Best Things To Do In San Marcos – guide 2024


The town of San Marcos in North County San Diego County hardly ever will get the eye it deserves. As a result of neighboring cities Carlsbad and Encinitas being on the coast, San Marcos can typically get ignored in the holiday itinerary.

However, when you take the 20-minute drive inland from the seashore, you’ll discover lots to do in this engaging and family-friendly city, together with expansive mountain and lake views, an improbable hidden resort, plus quite a few alternatives for couples, teams of mates, and whole households to be entertained.

There was main growth and renovation in San Marcos within the final 5 or so years, and the town is quickly rising. The massive ‘North Metropolis’ improvement, proper off the I-78 and after Cal State San Marcos College, was designed to rival downtown San Diego, therefore its identity. The virtually 200-acre website will proceed to be developed over the subsequent few years and embody a lodge and main retail areas.

For now, although, there may be lots to do throughout a go to San Marcos. Its crown jewel is Lake San Marcos, which is hidden from view from the highway. You may drive the principal roads across the lake and not know it even exists! However don’t be fooled, this waterfront oasis is unquestionably a go-to, and particularly a weekend keep on the lovely Lakehouse Resort on the lake’s shore.

However, the lake and its pure magnificence are simply a part of San Marcos’s attraction. And whether or not your concept of the proper day in north San Diego County includes mountaineering, lounging by the lake, or hitting up nice vineyards or breweries, you shouldn’t have any hassle discovering points of interest in and across the city.

As a North County native, I get pleasure from introducing residents and vacationers alike to the hidden gems of the area, and I’ve compiled an inventory of the perfect issues to do in San Marcos, CA.

1. Lake San Marcos: Keep, Play & Eat

Colorful boats, kayaks and paddle boats stored on the lake — the best things to do in San Marcos, CA.
Boats and water sports activities on the lake.

As talked about above, it’s good to learn about this lake upfront as you most likely received’t simply stumble throughout it. Regardless of being positioned during a residential space, this hidden gem is solely hidden from surrounding roads and doubles as an improbable resort vacation spot, because of the gorgeous Lakehouse Resort (see beneath).

The beautiful lake – which is around 1.3 miles lengthy – is essentially surrounded by waterfront homes along with the resort and is flanked to at least one facet by the mountains of San Marcos, which are dotted with mansions and filled with meandering mountaineering trails.

Swimming within the lake is prohibited, however you possibly can kayak or paddleboard to your coronary heart’s content material. The marina rental workplace is positioned on the lake at the entrance of the resort and in addition hires out water trikes, paddle boats, and Duffy boats. A current addition to the water actions for these in a romantic temper are gondolas, which you’ll be able to lease from The Black Swan Gondola Company.

The entire lake has a tranquil vibe, and when you rigorously discover the lake’s edge in sure components, you’ll discover loads of small ponds and wildlife that can delight the children. All in all, Lake San Marcos is an improbable vacation spot for both a day’s journey and a trip.

The Lakehouse Resort & resort

Handle: 1025 La Bonita Drive, San Marcos, CA 92078

A king room at The Lakehouse San Marcos
King room with lake views. (Photograph courtesy of The Lakehouse Resort)

If you wish to keep in a single day at Lake San Marcos, take a look at The Lakehouse Resort. In reality, you could go to the lake for the day and never wish to depart. It’s that stunning!

This upscale lodge was fully renovated in 2013 and is now a laid-back however stylish vacation spot for households and teams of mates alike. The 140+ rooms are stylishly embellished with an aquatic theme, and you may as well lease little cottages with giant decks with firepits that face onto the lake.

Friends get complimentary cruiser bike leases for exploring the lake’s many bike paths, plus a s’mores package upon arrival to be used at one of many resort’s many open firepits. Canines are additionally welcome.

Amalfi Cucina Restaurant

Handle: 1035 La Bonita Dr., San Marcos, CA 92078

This enormous two-level restaurant overlooking the lake is positioned after (however not owned by) The Lakehouse Resort and is a serious hotspot in San Marcos. It may be arduous to get a desk at Amalfi even early in the week, so make sure to e-book upfront.

It began life as Decoy Restaurant when the Lakehouse Resort first opened and shortly turned widespread. It was taken over and remodeled into Amalfi Cucina in 2020, however the subtle décor remained largely unchanged.

