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San Marcos (Texas)

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San Marcos is a college town in Texas in the United States of America, about half an hour's drive south of the state's capitol, Austin. It was settled in 1808 by Mexican families, and is now the home to Texas State University-San Marcos [20].


Downtown San Marcos

San Marcos is often considered a college town, with the huge percentage of the population attending or supporting Texas State University-San Marcos. Most bars, restaurants, and attractions are centered around services to a college crowd. There is also a considerable conservationist mindset associated with the local rivers and endangered species. Several species live only in the headwaters of the San Marcos river.

Get in[edit]

San Marcos is located along interstate 35 (I-35) in between Austin and San Antonio.

From Austin, take I-35 South about 23 miles. You can take exits 206-204 to access the town. The university is on the West (right) side of I-35 coming from the direction of Austin.

From San Antonio, take I-35 North approximately 46 miles. You may take exits 204 thru 206 to access the town. Texas State University and the town square are on the West (left) side of the freeway coming from San Antonio.

Notably, San Marcos is a popular shopping destination, as it hosts large outlet malls South of the town about 5 miles, in the direction of San Antonio. You cannot miss them from I-35 (on the East side of the freeway).

To get to San Marcos from Houston, take IH-10 west to Luling (exit 632, about two hours), turn right (on to SH-80) and go through Luling. Continue on SH-80 north (the designated highway turns left, just after the railroad tracks). Beware of the speed traps in Martindale, just before San Marcos.

Get around[edit]

By Car[edit]

Travel in most American cities, especially outside of major metro areas, is primarily by private vehicle. Parking is almost always abundant and free. (There are a few lots close to the city square where the owners tow aggressively; be sure to watch for parking signs.) The average tourist would be well-advised to rent a car from a rental agency if they don't already have their own vehicle. Traffic is usually light.

Take caution at some low water bridges. Never drive through a flooded low water crossing. Even a couple of inches of water can wash your car into the river. You then stand a good chance of losing your life.

By Bus[edit]

Capital Area Rural Transportation System [21] offers limited bus service. The fare is 50 cents.

By Bicycle[edit]

Most attractions are very close to the down town and campus areas. While the hills sometimes get steep and can present an athletic challenge, many destinations are a very short ride away.

See[edit][add listing]

08-10-26 - San Marcos River
  • San Marcos River. The river that made the city runs through town. There are many parks and restaurants along the river, and it's pretty much impossible to see any of San Marcos without seeing a lot of the river.  edit
  • Blanco River. Joins the San Marcos a few miles down stream. It's not as big or visited as the San Marcos.  edit
  • Aquarena Center - Texas State University, 921 Aquarena Springs Dr., 512-245-7570, [1]. 10 AM - 5 PM. Nature center, springs, wetlands, glass bottom boats. $8.  edit
  • Downtown.  edit
  • Texas Water Safari, 921 Aquarena Springs Dr. (at Aquarena Center), 512-738-6607 (), [2]. 10 AM. A marathon boat race down the San Marcos and Guadalupe rivers. It begins at Aquarena Springs at 10 AM the second saturday of June and passes several local river crossings within a few hours. free.  edit
  • Sights And Sounds of Christmas, San Marcos Plaza Park, [3]. 6pm-11pm. An annual Christmas festival that takes place on the first weekend of December. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. Lots of booths for food and local art. Also performances by local school children and dance schools. Free.  edit
  • Movies in the Park, 512-393-8400. Every other Monday in June and July, by Parks and Recreation  edit
  • Wonder World, [4]. A cave and theme park. With a train.  edit
  • Rio Vista Park, [5]. When the old dam was nearing collapse, the city decided to replace it with an artificial whitewater course. The new addition to the park has made it tremendously popular with swimmers, tubers, and boaters alike. There are also rope swings, good picnic areas, and a great playground just up the river. free.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Quail Creek Country Club, 2701 Airport, Hwy 21, 512-353-1664, [6]. Golf course, swimming pool, tennis, bar, restaurant OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.  edit
  • San Marcos Lions Tube Rental, 170 Bobcat Dr. (In San Marcos City Park), 512-396-5466, [7]. 10am - 7pm daily June through August, weekends only in May and September. Tube rental and shuttle. Get an inflated inner tube, float down the river, drink, cavort, then get a ride back to the park. $7.50.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Paper Bear, 214 North L.B.J. Drive, 512 396 2283, [22]. Crafts, cards, gifts, and treats.
  • Downtown, lots of shops and stores for the browsing are in the downtown district.
  • Tanger Outlet Center, 4015 I-35, 512-396-7446, [23]. Designer clothes at closeout prices.
  • Premium Outlets - San Marcos, 3939 I-35 S., 512-396-2200, [24], Clearance prices Shopping Center

