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Things To Do In San Marcos – 15 Amazing Things

Situated not too far away from the more famous Austin, Texas, San Marcos is also a great city to visit! There are countless terrific things to do in San Marcos. It boasts a lot of shopping and entertainment, a great deal of history, and some gorgeous nature.

If you stick to the more urban areas, you’ll find lots of museums, shops, cafes, restaurants, venues, and more. At the same time, there’s all sorts of boating, fishing, and water-based adventures on the San Marcos River.

The following is our guide to 15 of our favorite things to do in San Marcos, Texas. Whether you’re there for a short stay or a bit longer, you’re sure to find lots of excitement!

Some people only visit as a short day trip from Austin. We’re here to tell you, however, that you could easily make an entire vacation out of San Marcos alone!

Museums and Galleries

If you love history and art, there are so many things to do in San Marcos, TX! These are some of our favorite places for taking in all the culture this amazing city has to offer.

1. Calaboose African American History Museum

Address: 200 Martin Luther King Dr, San Marcos, TX 78666

Hours: Sat: 10 AM – 3 PM and by appointment

Phone: 512-393-8421


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In the second half of the 19th century, this historic building was the county jail. Now the Callaboose African American Museum is one of the best things to do in San Marcos for history. Here, you’ll learn the story of how African Americans lived in Texas during its early days.

This history is conveyed through a variety of methods. The museum has a permanent collection of historic artifacts, photographs, and letters to educate and engage visitors.

It teaches the wider story of Black people in Texas but also personalizes it by zooming in on specific figures. Amongst its collection is a lot of items that use to belong to Eddie Durham, a famous jazz musician.

2. Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos

Address: 211 Lee St, San Marcos, TX 78666

Hours: Tues – Fri: 2 PM – 6 PM; Sat: 10 AM – 2 PM; Closed Sundays & Mondays

Phone: 512-878-0640


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San Marcos is also home to a great deal of San Hispanic heritage and history as well. To learn it, one of the things to do in San Marcos is the Centros Cultural Hispano de San Marcos. It’s an unmissable place for Latinx art, history, and culture.

It’s even housed in a historic building that used to be a Mexican school, dating back to Texas’ segregation era. Currently, the museum has a historical artifact area and a lovely art gallery you’ll find fascinating.

The center is also home to a library and book exchange, and they regularly hold special educational events. Check their website for the full schedule!

3. Charles S. Cock House Museum

Address: Veramendi Park, 400 E Hopkins St, San Marcos, TX 78666

Hours: Fri: 11 AM – 1 PM and by appointment/special events

Phone: 512-392-4295


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Another of the best historical things to do in San Marcos is the Charles S Cock House Museum. This historical home was built in the year 1867 and is the oldest remaining residential structure in San Marcos.

The house’s architecture is Greek Revival. And it’s of interest to architects and history buffs alike, as its full of the house’s original furnishings. These gorgeous antiques are truly stunning to behold today.

It also has an absolutely beautiful kitchen, which is referred to as the Cottage Kitchen. And to this day you can actually schedule a lunch there! So it’s a unique opportunity to have a warm meal in a room that’s over 150 years old!

4. LBJ Museum

Address: 131 N Guadalupe St, San Marcos, TX 78666

Hours: Thurs – Sat: 11 AM – 5 PM; Closed Sundays through Wednesdays

Phone: 512-353-3300

President Lyndon B Johnson

You might be wondering what President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s connection to San Marcos was. Well, he actually went to Texas State University, which is located there, as an undergrad!

Celebrating this connection, the LBJ Museum focuses on his years as a student. It’s another of the best things to do in San Marcos if you’re interested in history.

Here, you’ll get to browse through exhibits featuring photographs, paintings, and statues. You’ll even get to see a voting machine from 1930, along with a number of other artifacts.

That’s because it doesn’t only tell LBJ’s story but that of his era in San Marcos. So even if you’re not particularly interested in LBJ, you’ll still find something fascinating here to learn!

5. The Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force

Address: 1841 Airport Dr Bldg 2249, San Marcos, TX 78666

Hours: Mon – Sat 9 AM – 4 PM; Closed Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays

Phone: (512) 396-1943

World War II era planes flying.

Editorial credit: Holly Kuchera /

If you’re a World War II buff, one of the best things to do in San Marcos is visit the Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force! Housed inside an authentic wooden airplane hangar from 1942, it’s now a museum for WWII aviation history.

