The Complete City Guide to San Marcos, California

Get to Know San Marcos



Get to Know San Marcos

A Southern California city with a small town charm, San Marcos is home to a variety of activities perfect for keeping locals and visitors entertained. Whether it’s starting the morning with a visit to a local coffee shop, hiking to witness the city view or dining in an upscale eatery, the “Valley of Discovery” has plenty to offer. 

Kick off your day right with a nice morning drink and breakfast with one of San Marcos’ signature places. Hipster meets luxe with the city’s resident coffee shop, Perks Coffee House. Located near Cal State San Marcos University, this relatively new shop opened just two years ago. Although small, the shop embodies a vintage charm that makes it an attraction for residents and visitors. The interior features glam decorations, such as a crystal chandelier and a retro inspired seating area. Their satisfying menu of drinks ranges from mochas to flat whites, all retailed for under $5. If coffee is not your cup of ‘tea,’ choose from herbals, green, chai, etc. to have a soothing drink without the added caffeine. If you’re in need of some food, Perks offers a selection of baked goods and entreés that vary from açaí bowls, wraps, pizzas and salads. Try the Jalapeño mac and cheese for a Perks signature. To provide some entertainment, guests are treated to an open mic night and live music starting at 6 p.m. every other Monday night. 

If you’re looking for a sit-down eatery, look no further than San Marcos’ famous family restaurant, Mama Kat’s. Exemplifying that home is truly where the heart is, Mama Kat teams up with her family to bring guests the best pie shop and restaurant in town. Located on San Marcos boulevard, the family restaurant has become a staple for residents. Using her 40 years of experience in the restaurant business, Mama Kat created a dining experience that would not only offer delicious meals, but make everyone feel welcomed and a part of her family. Open until 2 p.m., the shop offers a menu filled with home-cooked meal inspired entreés that vary in brunch items. Choose from homemade hash, omelettes, pancakes, egg benedicts, southern grits, burgers and salads. Apart from their tasty meals, Mama Kat is known for their renowned homemade pies. Pie flavors range from Cookies and Cream, Banana Heaven, Triple Chocolate, Southern Peach and Old Fashioned Buttermilk.

For those seeking a more fine dining experience, make dinner reservations at The Bellows.  An upscale restaurant located in Twin Oaks, The Bellows is an eatery that residents can wine and dine without having to travel far. One of the city’s finest restaurants, the restaurant has an outdoor patio, fireplace and a peaceful environment to match. Not only does it have a luxurious ambiance, but a menu filled with an array of delicious meals and drinks that can satisfy any craving. Choose from their list of sparkling wines and cocktails that can be perfectly paired with any of their scrumptious entreés. Cooked with the freshest ingredients, choose from savory flatbreads, greens, seafood, grass-fed burgers, paninis and free-range poultry. The restaurant also features an ample selection of charcuterie & cheeses that can make for appetizing snacks. Signature brunch items are available Thurs.- Sun. and include: Smoked Salmon Scramble, Bacon, Ham and Egg Breakfast Flatbread and Short Rib Hash. The plates range from $11 to $30. 

If you’re in need of more eateries, San Marcos is also home to Restaurant Row, a plaza filled with a diverse selection of dining spots all within walking distance of each other. Stop by the Old California Coffee Company for a light meal accompanied by a nice cup of joe or visit Churchill’s Pub & Grille to watch your favorite sports games, while playing pool and drinking alcoholic beverages from local fare and imports.

Tired of your same workout regime? Switch things up by hiking at Double Peak Park. The moderate trail is 4.4 miles long, with a great uphill trek perfect for hikers and bikers searching for that perfect outdoor workout. Don’t be fooled that Double Peak is a typical hiking trail, but rather as the yellow brick that leads to Emerald City. Once visitors reach the top of the trail’s hill, they can witness a 360 view of the city and beyond. Perched in the middle is a telescope, allowing visitors to see as far from Mexico to Orange County. A parking area allows drivers to rest and take a moment to enjoy the view. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., letting anyone enjoy a view of both the sunrise and sunset of the city. The trail can also connect to Discovery Lake, a small trail that surrounds Lake San Marcos. Visitors can have a quiet place to enjoy lunch, feed the lake’s ducks or take picture perfect photographs. 

Have a fun family outing at Sunset Park, located between Rancho Santa Fe Rd. and Poinsettia Ave. The clean setting features a children’s playground with a splash pad, where kids can laugh and have fun while being active outdoors. Also within the park’s vicinity is a dog park, basketball court and volleyball court, making the San Marcos park a perfect location for any and all outdoor fun in the sun. 

Whether you’re looking for a fun activity to enjoy with friends or your family, the Mighty Awesome Escape Room is an entertaining activity that everyone can enjoy, but not without using some brain power. Retailed at $80 per person, you can embrace your inner Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew while deciphering intricate puzzles and looking for clues that will let you solve the mystery to escape the room. Different from other escape rooms, the San Marcos location features two exclusive rooms that are revolved on a professor’s disappearance or a famous screenwriter’s missing scrip set in Hollywood’s Golden Age. The attraction is located in La Bonita Drive and can be enjoyed by anyone of all ages. 

Shop til you drop at the Las Posas Plaza. The plaza includes retailers such as, Nordstrom’s Rack, Bed Bath and Beyond, Ulta, etc. After shopping, shoppers can enjoy meals at the surrounding restaurants such as, Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza, Boudin’s and Love Boat Sushi. While there are a myriad of well-known stores that visitors and locals can shop in, don’t miss The Antique Village to browse through a worthy collection of antiques and collectibles from artists. After shopping, you can easily visit Restaurant Row, which is located within walking distance. 

While smaller than most San Diego Country cities, don’t be fooled. San Marcos may be the new destination to ‘discover’ the fun you’ve been looking for. 

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