Things to Do in Tyler: A Tourism Guide
Tyler has a wide range of attractions to visit year-round for residents and tourists traveling to Tyler, as well as those attending business meetings and conventions.
Included here are highlights of things to do in Tyler, ranging from annual events to museums, activities related to the arts, outdoor recreation, shopping and more!
Tyler Texas Planetarium
The new planetarium at Tyler Junior College has become a "don't miss" Tyler attraction.
The facility features a state-of-the-art high-resolution digital projection system, a new 40-foot diameter theater, new exhibit space, additional classroom and instructional space, and outdoor educational plazas. The new theater is equipped with Digistar 4, the latest in digital projection technology.
The planetarium has featured exhibits such as "Great Balls of Fire", shows like "Cosmic Collisions", and the 1,500 pound Brenham meteorite.
Tyler Rose Garden and Texas Rose Festival
Tyler, the Rose Capital of America, is home to the Tyler Rose Garden, the nation's largest municipal rose garden.The gardens include over 38,000 rose bushes and over 600 different varieties, as well as reflecting pools, walkways and fountains. It was listed in 2011 in Livability.com's top 10 most inspiring gardens in the USA.
The gardens are a popular destination for both local residents and for visitors, and offer a diversity of photographic opportunities.
Tyler is also the site of the annual Texas Rose Festival held in mid-October.
Tyler Azalea and Spring Flower Trails
A highlight of each spring season in East Texas is the 10-mile long Tyler Azalea Trail guiding visitors through neighborhoods of quaint brick streets, historic homes, and residential gardens filled with blooming azaleas, dogwoods and tulips.
Over 100,000 people from all over the USA visit Tyler each spring to attend the Azalea Trail. Two marked routes exist today: the Lindsey Trail and the Dobbs Trail.
The trails also display a high concentration of white and pink Dogwoods, Redbud trees, Japanese Maples, and spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils.
Featured along the trails is the Azalea National Historic District, established in 2003, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It comprises about 950 homes built in the first half of the 20th century, with a large concentration of structures from the 1930s when the oil boom had a huge economic impact on Tyler.
Caldwell Zoo began in 1938 as a backyard menagerie of squirrels and parrots for schoolchildren. Those simple beginnings have evolved into an 85-acre regionallly-recognized zoo containing more than 2,000 animals representing 250 species from East Africa, North America, and South America.
The zoo includes a children's petting pen, two aquariums, picnic areas, and a café. Habitats and exhibits includ the African Savanna, North America, South America, African aquarium, Herpertarium and a wild bird walkabout.
Tyler Texas Museums
The Goodman-LeGrand House and Museum, built in 1859, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and designated a Texas Historic Landmark. This historic home is open for walk-in tours, while group tours, photograph sessions, meetings, and other functions must be scheduled in advance. The home is located at 624 North Broadway just north of downtown, and is owned and operated by the City of Tyler.
The highly-respected Tyler Museum of Art, located on the campus of Tyler Junior College (TJC), showcases both permanent, rotating and visiting collections. The Museum is located in an award-winning structure and contains two major exhibition galleries on the ground floor, the North Gallery and the Bell Gallery. There is also a library, classroom, café, and gift shop. The museum is located at 1300 South Mahon Street; phone 903.595.1001.
The museum's growing permanent collection features over 1,200 works including paintings, prints, photographs, and sculpture by artists such as James Surls, Vernon Fisher, Alexander Calder, Terry Allen, and Charles Umlauf.
The Museum is currently engaged in the design of a much larger facility. For more information, visit the website of the Tyler Museum of Art.
Tyler's railroad depot is the home of the Cotton Belt Depot Museum, and the Tyler Transit offices. Included in the museum's collection are four large model train layouts, photographs, uniforms, hats, etc. that have been donated by former employees of the railroad, and friends of the depot.
Located adjacent to the famous Tyler Rose Garden is the Tyler Rose Museum, which showcases and documents the history of the annual Texas Rose Festival.
The Carnegie History Center is located at 125 South College Avenue in downtown Tyler, in a historic structure that originally housed a Carnegie Public Library. Although the old Library in-and-of-itself is a historical treasure, the exhibits housed within weave together the history of Smith County, Texas seamlessly through permanent and temporary exhibits.
