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14 Best Things to do in San Marcos


It may be a small town, but there’s a lot of fun to be had in mighty San Marcos. Home to Texas State University, don’t miss a visit to the university campus to relax in Sewell Park, or cheer on the Texas State Bobcats at Bobcat Stadium. Most of the best things to do in San Marcos are based around downtown and San Marcos River. You can play sports or relax in one of the city’s many waterfront parks, go swimming in the river, or even take a floating river tour. 

Sitting pretty between Austin and San Antonio, a day trip to San Marcos is also one of the best things to do in San Antonio. So if you’re looking for things to do in San Marcos, Texas this weekend, keep reading.

Rio Vista Park
By Janet Chouinard

1. Rio Vista Park

One of the best things to do in San Marcos is spending the day in Rio Vista Park. The 14-acre regional park is home to both tennis and basketball courts, a swimming pool, and hiking and biking trails. It also sits on the river, so there’s a deep natural watering hole right in Rio Vista Park. It’s not unusual to see locals and visitors alike kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and even surfing the rapids at Rio Vista Park.

San Marcos Lions Club Tube Rental
Courtesy of San Marcos Lions Club Tube Rental

2. San Marcos Lions Club Tube Rental

The best way to see San Marcos in the summertime is definitely from the river. San Marcos Lions Club Tube Rental is located in City Park. From here, you can rent a tube and float down the San Marcos River for approximately one hour. Ending at Rio Vista Dam, there’s a shuttle service that takes you back to City Park. There are unlimited rides included in your rental, so this is both a fun and affordable thing to do in San Marcos this summer.

San Marcos Premium Outlets
Courtesy of Premium Outlets

3. San Marcos Premium Outlets

Fun fact: The View once said that San Marcos Premium Outlets were the world’s third-best shopping destination. What an accolade! San Marcos Premium Outlets are not only one of the best things to do in San Marcos – they’re one of the top tourist attractions in the entire state of Texas. The outlets has over 145 stores, including designer and name brands like Armani, DVF and Versace; next to Vineyard Vines and J. Crew Factory. Don’t miss a visit to these great premium outlets.

Sewell Park
Courtesy of Texas State

4. Sewell Park

Not far from downtown you’ll find Sewell Park. Located on Texas State University’s campus, it’s definitely one of the university’s most relaxing spaces. The river runs through the park, which means its watering hole remains at 72 degrees year-round. Sewell Park is also home to two sand volleyball courts, an outdoor basketball court, and ample open space for frisbee throwing and sunbaking. There’s grills and picnic tables available as well, so you could easily spend the day relaxing in Sewell Park.

Purgatory Creek Natural Area
Courtesy of CommunityImpact

5. Purgatory Creek Natural Area

Located on the outskirts of San Marcos, Purgatory Creek Natural Area is a 570-acre recreational park. Split into Upper and Lower Purgatory, within the park’s boundaries you’ll find Purgatory Creek, meadows, canyon bluffs, and even a dam. There are several hiking and biking trails in Purgatory Creek Natural Area; although Lower Purgatory trails are said to be less challenging. One of the most popular is Dante’s Trail. The 7.9-mile moderate trail takes you on a loop through the park. 

Santa's Ranch
Courtesy of Santa’s Ranch

6. Santa’s Ranch

A visit to Santa’s Ranch is one of the best things to do in New Braunfels during the holiday season, which is next door to San Marcos. It has one of the best light displays in all of Texas. Open from early November to the beginning of January, load up your car and go for a drive along a mile of country road at Santa’s Ranch. Along the way you’ll be surrounded by bright lights (over 1.5 million in fact) and animated Christmas displays. Back at Santa’s Ranch, you can pick up a souvenir, a hot chocolate or some fresh kettle corn. Definitely check it out if you’re looking for things to do in San Marcos in December.

Five Mile Dam Park
Courtesy of University Star

7. Five Mile Dam Park

Another park to check out on the outskirts of town is Five Mile Dam Park. At 34 acres, it’s comprised of both the Johnson and Vetter River Parks. The park sits on the Blanco River, so it’s a great destination for both river swimming and boating. It’s also home to a walking trail, picnic tables, and a youth soccer Complex. If the parks get too busy in summer, head to Five Mile Dam Park.

Stokes Park
Courtesy of Austinlocal

8. Stokes Park

Follow the San Marcos River from Rio Vista Park and you’ll eventually end up at Stokes Park. It was named after John Stokes, a San Marcos local and architect who built some of Austin’s most prominent buildings. Stokes Park is located not that far from downtown San Marcos and is home to Thompson Island Dam; a watering hole perfect for swimming. There is also a lot of open green space, and hiking and biking trails through Stokes Park.

San Marcos River
By Lauren Nichols

9. San Marcos River

One of the best things to do in San Marcos is spend time on or in the San Marcos River. The crystal clear San Marcos River winds its way through downtown. It’s actually made from hundreds of natural springs, which means it’s a refreshing 72 degrees year-round. As we’ve mentioned, there are several parks located along the river. But just some of the activities to enjoy in the San Marcos River are swimming, kayaking, tubing, and stand-up paddleboarding.

Wonder World Cave and Park
Courtesy of Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park

10. Wonder World Cave and Park

Wonder World Cave and Adventure Park is one of San Marcos’ best attractions. Go on a fun and educational tour of Wonder Cave, which is the only earthquake cave open for public viewing. Other things to do here include riding a train through the Texas Wildlife Petting Park, where you can feed, pet and interact with wildlife. There’s also the mind-boggling Anti-Gravity House, and the Observation Tower. Wonder World Cave and Adventure Park is one of the most family-friendly things to do in San Marcos.

Texas State University Bobcat Stadium
By Derek Diaz

11. Texas State University Bobcat Stadium

The quickest way to become a local is to head to Texas State University’s Bobcat Stadium and cheer for the Texas State Bobcats. One of the country’s best college football stadiums, it’s been the Bobcats’ home field since 1981. Bobcat Stadium can fit over 30,000 fans, decked out in the Bobcat colors of maroon and gold. It was even once used as a filming location for hit TV show, Friday Night Lights.

Three Dudes Winery
Courtesy of qatariadventures

12. Three Dudes Winery

The award-winning Three Dudes Winery overlooks San Marcos River and calls itself a different kind of winery. The name originates from the owners, who are Three Dudes, long-time friends, and wine lovers. Three Dudes Winery produces 100% Texan wine. They source grapes from only the best Texas-based vineyards. The winery’s tasting room and gift shop is open every day, so stop by to sample their wines, which includes a selection of both red and white wines.

Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force
By Ian Abbott

13. Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force

The Commemorative Air Force Central Texas Wing was established in 1974. You’ll find several historic military airplanes in its vintage 1943 hangar. This includes a B-25J Mitchell WWII Bomber, a C-45 from the 1940s, and the C-47 aircraft that lead the D-Day invasion. The hangar is also home to a military museum and the Stokes Library, which has a huge military book collection. Admission is free to visit the Central Texas Wing, but donations are appreciated.

Middleton Brewing
By Bucky D

14. Middleton Brewing

For great beer, a fun atmosphere, and food trucks, the Middleton brewing micro-brewery is a fantastic spot to check out in the evenings. With a cool observation deck on top of the brewery, this facility was thoughtfully designed and has high ratings and claim their beer is “perfectly suited for the texas hill country”. We’d recommend Middleton Brewing if you looking for a fun nightlife spot, or are just looking for a quality brewing operation.

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