San Marcos

San Marcos

Flourishing city close to the coast with impressive natural amenities.


Welcome to San Marcos

Flourishing city close to the coast with impressive natural amenities.
San Marcos is a flourishing San Diego County city located around 30 miles northeast of Downtown San Diego and just six miles from the Pacific Coast. This historic North County city offers an ideal lifestyle with Old California Restaurant Row dining and beautiful outdoor recreation areas. There are 16 large community parks within San Marcos and 18 smaller mini-parks. Hiking trails ascend to a summit with sweeping ocean views in rugged Double Peak Park, while Lake San Marcos and Discovery Lake offer gorgeous water features. San Marcos borders Carlsbad, which has top attractions such as Legoland California and the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch.
San Marcos features a variety of distinct neighborhoods with wide-ranging housing options. Popular choices within San Marcos include the scenic park surrounding areas of Rancho Dorado and Rancho Tesoro, the golf resort and boating community of Lake San Marcos, and the beautiful master-planned community of San Elijo Hills.

What to Love

  • Award-winning school district
  • Six miles from the coast
  • Old California Restaurant Row
  • 16 large community parks

People & Lifestyle

San Marcos enjoys an idyllic year-round climate and many outdoor areas for enjoying the excellent weather. The city is also a hub of education, home to both California State University San Marcos and Palomar Community College. The San Marcos Unified School District is one of the best-rated public school districts in the San Diego area, which makes this area great for families with children. Residents of San Marcos enjoy a laid-back, small-town atmosphere with plenty of options for dining and recreation.

Dining, Entertainment & Shopping

Old California Restaurant Row on San Marcos Boulevard is lined with 15 restaurants serving various international cuisines. Fish House Vera Cruz has been a standout since Restaurant Row was first established in the 1970s, offering an eclectic array of ocean delights sourced directly from local fishermen, emphasizing mesquite-grilled seafood. Cocina Del Charro is another local favorite that serves traditional Mexican dishes and a must-try Sunday brunch.
Landon’s East Meets West combines flavorful fusion cuisine with a family-friendly environment that includes a children’s play area. Other dining choices along Restaurant Row include Katsu for Japanese sushi and grilled hibachi eats, King & I for authentic Thai cuisine, and Old California Mining Company for classic steakhouse dining in a salon-style setting. You can also enjoy pub grub and beers at a friendly sports bar like The 55 Yard Line or head to Sublime Alehouse for craft beers paired with creative comfort eats. 
Perched in the rugged hills rising above San Marcos, Sunshine Mountain Vineyard pairs exquisite Californian wines with panoramic ocean views. Overlooking the waters of Lake San Marcos, Amalfi Cucina Italiana is a dockside eatery specializing in the refined cuisine of Italy’s Amalfi Coast. More restaurants can be found in the area surrounding the Cal State San Marcos campus. Highlights here include The Bellows for sophisticated farm-to-table dining and Bowlero for bowling, arcade games, and tasty American comfort eats.

Things to Do

San Marcos offers lots of scenic areas for outdoor recreation. Double Peak Park spans a rugged landscape of 200 acres with hiking trails leading to a stunning summit with sweeping views out to the Pacific Ocean. This location also features picnic shelters, children’s play areas, and an amphitheater. Discovery Lake is surrounded by Lakeview Park, which has a trail loop and lakeshore fishing spots. Jack’s Pond Park covers 23 acres with a nature center offering hands-on activities to learn about local plant and animal life. Fishing is also permitted along the Jack’s Pond shoreline. 
Every Tuesday between 3 pm and 7 pm, San Marcos Farmers Market brings a wide variety of vendors selling seasonal fruits and vegetables, meats from local farms, fresh fish, cheese, eggs, nuts, yogurt, flowers, tasty baked goods, and delicious hot foodstuffs.


San Marcos is served by the award-winning San Marcos Unified school district.
  • San Elijo Elementary School, Public, K-5.
  • Double Peak School, Public, K-8.
  • San Elijo Middle School, Public, 6-8.
  • Mission Hills High School, Public, 9-12.
  • San Marcos High School, Public, 9-12.

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