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Lions Club tubers enjoy the clear cool water of the San Marcos River at Rio Vista Park. Daily Record file photos

Spending summer in the park

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Summer is almost here and with the warmer weather and longer days comes more time for recreation and relaxation, and the San Marcos Parks and Recreation Department has a lineup of free events and a plethora of places to help residents get started.

It’s no secret that San Marcos is rich in natural beauty; from the crystal-clear, spring-fed river that stays 72 degrees all year round to the many nature trails and parks that are dappled all throughout the city, there are many places to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Texas Hill Country.

City Parks

San Marcos has approximately 30 parks throughout the city, everything from river parks like Rio Vista to playgrounds like Children’s Park to a skatepark and a dog park.

Rio Vista Park

Whether you are looking to battle some rapids with a kayak or enjoy some tubing, Rio Vista Park is the spot to be. The park serves as the point of pick up for the Lions Club Tube Rental as well as tennis courts, basketball courts, picnic tables, benches, a pavilion, the city swimming pool and hike and bike trails. Rio Vista is located at 555 Cheatham St.

San Marcos Plaza Park

San Marcos Plaza Park is home to the pavilion and stage where a number of annual festivals are held every year — including Summer in the Park, SummerFest, Movies in Your Park and Sights and Sounds of Christmas. San Marcos Plaza Park is located at 206 North C M Allen Parkway.

San Marcos City Park

San Marcos City Park is an 18-acre park that has picnic tables, playscape equipment, a blacktop basketball court and connects to the city's three mile jogging trails. This park is also where Lions Club Tube Rental and the San Marcos Rec Center are located. San Marcos City Park is located at 170 Charles Austin Dr.

Children’s Park

Sisters Emma and Elizabeth Bolanos and their cousin David Ledezma sport big grins as they are pushed in one of the group swings at Children's Park.

The newly-designed playscape at Children’s Park is a completely accessible and inclusive place for children to play and exercise, featuring a poured rubber safety surface, wide ramps throughout, a roller slide, a four-seat We-saw, an expression swing, as well as the city’s first Liberty Swing, designed for use with a wheelchair.

“In addition to being accessible, our Children’s Park is inclusive and we are really proud of that,” Christie Murillo from the Parks and Recreation Department said. “That’s important to the Parks Department is that we be inclusive and accessible to people of all ages and all abilities with the programs and the facilities we provide.”

Keys for the Liberty Swing can be checked out during business hours from the Parks and Recreation office, the San Marcos Activity Center, the Rio Vista Pool or the Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Children’s Park is located at 205 S. C M Allen Parkway.

Dog Park

The city’s dog park, located at 250 Charles Austin Dr., is free to enjoy for all — pups and people alike. There’s a big area for all sizes of dogs to enjoy running in an enclosed area as well as benches for their people.

Skate Park

Auggie Aranda lands a Rock to Fakiew at the San Marcos Skate Park

San Marcos’ skate park was created over a decade ago by skate-enthusiast in the city. The one-acre park that sits right next to the library, at 627 E. Hopkins St., has bowls, ramps, rails and street features, that skaters just can’t find at other parks.

For more information on city park features and locations, go to the city's website.

Natural Areas & Trails

San Marcos also has seven natural areas — Blanco Shoals, Prospect Park, Purgatory Creek, Ringtail Ridge, Schulle Canyon and Spring Lake Preserve — that are free and open for residents and visitors to explore on foot or by bike. For trail maps and information on hiking, go to the city's website

“We have really great natural areas for all levels of activities,”Murillo said. “We have beginner trails, upper Purgatory Creek is great for more advanced hikers. There is a lot for different activity levels for all types of people.”

With the beginning of summer also comes the busy season for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, with lots of free programs and activities taking place in city parks.

Summer in the Park

Thursday was the kick off to San Marcos’s longest running concert series, Summer in the Park.

The Summer in the Park concert series has been a part of San Marcos summers since 1987. Families, couples and residents from all over the city can come out and hear talented Texas musicians from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. every Thursday night at the San Marcos Plaza Park all summer long.

Denton-based band Brave Combo kicked off the concert series with a rocking, rollicking and quaking live performance on June 6. But San Marcans have performances from bands like Beto and the Fairlanes, Walt Wilkins and the Mystiqueros, Jeff Plankenhorn, Terri Hendrix, Two Tons of Steel and Joe Ely to look forward to this summer.

Joe Ely performs in front of a full crowd for Summer in the Park last year at Plaza Park.  Daily Record photo by Frank Herrera

Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets and an ice chest full of their favorite beverages if they like, and come out and enjoy the free show. The local Boy Scouts will also be selling refreshments from their booth during the concert.

Summer in the Park is produced by the San Marcos Performing Arts Association, a grassroots, volunteer-run nonprofit, in partnership with the Parks and Recreation department of the City of San Marcos. The concerts take place at the San Marcos Plaza Park. They go on rain or shine, though if it rains the show takes place at the San Marcos Activity Center. For a full lineup of concerts, go to the Summer in the Park's website.

Movies in Your Park

The City of San Marcos Parks and Recreation Department, in partnership with Grande Communications and Cricket Wireless, will also be offering residents a Movies in Your Park series throughout the summer.

Movies in Your Park is a free community event that takes place every Tuesday in June and July at San Marcos Plaza Park.

This year’s movies include family-friendly movies like “Incredibles 2,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Trolls,” “The Boss Baby,” “Kung Fu Panda 3,” “The Grinch” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”

Pre-movie activities, hosted by the Texas Health & Racquet Club and other community organizations, begin at 7:30 p.m. followed by the movie at 8:45 p.m. It is recommended to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on. Concessions will be available for purchase, and Kona Ice will be on-site selling snow cones. For a full listing of movie dates and locations, go to the city's website


SummerFest is the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration that takes place at Plaza Park every year. Come out at 6 p.m. for an evening of live music provided by local band The Homebodies as well as Jeff Plankenhorn, food and fireworks. There will also be a Children's Costume Contest and parade. For more info, go to Summer Fest's website

Party in Your Park

Party in Your Park takes place four times a year and travels to various neighborhood parks each time. It features free family-friendly fun with yard games, music, refreshments and more. The summer Party in Your Park takes place on Aug. 23 at Dunbar Park, located at 801 W. MLK Dr., at 5 p.m. and runs until 8. Healthy snacks, activities and music will be available free of charge for all guests.

For more information on any of the city’s parks facilities or programs, go to the city's website

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666