Downstairs, the restaurant juts out barely onto the lake, and the edges are open, so it’s nice on heat evenings. It has a really pleasant informal vibe, pretty tables overlooking the lake, TVs for sports activities, and an excellent bar. The upstairs restaurant is cavernous but stunningly embellished.

Assume elegance with a heat ambiance. It was once dear and extra of a special day spot, however ever for the reason that the entire restaurant became Amalfi, you possibly can get pleasure from improbable Italian meals upstairs in splendid fashion at extra cheap costs.

2. The Hyperlinks at Lakehouse (previously St. Mark Golf Membership)

Handle: 1750 San Pablo Dr, San Marcos, CA 92078

Golf lovers and newbies alike can get pleasure from a scenic day trip at The Links at Lakehouse, a championship golf course designed by Harry Rainville. A part of the Lakeside Resort, the membership is missed by mountains and set amidst tranquil lake views.

Relying on your degree or time restraints, you possibly can select between two 18-hole golf programs: The Hyperlinks is a state-of-the-art championship golf course spanning 6,400 yards, or the Government Course for a par-58 that may be performed beneath 4 hours throughout 2700 yards.

The semi-private membership is open to resort visitors and the general public and in addition contains a driving vary and a Golf Academy providing a spread of personal or group classes. Plus, you possibly can gasoline up with breakfast at The Grill, the membership’s resident restaurant, earlier than hitting the hyperlinks or wind down afterward for lunch or dinner. The Grill additionally gives brunch and dwell music on the weekends.

3. North Metropolis

Handle: 250 N Metropolis Dr, San Marcos, CA 92078

As talked about within the intro, North Metropolis is the present enormous improvement undertaking underway in San Marcos. Whereas there’s nonetheless lots to be constructed, North Metropolis has an improbable cluster of eating places simply off Barham Drive and Twin Oaks Valley Street.

These embody the large and family-friendly brewpub Draft Republic, upscale Italian eatery Buona Forchetta, the often-packed Umami Japanese Restaurant, a classy however quite dear espresso store (Copa Vida), and the award-winning and locally-owned Wynston’s Ice Cream Co.

North Metropolis options giant, engaging buildings rented out to college students at California State College San Marcos, which is true throughout the road. The entire space is gorgeous to stroll around, and there’s an excellent farmer’s market each Tuesday from 3–7 p.m., the place where you possibly can get pleasure from dwell music on the garden’s subsequent door. There are additionally rotating dwell music acts right here each Friday and Saturday night.

In the event you’re a biking fan otherwise you occur to be in San Marcos in late April, North Metropolis performs host to the world-famous Belgian Waffle Ride. Get there early, although, because the crowds get enormous.

4. Draft Republic

Handle: 255 Redel Rd., San Marcos, CA 92078

A particular shout-out ought to be to this nice location for households, because of its trendy 8-lane bowling alley, Full Swing Golf Simulator, video arcade, and enormous door space with youngsters’ video games plus shuffleboard and corn gap.

Draft Republic feels just like the centerpiece of North Metropolis with its whopping 28,000 sq ft house, though it’s to at least one facet of it. Did I point out the 40+ beer faucets, trendy wood bar, and nice meals? I extremely advocate the Spicy Vegan Cauliflower Tacos or Surf & Turf Quesadilla.

Handle: 285 Industrial St., San Marcos, CA 92078

Proper subsequent door to the Draft Republic, and just about towering above it, is this world-class climbing middle. The large house opens into what appears to be like like an enormous tunnel of varied climbing partitions, together with a velocity climbing wall. The spectacular bouldering space upstairs consists of an array of climbing choices, together with a slab wall, a twig wall, a contest wall, and an overhanging wall. There’s even a youngster climbing wall to get the little ones begun.

The Heart additionally gives every day health and yoga lessons and contains a decked-out health room. Costs begin at simply $31 for a Day Move ($21 for 4–7 yrs), or you possibly can improve to Weekly or Month-to-month passes. Mesa Rim is a superb choice for a enjoyable household day trip or a laser-focused problem for knowledgeable climbers.

6. Golden Door Spa

Handle: 777 Deer Springs Rd, San Marcos, CA 92069

The famous golden door entrance to Golden Door Spa in North San Diego County.
Sure, there may be really a golden door.

