The home of Texas State University, San Marcos is easily accessible, sandwiched between Austin and San Antonio. In 2013, Business Insider named San Marcos number nine on its list of the “10 Most Exciting Small Cities in America.” It offers a number of things to do and is a very family friendly destination. The natural beauty of the area makes it a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and contributes to its nickname, “San Marvelous.”
Best Times to Visit San Marcos, TX
San Marcos is delightful year-round, but it truly shines in the summer. Located on the banks of the San Marcos River, hot humid summers bring the perfect weather for tubing down the river. Temperatures average around 85 to 90, but many days it's over 100 degrees. Canoeing, swimming, and fishing are also popular activities on the river. Summers are glorious, but it's also the most difficult time to get a deeply discounted hotel room; still, rooms in this city are reasonable throughout the year.
The summer heat breaks in late October, and San Marcos and the surrounding area come alive with festivals and outdoor events. If you're planning to visit during this time, do some research on events and book early because the top hotels can sell out, particularly during the USGP Formula One Race in mid- to late October. October is also Texas Wine Month, and brings Oktoberfest, with many outdoor festivals and wineries hosting special events.
Winter in San Marcos is generally mild to cool, with days averaging around 50 degrees. Fly fishermen flock to the area this time of year. Almost all precipitation is in the form of rain, not snow, and there's not much. The sun shines in San Marcos an average of 300 days per year. Winter offers the best hotel rates.
Spring ushers in the painted beauty of the wildflower carpets this part of Texas is known for. The roads are a lot more traveled, and weekends are busy with everyone enjoying the expansive views and brilliant colors. The temperatures warm up quickly, with an average in the low 70s in March to nearly 90 by May.
Below is a chart of the current pricing seasonality of hotels and motels in San Marcos, TX:
San Marcos by Star Rating
Below are 3 charts demonstrating mean rate trends by star rating class in San Marcos, TX. You can use these charts to determine the most cost effective months to book a room in San Marcos for any future trips.
Luxury Hotel Options in San Marcos, TX
4 Star Average Prices: $155.65
While there aren't any extremely high-end luxury hotels in San Marcos, there are a number of charming bed & breakfasts, inns, and ranches nearby. The Crystal River Inn Bed & Breakfast is an 1883 Victorian-style inn with a host of amenities. Each room is sumptuously decorated, including some with fireplaces, canopy beds, and luxurious soaking tubs. The inn provides guests with the option of having breakfast in bed, and offers romantic, horse-drawn carriage rides. Unlike most bed and breakfasts that cater only to romance, the Crystal River Inn is often the site of business meetings in its tastefully appointed, sun-lit library.
The Crystal River Inn is near downtown, where there are several delightful places to explore. Check out Zelicks, which is a unique addition to the San Marcos bar scene. Don't miss its “Mystery Keg” every Friday night. Bower Bird Antiques & Curiosities is a fun store to browse. It carries antiquated and uncommon treasures from the past. Alpha Strikes Games sells a lot of games, as the name implies, and also offers a room to play them in.
Another luxury option is the Creekhaven Inn Bed & Breakfast in nearby Wimberley. A bit more modern in its décor than the Crystal River Inn, Creekhaven boasts wood-beamed ceilings, lush greenery, and an outdoor hot tub. The main building blends into the surrounding shady oaks and stunning water features. There's plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy the outdoors.
Creekhaven places guests near Blue Hole Regional Park in a spot that's largely rural and perfect for getting away from it all. San Marcos is about twelve miles away.
Affordable Hotel Options in San Marcos, TX
3 Star Average Prices: $123.35
San Marcos offers a number of economical chain hotels, including America's Best Value, Days Inn, Econo Lodge, and Best Western San Marcos. These properties are located just off I-35, which gives them easy access to downtown and the outlet stores. These economy hotels offer free parking and comfortable accommodations.
