Main menu Open search menu

Top Things To Do In San Marcos

San Marcos is home to Texas State University. This gives the college town plenty of reasons to keep its citizens busy. Running through the middle of town is the San Marcos River, a waterway that acts as the center of all outdoor activity. The historic downtown is the heart of the city, and there is no shortage of things to do both in town and in the surrounding areas.  

With more than 300 sunny days a year, some of the top things to do in San Marcos involve outdoor activities like hiking, paddle boarding, and running. And since Texas State University is one of the largest colleges in the state, you’ll find locals cheering for their hometown heroes at games on campus or in neighborhood sports bars.

The best things to do near San Marcos include:

  • Spending time in the Downtown Square
  • Watching a race at the Harris Hill Raceway
  • Enjoying a day near campus and the river at Sewell Park
  • Spending time at the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos
  • Shopping at the San Marcos Premium Outlets

With students making up a major portion of San Marcos’s population, the city offers things to do for residents with all budget sizes. One of the best free things to do is to spend the day on the shore of the San Marcos River at the many parks and wildlife areas.

Cheap things to do near San Marcos include:

  • Attending a 3rd Thursday Downtown Walkabout
  • Exploring the trails at the Purgatory Creek Natural Area
  • Swimming in the San Marcos River at the 5 Mile Dam Park
  • Keeping your eyes out for the birds all around the San Marcos area
  • Spending the day playing games at the San Marcos City Park

San Marcos prides itself on its historical sites, such as the Chief Placido Memorial Statue and the Commemorative Air Force Exhibit. Start at one of these iconic landmarks before doing any other sightseeing in San Marcos.

Popular attractions also include:

  • Seeing famous writings in the Wittliff Collections at the Albert B. Alkek Library
  • Checking out the classic cars at Dick’s Classic Car Museum
  • Taking a glass bottom boat ride at Meadows Center for Water and the Environment
  • Exploring the set of the 1978 film Piranha at the Aquarena Springs Amusement Park
  • Visiting the Calaboose African American Museum

San Marcos makes it easy for college students and families alike to do something fun. Whether it’s shopping in East Texas or it’s tasting authentic Tex-Mex at Fuego Tortilla Grill and Rogelio's Restaurant, there are plenty of fun things to do in San Marcos today.

Exciting activities near San Marcos include:

  • Having a picnic at the Rio Vista Park
  • Watching a show at the Cheatham Street Warehouse
  • Getting in shape at So High Sports & Fitness
  • Spending the day taking pictures in front of murals found around town
  • Grabbing lunch at the Palmer’s Restaurant Bar & Courtyard

Like all college towns, San Marcos has many of things to do at night. The square in downtown San Marcos is filled with rooftop bars, dance clubs, and restaurants. And best of all, it's just a few blocks from the Texas State University.

Nighttime activities near San Marcos include:

  • Hitting up happy hour at I Don’t Know Bar
  • Glow-in-the-dark paddle boarding with Paddle SMTX
  • Watching local and touring artists at The Marc
  • Getting dinner at Louie’s Oyster House & Beer Garden
  • Dancing the night away at Stonewall Warehouse

Whether you’re looking to have a relaxing weekend of food and drink or you’re seeking a party, San Marcos has tons of things to do on the weekend. Check out one of the yearly festivals, including the The Martian Arts Festival, the Sacred Springs Powwow, and the Mermaid Festival.

Weekend activities near San Marcos include:

  • Buying locally at the Farmer’s market on Saturdays
  • Kayaking down the San Marcos River
  • Camping near the lake at Canyon Cove
  • Having a Tex-Mex style brunch at Los Vega Restaurante
  • Trying local beers on the Hooga Rides Brewery Tour

Quaint suburban neighborhoods and friendly atmospheres make this small Texan town a good place to take kids. Science museums, public parks, and ice cream shops are a good place for families to add some light-hearted relaxation to the vacation.

Family-friendly things to do near San Marcos include:

  • Trying vegan ice cream at Rhea’s Ice Cream
  • Playing on the Playscape at Children’s Park
  • Spending the day exploring the cave at the Wonder World Park
  • Learning how to ride a skateboard at the San Marcos Skatepark
  • Exploring the McKenna Children’s Museum in New Braunfels

Luckily for adults, San Marcos is nestled in one of the biggest wine regions in the country. Many delightful date ideas can revolve around spending the day on a wine trail with your significant other.

Other date night ideas near San Marcos:

  • Taking a stroll down Kissing Alley for the perfect picture together
  • Splitting a sundae at The Buda Soda Fountain
  • Sipping wine with Win de Vie Texas Wine Tours
  • Catching the latest blockbuster and dinner at The SPOT Cinema Eatery & Social Haus
  • Having drinks near the river at Three Dudes Winery

Getting together with your friends in San Marcos is a breeze thanks to the number of group activities in town. Considering meeting up at a local brewery like Middleton Brewing and then heading over to bowl at Sunset Bowling Lanes.

Things to do with your friends near San Marcos include:

  • Travelling to watch a game at the Nelson W Wolff Stadium in San Antonio
  • Playing pool at the Railyard Bar & Grill
  • Watching a game at the Texas State University Bobcat Stadium
  • Paddle boarding with Paddle SMTX
  • Having dinner and drinks at The Root Cellar Cafe & Brewery

Although San Marcos prides itself on its outdoor splendor, there are plenty of things to do indoors for a laid back day. Consider pampering yourself with a trip to Spa Botanica before heading over to Deluxe Nail and Spa for a manicure.

Things to do indoors in San Marcos include:

  • Dropping in for a class at SoulShine Yoga
  • Stopping by the Charles S. Cock House Museum for lunch with the Heritage Association
  • Exploring the lower level of Hays County Historic Courthouse
  • Watching a demonstration of the Wimberley Glassworks studio
  • Losing yourself in a film at the EVO Cinemas Starplex 12

The San Marcos Springs are the main source of the San Marcos River, and provide beautiful subtropic scenery. Explore by taking advantage of the many outdoor activities the waterways provide, including swimming, rafting, and paddleboarding.

Other active things to see and do in San Marcos include:

  • Teeing off at the Quail Creek Golf Club
  • Riding your bike along the Ringtail Ridge Trail
  • Floating down the San Marcos River
  • Renting tubes from the San Marcos Lions Club Tube Rental
  • Going on a guided fishing tour with Hill Country Flyfishers


Some of the best things to do in San Marcos can only be found in this small central town. Seeing the river from the university campus or eating at Centerpoint Station is part of what makes San Marcos a one-of-a-kind town.

Must-see places near San Marcos include:

  • Grabbing a cup of coffee at Wake the Dead Coffee
  • Exploring the abandoned Aquarena Springs attractions
  • Watching a movie from your car at the Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre
  • Having lunch at local favorite Mama Kat’s Restaurant
  • Heading to the Palmetto State Park for a day of nature and hiking