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6 Must-See Outdoor Destinations in San Marcos, Texas

Nestled in the heart of the Lone Star State, San Marcos, Texas, is a hidden gem for exploring the outdoors, including a spring-fed river that stays a refreshing 72 degrees year-round, scenic parks and hiking trails throughout the town and surrounding areas, and a variety of outdoor activities perfect for a weekend getaway. Whether you're seeking adrenaline-pumping adventures or tranquil nature escapes, this little Texas town located between Austin and San Antonio has an outdoor activity for everyone!

Group of people tubing on the San Marcos River

Floating the San Marcos River

Beat the Texas heat by taking a leisurely float down the crystal clear San Marcos River. You can embark on a public tubing trip with one of the many local outfitters including Texas State Tubes and Lion's Club Tube Rental. Explore the different floating options around town for a variety of float lengths, locations, pricing, and shuttle options. Kick back, relax, and the enjoy the beautiful vegetation, wildlife,

and rejuvenating atmosphere of the San Marcos River.

Group of people on a crystal kayak glow tour.

Crystal Kayak Glow Tours

Looking for a unique nighttime activity in San Marcos? Experience the crystal clear waters of the San Marcos River at night with a crystal kayak glow tour! PaddleSMTX offers one of the coolest experiences in Central Texas with translucent kayaks equipped with underwater LED lights. The crystal kayaks offer a clear view of the amazing aquatic world beneath you, and you can choose from seven different color and setting options to light up your tour. This trip is led by experienced guides that offer fascinating discoveries of the San Marcos River throughout the tour, enhancing this surreal experience under the stars. PaddleSMTX offers nightly tours March - October with four tours per evening that last about 1.5 hours each, and don't forget to BYOB!

Glass bottom boat tour on Spring Lake.

Glass Bottom Boat Tours

For a family-friendly outdoor activity, experience a glass-bottom boat tour with The Meadows Center! Learn about the history of Spring Lake with a crystal clear view of the underwater ecosystems, including a variety of species, even a few that can only be found in the San Marcos River. The Meadows Center is open daily with tours running every 30 minutes (hours may vary depending on weather and time of year). There are different price ranges for adults, children, seniors, and students, making this a perfect activity for all ages.

Hiking in San Marcos

If you are looking for an outdoor activity on land, San Marcos is home to some amazing hiking trails. For a more leisurely walk that is ADA friendly and perfect for families, Purgatory Creek Natural Area has a variety of trail options that are easy to follow and offer a unique scenery of wildlife and woodlands without straying too far out of town. For a slightly more challenging terrain, check out Spring Lake Natural Area where you can find a steep and rocky hill on the Blue Heron Trail. Finally, there are many great walking trails and local parks that are great for leisurely strolls or family outings such as the San Marcos River Walkway.

Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park

Come explore the underground history of an ancient earthquake cave, where you can take a glimpse into the geological eras of the Wonder World Cave. Along with the unique underground cave experience, this family-friendly activity also includes a Texas Wildlife Petting Zoo, an Anti-Gravity House, and a variety of exciting activities for all ages. You can get all-in-one tickets to experience the entirety of the Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park with a fully guided tour, or you can specify your experience with a cave-only or train ride-only ticket option.

Downtown Square

For a more lively glimpse of what San Marcos has to offer, take a trip to the Downtown Square, where you can check out some awesome vintage shops, get a tasty meal at any time of day, explore the weekend outdoor markets, and see what the downtown nightlife has to offer. For a Saturday morning outing, stop by Cafe on the Square for a hearty breakfast or Babe's Doughnut & Coffee for a delicious latte, then stroll over to the local farmer's market from 9am - 1pm. Walk around the shops for some vintage gems, fun boutique items, and unique pieces from local artists. For a nighttime experience, have dinner and drinks at Sean Patrick's Irish Pub, then see what the nightlife has to offer by visiting an outdoor patio at some of the local bars including Zelick's Icehouse and Chimy's Cerveceria.

Whether you're a long-time local or visiting for the weekend, San Marcos, TX has all of the outdoor activities to kick-start your summer. With family-friendly entertainment, one-of-a-kind date ideas, and tranquil evening journeys, the outdoor activities in San Marcos will leave you feeling refreshed, fulfilled, and ready for the next adventure!


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