On a trip here, you’ll get up close and personal with a lot of actual historic aircraft from the time period. You’re literally allowed to sit in the cockpit of one of the actual planes!

You’ll also get a to see a lot of historical military artifacts as well as browse through their comprehensive library. And book in advance for an actual flight experience!

6. The Witliff Collections

Address: Alkek Library, 7th Fl, Talbot St, San Marcos, TX 78666

Hours: Mon – Fri: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM; Sat: 11 AM – 4:30 PM; Sun: 12 PM – 4:30 PM

Phone: 512-245-2313


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If you’re interested in exploring the art not only of San Marcos but the entire Southwest, come here! The Witliff Collections is one of the best cultural things to do in San Marcos, TX.

Part of Texas State University, it’s a great way to explore the art and culture of the area. And it’s also an opportunity to explore this famous campus!

In the collection, you’ll find all sorts of fascinating things including art, photography, music, film, literature, and historical archives. For a university museum, they have a genuinely impressive permanent collection. Delving through it paints a beautiful picture of the culture and spirt of the Southwest, and Texas in particular!


While San Marcos has a lot of culture, it also has lots of opportunities for adventure as well. These are some of the most fun, adventurous things to do in San Marcos for the whole family. We hope you have a blast exploring them!

7. Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park

Address: 1000 Prospect St, San Marcos, TX 78666

Hours: Fri – Sun: 10 AM – 5 PM; Closed Mondays through Thursdays

Phone: 512-392-6711


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One of the most exciting, unique things to do in San Marcos is easily Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park. Other places may have theme parks, but this one includes America’s only earthquake cave that’s actually accessible!

The tours will take you underground into the cave system. There, the guides will teach you about the geological history of San Marcos and you’ll see breathtaking rock formations.

In addition to going underground, the park also has an awesome observation tower! Just riding the elevator up will give you an adrenaline rush, not to mention seeing the glorious views up there. Also don’t miss the zoo, the anti-gravity house, or the trackless train that takes you under a waterfall!

8. The Meadows Center Glass Bottom Boat Tours

Address: 201 San Marcos Spring Dr, San Marcos, TX 78666

Hours: Mon – Sun: 9:30 AM – 4 PM

Phone: 512-245-7570

San Marcos River

If you’re craving more adventure, another of the things to do in San Marcos is Meadows Center Glass-Bottom Boat Tours! They provide a unique opportunity to explore the awe-inspiring Spring Lake.

The boats take you down the lake while the glass bottoms let you peer down closer than you otherwise could. You’ll see all sorts of aquatic life from various fish to shrimp to turtles. Meanwhile, the tour guides will teach you about the lake’s ecosystem and archeological significance.

The best time of year to visit is the spring and summer, as the life there is more active then. And make sure you check out the on-site exhibits and their lovely gift shop!

9. Paddle SMTX

Address: 170 Charles Austin Dr, San Marcos, TX 78666

Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Phone: 512-400-6259

San Marcos River

Another of the most adventurous things to do in San Marcos is Paddle SMTX. They provide kayaking and paddleboarding tours on the beautiful San Marcos River. It’s a great chance to experience the wonder of the river while having an adrenaline rush.

Paddle SMTX also offers Glow Light Night Tours, which we highly recommend. As beautiful as the river is during the day, there’s something really magical about it at night. Especially with the boat’s colorful LED lights illuminating the dark.

There are also options if you want to go out on the water during the day but try something calmer. For example, they have paddleboard yoga classes, which are a unique way to experience both this tradition and the river.

10. Texas State Tubes

Address: 2024 N Old Bastrop Hwy, San Marcos, TX 78666

Hours: Mon – Fri: 11:30 AM – 3:30 PM; Sat – Sun: 10 AM – 4 PM

Phone: 512-638-7165

San Marcos River

And there are even more fun things to do in San Marcos if you want to spend time on the river! The last on our list is Texas State Tubes, another way to enjoy the river without breaking the bank.

If you don’t know, they’re essentially large inflatable floating tubes. You grab hold of them and they literally float you down the river! The whole trip takes about 3 hours, and it’s exciting way to immerse yourself in the environment…literally!

Conveniently, Texas State Tubes has two parking lots, one at each end. They also have a shuttle service to get you to your car or the start of the journey if needed.

