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Top 5 Places to Visit in San Marcos, Texas

Updated on March 29, 2019
GeckosTrails profile image

Billy is a hiking and outdoors enthusiast. He is also the Owner of Ravenshire Creations and host of the YouTube channel Gecko's Trails.

San Marcos, Texas: A History Stretching Back Through the Ages

The area around San Marcos, Texas and Spring Lake, which is the headwaters for the San Marcos River, has played host to human populations for thousands of years. The springs are ever-flowing which kept the lands fertile during droughts and attracted animals for hunting. Native inhabitants walked these land long enough to have shared trails with wooly mammoths. The town of San Marcos was founded in the late 1800's, after spending a few years as Fort San Marcos, and almost immediately became a center of higher education for people wanting to become teachers. Almost 150 years later, that teaching institution is now Texas State University. There are plenty of things to do and places to visit in San Marcos.

5: The LBJ Museum - The 36th President Remembered

The LBJ Museum of San Marcos is located at 131 N. Guadalupe, San Marcos, Texas, 78666. The hours of operation are Thursday-Saturday from 10am-5pm. Admission is free. To learn more, call 512-353-3300.

Our 36th President, Lyndon Baines Johnson aka: LBJ, was born in Stonewall, Texas near Johnson City on August 27, 1908. Although many people believe Johnson City to be named after him, it was actually named after his cousin James Polk Johnson.

LBJ attended Southwestern Texas State Teachers College, which later became Texas State University, from 1926-1930. While attending, he would often partake Sunday dinners at a house only 2 doors down the street from my current residence.

The LBJ Museum of San Marcos commemorates his early years while at college and it's impact on his teaching and political careers.

LBJ Museum, San Marcos, Texas
LBJ Museum, San Marcos, Texas | Source
The homestead where LBJ was born near Johnson City, Texas.
The homestead where LBJ was born near Johnson City, Texas. | Source

4: The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment

The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment is located at 201 San Marcos Springs Dr., San Marcos, Texas, 78666 and it's hours of operation are from 9:30am-6:30pm everyday. This place is a great way to see the geological, geographical, and anthropological history of the Spring Lake area.

The Discovery Hall features interactive and animal exhibits, including a 1,000 gallon aquarium. Guided tours can be reserved at the price of $3.50 for adults, $3.00 for Seniors age 65+, and $2.00 for kids ages 3-12.

Glass-Bottom Boat Tours run daily so visitors can view the bubbling springs at the bottom of Spring Lake through crystal clear water. For 30 minute tours, pricing is $9.75 for Adults, $8.00 for Seniors age 65+, $6.00 for kids ages 3-12, and free for kids ages 2 and under. For the extended 45 minute tour, pricing runs $13.25 for Adults, $11.00 for Seniors age 65+, and $8.00 for kids ages 3-12.

Guided Wetlands Boardwalk Tours run daily so visitors can see the varied wildlife that live in the wetlands. The tour last about 25 minute and the pricing is $3.50 for Adults, $3.00 for Seniors age 65+, and $2.00 for kids ages 3-12.

San Marcos Springs, San Marcos, Texas
San Marcos Springs, San Marcos, Texas | Source
The Meadows Center, San Marcos, Texas
The Meadows Center, San Marcos, Texas | Source
The Meadows Center Glass Bottom Boat Tours, San Marcos, Texas
The Meadows Center Glass Bottom Boat Tours, San Marcos, Texas | Source

3: The Hays County Court House and Town Square

When is comes to county courthouses, Hays County has had a colorful history. There have been 4 courthouses located in the town square of San Marcos, Texas. The first courthouse, built in 1861 by contractor C. F. Millett and was burned to the ground in a fire just 7 years later in 1868. The second courthouse was built in 1871 from locally quarried limestone but was damage by shifting soil and had to be demolished in 1881. It was replaced by architect F. E. Ruffini with a harder limestone structure, also quarried locally. The top floors were damaged by a second fire and the building had to be, once again, demolished. The 4th, and current, courthouse was constructed by architects C. H. Page and Brother and was completed in 1909. In 1974 it was fully refurbished. Just this past year, however, the last of the remaining offices that were located here relocated to the new Hays County Government Building located at 712 S. Stagecoach Trail, San Marcos, Texas, 78666.

