San Marcos (Texas)

San Marcos is a college town in the Central Hill Country region of Texas in the United States of America, about half an hour's drive south of the state's capitol, Austin. It was settled in 1808 by Mexican families, and is now the home to Texas State University-San Marcos.


San Marcos is often considered a college town, with the huge percentage of the population attending or supporting Texas State University-San Marcos. Most bars, restaurants, and attractions are centered around services to a college crowd. There is also a considerable conservationist mindset associated with the local rivers and endangered species. Several species live only in the headwaters of the San Marcos river.

Get in

San Marcos is located along interstate 35 (I-35) in between Austin and San Antonio.

From Austin, take I-35 South about 23 miles. You can take exits 206-204 to access the town. The university is on the West (right) side of I-35 coming from the direction of Austin.

From San Antonio, take I-35 North approximately 46 miles. You may take exits 204 thru 206 to access the town. Texas State University and the town square are on the West (left) side of the freeway coming from San Antonio.

Notably, San Marcos is a popular shopping destination, as it hosts large outlet malls South of the town about 5 miles, in the direction of San Antonio. You cannot miss them from I-35 (on the East side of the freeway).

To get to San Marcos from Houston, take IH-10 west to Luling (exit 632, about two hours), turn right (on to SH-80) and go through Luling. Continue on SH-80 north (the designated highway turns left, just after the railroad tracks). Beware of the speed traps in Martindale, just before San Marcos.

Get around

By car

Travel in most American cities, especially outside of major metro areas, is primarily by private vehicle. Parking is almost always abundant and free. (There are a few lots close to the city square where the owners tow aggressively; be sure to watch for parking signs.) The average tourist would be well-advised to rent a car from a rental agency if they don't already have their own vehicle. Traffic is usually light.

Take caution at some low water bridges. Never drive through a flooded low water crossing. Even a couple of inches of water can wash your car into the river. You then stand a good chance of losing your life.

By bus

Capital Area Rural Transportation System offers limited bus service. The fare is 50 cents.

By bicycle

Most attractions are very close to the down town and campus areas. While the hills sometimes get steep and can present an athletic challenge, many destinations are a very short ride away.









Downtown San Marcos is surrounded by what the locals call "The Square." There are more than enough bars next to and around each other to "bar hop" until you find an establishment that is right for you.


All the bars are open until 2AM every night now, and you are allowed to smoke cigarettes inside

Local Beer




Stay safe

San Marcos is a small city, and tends to be very safe. Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, so it's not necessary to carry large amounts of cash.

Emergency services such as police, fire, and medical can be reached by calling 911.

There are many places to swim in the local rivers. Some are often crowded, some are very secluded. Regardless of where you swim, always use the buddy system, and always have a way to contact emergency services (note that cell phones often lose service in the low area immediately about the river, so check the signal at your designated "towel spot" before swimming if you will rely on your cell phone for calling emergency services).

Go next


Routes through San Marcos

Dallas Austin  NE  SW  San Antonio Tucson
Waco Austin  N  S  New Braunfels San Antonio

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, February 14, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.