Nightlife and Live Entertainment

Amongst the many things to do in San Marcos, it also has a vibrant nightlife. Here are some of our favorite spots to go for entertainment, live music, and drinks.

11. The Marc

Address: 120 E San Antonio St, San Marcos, TX 78666

Phone: 512-757-5443


For a night out on the town, one of the best things to do in San Marcos is The Marc! This centrally-located multi-level nightclub and music venue is located inside a historic building in downtown San Marcos.

And today it’s one of the best places in the area to go for a drink and some live entertainment. Depending on the night, you might see a great DJ, or a band or musician either local or on tour.

Some are full concerts, sometimes they have theme nights with a curated line-up. Whatever it is, you’re sure to have an exciting night full of music and dancing. The Marc really is the epicenter of San Marco’s nightlife. If nightlife is your thing, you honestly can’t give this place a miss!

12. The Cheatham Street Warehouse

Address: 119 Cheatham St, San Marcos, TX 78666

Hours: Mon – Sat : 3 PM – 2 AM; Closed Sundays

Phone: 512-353-3777


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The other of the best things to do in San Marcos for live music is the legendary Cheatham Street Warehouse. This historic venue is a genuinely iconic place for country music. Most of the greatest Texas icons have played here.

Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Guy Clark, and Marcia Ball are just some of the biggest names. They don’t have people on that level of celebrity every night. But they always keep the nostalgic spirit alive by honoring and celebrating the great music culture of the area.

Whether you’re seeing a timeless legend or an up-and-coming talent, you’ll be dazzled. It’s an awesome place to feel part of country music past and future, and to just have a great time.

Shopping and Dining

Sometimes on a vacation, you just want to spend some time buying some souvenirs and indulging in great food. These are the best things to do in San Marcos if you just want to shop a bit and relax.

13. San Marcos Premium Outlets

Address: 3939 S Interstate 35, San Marcos, TX 78666

Hours: Mon – Sat: 10 AM – 9 PM; Sun: 11 AM – 7 PM

Phone: 512-396-2200


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If you’re ready for shopping, San Marcos Premium Outlets is one of the best things to do in San Marcos. Made up of two enormous malls, they have more than 240 stores, one of the largest outlets in the country!

You’ll love finding great luxury brand bargains at places like Saint Laurent, Valentino, and more. Meanwhile, you can shop for the kids at places like Nautica Kids and Gap Kids.

And if you don’t feel like dragging the kids along with you shopping, there’s a place for them! You can drop them off at Adventure Kids USA while you shop!

There are also some fantastic restaurants. We particularly love Anchor Bar and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen.

14. Grins Restaurant

Address: 802 N LBJ Dr, San Marcos, TX 78666

Hours: Sun – Thurs: 11 AM – 9 PM; Fri – Sat: 11 AM – 10 PM

Phone: 512-392-4746


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One of the best things to do in San Marcos for a bite to eat is Grins Restaurant. This iconic spot is located right near Texas State University, making it a favorite for students, locals, and tourists. It’s a great place to soak up the authentic local culture.

It also serves a very Texas menu. They have fantastic burgers, chicken sandwiches, steaks, and fajitas. We definitely recommend you place an order of their “Texas-sized” onion rings for the table. Their frozen strawberry margaritas are also a really refreshing treat.

On weekend nights, they also offer steak specials, and added dinner specials on Sundays. And during warmer times of year, you may enjoy eating outside in their lovely covered deck area.

15. Wake the Dead Coffeehouse

Address: 1432 Old Ranch Rd 12, San Marcos, TX 78666

Hours: Mon – Sun: 7 AM – 10 PM

Phone: 512-754-9253


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Are you a fan of Tim Burton and the macabre? Then you have to check out Wake the Dead Coffee House! Their coffee is so delicious, you’ll want to try it either way. But if you love the spooky and the curious, you’ll particularly enjoy a visit here.

Wake the Dead is more than just a simple coffeehouse. They also have sandwiches, baked goods, and a wide variety of beers and wines. They also host live music and are open till 10 PM every night!

An exhilarating, vibrant place, they also exhibit local artists’ work (the weirder the better!), and have event such as improv workshops and movie nights! Make sure to check the schedule on their website before you visit!


We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look at 15 of the best things to do in San Marcos! We really could have gone on all day, but we wanted to make sure we left some surprises for you. So what are you waiting for? Book your San Marcos vacation as soon as possible!


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