The Historic Aviation Memorial Museum (HAMM) is a large regional aviation museum located at Tyler's Pounds Regional Airport, in the old passenger terminal building. It includes a gift shop and library, a multimedia theater room, and provides a variety of educational programs.
The new American Freedom Museum is located just a few blocks from downtown Bullard on the Brookhill School campus. The Museum contains 15,000 sq.ft. of galleries showcasing a collection of over 600 artifacts and documents about our nation’s history.
East Texas State Fair
The 10-day East Texas State Fair features food, carnival rides, concerts, horticulture show, art show, livestock competition, photography compeition, Senior Day, and much more.
It is held annually in September. The fair grounds are located on 2112 West Front Street, Texas Highway 31, between downtown Tyler and Loop 323 West.
R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center
The renown R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center, located on the campus of the University of Texas at Tyler, presents a variety of Broadway shows, plays and musicals.
Inside, the Jim and Bonna Bess Vaughn Auditorium seats 2,000 patrons in a warm acoustical environment.
A full Broadway-sized stage includes a hydraulically-controlled orchestra pit floor which may be raised for concert use, or lowered for musical theatre productions.
Another facility inside the Cowan is the David G. and Jacqueline M. Braithwaite Recital Hall. It is a lovely chamber music venue and regularly hosts solo recitals and small chamber performances. It seats 161 patrons in three sections, with ample access for those with physical disabilities.
Parks, Trails and Biking
Faulkner Park is a beautiful, large facility operated by the City of Tyler on Cumberland Road at South Broadway. Its facilities include a tennis center, water sprayground, fishing pond, baseball fields, hiking trails, nature trails, biking, and picnic facilities.
Lindsey Park is also operated by the City of Tyler, and located on Spur 364 West. It features a softball complex, soccer fields, basketball courts, playground, picnic area, pavilions, disc golf, and restrooms.
And the popular Children's Park is located on South Broadway near the Garden District.
For walking, jogging, biking or roller-blading, Tyler's Rose Rudman Recreational Trail is a perfect venue for a short stroll or a long hike.
In addition, the new Tyler Legacy Trails offers walking and biking paths to Faulkner Park and south to Gresham along Old Jacksonville Highway.
Lakes, Boating, Fishing and Water Recreation
In the Piney Woods Section of East Texas, there are over 30 lakes offering a variety of outdoor sports for vacations or weekends, including Lake Palestine and Lake Tyler, as well as the smaller Bellwood Lake on the west side of Tyler.
Lake Tyler and Lake Tyler East, situated adjacent to each other and connected via a canal, are located just east of Tyler, Texas. These are the largest lakes in the Tyler area in addition to Lake Palestine.
Lake Palestine is located about 15 miles southwest of Tyler, Texas, on Texas Highway 155, and resulting from a dam on the Neches River. It has a surface area of 25,560 acres, and was completed in 1962.
Bellwood Lake is located in west Tyler, just past Loop 323 near The Cascades development and All Saints Episcopal School. Lake Bellwood was named for the small, nearby community of Bellwood. The dam was constructed across Indian Creek to form Bellwood Lake, and the lake served as a source of water for Tyler.
Tyler State Park is located north of Tyler, and is a popular destination for camping and other outdoor activities.
Things to Do for Kids and Teens
From movie theaters to water parks, from zoos to camping, Tyler has a lot to offer for the younger generation!
When traveling to Tyler with kids or school groups, be sure to visit the Discovery Science Place.
Movie Theaters, Mini-Golf & Bowling in Tyler
Studio Movie Grill - 8954 S. Broadway Ave, at the Village at Cumberland Park - 903.508.6991
Hollywood Theaters - 1250 Loop 323 South SW, Tyler - 903.592.7000
Times Square Cinema - 5201 South Broadway Avenue, Tyler - 903.581.1818
Carmike Cinema - 7415 South Broadway Ave, Tyler - 903.939.8258
Putt Putt Golf - SE Loop 323 at Old Troup Highway, Tyler - 903.561.7750
Green Acres Bowl - 2311 E SE Loop 323, Tyler - 903.561.2911
Tyler Civic Theater Center
Tyler Civic Theatre Center (TCTC) evolved from Tyler Little Theatre, formed in 1927. Through the tireless efforts of volunteers and the generosity of foundations and the public, TCTC's new home was christened in September 2000.
