Many visitors to Tyler in the state of Texas won’t know that it is actually famous for being the rose capital of America.
The roses here are indeed beautiful but that is not all there is to see in Tyler and visitors can expect a wide range of attractions, many of which take place outdoors including verdant parks, azure lakes, and romantic wineries.
Aside from the great outdoors, Tyler also has a high concentration of museums that are dedicated to wildlife, science, aviation, warfare and more, so it’s perfect for those who want to learn more about the history and culture of the area.
Many of the museums and parks are also aimed at younger visitors so families will find lots to do in Tyler.
Here are the best things to do in Tyler:
1. Caldwell Zoo
One of Tyler’s premium attractions, Caldwell Zoo features over 2,000 animals from all over the world, including local species as well as animals and birds from Africa and South America.
The zoo aims to promote conservation and understanding of nature and wildlife, and as such all the enclosures are built to mimic the animals’ natural environment.
The park spans 85 acres of lush landscape and there are a wide range of activities to be found here for visitors of all ages.
For younger guests there is a petting zoo where youngsters can get up close to the animals, and there are also two aquariums where visitors can learn all about aquatic life.
Picnic areas are dotted around the zoo making it the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat, or there is a cafe if you prefer.
2. Tyler State Park
If you want to get outside in Tyler then come to Tyler State Park where you will find a fresh water lake that spans 64 acres as well as forestlands with trees that span over 100 meters and a whole range of other features like historic rocks.
You can go for a walk in the woodlands to check out the local Tyler flora and fauna, just make sure you take a pair of binoculars so you don’t miss anything, or if you want to explore further afield then you can bike or hike in the area and even camp overnight in a tent or rent one of the rustic cabins in the park.
There are over 13 miles of trails running through the area so whether you fancy a short walk or an all day excursion there is something for everyone.
3. Tyler Museum of Art
Opened in the 1970s, the Tyler Museum of Art started out as a way of educating young children in the area on the joys and cultural significance of art.
Nowadays this non-profit organization is open to all but its message of education and culture enrichment continues and there are permanent exhibitions in both the North and Bell Galleries.
As well as the permanent galleries there is also a library, a classroom, a cafe, and a gift shop for those who want to stock up on art related souvenirs.
The Museum of Art features over 1200 works across all different art mediums including sculpture, painting and photography by local artists as well as rotating collections that feature works from the wider community and even abroad.
4. Whitaker-McClendon House
The Whitaker-McClendon House was built in 1878 making it one of the oldest buildings in all of Tyler and the home is also listed as a Texas Historic Landmark.
The house is one of only two historic properties in Tyler that are open to the public for a tour and so visitors here should not miss this opportunity to see an example of spectacular Victorian architecture in Texas.
Tours are guided by friendly local staff who will fill guests in on the historical and cultural significance of the house.
5. American Freedom Museum
The American Freedom Museum in Bullard near Tyler takes visitors on a tour of all the significant moments of America’s history during wartime, starting from the American Revolution up until the period of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The museum has a range of exhibits to explain the historical background to guests as well as a number of personal stories from war heroes that aim to educate guests on the sacrifice and courage of many in the nation’s military.
6. Brookshire’s World of Wildlife Museum
With over 450 examples of wildlife, Brookshire’s World of Wildlife Museum has everything you need to learn all about the local fauna in the Tyler region and has replicas of animals from all over the world including African elephants, rhinos, and giraffes.
The museum features examples and explanations about the wildlife found in the area as well as around the world and is perfect for anyone interested in learning more about animals and their natural habitats.
Aside from the animals on display there is also a quaint replica of a typical grocery store from the 1920s attached to the property for those who want to feel like they have travelled back in time.
There is also a playground on site for younger visitors and admission is free so that everyone can enjoy Brookshire’s World of Wildlife Museum.
7. The Center for Earth and Space Science Education
An iconic structure in Tyler due to its domed theatre, this planetarium is perfect for anyone who has an interest in space.
The theater features a video performance that takes guests on a tour of the galaxy, filling them in on all the planets and points of interest along the way.
Not only are there shows in the theater, but guests can also enjoy interactive displays about the cosmos and there is also an exhibition hall for further information all about space travel.
Guest can also tour the galaxy using flight simulators that will take intrepid explorers on their first journey into space.
