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A blue and yellow parrot glares at oncoming visitors in the wildlife area at Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park located on 1000 Prospect St.

Central Texans of all ages welcome summer with open arms after three months of business closures, remote delivery learning and shelter-in-place orders caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Back in March, many events and festivals scheduled for the summer were postponed or canceled due to concerns over COVID-19; however, there are still ways to have a fun and safe summer in the San Marcos area.

1. Boating

Lake Placid is tucked in the small town of Seguin, making it a hidden gem easily accessible to San Marcos residents. For individuals itching to get away from San Marcos, Lake Placid is an arena for classic water activities like tubing and boat rides.

For its most popular season, Red Beard Boats offers a variety of options for Central Texas residents who are ready to beat the summer heat by cooling off in the refreshing water of Lake Placid. More than a boat rental business, Red Beard Boats allows individuals to kayak, paddleboard or tread on the water at the hands of an experienced boat guide.

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A group of friends make the most out of the summer day by utilizing the Guadalupe River and renting kayaks from Red Beard Boats located on 933 Reiley Road Seguin, Texas. (Photo courtesy of Terri Nelligan-Davis)

Terri Nelligan-Davis, co-owner of Red Beard Boats, said since stay-at-home orders have lifted, the business has been booming right on time for the start of summer. With an abundance of activities to choose from, she said spending summer on the water is welcoming toward all ages.

“[Just kind of] watching the water, even if you’re cruising the water is relaxing,” Nelligan-Davis said. “But it is so much more than just cruising around [on the water]. You can do water sports and get exercise; you can swim; you can hang out with friends or family. I don’t think anybody ever leaves the boat saying that they didn’t have fun.”

For families interested in a boat ride, Red Beard Boats recommends sharing one boat in order to limit interactions with other large groups. The owners are also sanitizing all rental items and boats after they are returned.

Individuals can book rentals and boats on the Red Beard Boats website.

2. Visit an amusement park

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Colorful lights brighten up the dark cave as a group of tourists gather on the stairs looking at the main attraction of Wonder World Cave and Adventure Park located on 1000 Prospect St. (Photo courtesy of Kristin Williams )

Located in the backyard of San Marcos is Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park, the home of Texas’ first show cave. Established in 1903 initially as a cave tour, Wonder World quickly grew into an outdoor entertainment center complete with a wildlife area, petting zoo, observation tower and a train that loops around the park.

Kristin Williams, owner of Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park, said the earthquake formed cave is the main attraction that draws visitors in. She said visitors are often surprised to learn many caves are formed by water.

Although safety protocols are enforced throughout the adventure park, Williams said guests can still expect to leave with the knowledge of something new and in high spirits.

“[The pandemic] is something the park has never gone through,” Williams said. “The crowd size will be different [this summer] in order to [follow] whatever the state has required [Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park] to do, but we are going to operate all of our attractions and bring that same energy to the park which is fun, excitement and education for all ages.”

Since its March 17 closure, the amusement park reopened its attractions to the public May 1 and is prepared for the busy summer months of July and August. Staff is expected to follow proper safety protocols such as wearing masks, reminding visitors to stay six feet apart and encouraging guests to book tickets online instead of waiting in line.

3. Explore San Marcos trails

Designed for all ages, the San Marcos Greenbelt is a collection of six diverse trails and other natural areas. Trails are maintained by the Greenbelt Alliance, a board of San Marcos residents who decide where the trails are placed in the community.

With the liberty of choosing from a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking or simply soaking up the summer sun, the trails offer an ideal summer setting for families and students.

“The trails are for both recreation and physical health,” Susan Hanson, retired Texas State professor and Greenbelt Alliance member said. “[The Greenbelt Alliance] believes it is psychologically and physically healthy for people to get out in the natural world.”

Hanson said lately she has seen some parents create scavenger hunts within the trails for children; bird-watching groups also use the trails to watch wildlife. She recommends that every individual venturing out on a trail have a map on hand.

The trails in San Marcos have remained open during the pandemic except for Easter weekend. Hanson said although there are currently no signs regarding social distancing near the trails, it is common courtesy to respect the boundaries of others while enjoying the trails.

Despite the summer being shaped by the cancellations of festivals and events, Central Texans can still celebrate the start of summer by utilizing the outdoor hidden treasures scattered throughout San Marcos.

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