Home to Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas is ideally located approximately 30 miles southwest of downtown Austin and 50 miles northeast of San Antonio. Although San Marcos may not be as big as some of its neighboring cities, it is filled with a variety of recreational opportunities. In 2010, San Marcos was named by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of the “Best Places to Raise your Kids.” Along with exceptional public schools and a thriving community, San Marcos offers an array of activities for kids of all ages.
The San Marcos River is the crown jewel of San Marcos. This spring-fed waterway is the area’s hot spot for canoeing, water tubing, swimming, and kayaking. Owned by Texas State University, the 90-acre Aquarena Center is one of the city’s most popular destinations for kids’ activities. What began as a theme-park facility, changed when it was purchased by the university in 1994. Although activities still abound, the focus of the facility changed to “preservation and education.”
The Aquarena Center began with the Glass Bottom Boat rides along the San Marcos River. These attractions are still available at the center. Families can enjoy a tranquil ride along the river on these canvas-topped boats that are fitted with glass bottoms for viewing what lies beneath the waters.
Along with the boats, visitors can enjoy kayak tours and the various exhibits located in the Aquarium. The Aquarium educates visitors on this precious body of water and provides a home to endangered species known to inhabit the river. The center offers group and school tours as well as provides a fun destination to host your child’s next birthday party.
The city of San Marcos provides residents and visitors with an abundance of well-maintained city parks including Ramon Lucio Park, Rio Vista Park, and John J. Stokes San Marcos River City Park. Not only do these parks offer various outdoor recreations like playground equipment and athletic fields, the city hosts a variety of special events in the parks for children and their families.
Located on the east side of downtown, San Marcos throws their annual “Summer in the Park” at the San Marcos Plaza Park. Children can attend free concerts at the park’s stage and enjoy an eclectic array of music – from bluegrass to nuclear polka. The park also holds the “Movies in Your Park” – a free showing of some of the most popular children’s movies available.
Popular city parks with children’s playgrounds include City Park, Hills of Hays Park, H.E.B. Park, Jaycees Park, and Swift Memorial Park. Specially designed for kids is Children’s Parklocated on South C.M. Allen Parkway. The playscape provides hours of child-friendly fun that will have kids begging to stay! Should families want to enjoy an educational day out, hop over to Crook Park at IH-35 and visit the Nature Center. Children can learn about wildscaping, visit the butterfly house, or partake in one of the camps offered just for children.
San Marcos Activity Center
Located on East Hopkins, the San Marcos Activity Center has been dubbed the “Center of It All” for local activities. The center provides basketball courts, aerobic rooms, racquetball and handball courts, a weight training room, and activity rooms. To cool off from the hot Texas heat, children will be thrilled to spend the day at the center’s indoor swimming pool.