21 Incredible Things To Do in East Texas

If you are planning a trip to Texas there are so many things to do to East Texas for an amazing trip! In this post, I will tell you all about it.

Texas is so big it makes it hard to discover all of its beauty, that’s why in this post I will cover only one part of it, the most fascinating and loved especially by the outdoorsy and history fan. If that is you and you are excited to learn about the 21 things to do in East Texas, read on.

The East Texas region is often referred to as the Piney Woods as it is full of tall trees, vast forests, and rivers that wind their way to Louisiana.

Spend some time in a small town, smell the most beautiful roses you have ever seen in Tyler, see the richest acre in the United States, even hot air balloons over the region!

Your options are truly endless to the nature and history of these towns. 

East Texas technically covers 41 counties and can take hours to drive through. Luckily it’s a beautiful drive with lots to see and I have included everything you need to see and do in this guide to East Texas!

Caddo Lake Texas

In a hurry? Here are the top unmissable things to do in East texas

Top outdoorsy thing to do

Enjoy the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Top romantic thing to do in East Texas

Take a hot air Balloon Ride

Best city to visit in East Texas

Explore Tyler Tx

Top fun thing to do in East Texas

Ziplining in the Piney Woods of New York, Texas

Best Food in East Texas

Try the Cajun Seafood, being close to the Louisiana border you have to try some of the cajun spices!

Best Museum in East Texas

Check out East Texas Oil Museum

Best Cultural Site in East Texas

Visit The Marshall Railway Station

Best Place to go Hiking in East Texas

Go to The Big Thicket! read more in the article.

Best Fishing Hole in East Texas

Go to Lake Athen

Have a little bit more time to read? Perfect, here are my top 21 things to do in East Texas!

East Texas lake at sunset

21 things to do in East Texas

Visit the Hall of Fame

Texas Country music has been a long-time genre that continues to grow more and more each year. Regardless if you are a country music fan this is a great place to spend a few hours learning about the musicians that started it all.

The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame museum will take you on a journey of the lives of Texas artists such as Tex Ritter. You will find those that work at the museum to be passionate and well educated on the history, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and get involved!

Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Caddo Lake in Texas
Bird taking of on Caddo Lake Texas

Deep in the piney woods region is the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, an 8,493-acre protected area.

Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in Texas and snakes through the backwoods of Texas into Louisiana.

For free you can hike, bike, even horseback ride throughout the state park refuge. I recommend grabbing a guide if you are considering kayaking the lake.

It is an incredible experience but it’s quite easy to get lost and you are entering gator territory. A visit out to Caddo Lake is a great day trip from Longview.

Ride the Texas State Railway

Texas railway

This East Texas train travels between Palestine and Rusk, the historic railroad has been using steam engines since 1896.

While it used to be the main form of transportation for lumber and other goods it now operates as a tour for travelers through the piney woods.

This historic site is a must-do in East Texas, especially in the Springtime.

Flowers are in full bloom and the scenery is stunning. Find a sense of wonder, nostalgia, and historic charm on this enchanting train ride.

Due to its popularity, the Texas State Railway has become an official part of the Dogwood Trail Celebration.

So jump on the Texas State Railroad, you can’t miss this East Texas highlight!

Tyler Rose Garden

Tyler rose Garden
Photo © VisitTyler

Tyler Texas is one of the best places in East Texas to visit . This major city produces and processes so many roses it is known as the “Roses Capital of the World”.

In October they host a Rose Show where people from all over gather to dress up and explore the largest rose garden.

The rose garden is the biggest one in all of the United States and once you see the rose bushes you will understand.

Each year at Texas rose festival the town holds a huge parade with rose floats, horse-drawn buggy rides, and different acts strolling down Main Street.  

Stop by the Tyler rose museum to learn how this small town took over as the rose capital of the world.

Some other great east texas attractions in Tyler include the Tyler State Park for some great walking trails and fishing spots in Lake Tyler.

The Tyler Museum, Tyler Junior college, and Tyler’s historic homes feature the Tyler azalea trail.

More about Texas

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Hot air baloons
Red hot air baloon

We all look for that special thing to do when traveling, and in East Texas, that is taking a hot air balloon over the tall tall trees! Breeze Balloons offers sunrise and sunset rides for the most romantic morning or night.

Pack a bottle of champagne and toast to the beautiful landscape that stretches for miles below you! If you can plan your trip just right, you can join the annual great texas balloon race.

Bet on a balloon and see who comes in the first place!

Go Ziplining

Get your adrenaline pumping at one of the most fun tourist attractions in Texas. With East Texas’ tall pine trees and dense forests, it makes it the perfect place for ziplining in and out of the piney woods.

The New York Texas Zipline Adventures!

Head to the city of New York, no not the one with the empire state building, but the little country town in Texas.

Choose from different tours ranging from 1 to 2 hours. On each tour, you will swing from 6 to 7 ziplines along with 2 cable bridges that lead to the big zipline!

A whopping 40ft. Do you have the guts? I hope so because this is one of the best things to do in East Texas!

