Enjoy Lake San Marcos, S’mores and More at Lakehouse Resort

Drink glasses set on a balcony with a lake backdrop at Lakehouse Resort in San Marcos near San Diego
(Photo by California News Press)

By J.C. Thomas

San Diego County is known all around the world for its major tourist attractions, near-perfect weather and natural beauty. It’s hard to believe that any hidden gems remain among the region’s immensely inviting cities, beaches and mountains. Yet, the city of San Marcos and its same-named lake remain mostly off the typical tourist radar. 

Whether you’re driving inland from the coast or westward from San Diego, San Marcos appears suddenly, almost by surprise. It’s a sizable city of close to 100,000 people, tucked snugly into a serene North County mountain valley. Home to California State University San Marcos and Palomar College, it has a young, college-town vibe that blends with the chill ambiance of a lake resort. San Marcos feels like a locals’ secret – a unique getaway spot with just as much appeal as nearby coastal cities like Carlsbad and Encinitas.  

A model sailboat marks the Sail Club at Lakehouse Resort in San Marcos near San Diego
(Photo by California News Press)

Those who are in the know about this delightful destination enjoy outdoor recreation on and around Lake San Marcos, including boating, fishing, golfing and dining. All of these activities are available, along with family-friendly lakeview accommodations, at Lakehouse Resort. My family enjoyed a weekend stay at Lakehouse Resort this winter, a quiet time between rare rainstorms when the hillsides were lush and everyone extra appreciative of being outdoors. If you’re eager to explore the North County region, or are seeking somewhere fun to stay near San Diego, put this top-notch resort on your list.

First Impressions

Lakehouse Resort sits along the northwest shore of Lake San Marcos, a spine-shaped waterway approximately 1.3 miles long. On the horizon, the lake turns out of sight behind one of the steep slopes that make up its picturesque backdrop. Sharing the lakeshores with the resort are small marinas, private waterfront cottages and, at the southern end, green spaces accessible by trail. Adding to the amiability of the scene is abundant bird life, with ducks, swans and geese on the water and impressive raptors circling overhead. 

Embrace the lake resort lifestyle immediately upon check-in as you sip a welcome drink – a choice of an Arnold Palmer or John Daly (the former, plus booze). The welcome drink is included with a resort fee along with a daily one-hour kayak or stand-up paddleboard rental, unlimited use of beach cruiser bikes, a s’mores kit and one bucket of range balls to hit at the driving range. Parking plus in-room coffee and bottled water are included as well. 

Succulents on a hillside with guest rooms in the background at Lakehouse Resort San Marcos
(Photo by California News Press)

Take a look at the resort map while locating your room, and note the on-site amenities including several swimming pools, the marina and multiple fire pits where you can toast the marshmallows for your s’mores. After settling into your room, explore the property on foot and make plans for vacation fun. 

While the lake with its boats and birds is the major focal point, the resort itself has considerable visual appeal. The landscaping is immaculate, with pretty flower beds, slopes blanketed with big succulents, neat rock gardens and riverfront lawns, all connected by walking paths. Even if you’re heading out to nearby attractions like Legoland, just 9 miles away, you’ll definitely want to schedule as much time as possible to play at the resort.

Lakehouse Resort Lodging

Lakehouse Resort offers 153 guest rooms, cottages and suites, most with uninterrupted views of the lake and others located near the poolside. Every unit has a patio or balcony furnished with sunshine-yellow Adirondack chairs, perfect for taking in the views with a drink in hand. The decor puts a chic and contemporary spin on the classic cabin style, featuring artistic wooden fish as wall accents and organic hues complementing cool blues. French windows spanning the whole lake-facing wall let in tons of natural light; leaving them open lets in a lovely chorus of birdsong around sunrise.

A yellow Adirondack chair on a balcony facing Lake San Marcos at Lakehouse Resort
(Photo by California News Press)

Our lakeview room had two queen beds, but you can also opt for one king or choose a more spacious one- or two-bedroom cottage. High-end amenities that are included in every room include rain shower heads, luxury cotton robes and a full wet bar with a refrigerator and Keurig coffee maker. Your s’mores kit and bottled water await in your room. Our room also came with a set of citronella candles to repel insects from the patio, but fortunately there was no such issue. 

Lakehouse Resort Activities

There’s certainly no shortage of attractions and activities within a short drive of Lakehouse Resort. But, it’s very tempting to just stay on site for an extended time. If your idea of a fantastic time involves nothing more than lounging by a heated pool, simply stroll over to one of the resort’s pools or hot tubs. The central pool complex has two of each, plus a poolside bar, ample loungers and rentable cabanas. There’s an additional pool adjacent to the fitness center. 

The pool complex with mountain backdrop at Lakehouse Resort in San Marcos near San Diego
(Photo by California News Press)

Activities on the lake are a major draw for visitors to Lakehouse Resort, which hosts its own full-service marina. Head to the sail club to take advantage of the included hour-long kayak or SUP rental, or ask about other rental options such as pontoon boats and fishing gear. Other recreational amenities on site include pickleball and tennis courts, a billiards club and lakeside lawns where kids can run and play.

Ready for a Round of Golf? Choose from Two Resort Courses

Golfers should be sure to bring their clubs and make a tee time at one of the two 18-hole courses at Lakehouse Resort. (Club rentals are available at the pro shop, too.) A bucket of balls is included with every stay, so it’s fun to head over to The Links even if it’s just for some driving and putting practice. 

The two courses are both scenic and very well-kept while offering distinct golfing experiences. The Links is a semi-private, par-71 championship course that will scratch every itch for a classic San Diego golf round. For a quicker and more casual round that’s still a fun challenge, book a tee time at the par-58, 2,700-yard Executive Course. 

Lakehouse Resort Dining

Lakehouse Resort’s on-site restaurant, The Grill, is located at the The Links golf course. It’s open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, and also provides room service for resort guests. Menus feature upscale takes on comfort-food favorites like burgers, chicken wings and fish and chips. You might make a shareable feast out of starters and shareables like the buttermilk fried calamari or hummus plate plus one of several creative, flavor-packed salads. The baby kale and farro Caesar and the seafood Cobb tower are especially tempting. 

We ordered room service – which always feels like such a treat – and made a meal for four out of the dirty double burger, fish and chips and a full portion of chicken wings with BBQ sauce. Everything arrived at our room piping hot and in delicious, generous portions. The burger, topped with caramelized onion, American cheese and “dirty” sauce, was a real stand-out. 

Every guest room has a Keurig coffee maker, but you might also like to visit Canteen Coffee for a barista-made brew, cold drinks or snacks. Within the resort but independently owned is the lively restaurant, Amalfi Cucina. It’s a popular spot in San Marcos thanks to live music in a stunning lakefront setting along with Italian fare. 

Around San Marcos

With a home base of Lakehouse Resort, you can explore the local sights of San Marcos, drive just 10 miles or so to the coast, or head to the endless attractions of San Diego, approximately 45 minutes away. Along with the lake, in San Marcos you’ll find hiking trails, picturesque parks, day spas and an Antique Village. 

San Marcos is just 9 miles from Legoland California, the major attraction of coastal Carlsbad. Beautiful beaches are also within easy reach of Lakehouse Resort, as are the San Diego Botanic Gardens in Encinitas. SeaWorld San Diego and the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla are amazing places for a family day out, as are the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. Balance a day or two of busy sightseeing with a relaxing pool and lake day at the resort, and a memorable getaway to San Marcos is all but guaranteed. 


Lakehouse Resort

1025 La Bonita Drive, San Marcos, CA 92078

(877) 526-2671


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