20 Things To Do In Tyler, TX

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The city of Tyler in eastern Texas is a destination offering a combination of the great outdoors, urban city living, fascinating historical sites and cultural attractions in its state parks, theatres, museums and a bustling downtown district. Located roughly halfway between Shreveport and Dallas, things to do in Tyler include visiting its rose garden, one of the Civil War’s largest POW camps, an annual flower trail and a drive-thru safari experience. There are interesting neighbourhoods and friendly locals to explore and meet.

Tyler, Texas

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20 Things To Do In Tyler, TX

1- Explore The Famous Tyler Municipal Rose Garden

seeing roses is one of the things to do in tyler
Visiting the rose garden is one of the things to do in Tyler.

The most famous attraction in Tyler is the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden, a globally renowned rose garden which is home to thousands of rose bushes and more than 300 unique rose varieties.

Commissioned in 1938 as a Works Progress Administration park project, the garden didn’t officially opened to the public until 1952 due to World War II.

It has been used as the setting of the annual Texas Rose Festival since 1956.

Upgraded and redeveloped several times throughout its history, the 14-acre (6 ha) Tyler Municipal Rose Garden also doubles as the permanent home of the Tyler Rose Museum and is consistently regarded as Tyler’s top attraction.

The Tyler Municipal Rose Garden can be found at 420 Rose Park Dr, Tyler, TX 75702.


2- Stop By Camp Ford Historic Park

A former prisoner-of-war camp and the largest Confederate prison west of the Mississippi River during the American Civil War, Camp Ford Historic Park is one of Tyler’s most important historical landmarks, dating back to 1862.

Located about 4 miles (6 km) outside downtown Tyler, Camp Ford was used to imprison thousands of captured Union troops throughout the war, several hundred of whom died at Camp Ford between 1862 and 1865.

A popular destination in eastern Texas among historians and avid history buffs, the park is a fascinating place to discover, with paved walkways, an information kiosk and useful signs on hand to help visitors navigate the landmark and understand its past.

Camp Ford Historic Park is situated at 6500 US-271, Tyler, TX 75708.

3- Spend An Afternoon At The TJC Earth and Space Science Center

The TCJ Earth and Space Science Center, situated on the campus of Tyler Junior College, is a fun and eye-opening attraction and education venue rolled into one fit for the entire family.

Opened to the public in 1963, the TCJ Earth and Space Science Center is home to the oldest planetarium in east Texas, which regularly hosts showings on its immersive domed theatre.

Accompanied by a range of interesting exhibits, classrooms and play areas for kids, the centre is a popular tourist attraction in Tyler that’s worth checking out the next time you’re visiting east Texas.

The TJC Earth and Space Science Center can be found at 1411 E Lake St, Tyler, TX 75701.

4- Tour The Historic Bonner-Whitaker McClendon House

The Bonner-Whitaker McClendon House, known by most locals as the McClendon House, is a designated National Register of Historic Places landmark which dates back to 1878.

Built for prominent local attorney Harrison Moores Whitaker, the Victorian-era manor with elements of Italianate and Eastlake styling was the birthplace of former White House correspondent Sarah McClendon in 1910.

Added to the NRHP in 1982, the house is today a living museum, where visitors can tour several informative exhibits spanning from the Antebellum period to the post-World War II era.

The Bonner-Whitaker McClendon House can be found at 625 S Vine Ave, Tyler, TX 75701.

5- Learn About Tyler’s Railroad Heritage At The Cotton Belt Depot Museum

Officially opened in 2005, the Cotton Belt Depot Museum features an extensive collection of model trains and old railroad memorabilia to entertain and delight historians and train enthusiasts.

The museum is housed inside the old St. Louis Southwestern Railroad Depot building, which was completed in 1905 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 just four years before the museum was established.

Managed by members of the Cotton Belt Rail Historical Society, the museum plays a crucial role in preserving Tyler’s railroad past and educating new visitors of all ages about it.

The Cotton Belt Depot Museum is located at 210 E Oakwood St, Tyler, TX 75702.

6- Catch A Live Concert At The Liberty Hall

Liberty Hall is a bustling downtown Tyler destination when it comes to hosting live performances such as concerts and comedy shows, with the venue regarded as one of Tyler’s go-to entertainment hubs.

The theatre began hosting events and performances in Tyler following its completion during the 1930s, before being abandoned and snapped up by the City of Tyler in 2008, which breathed new life into the venue and converted it into an Art Deco-style theatre.

Today, the Liberty Hall is at the forefront of downtown Tyler’s efforts to become East Texas’ live entertainment capital, hosting a broad selection of shows and performances throughout the year for visitors to experience.

The Liberty Hall can be found at 103 E Erwin St, Tyler, TX 75702.

7- Spend An Afternoon At The Caldwell Zoo

giraffe at the Tyler zoo
Visiting the zoo is one of the things to do in Tyler with kids.

The Caldwell Zoo is Tyler’s 85-acre (34 ha) public zoo which has been delighting and educating East Texas locals and visitors since it opened in 1953.

Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Caldwell Zoo boasts several unique exhibits and areas and creates a habitat for animal species from around the world, including African elephants, white tigers, giraffes and jaguars.

The Caldwell Zoo also plays a major role in helping to grow the populations of critically endangered animals, with the zoo continuously expanding and upgrading to meet the needs of the thousands of annual visitors who pass through the zoo’s entrance every year.

The Caldwell Zoo is situated at 2203 W Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Tyler, TX 75702.

8- Stop By The Texas Rose Horse Park

The family-owned and operated Texas Rose Horse Park is the city of Tyler’s undisputed equestrian sports hub, with six outdoor show arenas, three show barns and a lighted indoor arena among the park’s many world-class amenities.

Covering a total area of more than 1,700 acres (688 ha), the park hosts several equestrian shows and events throughout the calendar year, many of which are free for the public to experience.

Lessons and training programs are also available at the Texas Rose Horse Park for inexperienced riders to improve their skills, making the park accessible and entertaining for visitors of all ages.

The Texas Rose Horse Park can be found at 14078 State Hwy 110N Tyler, TX 75704.

9- See The East Texas Symphony Orchestra Perform In Tyler

The heartbeat of Tyler’s cultural scene since its founding in 1936, the East Texas Symphony Orchestra has been delighting audiences with their musical talent for decades.

Founded by Mrs W. C. Windsor and the Music Committee of the Tyler Women’s Forum, the orchestra was officially renamed in 1954 to reflect where they performed and where the orchestra’s members came from.

Today, the East Texas Symphony Orchestra can be seen performing all across the Lone Star State, yet it’s in Tyler’s concert halls and theatres where the East Texas Symphony Orchestra feel at home.

The East Texas Symphony Orchestra can be seen at 107 E Erwin St, Tyler, TX 75702.

10- Head Out To The Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari

39 miles outside downtown Tyler, the Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari promises visitors one of the most unique outdoor experiences in eastern Texas.

The entire park spans more than 300 acres (121 ha), which is filled with all sorts of animal species that visitors can spot as they make their way through the park without having to step foot outside their vehicles.

Among the many animals calling Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari home are zebras, bison, buffalo, camels, antelope, deer and emus, making it more than worth the short drive from Tyler to experience.

Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari can be found at 1200 Co Rd 4405, Jacksonville, TX 75766.

11- Hike The Rose Rudman Recreational Trail

The 1.2-mile-long (2 km) Rose Rudman Recreational Trail is a popular outdoor spot just south of downtown Tyler which treats visitors to tall trees, beautiful landscapes and great park amenities catering to families.

The trail starts at Shiloh Road before winding its way to Southside Park, where attractions such as dedicated picnic areas, a pavilion and play areas for kids greet the hikers, bikers and joggers who have just completed this popular urban trail.

Completely free to enjoy, the trail and adjacent park are fantastic places for escaping urbanity for a brief moment and are open to the public daily from 5 am to 10 pm.

12- Swing By The Historic Aviation Memorial Museum

Situated at the Tyler Pounds Regional Airport, the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum showcases its broad collection of military aircraft and memorabilia through a series of interactive exhibits and displays.

The museum was established in 1985 and boasts hands-on displays, military planes and helicopters, and even an authentic flight simulator where aviation fanatics can get a sense of what it’s like to pilot an aircraft.

Always looking to further expand its already impressive aviation collection, the museum’s line-up of aircraft includes a McDonnell-Douglas F-4D Phantom II, a MiG-17F and a Huey Helicopter.

The Historic Aviation Memorial Museum is located at 150 Airport Dr, Tyler, TX 75704.

13- Tour The Magnificent Tyler Museum of Art

tyler texas smith county courthouse
Looking for things to do in Tyler, Tx?

Founded in 1971, the Tyler Museum of Art is a 17,000-square-foot (1,579 m2) cultural centre located next door to the Tyler Junior College where art lovers can browse one of the finest collections of contemporary Texan art and Mexican folk art in eastern Texas.

The museum’s current building was designed by award-winning architect E. Davis Wilcox and has two floors of exhibition space displaying more than 1,500 individual works of art across an array of different art mediums.

Hosting workshops, tours and lectures all year round, the museum is truly unmatched in Tyler and always worth stopping by if you’re an art lover travelling to east Texas.

The Tyler Museum of Art can be found at 1300 S Mahon Ave, Tyler, TX 75701.

14- Explore The Goodman-LeGrand House & Museum

Boasting one of the most stately and grandiose facades of any building in Tyler, the Goodman-LeGrand House & Museum is an important historical landmark in east Texas which dates as far back as 1859.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976, the eye-catching Classic Revival style building was originally built for Samuel Gallatin Smith before being expanded and converted into the fine manor it is today by the Goodman and LeGrand families between 1880 and 1926.

The house has served as a living museum since 1940 and is one of the best places in Tyler to visit, boasting the manor’s original 19th-century furniture and beautifully maintained gardens for all to enjoy.

