos points of interest for a day out with your family.
The kids will have a wonderful time romping around the Rio Vista Park playground, while you can enjoy a peaceful stroll around the park’s scenic walking trails. And, if you want to indulge in some fishing, there’s a spot for that, too!
Want some more adventurous activities? Bring a tube or rent one on-site and relish a fun-filled tubing experience on the gentle waters of the San Marcos River.
For another dose of thrills, you can rent a kayak and ride upstream or just dive into the refreshing water and swim in the plunging watering hole.
Looking for a perfect location to relax during your San Marcos visit? Sprawl out at Sewell Park at Texas State University. The luscious green park has plenty of space for a game of frisbee or to lie down and read your favorite book.
At Sewell Park, you can shoot some hoops with your friends or family members on the basketball court. Or walk down the stairs and beat the heat with a swim in the cool waters of the river.
If you’re traveling to Sewell Park with family, fuel up with a relaxing picnic in the barbecue area along the riverbank.
Cheatham Street Warehouse
Begin your evening with some fantastic music by stopping in at the Cheatham Street Warehouse. A long list of iconic musicians has performed at this famed music venue in downtown San Marcos, including Willie Nelson, George Strait, Guy Clark, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
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.
Check the events schedule and list of shows in advance on the website for early reservations, as the seats fill up fast.
San Marcos River
Love getting close to marine life? Take a rejuvenating dive into the San Marcos River. Central Texas’s most beautiful river offers plenty of fun activities like snorkeling, floating, scuba diving, and cliff jumping.
Rent a tube from the Texas State Tubes (or any other tube rental company in the area) to enjoy a stimulating tubing experience on the San Marcos River. Boats are also available for rent if you want to explore further down the waterways.
If you’re into fishing, bring along your rod and reel and cast out a line: The San Marcos River is brimming with largemouth bass, sunfish, and catfish.
To explore the riverbanks and coves, take a hike on one of the many trails weaving through the city and riverside.
Spring Lake Natural Area
Nature lovers traveling to San Marcos will enjoy basking in the sun at the peaceful Spring Lake Natural Area. One of the top San Marcos attractions, the park offers playgrounds and pavilions that are perfect for a family picnic or just enjoying the windswept scenery.
If you’re visiting with friends, take a hike on the trails surrounding the lake. To add excitement to your visit, try stand-up paddle boarding or canoeing in the waters of Spring Lake. Paddleboards and canoes are available for rent at an on-site kiosk.
Book a lake tour to learn about the archeological importance of the Spring Lake Natural Area. Keep your eyes peeled for turtles, prawns, various fish species, and other aquatic creatures.
Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park
Need to add a dash of thrills to your trip? Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park is a must-visit stop while exploring San Marcos. The popular theme park offers fun activities, cool attractions, and rides to keep you entertained throughout your visit.
Start your journey through Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park at the Anti-Gravity House to experience what life on earth would be like without gravity. Then, take a walk through the earthquake-formed cave, measuring almost 180 feet deep. Pencil in a visit to the bat cave to learn more about these fascinating creatures of the night.
Traveling to Texas with kids? They’ll have a blast at the Kid’s Korner play area! Or add some excitement to their visit on fun rides like Observation Tower and Express Train.
Want to add a historical angle to your Texas Hill Country vacation? Head down to the LBJ Museum, one of the coolest places to see in San Marcos for American history buffs. Dedicated to Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, the museum offers several permanent exhibits related to Johnson’s life in and out of the Oval Office.
At the LBJ Museum, you can watch informative videos about Johnson’s time as president and learn more about his policies and their effects. You’ll also get to check out a wide collection of artifacts, photographs, and documents from his presidency.
Got some extra time on your hands? Take a stroll through the President Johnson Ranch, located just outside the LBJ Museum.
Vacations are all about letting your hair down and having some fun. And Stokes Park can help you to do just that on your trip to San Marcos, TX! Secluded from the city, the park is Texas Hill Country nature at its best, featuring a waterfall at its heart.
Need a thrill? Many brave tourists leap off the waterfall at Stokes Park and plunge deep into the cool, calm water. (NOTE: The depth of the water under the waterfall is only about six to seven feet directly underneath the falls’ flow; attempt at your own risk!)
If you’d rather not take the leap, you can simply wander through the woods and search the grounds for rare insects.
Thanks to the further-flung location of Stokes Park, the crowds are often sparse here, adding up to a chaos-free ambiance.
The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment
For a unique experience on the water during your San Marcos trip, head to The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment for a glass-bottom boat tour. Book yourself on a 30-minute tour of Spring Lake and relish the experience of staring into the lake’s depths on the glass-bottom boat.
As you cruise along Spring Lake, the tour guides of The Meadows Center will educate you about the importance of water conservation. You’ll also get to marvel at diverse aquatic creatures like turtles and fish that have made their home in crystal-clear waters.
Tickets for the boat ride are $10 for adults, $6 for children, $8 for seniors, and free for children under the age of two.