This distinctive award-winning vacation spot spa is world-famous for good purpose. Based in 1958, and renovated in 1973, the spa has performed host to Hollywood greats from Elizabeth Taylor and Natalie Wooden to current-day luminaries Nicole Kidman and Oprah Winfrey. Specializing in week-long retreats, the Golden Door’s extremely custom-made packages promise to rejuvenate your thoughts, physique, and soul.

Per week-long keep prices around $12,000 and consist of as much as 80 rejuvenating lessons from artwork to health to bop (together with Drum & Dance and 80’s Dance Social gathering!), beautiful farm-to-table meals, and an everyday therapeutic massage.

Nestled in 600 acres of nature’s splendor, the spa’s grounds embody Japanese gardens, avocado orchards, citrus orchards, bee hives, and tea gardens. Katie has been there, so you possibly can learn her Golden Door Spa review for extra particulars. Friends usually e-book in for Sunday to Sunday stays, however sometimes, you possibly can e-book in Sunday–Wednesday or Wednesday–Sunday.

Golden Door Country Store

The Golden Door Spa is famed for its deal with diet and bio-intensive farming strategies for visitors, however, when you choose to feast on their superb produce in your residence, you possibly can go to their fairly country store in San Marcos to buy seasonal, natural, and nutrient-rich harvests fare. The shop additionally sells the spa’s vastly widespread skincare model.

The nation retailer is positioned at 314 Deer Springs Street, San Marcos, and is open Tuesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

7. Jack’s Pond Park and Nature Heart

Handle: 986 La Moree Street, San Marcos, CA 92069

The 23-acre park ought to spark your curiosity in all issues science and nature with its out of doors actions. The Nature Heart is filled with hands-on exploratory actions and nature examination for youngsters, plus there’s an excellent playground, picnic areas, and restroom amenities. Tour the park at your tempo or join one of many interpretive hikes.

The Nature Heart is staffed by volunteers and goals to be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.–to 1 p.m., however, I like to recommend calling forward your go-to to double-check.

You’ll discover the precise Jack’s Pond alongside a fair mountaineering path, however, the water degree could be fairly low. It’s best to spot geese, although, and loads of wildlife alongside the path. Simply be careful with the Prickly Pear Cactus!

8. Double Peak Park

Handle: 900 Double Peak Drive, San Marcos, CA 92078

The telescope and picnic tables at the top of Double Peak Park.
There’s a telescope on the summit of the Double Peak Park in San Marcos.

Head to the breathtakingly lovely Double Peak Park for scenic views from the superb vantage level of North County’s highest peak. You may see downtown San Diego so far as Tijuana within the south and north throughout Southern California to Catalina Island on a transparent day. Plus you possibly can gaze on the scorching air balloons drifting alongside the shoreline close to Encinitas once they’re up.

You may drive properly as much as the park or park beneath and hike up the round highway. It’s not for the faint-hearted, although, because it’s a steep climb, however, the spectacular views are valuable. Double Peak Park has multiple hiking trails, the place you possibly can see for miles to the ocean, and sometimes, you can even observe the customarily snow-capped San Bernardino Mountains from afar.

9. Discovery Lake

Handle: 650 Foxhall Drive, San Marcos, CA 92078

A ruddy duck in Discovery Lake in San Marcos.

This native lake is a well-liked place to take a seat again and loosen up as you observe the various fowl species that inhabit the realm. There may be additionally a flat path across the lake of around half a mile, which is a superb choice for jogging, scooting, or only a common stroll.

The lake path can also be a pet-friendly location for leashed canines. It’s an excellent various to the aforementioned rigors of Double Peak Park. The wood pier can also be a favorite for youngsters to observe the geese – simply don’t feed them bread.

There’s an honest quantity of park and avenue parking on the entrance of the park, and there’s additionally a playground the place where dad and mom can chill and watch the little ones play. There’s additionally an enjoyable giant fountain that children are allowed to splash around in simply earlier than the path leads right down to the lake.

After circling the lake, you possibly can climb larger into the encircling hills on varied trails when you choose extra of a problem. An awesome choice is the Discovery Lake to Double Peak Path, which is 4.2 miles long. It’s slightly difficult because of the hills you’ll climb however the views of the encircling nature are beautiful. There have been mountain lion and coyote sightings however they’re uncommon.

