San Marcos is a town founded on the banks of the San Marcos River, though the Blanco River also flows through the city limits. The San Marcos Springs feed Spring Lake and the namesake river itself. This is why the city is home to the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, the A. E. Wood Texas Fish Hatchery, and the San Marcos National Fish Hatchery and Aquatic Resource Center.
The town is the county seat of Hays County. That’s why the Hays County Courthouse is located at the center of town. However, the city has grown until it extended into Caldwell County and Guadalupe County. The town is large enough to be one of the three hubs in the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos Metropolitan Area. All three are along the Interstate 35 corridor. And it is about thirty miles southwest of Austin. It is roughly fifty miles northeast of San Antonio. Like many towns on I-35, the city sits on the Balcones Fault. This is the boundary between the blacklands or the rich soil of East Texas and the rough rocky karst formations of Hill Country.
San Marcos is a rather large Texas town. It is large enough to have almost ten exits on I-35. It was home to a little over forty thousand people in 2010. In 2020, the population was close to seventy thousand. This is why it was named the fastest growing city in the United States in 2013 and 2014. It was named one of the best places to raise your kids in a 2010 Business Week survey. Thrillest called the city the coolest small town in Texas and a better Austin.
The city is the home of Texas State University or TSU. It is a public research university and part of the Texas State University System. It should not be confused with the Texas A&M system where the flagship campus is in College Station, Texas. The Texas State University System is the fifth largest university system in the state of Texas. It consists of ten different colleges scattered across the state. One of the largest satellite campuses is in Round Rock. That’s known as the RRC campus. The Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State is the largest forensic research facility in the world. It is one of only four “body farms’ in the United States.
Students K-12 are served by the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District. The ISD has only one high school: San Marcos High School. The town is large enough for a private high school named the San Marcos Academy. There are two middle schools in the city. There are half a dozen elementary schools.
The city is served by the Amtrak Texas Eagle Line. It has a municipal airport, and it is part of the Capital Area Rural Transportation Network or CART. And the city is located along I-35. This gives residents easy access to San Antonio and Austin. This is why Amazon set up a distribution center here. The Central Texas Medical Center is another major employer.
However, it has grown because it offers affordable housing and retains a lot of its historic Texas Hill Country charm. The average home in Austin is around 450K, though it is more than 550K if you include the most expensive homes. The average home here costs less than 300K. Furthermore, the city has awesome recreational opportunities. It isn’t just the nightlife around the university or the cultural institutions like the Centro Cultural Hispano. The city is home to the Calaboose African American Heritage Museum and an exhibit dedicated to the Central Texas Wing. The Central Texas Wing is a collection of airworthy historic military planes, many dating back to World War 2. There is also a museum dedicated to LBJ, since he lived here while earning a degree from TSU.
Locals and visitors may go tubing on the river or swimming in local lakes, if they don’t want to visit the historic downtown. People come here from Austin and San Antonio to shop at the largest outlet shopping center in the United States. It has roughly 240 stores and more than a million square feet of retail space. The city holds arts festivals and concerts regularly in addition to performances by the Texas State fine arts program.