One-tank trips: 5 places to visit in San Marcos

HOUSTONOne tank of gas can take you from Houston to some pretty amazing places. Our ongoing series "One Tank Trips," helps you discover what to do, and where to eat and stay in these places.

San Marcos, Texas 

Distance from Downtown Houston to San Marcos: 166 miles

San Marcos is conveniently nestled in the heart of all major Texas cities as it is about 32 miles outside of Austin, 50 miles outside of San Antonio, 166 miles outside of Houston and 224 miles outside of Dallas. While there are plenty of spots to enjoy and stay in San Marcos, travelers can also use San Marcos as a day-trip and enjoy the remainder of a long weekend less than an hour away in Austin. 

Here are 5 things to know about San Marcos: 

1. San Marcos Premium Outlets

If you are need of a daylong shopping spree, these outlets are the spot. Between San Marcos Premium Outlets and Tanger Outlet Factory Center, the outlets have over 350 stores in the area. San Marcos Premium Outlets provides the perfect mix of both high-end and regular priced outlets including Gucci, Lululemon, Restoration Hardware, Prada, Sunglass Hut and Neiman Marcus Last Call. 

2. San Marcos River 

If you are looking for more of an outdoor experience for the whole family, head over to the San Marcos River. The river is not only a perfect trip for a hot summer day, but guests are able to enjoy the river year round as it is always 72 degrees. The water is also spring-fed and clear, which allows guests to see the bottom of the river. Guests can picnic by the river and enjoy its natural beauty or tube, kayak, paddle and snorkel. 

3. Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park

Another great day-long activity for kids families is Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park. The original Wonder Cave was discovered in 1893 and the Wonder World Cave and Adventure Park opened and has been family-operated since 1958. Attractions at the park include a cave tour, an anti-gravity house, the 190-feet high observation tower, a large slide, arcade room and more. 

4. Middleton Brewing 

Beer lovers can experience authentic Texas Hill Country beers at this 10 barrel brewpub. The brewery also has a variety of wines and locally made ciders. Guests can also use the brewery for a perfect night out as they have local entertainment and music along with a slider and pizza food truck. 

5. The Root Cellar Café & Brewery 

If you happen to be driving through San Marcos and need a quick break and lunch spot, be sure to check out The Root Cellar Café. Brunch is served from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and includes Brazilian french toast, chicken and waffles and shrimp n’ grits. Dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and menu options include ribeye, pesto pasta and salmon fillet. 

Tips & Tricks

  • According to Tour San Marcos , guests visiting the San Marcos River cannot bring glass bottles and Styrofoam coolers as they are prohibited.

  • Be sure to check out these sites including The Wittliff Collections, Center Point Station and Paper Bear as Tour San Marcos considers them to be " hidden gems. "
  • According to Trace Texas , guests visiting the San Marcos Outlet Malls should try to shop in the week and earlier in the day to avoid the crowds.