Walking around San Marcos is a sensory experience. The smells, colors, textures, and tastes tell a story of the city, its citizens, and the unique culture that developed in this oasis town between San Antonio and Austin.
When you’re there, you’ll definitely want to stroll through the Downtown Square with its boutiques, coffee shops, cafes, and more. But what you may be most charmed by is San Marcos’ blossoming art scene — and its equally vibrant craft brew cred.
Start with the arts
With an ever-growing collection of vibrant public art and murals, sculptures, galleries, and more, San Marcos has created a thriving culture for art lovers and artists alike.
The Mermaid March is a collection of 10 larger-than-life mermaid sculptures that can be found around the city. At about seven feet tall, each mermaid represents a different aspect of what makes San Marcos unique, from local folklore to popular attractions and natural flora and fauna.
Why the mermaid? In the early 20th century, the Aquarena Springs Theme Park offered glass-bottom boat tours of the San Marcos River, featuring Submarine Theater performances from Aquamaids. Naturally, there was a diving pig, too, who delighted visitors with his “swine dive.”
In addition to those mermaid sculptures, San Marcos has impressive large-scale murals to seek and find. But you’ll also love playing eye-spy with the whimsical mini murals that are hidden in plain sight around town.
Don’t miss the work of local artist Rene Perez, who has creating charming renderings like the beloved “Cupig” in Kissing Alley.
Then check out what the next generation of artists are working on at Texas State University’s student galleries, where you’ll find fresh and unique pieces.
Or see the rotating exhibits on display at the San Marcos Art Center, where you can also shop local pieces from clay and sculpture to stained glass, fine art, and handcrafted jewelry.
Cap off your gallery tour at Wimberley Glassworks, which is known worldwide for beautiful hand-blown glass art and lighting pieces. There, artisans use centuries-old techniques and a variety of materials — even pure silver and 23 karat gold — to achieve amazing luminosity in each piece.
Stay for the craft
Take a happy-hour break from your art tour at a brewery or two, because there’s something — many things, actually — to love about San Marcos’ craft breweries, which serve up good beer and good vibes.
Located right off the Downtown Square, AquaBrew is easily accessible and boasts celebrated brews and food along with an expansive outdoor beer garden. You’ll quickly become obsessed with the quirky labeling and can art that pay homage to San Marcos icons like Ralph the Swimming Pig and the mermaids.
Also downtown is Sean Patrick’s Irish Pub, which is housed in an 1885 historical building. With a wide range of beers on tap, including some of their own in-house brews, you’ll have a lot to choose from at this popular hangout.
Roughhouse Brewing is a family-owned and operated craft brewery located on the Pasternak family ranch. They specialize in farmhouse ales, traditional lagers, and cave-aged brews and serve them with scratch-made fare like build-your-own tacos, Texas Wagyu brisket sandwiches, warm pretzels, and more.
Hang out in the rustic brewery barn or listen to live music on the weekends amidst the oak tree-surrounded outdoor patio.
Great brews and great burgers are Middleton Brewing’s calling card. Live music is frequently on tap, too. But no matter what, you’ll want to grab a glass and head to the rooftop deck for beautiful Hill Country views. Also, a word to the epicureans: Schedule your visit to coincide with one of Middleton’s special chef-paired beer dinners.
For more ways to savor San Marcos — and beat the summer heat — check out this list of additional things to do, including a day on the San Marcos River, a tour of Wonder World Cave, and cool museums to explore.