Tyler, Texas probably isn’t the first location that pops into your head when thinking about places to visit in Texas — but it should be! This hidden gem has a lot to offer.
With state parks, zoos, museums, gardens, estates, and some of the best BBQ you’ve ever had — Tyler has something for everyone.
Here are 20 things to do in Tyler TX that you’re going to want to add to your Texas bucket list.
TYLER STATE PARK
Head over to Tyler State Park for some fresh air, nature, and plenty of space to explore. You’ll often see families hanging out in the picnic areas near the sandy beach, while others opt for hitting the biking trails.
Head over to the beach area on the spring-fed lakefront, where you can enjoy stand up paddle boarding, swimming, and kayaking.
Explore the Pineywoods on 13 miles worth of walking, hiking, and biking trails. The trails can take you in and around the state park. There are also a number of Ranger Programs that are offered throughout the year, and information on those can be found on their website.
Who doesn’t love a good zoo? The Caldwell Zoo features animals from all over the world. In fact, it is home to over 3,000 individual animals across 200 different species!
This zoo is great for families and children because they offer an extensive amount of programs outside of just walking around the grounds. For instance, if you are anything like me, then you will freak out over their giraffe-feeding opportunity! Their wild bird walkabout is a lot of fun for kids who want to get up close with the birds, and feed them right from their hands.
As a part of the National Register of Historic Places, The Goodman-LeGrand House and Museum is an important structure that tells the story of the families who lived here during and after the Civil War. This two-story, four-bedroom house was built in 1859.
Tour the home and see some of the original furnishings, along with photographs and memorabilia from the mid-1800s.
After touring the home, make time to walk around the beautiful gardens outside. The manicured lawn almost takes up an entire city block! Enjoy seeing the amazing flowering plants, or take a rest on a bench under one of the large shade trees on the property.
Admission is free, but a $2 donation is suggested.
I am someone who can appreciate a specialty coffee experience, and in Tyler, Texas, The Foundry has some of the best coffee around.
Porch Culture Coffee Farmers is a local Tyler, Texas roaster that partners with The Foundry. The coffee is not only locally sourced, but a pure quality, which means no unnecessary additives get put in along the way. The result is an amazing tasting coffee.
And since Tyler is the Rose Capital of America, The Foundry allows guests to add rose syrup to any drink!
In addition to the delicious coffee, you’ll also find an art gallery here, which features ceramic art pieces by local artist Jessica Sanders.
THE DISCOVERY SCIENCE PLACE
The Discovery Science Place is a science center that truly is fun for all. The center has been in place since 1993, and has put a priority on inspiring creativity by making science fun.
The Discovery Science Places has rotating exhibits, so even if you’ve been before, you’ll see something new and different each time you go.
Perfect for a rainy day activity, a visit here is sure to thrill kids. With interactive exhibits, like the Dino Dig Pit, the KO Mine, the Hometown Veterinary Clinic, a TV station, and so much more — they will never run out of things to do.
TYLER MUSEUM OF ART
Art lovers and visitors will enjoy the Tyler Museum of Art, thanks to its dedication to local artists and history.
The museum is located on the Tyler Texas Junior College campus. While there are many rotating exhibits, the TMA also has a permanent collection that features more than 800 pieces of individual work, from the time when the museum opened up in 1971 to today.
Personally, I don’t think there is a better place in Texas than Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ. This gem has all you could ask for when it comes to southern BBQ. It is constantly voted a monthly Top 50 Texas BBQ joint, likely because they not only provide fantastic food, but also a good time. They have live music weekly, which attracts all the locals, with most of their shows being free.
When it comes to BBQ, Stanley’s knows what they’re doing. They are the oldest Mom and Pop BBQ in Tyler, serving guests for over 60 years. Since opening, they have expanded to almost 2000 square feet of space, and they keep expanding to accommodate more and more visitors every year.
Let’s talk about the food. What do you order? Well, they pride themselves on providing a menu that goes well beyond the walls of traditional barbecue. For instance, vegetarians are welcome! Creating vegetarian tacos that allow everyone to experience the incredible vibe is a top priority.
BBQ lovers? Please order the Double Rubbed Baby Back Ribs! You won’t be sorry.
TYLER ROSE GARDEN
Have you ever looked on Instagram or Pinterest and wanted to explore one of those picturesque scenes in Japan or Amsterdam with valleys of beautiful flowers creating blankets of popping color? You may not believe this, but Tyler, Texas has the largest public collection of rose bushes in the United States.
The Tyler Rose Garden and Rose Museum are a sight to see. Spanning 14 acres, the Tyler Rose Garden features 32,000 rose bushes that produce more than 600 varieties of roses.
The rose garden is in bloom twice a year — in middle to late May and in October.
A visit to the Tyler Rose Garden is free. If you’re able to visit in October, you can join visitors from all over the country to experience the Texas Rose Festival.
The Tyler Museum of Art isn’t the only place you can check out local art. Art Alley is located in downtown Tyler and is similar to the Wynwood Walls in Miami.
Created to give local artists a space to display their works publicly, Art Alley made what was formerly a gray and dull space, into something bright and beautiful. Now, a visit to this downtown connecting alley is one of the best things to do in Tyler TX!
