Activities in San Marcos

“Experience San Marcos.”

The activities in San Marcos are endless, thanks to its diverse businesses, outdoor recreation, entertainment, restaurant, shopping and academic offerings. The crystal-clear San Marcos River flows strong right through the middle of the city. From Texas State University, which supports local careers and exudes a vibrant young culture, to the preserved nature areas that are spread out all across the area, to the city’s impressive music and art scene, there’s something for everyone here. San Marcos brings all of these aspects together to form one dynamic hub of energy.

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San Marcos – Perfectly Situated in the Heart of the Hill Country


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Outdoor Recreation Abounds

If you’re a fan of the outdoors, San Marcos is the place to be. Stunning views of the Hill Country can be found in every direction during pleasant strolls, cross country jogs and challenging hikes. This combination of the river and the Hill Country makes San Marcos an outdoor recreation paradise that no other area around Austin can match. Here are some activities in San Marcos that allow you to enjoy the scenic outdoors:

  • Purgatory Creek Natural Area
    • Right next door to La Cima is the Purgatory Creek Natural Area consisting of over 1,000 acres of open space and trail system, making the combined Purgatory Creek and La Cima natural areas and trail systems one of the largest urban natural areas anywhere in Texas. For more information visit the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance.
  • San Marcos River 
    • One of the most popular outdoor activities in San Marcos is the crystal-clear San Marcos River originating from a hundred natural springs right in the middle of the city. Ten minutes from La Cima, the San Marcos River is popular for tubing, canoeing, swimming and fishing.
  • Spring Lake Natural Area
    • Wander through what is thought to be one of the longest continuously occupied areas in North America. Spring Lake Natural Area is home to the San Marcos Springs and Spring Lake. Spring Lake is a wonderful place to spend a beautiful day in San Marcos.
  • Canyon Lake 
    • Less than 25 minutes from La Cima’s front door is Canyon Lake. Canyon Lake is one of the largest lakes in the Hill Country with 80 miles of scenic shoreline, 8,230 surface acre area and 8 public park areas offering an abundance of boating, waterskiing, sailing, fishing and scuba diving opportunities. http://www.canyonlakeguide.com/
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You’ll Never Go Hungry in San Marcos

Many people have a “go-to” restaurant, that destination you visit to get a one-of-a-kind sumptuous meal or dining experience that you know can’t be found elsewhere. In San Marcos, there are a number of go-to’s covering just about every cuisine you could desire. Here’s a list of some of the most exceptional restaurants in town:

  • Root Cellar-Café & Brewery
    Located right in the heart of downtown, The Root Cellar Café & Brewery sits on the bottom floor of the historic Donalson building. The array of food served here is sure to make your taste buds rev up.
  • Grins Restaurant
    Whether you’re craving a World Famous Hamburger with Texas-size homemade onion rings, delicious catfish or sizzlin’ fajitas, Grin’s has something for everyone.
  • Kent Black’s BBQ
    A third generation pit master from Texas’ legendary Black’s BBQ Restaurant, Kent Black’s BBQ is here to serve San Marcos’ barbeque needs.
  • Palmer’s Restaurant
    Enjoy Texas Hill country cuisine, luscious cocktails and a carefully selected beer and wine list that includes some of Texas’ best.
  • Rhea’s Ice Cream
    If you need something a little sweet to get you through the day, stop in for a few scoops at the local Rhea’s Ice Cream.
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Entertainment Around Every Corner

With so many entertainment options available in San Marcos, it can be hard to choose what to do first. Here are just a few of your options for fun available any day of the week:

  • The Meadows Center Glass Bottom Boat Tours
    • The Meadows Center Glass Bottom Boat Tours offers interpretive and self-guided tours, historic glass bottom boat rides, wildlife viewing, wetlands boardwalk, Texas river exhibits and a nature friendly gift shop all in one place.
  • Paddle SMTX
    • Paddle SMTX offers paddleboard and kayak night and day tours and lessons to get you ready for the river.
  • San Marcos Outlets
    • The San Marcos outlets are the largest in the United States, with 260 stores offering 1.2 million square feet of shopping heaven.
  • Rio Vista Park
    • Rio Vista Park is a great place to put your kayak in and paddle upstream or just swim in the deep watering hole. It’s not uncommon to see recreationist surfing the rapids and sunbathers along the river banks.
  • Rio Vista Dam 
    • The jewel of Rio Vista Park that has become a play area for tubers, kayakers, SUP boarders and everyone else. This is a great location if you want to play and cool off on a hot summer day.
  • Wonder World Park
    • Enjoy a guided tour and discover the nation’s only true example of an earthquake-formed cave. Go deep underground and see up close the devastation of a major quake.
  • Schlitterbahn New Braunfels
    • There is something for everyone at Schlitterbahn! Your family adventure is awaiting at this fun-filled waterpark! Only 20 minutes from San Marcos, Schlitterbahn is a place to create new summer memories.
  • Wimberley Glassworks
    • Wimberley Glassworks is known for its worldwide beautiful hand-blown glass art and lighting pieces.

San Marcos Achievements

See what people are saying about the City of San Marcos!


  • Top 25 Best Place to Retire 2016 – “Forbes” Magazine
  • A “Top Place to Retire 2017” – Where to Retire? Magazine
  • Top 10 “Most Relaxed Small City in America” – Movoto Blog