Just a short drive south of Austin, San Marcos offers a quaint Texas experience. Make time for a day trip with our guide to San Marcos, where you can go tubing and float the scenic San Marcos River, explore the Texas State University campus, spend a day shopping at two expansive outlet malls, visit a craft brewery and more.

Glass Bottom Boat Tour in San Marcos Texas
Glass Bottom Boat Tour. Credit Jennifer Idol.

Outdoor Activities 

San Marcos is an adventure-lovers dream. Whether you prefer a relaxing river float, an education glass bottom boat tour or an invigorating hike, you can find the activity that fits your interests. Get outside and take advantage of everything San Marcos has to explore during your day trip.

For a unique look into aquatic life, visit The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. Their Glass Bottom Boat Tours are an informative and exciting way to see fish, turtles and the endangered Texas Blind Salamander up close.

Rent a tube from a local vendor such as Texas State Tubes or the San Marcos Lions Club and float down the scenic San Marcos River. You're free to bring beverages and snacks (plus, plenty of sunscreen) on the river, just be sure to leave all glass and Styrofoam containers at home. The Rio Vista Falls make for a perfect finale!

Searching for an adrenaline rush? Visit Skydive Spaceland to satisfy your inner thrill-seeker.

Statue and shops in Downtown San Marcos Texas at Sunset
Downtown San Marcos. Courtesy of Tour San Marcos.


Whether you're hunting for a deal or looking for one-of-a-kind luxury goods, San Marcos has it all.

Spend a day shopping at the neighboring San Marcos Premium Outlets and Tanger Outlets, offering can't beat discounts at more than 240 designer and name brand stores. The San Marcos Premium Outlets has more than 140 luxury and brand name stores in a beautiful outdoor collection, while Tanger Outlets showcases more than 100 vendors in 400,000 square feet of shop-till-you-drop fun.

Looking for a local shopping experience in San Marcos? Visit historic Downtown San Marcos to shop local boutiques and specialty stores. Stop by Bower Bird Antiques & Curiosities for a selection of antiquated, uncommon, and timeworn wares, stock up on your western wear collection at Vagabond, or find stylish women's clothing with a uniquely Texas feel at River Rose Boutique.

exterior of Industry restaurant in san marcos texas
Courtesy of Industry.

Restaurants & Breweries

Satisfy your cravings in San Marcos, from home-style meals to elegant dining experiences. Many restaurants are also pet friendly, so be on the lookout for patios where your pup can join you!

Find everything from veggie-packed bowls to smoked brisket tacos at Industry. Park it at a table for the evening and test one of the 20+ beers and cocktails on tap, grab a late-night bite or play a few rounds of cornhole on the patio while grazing on green chile queso.

Celebrate a day on the river with brews and burgers at Aquabrew Brewery & Beer Garden. Find a selection of locally-brewed craft beers, a menu of upgraded American offerings and regular live music and events.

Looking for something more low-key? Centerpoint Station serves up diner food in a general store setting, along with a trendy boutique, bakery and gift shop all in one. Local tip: try the ice cream malts! If you're craving a casual lunch, Pie Society is a modern pizzeria serving New York-style pizzas (with vegan options).

Visitor Information

Learn more from the San Marcos Convention & Visitors Bureau or stop by their Visitor Center at 617 IH 35 North.

Contributed by Lauren Laird, Visit Austin Marketing Intern.