San Marcos, home to Texas State Universitiy, offers tourists plenty of ways to while away a weekend, from exploring the city’s historic square to summertime tubing on the San Marcos River.
See the website of the San Marcos Tourist Information Center for details about attractions, dining, hotels, and events. Here are some year-round favorites.
The public face of the Central Texas Museum of Automotive History, which was founded in Rosanky in 1980 and moved recently to San Marcos, this vibrant museum features 80 historic automobiles from the 1900s through the 1950s. Founder and car collector Dick Burdick not only showcases his beautifully maintained vintage fleet, but also highlights memorabilia such as 1930s gas pumps and advertising of the period. The museum also recognizes that cars present an alluring portal to history in general: School groups can take themed tours of the collection with advance notice, focusing on areas of study like math, inventors, and the Great Depression.
This classic San Marcos honky-tonk has brought live music and dancing to San Marcos since 1974. In October 1975, a then-unknown singer named George Strait debuted here with his brand-new outfit the Ace in the Hole Band, and other Cheatham Street veterans include Randy Rogers, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Slaid Cleaves. These days, there’s live music here nearly every night.
For four decades starting in the 1950s, a theme park called Aquarena Springs operated here at the headwaters of Spring Lake, where visitors could watch a swimming pig named Ralph interact with underwater “mermaids” and observe the lake’s aquatic life via glass-bottom boat rides. In 1994, the park was purchased by Texas State University, which now operates the facility for research. But visitors can still explore the crystal-clear waters by glass-bottom boats; these days, kayaks are available, too.
San Marcos lies on the Balcones Fault Line, an inactive fault zone line that roughly parallels I-35 through much of Texas. On the surface, the line is expressed through topography: To the east of the zone, the land is relatively flat, while to the west you’ll see rugged limestone and higher elevations. Learn more about the Balcones Fault Line at Wonderworld Cave, which was created by a long-ago earthquake.