The original stage was renovated and rebuilt to house Rogers Children's Theatre. Student-actors are educated in all aspects of play production in classes designed for preschoolers through adults.
The new Braithwaite Theatre at TCTC seats 350, almost twice the seating capacity of the original facility. The entire complex is called Tyler Civic Theatre Center.
It provides live thrillers & comedies for adults and classics good for the whole family. The center also offers summer drama camps, workshops, and classes for students age 4 through adult. The facility can also be rented.
TCTC is located at 400 Rose Park Drive near the Tyler Rose Garden and across from the Harvey Convention Center. For more information, visit the website of the Tyler Civic Theater Center.
Shopping Around Tyler
Tyler offers a diverse selection of shopping opportunities and venues, from regional shopping centers with local and national merchants to small locally-owned boutiques.
It is the largest retail center in East Texas, and the largest between Dallas and Shreveport. One of Tyler's major retail shopping corridors is South Broadway Avenue commercial corridor, a great place to shop in Tyler.
The regional Broadway Square Mall is conveniently located at 4601 South Broadway Avenue, at the corner of South Broadway Avenue (U.S. Highway 69) and Loop 323, and contains 95 shops and nine food-related stores.
Tyler's year-round mild climate makes outdoor activities and sports such as golf a popular pasttime. The proximity to lakes such as Lake Palestine and Lake Bellwood, coupled with Tyler's hilly terrain, makes for challenging courses.
Championship grade courses conceived by nationally recognized designers abound around Tyler, such as the 18-holes at Hollytree Country Club designed by Robert von Hagge and Bruce Devlin.
The Cascades has played host to the North Texas PGA’s Texas State Open since 2006. The Eagle's Bluff championship 18-hole golf course on Lake Palestine, designed in 1998, was the culmination of the 38-year career of noted golf course designer Carlton Gipson.
The Liberty Theater originally was opened in 1930 as a first-run movie theater on the south side of the Tyler square, and continued in operation for 50 years.
The Liberty is once again home to memory-making events and entertainment after it was converted into Liberty Hall and re-opened in September 2011.
The hall is now the locale for a variety of qualityentertainment, ranging from nationally known artists to regional and local entertainers from all genres of music, comedy, theater as well as classic movies. The theater is also available for rental to other organizations that present entertainment as well as for civic and private functions.
For more information, visit the website of the Liberty Hall.
The Tyler Symphony Orchestra began performances in March, 1936, and was renamed the East Texas Symphony Orchestra in 1954 to reflect the broader geographical audience which it serves.
It offers presentation of classical and contemporary music in diverse settings, at the Cowan Center, and at other venues such as the Caldwell Auditorium and outdoor park concerts.
Several major seasonal events are scheduled each year in Tyler, such as the Tyler Azalea Trail in March and the Texas Rose Festival in October. Another popular event is the East Texas State Fair in September.
The city is also the locale of events such as car shows, the annual Firefighters Challenge, home & garden shows, Cattle Barons Gala, TABA Parade of Homes, golf tournaments, downtown Tyler Film Festival, concerts at Liberty Hall and the Cowan Center, FRESH 15K Run, Mistletoe & Magic, a Taste of Tyler, downtown Christmas parade, equestrian events at the Texas Rose Horse Park, shows at the Oil Palace, and others.
In addition, there are several art shows and sidewalk festivals in the downtown area through the year, including the popular Festival on the Square.
Conventions, Conferences and Business Meetings
Tyler is a popular location for regional conventions, conferences, business meetings, receptions, exhibits, trade shows, parties, and shows.
The Harvey Convention Center is operated by the City of Tyler and offers a variety of configurations for many types of events. It is adjacent to the East Texas State Fair grounds, and the Tyler Rose Center.
The center is located at 2000 West Front Street in Tyler. Phone 903.531.1349.
For more information about the convention center, and a list of upcoming events, visit the Harvey Convention Center Website.
Other Area Attractions and Things to Do
For More Information About Tyler TourismFor more information, we highly recommend you contact the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau which offers detailed information on Tyler attractions and events. Its website also offers downloadable brochures about Tyler and its attractions.
Other Tyler Resources