The Downtown San Marcos Square has also had a long-lasting history. The Heritage Association of San Marcos hosts tours and events letting people know about the wonderful life and history of San Marcos. Some of the places you can visit on the square are restaurants such as The Root Cellar Bakery, Valentino's Pizzeria, Sean Patrick's Pub and Texas Grub, Blue Dahlia Bistro, and Café on the Square. There are more bars, clubs, and live music venues than you can shake a stick at, such as The Marc, Stonewall Warehouse, Kiva Lounge and Bar, Nephews Bar, and many, many more. There are also many shops, offices, and boutiques as well. Come hungry, come thirsty, and come with money to burn!

Hay County Court House, San Marcos, Texas
Hay County Court House, San Marcos, Texas | Source
San Marcos, Texas Town Square
San Marcos, Texas Town Square | Source
San Marcos, Texas Town Square
San Marcos, Texas Town Square | Source
San Marcos, Texas Town Square
San Marcos, Texas Town Square | Source

2: Tanger and Premium Outlet Malls

The Tanger Outlet Mall and Premium Outlet Mall, both are located at the Centerpoint Rd. interchange of I-35. The Tanger Outlet Mall is at 4015 I-35 S., San Marcos, Texas, 78666 and the Premium Outlet Mall is at 3939 I-35 S., San Marcos, Texas, 78666. The hours for most stores are from 9am-9pm most days.

The Tanger Outlet Mall features store such as: American Eagle Outfitters, Banana Republic, Build-a-Bear Workshop, Calvin Klein, Cavender's Boot City, Claire's, Direct Tools, Disney Store, Fossil, GNC, Hollister, High Sierra, Hurley, Justice, Kirkland's, Old Navy, Skechers, Spencer Gifts, Hot Topic, Torrid, Wilson's Leather, and many more.

The Premium Outlet Mall features stores such as: Gucci, Tory Burch, Victoria's Secret, Pottery Barn, Coach, Abercrombie & Fitch, Armani, Bath & Body Works, Bose, Hugo Boss, Brook Bros., Columbia, Gap, Guess, Michael Kors, Niemann Marcus, Polo, Prada, Saks Fifth Avenue, The North Face, Tommy Hilfiger, White House/Black Market, and many more.

People come from all over North and Central America, from Canada to Panama to shop at these outlet malls. If you can't find what you need here, you had better click on over to Amazon.com!

1: The San Marcos River - A Tubers Paradise!

There really isn't much more to say about the San Marcos River. These photographs say it all! The headwaters of the San Marcos River is at Spring Lake. The water is a constant 72-ish degrees year round and is home to the endangered blind salamander and Texas Wild Rice. Bring a tube or rent one from the Lion's Club of San Marcos. Other activities that regularly take place on the river are kayaking, canoeing, and paddle-boarding. If you visit San Marcos, bring your bathing suit and cool off in the river from the scorching Texas heat! And when your trip has come to an end, always remember that friendly Texas saying: "Ya'll come back now, ya hear!!!"

River Meditation
River Meditation | Source
San Marcos River at Sewell Park
San Marcos River at Sewell Park | Source
San Marcos River
San Marcos River | Source
San Marcos River Litter Boat
San Marcos River Litter Boat | Source
Cool waters and hot reflection!
Cool waters and hot reflection! | Source
The island near Rio Vista Park on the San Marcos River.
The island near Rio Vista Park on the San Marcos River. | Source
The falls at Rio Vista Park on the San Marcos River.
The falls at Rio Vista Park on the San Marcos River. | Source

Comments

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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      6 months ago

      It was one of the three caverns I visited when I was in San Antonio, '77-'82.

    • GeckosTrails profile imageAUTHOR

      Billy W Mitchell 

      6 months ago from San Marcos, Texas

      Robert, Even though Aquarena Springs isn’t a theme park anymore the Meadows Center has a museum and a wetlands boardwalk along with the hiking trails in the Spring Lake preserve. The caverns you were talking about are Worldworld Caverns and they do have the little oddity house you were talking about.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      6 months ago

      I was asking about Aauarena Springs. I went to a couple of caverns when I was in San Antonio. I think Wonderworld Caverns may have been one of them. Is that the one that has that trick room that gives the illusion of standing sideways?

    • GeckosTrails profile imageAUTHOR

      Billy W Mitchell 

      6 months ago from San Marcos, Texas

      Robert, if you are referring to the Aquarena Springs theme park the answer is no even though the glass bottom boats are still running. It is now the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. It is a part of Texas State University. If you were referring to Wonderworld Caverns, it is still up and running. Thank you for your question!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      6 months ago

      Thank you for posting. There was a small theme park in San Marcos in the 1980s. Is it still there? The picture of President Johnson's boyhood homestead brought back memories.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      11 months ago from UK

      Great photos. I have never come across a litter boat before. This hub is well structured.

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