Tyler is a charming town located in East Texas. You may also know it as the unofficial “Rose Capital of America”, thanks to its Rose Garden which is home to more than 32,000 picturesque rose bushes. From art museums and historical sites to beautiful parks, there is plenty to discover when visiting this lovely city in Texas’ Smith County.
Whether you wish to see the annual Texas Rose Festival, explore outdoor recreational spots like the Tyler State Park, or visit the town’s extraordinary museums such as the Tyler Museum of Art and Historic Aviation Memorial Museum, discovering the beauty of Tyler promises to be an unforgettable experience. Here is our list of the best things to do in Tyler TX.
1. Tyler State Park
To enjoy magnificent East Texas scenery, nature lovers visiting Tyler can make their way to the famous Tyler State Park. With a 64-acre lake and nearly 15 miles of biking and hiking trails, it’s easy to see why this state park is one of the most popular outdoor attractions in the area. Rent a boat or a fishing tackle, go mountain biking, and experience bird and wildlife watching. The park is open year-round and offers plenty of camping sites in case you wish to spend the whole weekend enjoying nature.
2. Caldwell Zoo
There are many kid-friendly things to do in east Texas and one of our favorite attractions is the Caldwell Zoo. Expect to see more than 2,000 animals ranging from elephants and giraffes to tigers at this an 85-acre zoological facility. The animals live in 5 different habitats including the jungles of South America, Africa’s savannas, and others. In case you get tired from all the walking, there are many picnic areas where you can relax.
3. The Discovery Science Place
As you can see, there is no shortage of children-friendly attractions in Tyler. Welcome to the Discovery Science Place, a wonderful children’s museum which features numerous hands-on exhibits on different topics such as physics, biology, human anatomy, and chemistry. Make sure to check out the most popular exhibits such as the Dino-Dog Pit and the Cave which is basically a cool reproduction of a large cavern. It is worth mentioning that the museum organizes classes and camps for the little ones.
4. Waterpark at the Villages
Looking for fun things to do in Tyler TX? Pay a visit to the 19,000-square-foot indoor water park just outside Flint where you will find a bunch of cool attractions. From fun waterslides and wave pools to double tube slides and a lazy river, a visit to Waterpark at the Villages is a real treat for the entire family. Some of our favorite attractions include the Copperhead tower slide and the forest-themed children’s playscape, and the relaxing lazy river. This glass-enclosed recreational area has a retractable roof, which means that you can visit this place throughout the year.
5. Tyler Museum of Art
Tyler Museum of Art is an award-winning two-story museum with more than 1,500 works spread across 17,000 square feet. Art lovers can look forward to paintings, sculptures, prints, and photographs by famous local and international artists including Vernon Fisher, Alexander Calder, and many others. Did we mention the impressive collection of Mexican Folk art? There is also a research library on-site, as well as a small gift shop and a café where you can order a refreshing drink after admiring the museum’s permanent and rotating exhibitions.
6. Goodman-LeGrand House & Museum
A Civil War estate turned into a spectacular museum, The Goodman-LeGrand House & Museum is one of the must-visit places while staying in Tyler. A restored landmark since 1976, the house is built on nine acres of land and used to serve as a destination for refugees escaping from the Union Army in the 19th century. Nowadays, visitors can explore this unique historic building and visit its lovely gardens. The good news is that the entrance to the museum is free of charge.
7. Tyler Rose Garden
There are many free things to do in Tyler TX and a visit to the town’s most famous attractions is one of them. Make your way to the Tyler Rose Garden that houses more than 35,000 rose bushes spread across 14 acres of land. Snap a photo in front of the beautiful sparkling pools and ornate fountains. The garden is divided into a few areas including the Ida Garden, Heritage Garden, and many others. If you are a fan of camellia and lilies, you will also find them here. Don’t leave the grounds before checking out the Rose Garden Center, a nicely decorated venue that is used for special events like weddings and other celebrations.
8. Lindsey Park
Home to soccer and softball fields, basketball courts, and a golf course, Lindsey Park is an ideal destination to visit with the entire family. There is also a well-kept playground for the little ones, as well as a picnic area and pavilions. The park has more than 10 miles of trails for hiking and biking and is best used from March to October. If you decide to hike this moderately trafficked loop trail, you can even bring your dog along to join the family fun outdoor adventure.
9. American Freedom Museum
Opened in 2010, the American Freedom Museum allows travelers to learn more about the history of the US. Whether you wish to hear stories from the American Revolution, sit inside a C-46 transport plane, check out the War on Terror Gallery, or see a lock of George Washington’s hair, this museum has it all. The main purpose of the museum is to honor American veterans and military personnel for the things they bravely did for the country.
10. Faulkner Park
A lovely 183-acre park opened in 2001, Faulkner Park is an excellent place to mingle with the locals and enjoy outdoor sports activities. There are many amenities here including tennis courts, nature trails, children’s playgrounds, baseball fields, and much more. Snap a selfie in front of the picturesque fishing pond or enjoy the 5.6-mile trail which is suitable for all skill levels and allows you to discover a variety of wildflowers along the way.
11. Historic Aviation Memorial Museum
A large regional aviation museum located at the Tyler Airport, Historic Aviation Memorial Museum is a giant aeronautics museum that includes everything from a real military aircraft and multimedia theater to historical memorabilia, real-flight simulator, library, and a souvenir shop. There are a variety of exhibits to look forward at this extraordinary museum which also organizes high-profile airshows throughout the year. After admiring a large variety of military aircraft, you can unwind at the on-site Skyline café.
12. Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge
A place where you will find rescued animals such as tigers, leopards, and lions, Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge sits on a 150-acre site that about 50 neglected and displaced animals call their home. Located just a short drive from Tyler State Park, this wildlife refuge center also offers sensory tours for kids with special needs and many educational programs. If you wish to get up close and personal with pumas, panthers, and tigers, a visit to the Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge should be included in your Tyler travel itinerary.
13. Children’s Park
Besides being home to many indoor playgrounds, Tyler TX is also well-known for its outdoor green spaces and one of them is the lovely Children’s Park. From play areas and fun sculptures to a butterfly garden, there are many amazing attractions to keep your kids entertained all day long. The waterfalls and the fish pond are also spectacular and this is one of the favorite kid-approved things to do in Tyler TX.
14. Camp Ford
Last, but definitely not the least important attraction on our list is the amazing Camp Ford in Tyler. How about a visit to the largest Confederate prisoner of war camp in the region? Camp Ford is a war memorial site that used to house nearly 6,000 Union prisoners back in the 19th century. Nowadays, it features dozens of informational signs that allow you to learn more about the history of the camp. This is a great historical thing to do in tyler tx.