San Marcos Plaza Park
Still got some energy to burn? Enjoy more fun outdoor activities at San Marcos Plaza Park. Located on the banks of the San Marcos River, the five-acre park provides ample space to play games like frisbee or to plan a perfect family picnic.
Set the kids loose at the playground to make new friends and explore. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch an event at the San Marcos Pavilion and Stage or one of San Marcos Plaza Park’s many festivals.
Getting hungry? Savor delicious local cuisine at the food trucks parked near San Marcos Plaza Park.
Purgatory Creek Natural Area
Looking for a picture-perfect hike spot? Purgatory Creek Natural Area should top your list of where to go in San Marcos, TX. Present within the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, the nature reserve offers easy to moderate hiking with stunning views to match.
On the 9-mile trek through Purgatory Creek Natural Area, you’ll discover stunning juniper groves, upland meadows, massive champion oak trees for shade, and tall canyon bluffs. Take your camera with you to capture the incredible views and shoot Instagram videos to showcase your hiking skills.
Into bird-watching? Be sure to pack the binoculars for your visit to the Purgatory Creek Natural Area. Keep on the lookout for uncommon species like vermilion flycatchers, painted buntings, and golden-cheeked warblers.
Witness art being created in front of your eyes with a visit to Wimberley Glassworks. At this popular San Marcos attraction, you’ll watch as professional artisans carve glass into mesmerizing shapes with a cavalcade of brilliant colors.
Want to be part of the action? Participate in their glass-blowing classes where you can make something exquisite and beautiful to take home as a souvenir.
If you aren’t willing to get your hands dirty, you can simply watch the glass artists at work. At Wimberley Glassworks, you can even shop for souvenirs and handblown glass art like lighting, gifts, sculptures, platters, glassware, and vases.
You can visit Wimberley Glassworks from Wednesday to Sunday between 10 am to 5 pm.
Commemorative Air Force Central Texas Wing
Fascinated by airplanes and eager to know how they work? Get an insight into the world of aviation at the Commemorative Air Force Central Texas Wing. For military history buffs, a visit to this popular air museum is one of the best things to do in San Marcos, TX.
At the Commemorative Air Force Central Texas Wing, you can explore a WWII hangar converted into classrooms, restoration stores, and a library. You’ll also find vintage warplanes like the T-6 Texan, P-39Q Bell Airacobra, the B-25J Yellow Rose, a Beech C-45 Expeditor, and C-47 Skytrain. Continue to the next section to discover the remnants, survival gear, regalia, airborne camera equipment, weapons, and some photographs.
The military museum is open between 9 am and 4 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Longing for a beer that’ll tantalize the taste buds? Quench your thirst at Middleton Brewing at Oakwood Loop. One of the best places to go in San Marcos to imbibe, the family-owned brewery & pub serves American and German craft beer.
Middleton Brewing offers a fantastic atmosphere to enjoy a great time with your friends and family. The outdoor seating is perfect for enjoying San Marcos’ pleasant weather, while the indoor seating is comfortable and cozy on cooler days and evenings.
The owners of Middleton Brewing support local musicians and you can often enjoy some great live music while sipping your favorite beer. If you’ve built up an appetite and need to soak up the suds, order some delicious food from their in-house eatery EZ Eats.
San Marcos Premium Outlets
Who doesn’t love a good shopping spree? Shop till you drop at the San Marcos Premium Outlets, the largest outlet shopping center in the United States. With more than 240 stores, it’s the ultimate shopping destination in Central Texas and one of the best top tourist attractions in San Marcos, TX, for shopaholics.
You can find all the big brands here, including Nike, Bally, Gucci, Prada, Victoria’s Secret, Lululemon Athletica, and more. The San Marcos Premium Outlets also offer a food court and several restaurants to keep your tummy happy.
The San Marcos Premium Outlets is open every day from 10 am to 9 pm, except for Sundays when opens from 11 am to 7 pm.
San Marcos Art Center
Love art and want to explore it in all its forms? Stop at San Marcos Art Center in Downtown San Marcos, and scour the two galleries with rotating exhibitions. The art center also holds classes, workshops, and events, if you’re looking for a more interactive visit.
Head to the San Marcos Art Center gift shop and gaze at the variety of items, from its collection of fine art to stained glass to clay. You can also buy other products here, like fine handcrafted jewelry. The jewelry materials and designs used at the center are one-of-a-kind and can’t be found in other stores.
Want to relax with a craft beer in hand and soak in the sun? Land at the popular craft brewery, AquaBrew, located on Martin Luther King Dr. With a spacious beer garden, AquaBrew is the perfect locale to catch up with friends and meet locals.
Wet your whistle with craft brews like the Wee2Heavy, Bobcat Lager, Swine Dive IPA, United Stout of America, and San Marcos Blonde. The AquaBrew brewery also serves appetizing food like burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. If you’re visiting with family or friends, order sharing plates like kebab, hummus, smoked chicken, quesadillas, or nachos.
AquaBrew holds daily happy hours; make sure you check the schedule for the day you plan to stop by for some craft beer discounts!