Friday, August 22, 2014

A Day in San Marcos

Recently, we visited the day in San Marcos, Texas.  We were going to visit some of the seniors at La Vista Independent Community.  Since we were driving 45 minutes south and since this was our last week of no-school-freedom, we decided to make a day of it!  We had two challenges:
1. We're on a tight budget.
2. It's stinkin' hot outside.

The boat in the glassy spring.
As much as we swam in the cold, crystal-clear springs in Austin, we figured we would pay homage to the source of all of our cool summer fun. The Groupon for the boat tour made it a perfect option for us. 

We arrived at the sweeping property of The Meadows Center and pulled up to the building advertising the glass-bottom boat.  We were able to hop on the very next boat with a 10:00 launch time.  It was breezy and cool enough at 10:00 that we were very comfortable throughout the 30-minute tour.  My kids, ages 5 to 14, totally enjoyed it as much as I did.

View from the water.

Tian is checking out the spring floor.

Travis kept his eye out for turtles.

We could see the water springing up from under the sand.

College students guide the tours with lots of interesting info!

Specially-certified SCUBA divers keeping the springs clean.

Touring the wetlands. A small exhibit is set up inside the screened room.


After the boat tour and walk, it was getting very hot out, so we headed inside to the (free!) aquarium.  It's small, but has plenty of creatures, ice-cold water fountains, restrooms and air conditioning.

In the aquarium, we met a blind salamander.


Next stop: McDonald's! (What?!)
It was just before noon when we had spent enough time touring The Meadows Center. Our plan had been to play at Children's Park, but the outdoor temps were not comfortable, so we went to the McDonald's indoor playground and each got a dollar drink.  After playing and cooling off, we ate our picnic lunch in the SUV, then drove to check out the fish hatchery.  There is no information about days and times of tours online, but upon arriving at the hatchery, we saw a hand-written sign posted announcing that tours were only given during a certain hour on Tuesdays and Fridays.  What we were able to see from our SUV looked interesting enough that we will call ahead (phone number in link above) and plan a tour this fall.  

Next stop: San Marcos Library
After lunch, we still had sometime to kill, so we went to San Marcos library.  Surrounding the library is a sculpture garden (we only found one sculpture) and a nice skate park.  This is another spot on our list to visit during a cooler month.  The library was colorful, open, and most importantly, cool!


Searching for hidden objects within the illustrations.
Next stop: La Vista
San Marcos is home to a unique retirement community for Deaf and hard-of-hearing seniors.  We have been wanting to visit for well over a year, but never got down there.  Thanks to our friends inviting us out, we finally made it!  What a beautiful sight to behold!  After visiting a few Deaf seniors living isolated in various living centers, it was such a nice treat to see these Deaf people living in community, enjoying each other, communicating effortlessly. The residents and staff are all Deaf and/or fluent in ASL.  It reminded me a lot of where my hearing grandma lived, except the people are Deaf.  One resident informed me that Travis was the first Deaf Chinese person she had ever met! We'll brush up on our card games and Mexican Train and go back next week.
Our friend Shelly, a visitor who invited us out, helping Travis play a sneaky card!

Final stop: Rio Vista Falls, San Marcos River
Jumping into icy-cold water never felt so good!
See Kenzie?
You could easily make an entire day visiting this one (free!) spot.  With lots of shade, a nearby playground area, chilly, clear water, swift waters in some places and nice, calm waters in others, it's the perfect place for all ages in our family.  If you go with your littles, make sure they wear their "floaties" or a life vest in the falls area, even if they can swim.  The current picks up suddenly and moves fast!  We didn't have tubes, but after visiting this spot and the Comal River in New Braunfels, we plan to invest in some for next summer.   Even without tubes, the older Brownies had a blast jumping from the bridges and floating sans tube down the falls. The boys and I stuck to calmer waters and appreciated the drop in temperature.
Technically, our last stop was our "splurge," picking up mini Blizzards on the way home.  The boys fell right to sleep on the drive and we finally crashed at the house at 6:00!

$$ Breakdown of our day $$
-Glass-bottom boat Groupon for 6: $33;
-Aquarium and Wetlands Walk: free;
-McDonald's Playground: $6.50 for our drinks;
-Library: free;
-Visiting LaVista: priceless;
-San Marcos River: free;
-Ice cream splurge: $15.
TOTAL: $54.50 plus gas and a packed lunch isn't too bad for such a fun-filled day. I can't think of anyone I'd rather be with than my Brownies. It only could have been better if Ken had come.  We will snag him for next time!
We can't wait to do more exploring here-and-there between Austin and San Marcos when we go to visit La Vista.  If you live around Austin or San Antonio, it would be worth your drive to visit San Marcos. I know we only scratched the surface.

A sweeping view of the falls. There are three you follow downstream. The Brownies went over and over and over again.

3 comments:

  1. So glad you had a good time in San Marcos - took my grandkids on the lassbottom boats 4th of July weekend and they loved it. AFED (the non-profit orgaization that owns LaVista in partnership with a tax-credit company) appreciates the kind words as well. The Board and staff work hard to make it a good living experience for our residents.

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    1. Thanks, Doug! We did have a great time and were impressed with LaVista. I hope to see it grow into a full assisted living facility in the future!

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