Eat[edit][add listing]


  • Herbert's Taco Hut, 419 Riverside Dr., 512-353-7440. Tex-mex. Local taco joint, loved by the locals. $5-$15.  edit
  • Mamacita's Restaurant, 1400 Aquarena Springs Dr., 512-353-0070. Tex-mex. A chain, but good. $7-$12.  edit


  • San Marcos River Pub & Grill, 701 Cheatham, 512-353-3747 (), [8]. $10-$20.  edit
  • Grins, 802 N. LBJ Dr., 512-396-4746 (), [9]. Su-Th 11 AM - 10 PM, Fr-Sa, 11 AM - 11 PM. $10-$15.  edit
  • Fuschak's Pit Bar-B-Q, 920 Highway 80, 512-353-2712. Bar-b-cue, legendary brisket. $10-$20.  edit
  • Texas Roadhouse, 1502 IH 35 South (On the southbound frontage road of I35, between Guadalupe (123) and Wonder World drive), ((512) 353-7427, [10]. Mo-Th 4 PM - 10 PM, Fr-Sa, 11 AM - 11 PM.  edit
  • Woody's Bar-B-Que, 2601 Hunter Road, 512-392-6000, [11]. Mo-Sa 11 AM - 8 PM. $10-$15.  edit


  • Palmer's Restaurant, Bar & Courtyard, 218 Moore St., 512-353-3500, [12]. $12-$25.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]


All the bars are open until 2AM every night now, and you are allowed to smoke cigarettes inside

  • The Tap Room, 129 E Hopkins St Suite 120, 512-392-9824. A wide selection of beer.  edit
  • Showdown, Hutchinson and LBJ. liveliest bar in town  edit
  • The Den, 700 N LBJ Dr., 512-392-3700. This is an awsome place. The bartenders are great and the drinks are cheap. They have two big projector screens and free pool during happy hour, shuffle board, foosball and darts. They open at 3 and close at 2. Great place for any game.  edit
  • Triple Crown, 206 N. Edward Gary, 512 396 2236, [13]. M-Sa 8AM-2AM, Su noon-2AM. Live music 365 days a year. Acoustic sets to punk rock, hip hop, good country, salsa and everything else. Open mic on Su. Nights one pool table, ring toss, electronic touchscreen jukebox (no internet downloads) all songs $.25 cents.  edit

Local Beer[edit]

  • Real Ale Brewing Company, [14]. makes several distinct brews, available at retail outlets in the area.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]


  • Best Budget Inn, 903 IH 35 North, 512-392-3990.  edit
  • Days Inn, 1005 IH 35 North (Exit 205), 512-353-5050, [15].  edit
  • Econo Lodge, 811 S. Guadalupe Street (comming from Austin takeexit 204 A, from San Antonio take exit 204 and left trun at signal light), 512 353 5300, [16]. checkin: 02:00 pm; checkout: 11:00 am. Welcome to the Econo Lodge Marcos, a San Marcos hotel near Wonder World Park The Econo Lodge® Marcos, located in San Marcos, is conveniently situated near Interstate 35, only minutes from Wonder World Park, Aquarena Springs, San Marcos Baptist Academy and Texas State University-San Marcos. All guest rooms have Refrigerator, Microware and High Speed Internet Access and hotel have free continental breakfast and outdoor Pool $39.99-$129.99.  edit
  • Pecan Park Retreat, 444 Pecan Park Dr., 512-392-6171, [17]. A family-oriented campground on the San Marcos river. Primitive and improved sites are available, a tent or RV is recommended as there are no sleeping shelters. Hot showers and full restrooms are in a central building.  edit


  • Amerihost Inn, 4210 IH 35 South (Exit 200), 512-392-6800, [18].  edit
  • Quality Inn, 1433 IH 35 South, 512-353-7770 (fax: 512-353-7774), [19]. 92 new rooms. 3 Suites. Select rooms with Big Screen High Definition Televisions. Wireless internet in all rooms. Hot Breakfast including sausage, eggs, biscuits and gravy. Hot tub and pool. Approx. 1 mile from campus and minutes from Prime and Tanger Outlet Malls.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

San Marcos is a small city with pretty much no crime.

Emergency services such as police, fire, and medical can be reached by calling 911.

There are many places to swim in the local rivers. Some are often crowded, some are very secluded. Regardless of where you swim, always use the buddy system, and always have a way to contact emergency services (note that cell phones often lose service in the low area immediately about the river, so check the signal at your designated "towel spot" before swimming if you will rely on your cell phone for calling emergency services).

Get out[edit]

Routes through San Marcos
Austin ← Kyle ←  N noframe S  New BraunfelsSan Antonio

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