Tyler, nicknamed the “Rose Capital of the Nation,” is an ideal place for religious retreats whether you’re looking for a quiet, peaceful garden or a thrilling zip line experience. Tyler is family-friendly and rich in history. Founded in 1846, the city was named after 10th President John Tyler, who was a strong proponent of Texas’ annexation.
Smell the Roses
Tyler processes one-third of all commercially-grown rose bushes in America. It is also home to the nation’s largest municipal rose garden.
Each October, when the roses are at their peak bloom, thousands visit Tyler for the Texas Rose Festival. In addition to the Rose Garden, which features more than 32,000 bushes and 600 cultivars, the Rose Season presents horticulture workshops, tours of the Chamblee’s Rose Nursery specializing in Earthkind® Roses, the LeGrand Rose Garden on the grounds of the 1859 Goodman LeGrand Home & Museum, the Tyler Rose Marathon, Rose Garden tours and the Arts and Crafts Fair and Plant Sale.
The Tyler Rose Museum features the history of the Texas Rose Festival, which started in 1933. The Parade Room has floats from previous festivals; Rose Queens describe their “royal” experiences; and hand-sewn gowns dating from 1935 share display space with bejeweled crowns and scepters.
In late March and early April, the Azalea & Spring Flower Trail travels through more than ten miles of residential gardens and historic home sites. The two trails are routed to maintain an orderly traffic flow so you can see as many flowers as possible. From the courthouse on North Broadway, follow the specifically marked Azalea Trail signs southward to navigate your way through the flowers.
Get in Touch with Nature
Caldwell Zoo features more than 2,000 animals in an 85-acre park. The nationally recognized zoo includes a children’s petting pen, two aquariums, picnic areas and a café.
If the zoo is too tame for your tastes, the Cherokee Trace Drive Thru Safari, located in the woods of East Texas, is home to hundreds of exotic and endangered animals. These animals thrive in an open habitat similar to their native territory. You can take a self-guided drive through the hills and open savanna of the 300-acre preserve. From your own vehicle, you can observe, feed and photograph the animals.
The Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge is a non-profit big cat rescue facility serving as a permanent home to over 40 exotic and wild cats that were rescued from abuse, neglect or displacement. The organization has been featured on television’s Animal Planet. You can take a guided tour through the park and visit the educational facility.
Blueberry Hill Farms, located in Edom, Texas, has been open to the public since 1982. You can pick blueberries and blackberries and visit the Country Store and Bakery, which offers blueberry pies, blueberry muffins, blueberry frozen yogurt and blueberry lemonade.
Tyler also offers ziplines, ranging from 264 to 1,700 feet, which take you flying through East Texas. There are 26 parks, 22 area sporting lakes, 66 tennis courts, 26 baseball fields, 15 soccer fields and 9 golf courses. The golf courses in Tyler are rated best in all of Texas. One of these is Cascades Golf Club, an 18-hole championship course re-designed and re-routed by PGA professional Mark Hayes, who has won both the Tournament Player’s Championship and Byron Nelson Classic.
Tours and Museums
Jericho’s Tours of Tyler offer several touring options in and around Tyler. Tours take you through museums, historic homes and sites and even haunted places. You can also make pit stops at shops and places to eat. Tours range from a few hours to a full day.
In Downtown Tyler, visitors can tour several historical churches such as Christ Church Episcopal (founded 1867), First Baptist Church (built 1911), Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (built 1934) and Marvin United Methodist Church (built 1890). There is a variety of religious and spiritual organizations in the area, and some offer camps. Pine Cove Christian Camps and RetreatCenter offers custom-built retreats at retreat facilities at ranches, woods and the lake shores in Tyler.
The Goodman Museum is an 1859 home turned into a Texas Historic Landmark. It was the first property in SmithCounty to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Almost everything seen in this museum is originally from the house, including shoes and china.
The American Freedom Museum features a collection of artifacts and documents from the battlefields of the American Revolution to the sands of Iraq.
Experience the Arts
Tyler is home to many theaters, including the University of Texas at Tyler Cowan Center, Tyler Civic Theatre and the 1930s-era Liberty Hall. Tyler’s theaters feature plays, movies and even some Broadway hits.
Tyler also features the East Texas Symphony Orchestra. A four-concert season was presented each year from 1936 until the group disbanded during the Second World War. Community leaders revived orchestra operations in 1950. The orchestra invites guest artists and plays original music, music from famous films, famous pieces and even has multi-media concerts.
The Tyler Convention & Visitors Bureau offers groups several free services including itinerary coordination, help with hotel arrangements, restaurants, attractions and even a free rose bush to take home for each person in the group who spend the night in Tyler. The CVB can also arrange for a step-on guide for a nominal fee.
Tyler is located 90 miles east of Dallas and 90 miles west of Shreveport. There are more than 250 restaurants and 2,400 hotel rooms in Tyler.
Visitors can choose to stay at hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, private resorts or RV and camping parks.
Tyler’s dining experience features American, Asian, Mexican, Italian, Seafood, Steakhouse and BBQ restaurants as well as bakeries, delis and coffee shops.
By Lauren Reiniger