The Baymont Inn & Suites offers an indoor pool and whirlpool. Guests who want to splurge a little can opt for one of their Jacuzzi suites. Guests will find microwaves and refrigerators in the rooms, so leftovers from nearby restaurants, like Cracker Barrel and Outback Steakhouse, can provide a tasty second meal. The next morning, guests can enjoy the complimentary continental breakfast.
2 Star Average Prices: $88.76
Which San Marcos hotels have real discounts?
San Marcos offers a lot of economical options for a vacation, including ways to get even further discounts. Since several of the town's hotels and motels are chains, many of them offer AAA, senior, and government/military discounts. Some also offer frequent stay programs.
The Howard Johnson San Marcos discounts for AAA on its already low-priced rooms, making it one of the best values in town. A room there with AAA discount and complimentary breakfast runs about $51 per night during the summer, saving guests about 10%. You can even bring your pet.
The Super 8 San Marcos offers military/government and senior citizen discounts with a valid ID. There's also a AAA rate. Sometimes these hotels offer better rates or discounts than the group discounted rates, so it's always important to look for the lowest price available and what's included with the room. The Super 8 provides complimentary breakfast and free Wi-Fi, making it a great deal at just under $60 per night.
Best Value Options in San Marcos, TX
San Marcos offers a number of suite hotels. For about the price you'd pay for a single room, these hotels offer a sitting room and a bedroom, making it a nice option for families or people who enjoy having a little more space. There's Country Inn & Suites By Carlson for under $150 with full breakfast, Comfort Suites near Texas State University, with free Wi-Fi and breakfast for just under $100 per night, and Baymont Inn & Suites, for about $80 per night.
The least expensive hotels are conveniently located near highway I-35 and cater to the roadtripper; for this reason, many of them are pet-friendly. Check with management for whether there are additional charges for your fur baby.
Top San Marcos, TX Destinations
The former Aquarena Springs is a beautiful slice of Americana. From the '60s through the '80s, people flocked to the popular tourist destination to see mermaid performances and a swimming pig named Ralph. Today, much of the park has crumbled, but the area is still known for its glass-bottom boat rides on Spring Lake. The boats are now part of the Meadows Center of Water and the Environment at Texas State University. Meadows Center also offers a more intimate exploration of the area with their glass-bottom kayaks. The springs are home to eight federally listed or endangered species.
Wonder World Park shows visitors the delights of spelunking in a cave that was created by an earthquake along the Balcones Fault Line. In addition to cave tours and the earthquake program, the park offers train rides through the Texas Wildlife Petting Park, Mystery Mountain, an observation tower, and an anti-gravity chamber. Operational since 1903, Wonder World Park boasts the oldest cave tour in Texas.
San Marcos is home to several music legends, including Stevie Ray Vaughn. Visitors can listen to up-and-comers at Cheatham Street Warehouse. The old warehouse is now a hotspot for live music, where the ambiance is as memorable as the acts.
With 1200+ acres of parkland, it's no wonder residents and visitors alike love to be outdoors here. The area offers miles of bike and hiking paths, a children's park, dog park, publicly accessible river frontage, and a skatepark. San Marcos is an outdoor lover's favorite kind of vacation, with miles of paths and winding waterways that beckon to be explored.
In addition to outdoor activities like fishing, tubing, and canoeing, shopping is a popular pastime. Stroll the unique shops around Courthouse Square in downtown San Marcos or check out the large outlet malls. The Wimberley Glassworks offers daily demonstrations (except on Monday) in the art of crafting glass. The gallery is open every day.
San Marcos is a culinary exploration, a delicious blend of German, American, Tex Mex, and Mexican cuisine. From food trucks to delis, artfully decorated coffee shops to farm-fresh local dining, San Marcos has something to suit everyone's tastes. Comfort food has a whole new meaning in this town. Your four-legged friends will even agree, as many of the restaurants are pet-friendly.
Texas State University brings collegiate sports, arts, and cultural events to the area. While the city houses nearly 60,000 residents, San Marcos still retains the quaintness of a small town. But unlike a small town, there are lots of entertainment options.