San Marcos Like a Local

Top 5 Reasons to Meet in San Marcos, Texas

July 24, 2017

With its rich culture, scenic beauty and historic charm, San Marcos, Texas, is the perfect city to increase attendance at your next meeting or event. The city has an average of 275 glorious days of sunshine, and the alluring San Marcos River flowing through the city adds to its attraction. San Marcos offers you an abundance of outdoor activities and after-hours entertainment. This easy-to-reach destination is only three hours from Houston, conveniently located between Austin and San Antonio, and just a short drive from their local airports. Here are the top five reasons to meet in San Marcos.


1.    Meeting Venues

From large to small gatherings, San Marcos offers a variety of venues to meet your needs. Planning a big convention for up to 3,000 attendees?  The Embassy Suites by Hilton San Marcos Hotel Conference Center & Spa has 283 two-room suites, on-site catering and 78,000 square feet of meeting space. Amenities include Spa Botanica offering a range of relaxation and beauty services, along with an outdoor heated swimming pool and fitness center. Satisfy your cravings and eat a daily complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast, as well as a nightly manager’s reception that offers alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and appetizers served in the atrium. Additional dining options include Rocky River Grill, Caffeinas Marketplace Cafe and in-room dining. The hotel has free parking and is located near the bustling downtown area.


For a nontraditional event space, San Marcos has many memorable sites to offer, from local parks and recreation sites to Texas State University. The unconventional locations also include a 10,000-sq.-ft. airplane hangar and Rec Hall along the banks of the San Marcos River.


For smaller meetings with on-site catering and accommodations, San Marcos has several popular venues. The Hilton Garden Inn has meeting and event space for up to 250 people, featuring a 3,000 square foot ballroom that converts to three breakout rooms with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment.  On-site accommodations include 107 standard guest rooms and suites, with complimentary WiFi, a 24-hour business center, a fitness center, a pool and a full-service restaurant.


The Holiday Inn is a full-service hotel with 3,150 square feet of flexible functional meeting and banquet space. Beautiful outdoor event space accommodates an additional 170 people. Amenities include free WiFi, a business center, an outdoor pool, a fitness center and an on-site restaurant and bar.


2.  Outdoor Adventure

At the heart of San Marcos is the beautiful San Marcos River, fed by hundreds of natural springs. At a constant 72 degrees, the river provides year-round enjoyment like tubing down the river for an easy, exciting group bonding experience. If you’re a thrill seeker, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and snorkeling are also available to get your adrenaline flowing. For guidance on the activities, Olympic Outdoor Center provides year-round equipment and experienced instructors who help provide a safe and fun activity for your group.


Parks, natural springs and wildlife habitats abound in San Marcos, with more than 1,200 acres of parkland. One of the best ways to see this natural phenomenon is to visit The Meadows Center, where visitors can take a glass bottom boat tour and explore Spring Lake, the headwaters of the San Marcos River. You’ll see a variety of species native to the area, including fish, turtles and prawns. Include time for a stroll on the Wetlands Boardwalk and a visit to the Discovery Hall, where a 1,000-gallon aquarium and interactive exhibits await.


For more views of the city, take an urban hike and visit Veramendi Plaza, known for its pristine white gazebo, two historic museums and its fountain. With easy access to the Riverwalk—a 2.5-mile trail along the San Marcos River—you’ll enjoy the light, breezy stroll around the city.


Other parks include San Marcos City Park (with access to city jogging trails), Crook Park, San Marcos Wildlife Habitat Park and Spring Lake Preserve.


3.  Cultural Attractions

San Marcos has things to do and places to go for a wide range of interests. For car lovers, a great place to visit is Dick’s Classic Garage Car Museum. This 43,000-sq.-ft. facility houses “Dick’s” personal collection of 80 classic cars, providing a historic backdrop to the golden years of the automobile from 1901 to 1959. The museum is also available for meetings, and the entire facility can be rented for events hosting up to 300 people.


Followers of World War II memorabilia and history will enjoy the Commemorative Air Force Exhibit. The exhibit showcases historic military aircraft on display in a 1943 wooden hangar, along with a military museum and library.


Other historical museums to explore include Charles S. Cock House, built in 1867 and is the oldest remaining home in San Marcos; LBJ Museum of San Marcos, bringing to life former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s experience in San Marcos while a student at Texas State University; and Calaboose African American Museum, which has displays of San Marcos’ area history, including the Buffalo Soldiers, Tuskegee Airmen and renowned jazz artist and native son, Eddie Durham.


Enjoy a night of relaxing music at Cheatham Street Warehouse, and give a moment of reverence for all the musicians who started at this venerable establishment: George Strait, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Randy Rogers to name a few.


Art lovers have plenty to explore in the city as well. Public art murals are painted on buildings around town and ten mermaid sculptures are being installed at various locations around the downtown square. Visit the Walkers’ Gallery and Sculpture Garden, downtown’s 218 Co-op Gallery, Galleries I & II at Texas State University, or Wimberley Glassworks, known for its beautiful hand-blown glass art and lighting.


4. Food and Libation

From brewpubs to barbecue to the popular arena of food trucks, San Marcos offers a world of regional cuisines, beers and wines to taste. Centrally located across from San Marcos Plaza Park, you’ll find The Hitch: A Mobile Eatery, where you can browse the many food truck selections and enjoy live music, most weekends. Food choices include burgers, barbecue and vegetarian options. For an outdoor upgrade, relax at the beer garden or rooftop deck at downtown’s AquaBrew. Craft beer is brewed on-site, which pairs well with its classic American cuisine.


When it’s time for barbecue, these three establishments are rated as some of the best in San Marcos. Hays County Bar-B-Q Restaurant has casual cafeteria seating with delicious food and great prices. Kent Black’s BBQ rustic atmosphere gives a signature Texas ambiance with its outdoor seating and serve-your-own sides, and San Marcos BBQ serves traditional Texas Roadhouse like tender ribs, potato salad and pecan pie.


Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or simply appreciate a glass now and then, Vin De Vie Wine Tours offers custom designed tours for small groups. Tours include visits to three local wineries or tasting rooms with plenty of time to sample and learn about the fine wines of Texas.


Beer aficionados also have their choice too. Visit downtown and you’ll find the Tap Room offering beers from all over the world at great prices, The Porch, serving 55 different craft beers, and Zelicks, an icehouse housed in a converted 1930s gas station that serves local area brews and a mystery keg every Friday.


And don’t forget the San Marcos Downtown Square, the perfect place for anything from breakfast to dinner with an ice cream in between.


5. Shopping Mecca

Right off the interstate are two famous outlets—San Marcos Premium Outlets and Tanger Outlets San Marcos—with designer shops and brand names up to 65 percent off. You’ll find stores like Gucci, Prada, Lululemon Athletica, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and more.


Planning your next meeting now? Contact the Conference Services Department of the San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau for help with all your meeting needs. 512.393.5930 •

*Photos courtesy of Dick's Class Garage and Embassy Suites San Marcos.