The Goodman-LeGrand House & Museum is located at 624 N Broadway Ave, Tyler, TX 75702.

15- Spend A Day Relaxing At Tyler State Park

Situated just north of central Tyler is Tyler State Park, a 985-acre (399 ha) outdoor recreational area boasting all sorts of fun activities for nature lovers to enjoy.

The state park was formed by the Civilian Conservation Corps and officially opened to the general public in 1939, developing into one of East Texas’ most visited outdoor spaces which regularly attracts more than 200,000 annual visitors.

Camping, fishing, boating, hiking, birdwatching, biking, swimming and picnicking are all allowed inside Tyler State Park, making it an ideal destination to visit for those seeking to enjoy the beautiful unspoilt landscapes of eastern Texas.

Tyler State Park can be found at 789 Park Road 16, Tyler, TX 75706.

16- Stop By The Discovery Science Place

The Discovery Science Place is a unique museum/educational space which was established in 1993 to teach young minds about the wonderful world of science through fun and interactive exhibits.

Occupying a former car dealership, the museum was among the first of its kind in east Texas and is currently home to exhibits such as an indoor fossil dig pit, a kinetic sculpture and a mock TV news station for kids to learn through playing and interacting with different items and other children.

A well-established venue in the heart of downtown Tyler, the Discovery Science Place is practically a must for younger families travelling to east Texas and an eye-opening centre which has something to teach visitors of all ages.

The Discovery Science Place is situated at 308 N Broadway Ave, Tyler, TX 75702.

17- See A Community Production At The Jean Browne Theatre

A mainstay in Tyler’s local cultural scene, the Jean Browne Theatre is used by Tyler Junior College’s performing arts programs, which regularly perform theatrical productions for the public to enjoy.

The Jean Browne Theatre forms part of the TJC’s Cultural Arts District and has been used by the college for decades, making it a storied and fairly intimate theatre where patrons can enjoy musicals and plays by some of eastern Texas’ most talented young performers.

The Jean Browne Theatre can be found at 1301 S Mahon Ave, Tyler, TX 75701.

18- Take A Stroll Along The Half Mile of History Trail

The Half Mile of History is a uniquely Tyler attraction which takes visitors on a half-mile-long looped trail of the city’s history, complete with plaques commemorating important events in Tyler’s past along the trail.

A pretty recent addition to the downtown Tyler tourism scene, the trail awards new plaques to significant historic landmarks following a nomination process by the public, with new landmarks unveiled along the trail throughout the year.

Easy to navigate and a great way of taking in downtown Tyler while also getting an interesting history lesson, the Half Mile of History comes highly recommended among Tyler locals and is one of the best free activities to enjoy in the city.

The Half Mile of History Trail can be found at 110 N College Ave, Tyler, TX 75702.

19- Visit The East Texas Oil Museum

For a brief rundown of eastern Texas’ oil drilling past, be sure not to skip out on exploring the East Texas Oil Museum, which houses several interesting exhibits and artefacts preserving the region’s oil drilling roots.

This unique venue was unveiled to the public in 1980 and has since developed into one of the region’s most visited museums, with the East Texas Oil Museum located just 26 miles (42 km) outside downtown Tyler.

The museum boasts a large collection of dioramas, photographs, artefacts and multi-media exhibits detailing the booms and busts eastern Texas went through during the start and end of the region’s oil drilling heyday.

The East Texas Oil Museum is located at 1301 S Henderson Blvd, Kilgore, TX 75662.

20- Enjoy Live Entertainment At The Rogers Palmer Performing Arts Center

The flagship production stage of the Tyler Junior College’s performing arts programs, the Rogers Palmer Performing Arts Center is a sleek, recently renovated cultural hub which is one of the largest venues of its kind in Tyler.

Formerly known as the Wise Auditorium, the centre was upgraded with an additional 17,000 square feet (1,579 m2) of floor space, turning it into one of the finest performing arts venues in east Texas.

The Rogers Palmer Performing Arts Center can be found at 1303 S Mahon Ave, Tyler, TX 75701.

21- Stop By In March For The Azalea and Spring Flower Trail

The Azalea and Spring Flower Trail is an annual floral spectacle which sees a 10-mile-long (16 km) stretch of Tyler get decorated with thousands of vivid azaleas, dogwoods, tulips and wisterias.

Usually hosted between late March and early April, the event attracts more than 100,000 people to Tyler annually and has been one of the city’s biggest tourism boons since the first marked tour routes began popping up around select Tyler neighbourhoods in 1960.

The Azalea and Spring Flower Trail winds through several colourful Tyler residential areas and is fantastic for enjoying the city’s once-a-year blooms as well as doing some urban exploring.

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Jessica Shaw
Jessica Shaw is a storyteller who has lived in four U.S. states - Missouri, Georgia, Ohio and Illinois - and has visited many others. She loves history and nature and is a big fan of road tripping.