15 Best Things To Do In San Marcos, CA: A Resident’s Guide

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The metropolis of San Marcos in North County San Diego County hardly ever will get the eye it deserves. Because neighboring cities Carlsbad and Encinitas are on the coast, San Marcos can usually get omitted of the holiday itinerary. But for those who take the 20-minute drive inland from the seashore, you’ll discover lots to do on this enticing and really family-friendly city, together with expansive mountain and lake views, a implausible hidden resort, plus quite a few alternatives for {couples}, teams of pals, and full households to be entertained.

There has been main enlargement and renovation in San Marcos within the final 5 or so years, and town is quickly rising. The enormous ‘North City’ improvement, proper off the I-78 and subsequent to Cal State San Marcos University, was designed to rival downtown San Diego, therefore its identify. The virtually 200-acre website will proceed to be developed over the subsequent few years and embrace a resort and main retail areas.

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

But the lake and its pure magnificence are simply a part of San Marcos’s attract. And whether or not your concept of the right day in north San Diego County includes mountaineering, lounging by the lake, or hitting up nice vineyards or breweries, you should not have any bother 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 most effective issues to do in San Marcos, CA.

1. Lake San Marcos: Stay, 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, you should find out about this lake upfront as you in all probability gained’t simply stumble throughout it. Despite being positioned in the midst of a residential space, this hidden gem is completely hidden from surrounding roads and doubles as a implausible resort vacation spot, because of the gorgeous Lakehouse Resort (see under).

The gorgeous lake – which is round 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, that 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 in 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 really tranquil vibe, and for those who rigorously discover the lake’s edge in sure components, you’ll discover loads of small ponds and wildlife that may delight the youngsters. All in all, Lake San Marcos is a implausible vacation spot for both a day journey or a trip.

The Lakehouse Hotel & resort

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

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

If you need to keep in a single day at Lake San Marcos, take a look at The Lakehouse Resort. In truth, it’s possible you’ll go to the lake for the day and never need to depart. It’s that lovely!

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

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

Amalfi Cucina Restaurant

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

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

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

Downstairs, the restaurant juts out barely onto the lake, and the perimeters 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 a fantastic bar. The upstairs restaurant is cavernous however stunningly adorned. Think elegant with a heat ambiance. It was expensive and extra of a special day spot, however ever because the entire restaurant became Amalfi, you possibly can get pleasure from implausible Italian meals upstairs in splendid type at extra affordable costs.

2. The Links at Lakehouse (previously St. Mark Golf Club)

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

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

Depending in your stage or time restraints, you possibly can select between two 18-hole golf programs: The Links is a state-of-the-art championship golf course spanning 6,400 yards or the Executive Course for a par-58 that may be performed underneath 4 hours throughout 2700 yards.

The semi-private membership is open to resort visitors and the general public and in addition incorporates a driving vary and a Golf Academy providing a spread of personal or group classes. Plus, you possibly can gas 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 provides brunch and reside music on the weekends.

3. North City

Address: 250 N City Dr, San Marcos, CA 92078

As talked about within the intro, North City is the present enormous improvement mission underway in San Marcos. While there’s nonetheless lots to be constructed, North City has a implausible cluster of eating places simply off Barham Drive and Twin Oaks Valley Road. These embrace the massive and really family-friendly brewpub Draft Republic, upscale Italian eatery Buona Forchetta, the often-packed Umami Japanese Restaurant, a classy however relatively expensive espresso store (Copa Vida), and the award-winning and locally-owned Wynston’s Ice Cream Co.

North City options massive, enticing buildings rented out to college students at California State University San Marcos, which is true throughout the road. The entire space is beautiful to stroll round, and there’s a fantastic farmer’s market each Tuesday from 3–7 p.m., the place you possibly can get pleasure from reside music on the garden subsequent door. There are additionally rotating reside music acts right here each Friday and Saturday night.

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

4. Draft Republic

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

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

Draft Republic actually feels just like the centerpiece of North City with its whopping 28,000 sq ft house, despite the fact that 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 suggest the Spicy Vegan Cauliflower Tacos or Surf & Turf Quesadilla.

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

Right subsequent door to Draft Republic, and just about towering above it, is that this world-class climbing middle. The monumental house opens into what appears like an enormous tunnel of assorted climbing partitions, together with a pace climbing wall. The spectacular bouldering space upstairs consists of an array of climbing choices, together with a slab wall, a sprig wall, a contest wall, and an overhanging wall. There’s even a youngsters climbing wall to get the little ones began.

The Center additionally provides day by day health and yoga lessons and incorporates a absolutely decked-out health room. Prices begin at simply $31 for a Day Pass ($21 for 4–7 yrs), or you possibly can improve to Weekly or Monthly passes. Mesa Rim is a superb possibility for a enjoyable household time out or a laser-focused problem for skilled climbers.

6. Golden Door Spa

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

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

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

Every week-long keep prices round $12,000 and consists of as much as 80 rejuvenating lessons from artwork to health to bounce (together with Drum & Dance and 80’s Dance Party!), beautiful farm-to-table meals, and a day by day therapeutic massage.