10. Goat Yoga at The Blissful Goat

Handle: It’s on non-public property, so the San Marcos deal will likely be emailed to you upon reserving.

The Goat Yoga craze first made information again in 2016, but it surely’s alive and kicking (hopefully not actually), undoubtedly probably the most distinctive issue to do in San Marcos.

The Blissful Goat is run by chiropractor and life coach Dr. Star Bailey, who first introduced goats to her San Marcos farm for the well-being advantages of their milk over ten years in the past. She developed the concept right into a goat yoga observation when the craze took off, and it’s been a success ever since.

Whereas yoga could also be awash with animal poses (downward canine, cat pose, frog, and so forth.) no animal fairly will get in on the act like goats. Throughout lessons, Dr. Bailey’s furry mates roam across the house, leap from participant again to again, and supply a mild therapeutic massage as you ease into – and maintain – poses.

The lessons are all outdoor and the final 75 minutes are lengthy to permit for cuddles and photographs afterward. You may lease yoga mats for $3 or convey your individual. The Blissful Goat additionally gives meditation, a Neuro-Emotional Approach, and life-teaching lessons.

11. The Vintage Village

Handle: 850 Los Vallecitos Blvd, San Marcos, CA 92069

In the event you’re a vintage lover and have a while in your palms, head to this distinctive indoor village the place you possibly can rummage around for hours in the treasure hunt. The Antique Village is residence to over sixty distinctive cubicles, spans over 10,000 sq. toes, and is stocked with new merchandise every day. Favorite objects to attain right here embody furnishings, pottery, instruments, and high-quality china.

The Village is a true subsequent door to the Sky Zone trampoline park, so when you’re with youngsters who’re losing interest in knick-knack looking, you possibly can pop the subsequent door afterward the place they’ll burn up a few of their power.

12. Sunshine Mountain Winery

Handle: 2286 Sunshine Mountain Rd, San Marcos, CA 92069

Take a look at your information on grapes with a journey on the Sunshine Mountain Vineyard. Benefit from the elegant tasting room or sit down on the doors patio around a firepit to savor the flavor of various wines while absorbing magnificent mountain views. You can also discover the winery’s three earthen caves, the place where their wines are aged to perfection in oak barrels.

A meal menu can also be obtainable with assorted appetizers, entrees, attractive cheese platters, pizza, and desserts. This San Marcos winery is open to the general public from Thursday to Sunday from midday to 7 p.m.

Handle: 1365 Grand Ave Suite 100, San Marcos, CA 92078

In the event you’re on the lookout for a substitute for San Marcos’s many beer or wine choices, take a look at Meadiocrity Mead. Mead is principally alcohol created from honey, so it’s a fermented alcoholic beverage, which is also referred to as ‘honey wine,’ and is made primarily from honey, water, and yeast. It has a fairly historical past and was a favorite alcoholic beverage eons earlier than beer and wine. You might have heard mead talked about in TV reveals like Recreation of Thrones or The Lord of the Rings.

So take a step again in time at Meadiocrity Mead’s tasting room in San Marcos, the place where you’ll discover quite a lot of intriguing growlers and bottles. The out-of-door house is gorgeous, and you’ll order a flight and experiment with quite a lot of attractive flavors.

14. Bowlero

Handle: 945 W. San Marcos Blvd, San Marcos, CA 92078

For an enjoyable evening out, hit up Bowlero with the household. This can be a part of a series, however, the San Marcos location is unquestionably valuable to visit. It has 40 bowling lanes, plus billiards and pool tables, an arcade filled with state-of-the-art video games and pinball machines — and even beer pong for the adults.

Bowlero gives Evening Strike and After-social gathering choices for many who wish to bowl late into the evening.

Handle: 1180 W San Marcos Blvd, San Marcos, CA 92069

With ongoing schedules of the latest releases, this San Marcos theater gives varied decisions appropriate for adults, teenagers, and babies. The family-friendly venue has high flicks displaying throughout the day and night, so you possibly can cease by every time you’re within the temper for a film. Plush seating will make you comfortable, whereas snacks from the concession stand will certainly get your mouth watering.

You may have improbable and assorted expertise when you hit up the various issues to do in San Marcos, CA that embody the points of interest, leisure locations, leisure venues, and academic websites highlighted above. Begin planning your San Marcos journey right now!

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