In addition to all of this the planetarium is also linked to NASA and streams real-time video from the base for budding astronauts to enjoy.
8. Goodman-LeGrand House
Built in 1859, the Goodman-LeGrand House spans nine acres and was a strategic and historical landmark during the Civil War.
The former home of Samuel Goodman, the house was preserved in the Classic style after it was remodeled and is a Texas Historic Landmark.
The museum in the house allows visitors to tour the building which still contains the possessions of the house’s former owners and offers a fascinating insight into the lives of those who would have lived in Tyler in the days of old.
Admission to the house is free to the public and the building sits in the surrounding LeGrand Park and Gardens so visitors can enjoy a leisurely walk before or after a visit.
9. Camp Ford Historic Park
Camp Ford Historic Park sits on the site of the former prisoner of war camp that stood during the American Civil War.
Now a memorial to those who lost their lives in the camp, Camp Ford Historic Park makes a nice day out for those who want to learn a bit about the history of the local area during the Civil War, and the park itself offers lush scenery and paved walking trails that are perfect for exploring the area on foot.
There are also period elements to be found in the park such as a reconstruction of a wooden cabin as well as picnic areas for those who want to bring a packed lunch and enjoy the serene setting.
10. Chamblee’s Rose Nursery
A family owned business, Chamblee’s Rose Nursery has been in operation since 1953 and is headed by Mark Chamblee, a certified nursery professional with a passion for flowers.
The nursery is full of a variety of species of roses from the Tyler area, said to be the rose capital of the United States, and the nursery aims to bring the best blooms to customers as a memento of their trip to Tyler.
There are over 200 species of roses at the nursery for visitors to admire and knowledgeable and friendly staff, many of whom have worked at Chamblee’s Nursery for decades, are on hand to answer any questions visitors may have.
11. The Children’s Park
The Children’s Park in Tyler is dedicated to bringing nature and the fun of playing outdoors to younger visitors.
The park has a number of key attractions for children such as play areas and iconic granite teddy bear sculptures.
There are also statues of children at play as well as story circles and natural effects like waterfalls and a fish pond.
There is even a butterfly garden where children can watch crowds of colorful butterflies in their natural environment.
12. Discovery Science Place
Discovery Science Place has a mission statement to entertain and educate youngsters on the joys of science, all through interactive and imaginative play.
Discovery Science Place has a range of rotating exhibits that teach children about all different aspects of science, be it biology, chemistry, physics, or even areas like human anatomy.
Aside from the temporary exhibitions there are also permanent galleries that feature a whole range of science related fun such as ‘The Cave’ which teaches youngsters all about dinosaurs, rock climbing walls, dig pits, and even a 3D cinema experience.
13. Tyler Historic Aviation Memorial Museum
Tyler Historic Aviation Memorial Museum, also known as HAMM, started life as part of Tyler Pounds Regional Airport.
Nowadays this airport and its terminal buildings has been transformed into a large exhibition space that is full of aviation related memorabilia that dates from the 20th century and is a treasure trove of information for those who are interested in flying.
Aside from the actual exhibits there is also a library and a multimedia theatre room that features daily shows that simulate flight and there is even a gift shop if you want some aviation souvenirs
14. Kiepersol Estates Winery and Museum
Kiepersol Estates Winery and Museum aims to tell the stories of their grapes through their wine, and the vineyards on the property span sixty-three acres and feature both red and white grapes.
The vineyards first started out from hand planted vines in 1998 and are owned by the de Wet family.
There is a tasting room on site for guests to visit which features rolling views over the rest of the winery and guests can sample all the latest wines on offer.
As well as wine tastings guests can also go on a guided tour to learn all about the wine making process at Kiepersol Estates.
15. Lake Tyler
To the east of Tyler lies Lake Tyler, also known as Lake Tyler West. Adjacent to Lake Tyler is Lake Tyler East and a canal area links the two waterways together.
Aside from providing fresh drinking water to the city of Tyler, the lakes are a great source of beauty and recreation.
In addition to the breathtaking views over the glassy lake, there are a huge range of activities to enjoy here and waterskiing on the lake in the summer months is a popular pastime in Tyler.
If this is a little too adventurous then visitors can try boating or fishing in the clear and unpolluted waters.