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

Golden Door Country Store

The Golden Door Spa is famend for its concentrate on diet and bio-intensive farming strategies for visitors, however for those who choose to feast on their superb produce in your individual residence, you possibly can go to their fairly nation retailer in San Marcos to buy seasonal, natural, and nutrient-rich harvests fare. The retailer additionally sells the spa’s vastly common skincare model.

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

7. Jack’s Pond Park and Nature Center

Address: 986 La Moree Road, 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 Center is filled with hands-on exploratory actions and nature examine for kids, plus there’s a fantastic playground, picnic areas, and restroom services. Tour the park at your individual tempo or join one of many interpretive hikes. 

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

You’ll discover the precise Jack’s Pond alongside a fairly mountaineering path, however the water stage will be fairly low. You ought to spot geese, although, and loads of wildlife alongside the path. Just be careful for the Prickly Pear Cactus!

8. Double Peak Park

Address: 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 stunning Double Peak Park for scenic views from the superb vantage level of North County’s highest peak. You can 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 can drive proper as much as the park or park under and hike up the round street. It’s not for the faint-hearted, although, because it’s a steep climb, however the spectacular views are value it. Double Peak Park provides a number of mountaineering trails, the place you possibly can see for miles to the ocean — and sometimes, you possibly can even observe the customarily snow-capped San Bernardino Mountains from afar. 

9. Discovery Lake

Address: 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 sit down again and loosen up as you observe the numerous chook species that inhabit the world. There can be a flat path across the lake of round half a mile, which is a superb possibility for jogging, scooting or only a common stroll.

The lake path can be a pet-friendly location for leashed canine. It’s a fantastic different to the aforementioned rigors of Double Peak Park. The wood pier can be a favourite for kids to observe the geese – simply don’t feed them bread.

There’s a good quantity of park and road parking on the entrance of the park, and there’s additionally a playground the place mother and father can sit back and watch the little ones play. There’s additionally a enjoyable massive fountain that youngsters are allowed to splash round in simply earlier than the path leads right down to the lake.

After circling the lake, you possibly can climb greater into the encompassing hills on numerous trails for those who choose extra of a problem. An awesome possibility is the Discovery Lake to Double Peak path, which is 4.2 miles lengthy. It’s a little bit difficult as a result of hills you’ll climb however the views of the encompassing nature are gorgeous. There have been mountain lion and coyote sightings however they’re uncommon.

10. Goat Yoga at The Blissful Goat

Address: It’s on non-public property, so the San Marcos tackle might be emailed to you upon reserving.

The Goat Yoga craze first made information again in 2016, nevertheless it’s alive and kicking (hopefully not actually), positively one of the vital distinctive issues 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 observe when the craze took off, and it’s been successful ever since.

While 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. During lessons, Dr. Bailey’s furry pals roam across the house, leap from participant’s again to again, and supply a delicate therapeutic massage as you ease into – and maintain – poses.

The lessons are all outside and final 75 minutes lengthy to permit for cuddles and pictures after. You can lease yoga mats for $3 or deliver your individual. The Blissful Goat additionally provides meditation, Neuro-Emotional Technique, and life teaching lessons.

11. The Antique Village

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

If you’re an vintage lover and have a while in your fingers, head to this distinctive indoor village the place you possibly can rummage round for hours looking for treasure. The Antique Village is residence to over sixty distinctive cubicles, spans over 10,000 sq. ft, and is stocked with new merchandise day by day. Favorite objects to attain right here embrace furnishings, pottery, instruments, and advantageous china.  

The Village is true subsequent door to the Sky Zone trampoline park, so for those who’re with youngsters who’re losing interest of knick knack looking, you possibly can pop subsequent door afterward the place they’ll expend a few of their vitality.

12. Sunshine Mountain Vineyard

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

Test your information of grapes with an journey on the Sunshine Mountain Vineyard. Enjoy the elegant tasting room or sit down on the out of doors patio round a firepit to savor the flavour of various wines whereas absorbing magnificent mountain views. You may also discover the winery’s three earthen caves, the place their wines are aged to perfection in oak barrels.

A meals menu can 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. 

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

If you’re in search of a substitute for San Marcos’s many beer or wine choices, take a look at Meadiocrity Mead. Mead is mainly alcohol constituted of honey, so it’s a fermented alcoholic beverage, which is often known as ‘honey wine,’ and is made primarily from honey, water, and yeast. It has fairly the historical past and was a favourite alcoholic beverage eons earlier than beer and wine. You could have heard mead talked about in TV reveals like Game 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 you’ll discover a wide range of intriguing growlers and bottles. The out of doors house is beautiful, and you may order a flight and experiment with a wide range of attractive flavors.  

14. Bowlero

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

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

Bowlero provides Night Strike and After Party choices for individuals who need to bowl late into the night time. 

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

With ongoing schedules of recent releases, this San Marcos theater provides numerous selections appropriate for adults, teenagers, and young children. The family-friendly venue has prime flicks displaying through the day and night, so you possibly can cease by everytime you’re within the temper for a film. Plush seating will hold you comfortable, whereas snacks from the concession stand will certainly get your mouth watering.  


You can have a implausible and assorted expertise for those who hit up the numerous issues to do in San Marcos, CA that embrace the points of interest, leisure locations, leisure venues, and academic websites highlighted above. Start planning your San Marcos journey at present!

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