The Meadows Center: Not the Aquarena Springs I Remember
I remember visiting Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, TX as a child. I can still recall the excitement of the “aquamaids” and other underwater performers, but most of all I remember watching in amazement an underwater swimming pig named Ralph. I remember the park fondly. Never again have I been underwater in a submarine or seen a swimming pig. I visited when I was a kid in the 80s, and all these years I just assumed Aquarena Springs was still there. I recently found out that sadly I was mistaken.
Aquarena Springs opened in the 1950s as an amusement park and closed in the mid 1990s. In 2012 one of the last remaining attractions from the park, the submarine that I watched shows from as a child, was lifted out of the water. Read about it here.
The Meadows Center
Earlier this year I fondly reminisced about my time as a child at Aquarena Springs, and thought it would be a great experience for Xander. Unfortunately, when I began to research the amusement park, Google told me that The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University remains now where Aquarena Springs once was. One attraction from the Aquarena Springs I remember is, however, still around. I hoped my son would enjoy viewing the picturesque Spring Lake, and all its inhabitants, through the glass-bottom boat. He did. We all enjoyed it. It was a family trip, with grandparents, nieces, nephews, and more, and it was an enjoyable experience for all, so much so that we returned soon after with friends.
While The Meadows Center offers a very different experience than the one I remember as a kid, it was still a nice experience. For me, it brought back memories I had long ago filed somewhere in my childhood memories, and I was glad to revisit that simpler time.
The Meadows Center focuses on environmental education, with interesting facts about the aquifer-driven spring and threatened endangered species, provided by the boat operator/guide. Indoors in the Discovery Hall, guests can enjoy more educational exhibits and aquariums. It’s a great place for learning experiences with the kids, and all of the adults who accompanied us were interested and engaged as well.
Hours and Pricing
Glass-Bottom Boats Run Daily from 9:30am-6:00pm, with the last boat going out 30 minutes before closing. Boat rides are about 30 minutes long, and according to the website, vary according to the season and weather. Glass-bottom boat tours run continuously 30 minutes after opening until 30 minutes before closing.
An adult ticket will cost you $9.75, Seniors (62+) are $8.00, and kids 3-12 are $6.00. There is also an option for a Glass-bottom Boat and Guided Wetland Boardwalk Tour for a few dollars more.