Discovering San Marcos-Old City with a Modern Flair

Published in the Texas Aviator Magazine (August 2012) Readable     Version

By Harry & Linda Kaye Perez 

San Marcos, nestled in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, is an old city with a modern flair. From shopping to skydiving, from water sports to cultural events, San Marcos has many surprises in store for its visitors. The crystal clear spring-feed San Marcos River flows through the area and with its constant 72-degree water temperature and gentle currents, is popular for kayaking, canoeing and snorkeling. The city is squarely planted on the Interstate 35 Corridor, 40 miles north of San Antonio and 20 miles south of Austin and the geographic center of Texas, making it easy for a pilot to fly there.

Flying into San Marcos Municipal Airport (KHYI), formerly Gary Air Force Base, with three runway options: 8-26 at 6330’ x 100’; 13-31 at 5603’ x 150’; and 17-35 at 5213’ x 100’, is more than adequate to easily accommodate the average general aviation pilot. More importantly, the pilot does not have to deal with heavy airline traffic; therefore removing the stress associated with such traffic. The Marcs Nine and Rodio One arrival procedures into San Antonio sit right on top of the San Marcos Airport.

Redbird Skyport FBO: The services provided by Redbird Skyport FBO make flight planning seamless. Their goal is to redefine general aviation by offering not only typical services, but also educational opportunities (flight training), and working with other organizations such as the AOPA to deliver the best results. Their monthly calendar is filled with activities from special social events to work sessions such as learning how to use the iPad for aviation. You will enjoy the red-carpet treatment given to each pilot. Their restaurant, the Skyport Galley, is open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm seven days a week, offering a wide range of menu items including a Fly-In Brunch every Saturday. For a pilot, sitting on the patio with a full view of the comings and goings of other airplanes it is a perfect way to spend some quality time. With everything this FBO has to offer, it is like Disneyland for pilots.

Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Central Texas Wing Museum is housed in the only remaining 1943 vintage wooden hanger at KHYI. It is a small museum with a big heart. Col. John Stokes established this wing in 1974. The CAF is dedicated to restoring and maintaining WWII aircraft in flying condition as a tribute to the men and women who sacrificed so much in that era. In visiting the museum, you will be treated by seeing thirteen rare vintage aircraft such as the North American B-25 and Bell’s P39 & P63. The museum is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and is located at 2249 Airport Drive.

 Venturing Away From the Airport

Outlet Shopping: San Marcos has long been known for its outlet shopping. No where else is the phrase “Shop ‘til you drop” more appropriate than here. Just 10 miles from KHYI, you will find Prime Outlet. It has transformed itself into a slice of Venice, Italy. Tanger Outlet, immediately adjacent to Prime Outlet, has a Texas Country theme. Together there are over 250 retail stores and an endless array of everything money can

Aquarena Center, now owned and operated by the Texas State University offers glass-bottom boat tours on the beautiful San Marcos River. The focus is to preserve this environmentally sensitive resource, to educate the public, and to protect this highly valued area. Distance from KHYI  is 5 miles.

Old Town Square, 6 miles from KHYI, is in historic downtown San Marcos, anchored by the Hays County Courthouse, with beautifully detailed old buildings housing unique eateries, hot nightspots, shops and small businesses. Most of the buildings on the Square date back to the 1800s. 

Wonder World & Wildlife Park: Over 30 million years ago when a prehistoric ocean covered central Texas, an enormous earthquake created Wonder Cave. It is the most visited cave in Texas, reaching more than 160 feet beneath the earth’s surface. Cave tours are available daily lasting 45 minutes. It is located just minutes off of Interstate 35 (Exit 202) 7 miles from KHYI.

Skydive San Marcos provides the most adrenaline-pumping experience of a lifetime. A tandem jump (out of a perfectly good airplane) from 12,000 feet above the earth is truly unforgettable. Distance from KHYI is 17 miles.

 Eating Out in San Marcos

In addition to all the chain-type restaurants, there are many unique, independently owned eateries to choose from. Here are just a few:

River Pub and Grill, on the banks of the San Marcos River, is a picture-perfect spot for lunch or dinner. Tables on the patio have a splendid view of the river. During the summer months, the restaurant sponsors a free Summer Concert Series with  live music staged on the sloping grassy area adjacent to the restaurant. (512) 353-3747

Grins Restaurant, located one block from Texas State University Campus, is a casual, rustic, burgers-and-fries hangout. The deck outside is surrounded by trees and provides a relaxing respite from the world. Their motto is Grins is guaranteed to make you smile!

Centerpoint Station is directly across the expressway from the outlet shops. From the outside, it looks as if it has been there since the early 1920s. It boasts of having the best burgers, fries and malts in the State of Texas.

 Stay Awhile

There is no need to rush out of town; there is so much to this amazing city. Leave your plane in the very capable hands of the Redbird Skyport FBO, rent a vehicle and explore San Marcos. Plan to be intrigued by the marvels of nature, history, art and gastronomical delights. The possibilities are limitless.

   © Harry Perez 2012