The Alley connects College Ave and Bois d’Arc Ave displaying 43 unique murals painted by 40 local artists. What’s great is that you can learn more about the backstory of the artists by visiting downtowntyler.org and clicking on their bios!
KIEPERSOL WINERY & DISTILLERY
Grab your friends and family and head to Kiepersol Winery & Distillery for a wine experience like no other.
At Kiepersol Winery & Distillery, you and your loved ones can participate in a number of experiences, from a visit to their Grand Tasting Room, to staying overnight at their bed and breakfast. They also have a restaurant on site, where you can share delicious charcuterie boards while drinking from their incredible wine list.
This estate accommodates everyone, even providing an RV park for those traveling cross country. If you have the time, it’s worth taking one of their group tours to learn about the history of the estate.
LAGO DEL PINO
When it comes to finding restaurants that offer the best food, but also an aesthetic experience, I am on top of it! That’s why I bring you to Lago Del Pino, a beautiful Mexican-inspired space serving some of the most delicious food in all of Tyler.
Sitting on 240 acres, this venue has a 40-acre lake, and their restaurant offers a beautiful indoor and outdoor dining space filled with overhead string lights.
Their eclectic menu features everything from carne asada to smoked meatloaf!
Texas can get hot, especially during the summer, so having somewhere to grab a scoop of ice cream is important. One of the most popular places to grab an ice cream in Tyler is Paleteria Polar.
With tons of 100% natural ice creams and choices, it can feel a little overwhelming, especially with all the crazy combinations. One of the most sought deserts here is the Pinas Locas!
AZALEA & SPRING FLOWER TRAIL
The Rose Garden isn’t the only place to take in the beautiful views of flowers. The Azalea & Spring Flower Trail takes place from late March to mid-April and offers more than 10 miles of flowers between residential gardens and historic sites filled with eye-popping colors!
Even if you aren’t big on gardening, it is a spectacular sight to see and a great walk. Walking the Azalea Trail is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Tyler, and it can’t be missed!
TIGER CREEK ANIMAL SANCTUARY
Offering something slightly different than the zoo is the Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary. Some incredible history takes place here, as it is the nation’s oldest independent non-breeding animal sanctuary.
This 173-acre sanctuary opened in 1995, and serves as the home for their big furry cats — tigers and cougars, to be exact. For those who want a different kind of zoo experience, you can take tours daily.
Note: Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary remains closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns. In April 2022, they announced a gradual reopening process that included allowing educational tours only. We will update this article when it reopens to the public.
THE EARTH AND SCIENCE SPACE CENTER & PLANETARIUM
For kids who can’t get enough of science, this is a slightly different alternative to the Discovery Center. The Earth and Science Space Center has a whole new set of learning opportunities for kids and their families. Here, you can see the stars in their planetarium and feel like you’re surrounded by space, thanks to their domed theater.
You can also take part in any of their rotating exhibits or outdoor place spaces for kids. One of their more popular shows to go and see is The Journey Through Space in their theater, which provides a real astronaut’s point of view!
CAMP FORD HISTORIC PARK
Camp Ford Historic Park was a former Confederate POW camp during the Civil War. It was the largest POW Camp west of the Mississippi during the war, and at its peak, over 5,300 soldiers were held here.
Today, the area features walking trails and picnic areas. There is an information kiosk on the property, and signage located along the trails, so visitors can learn more about the history of this place.
EAST TEXAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Downtown Tyler has a lot to offer when it comes to art, museums, and music culture. One of the best musical things to experience in Tyler is the East Texas Symphony Orchestra, which performs at the state-of-the-art UT Tyler Cowan Center and Liberty Hall.
In addition to the ETSO, the Cowan Center also hosts a variety of concerts and shows, such as The Blueman Group. It doesn’t hurt that it is also located close to The Foundry, where you can get an afternoon cold brew before enjoying your favorite shows.
HISTORIC AVIATION MEMORIAL MUSEUM
Located at the Tyler Pounds Regional Airport is the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum, where you can learn about how aircraft came to be and changed our country as a whole.
At this museum, you’ll find military aircraft, aviation memorabilia, hands-on exhibits, and a flight simulator. Guided tours are also available. This is a must-see for any aviation fan.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love visiting Faulkner Park.
Faulkner Park is filled with all sorts of amenities, including baseball and softball fields, a fishing pond, playground, picnic pavilions, and nine miles of hiking trails. Play tennis at the Faulkner Tennis Center, or watch you kids at the skate park.
In the summer months, you can find kids playing at the spraygrounds.
The McClendon House in Tyler, TX was built in 1878, and was the home of relatives from the same family for over 100 years.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, you can take a tour of the McClendon House and see artifacts from the past. Since the family who used to live there were “pack rats,” there are plenty of artifacts to be seen.
Tours are usually held on Fridays and Saturdays.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO TEXAS
- GRAPEVINE: 18 Phenomenal Things To Do In Grapevine TX
- LUBBOCK: 18 Amazingly Fun Things To Do In Lubbock, Texas
- FREE HOUSTON: 63 Amazing and Free Things To Do In Houston
- KID-FRIENDLY TEXAS: 11 Amazing Kid-Friendly Weekend Getaways In Texas
- AMARILLO: 15 Fun Things To Do In Amarillo
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