Love’s Lookout

One of my favorite East Texas attractions is about 30 miles south of Tyler Texas. You can get some incredible views of East Texas at Loves’ Lookout.

The 5-acre area is at an elevation of 713ft giving you a birds-eye view above the massive treetops of East Texas.

On a clear day, you can see as far as 40 miles away. Loves lookout is the perfect place to grab a blanket, a picnic basket and enjoy the outdoors on a warm day!

Fishing at Lake Athens

Looking for an outdoor activity? Look no further than spending the afternoon fishing at Lake Athens. Located in the piney woods, you are sure to enjoy nature and the green surroundings.

Lake Athens is famous for its Large Mouth Bass population, you can also catch white bass, crappie, and even a few catfish.

Rent a boat, or fish off the pier, there are plenty of bait shops around to rent a fishing pole and get some bait to reel one in.

Alligators have occasionally been spotted here. It is rare, but always be aware.

If you are curious how the lakes stay so full with fish, check out the texas freshwater fisheries center, join an educational program on conservation and production hatchery.

Insider tip: Lake Palestine is another great lake for reeling in Largemouth Bass.

See the Eiffel Tower

Paris Texas Eiffel Tower
Photo © PLBthetoonist, Wikimedia Commons

Yes, you read that right, you can see the Eiffel Tower in Texas! Okay, okay, it’s not the same Eiffel Tower in Paris France but it’s a replica in Paris, Texas… The same thing right?

It was built in 1993 at a scale of the original. Two major differences, it is only 1/10th the size of the original…

Seems small I know, but the original is huge! HA! The second difference is it is topped with a bright red cowboy hat, cause, after all, this is still Texas.

World’s Richest Acre Park

Kilgore texas

Head to Kilgore Texas to see the World’s, Richest Acre. The area was named this because at one point in the 19th-century oil boom it had the most amount of oil rigs in one acre.

Which is more than anywhere in the world. Capping at 1,000 rigs, this little town brought in a lot of money.

Today you can see a few replicas of the oil rigs and be taken on a history lesson throughout the town. A lot has changed in Kilgore since then but they hold very tight to this heritage. 

Blueberry Hills Farm

Blueberry Farm Texas

Edom Texas has become a traditional trip for many people in Texas.

Every June and July you can find the Blueberry Hill Farms packed with people that are ready to pick the juiciest blueberries in Texas.

The farm is family-owned and operated and one of the few places in Texas where you can pick your blueberries.

They will have baskets waiting for you and live music on the weekends. Get there early as the farm can get crowded. Pack a picnic and enjoy the farm after you have picked your blueberries.

Visit the Texas Broadcast Museum

The Texas Broadcast Museum is located in Kilgore, Texas, and is one of my favorite east texas museums.

The museum is full of antique systems, old-timey cameras that they used to shoot special events. If you like technology and its evolution of it this is a great place to see how far we have come.

A retired broadcaster is likely to give you a tour, telling you stories of what it was like back in the day. Learn how test patterns were created when there were only black and white TVs.

These were created to make sure the screenings were easy to see with the 10 different shades of gray.

Shop at The Pink Pistol

Lindale, Texas is the home of the ultra-famous country music singer Miranda Lambert. Miranda was born and raised in this small Texas town.

After touring the world, winning 3 Grammys, and taking over the female country scene she opened up a lifestyle boutique in her hometown.

The Pink Pistol is extremely popular and you can catch lines being out the door to get in. Stop by early and grab some cute clothes and maybe if you’re lucky you will run into the Pistol Annie herself. 

Visit the Big Thicket National Preserve

Big Thicket National Preserve
Photo © Big Thicket National Preserve

The Big Thicket was the first area in the United States to be honored as a National Preserve. If you enjoy some outdoor recreation and exploring nature then you can’t miss the East Texas treasure.

The preserve spans over 100,000 acres and 7 counties. Head to the visitor center about 8 miles north of Kountze, Texas.

You will be able to stay at the RV park, camp, kayak, hike in and out of the humongous cypress trees.

Be careful to not get lost. Let someone know where you are and what you are doing that day as the Big Thicket is exactly how it sounds, BIG AND THICK.

Join an Azalea Trail

Azalea Trails in Texas

Azaleas are extremely popular throughout East Texas in the Spring. On the Azalea Trail, these soft flowers make neighborhoods bloom and bring in visitors to walk different trails to follow the flowers. One of the best trails is in Tyler.

The city constructed a trail that takes guests through some of the prettiest neighborhoods along with some private residences that allow you to step into their garden and quite literally smell the flowers. Make sure to visit the Pyron Garden, you can take a shuttle there.

Visit the oldest town in Texas

Laana Creek trail
Photo © VisitNacogdoches.org

Nacogdoches, founded in 1779 is dubbed the oldest town in Texas. This is quite the recognition considering Texas has more than 1,200 cities.

Nacogdoches is the home to Stephen F. Austin University, named in honor of the “Father of Texas.”. There are a lot of great tourist attractions in Nacogdoches.

You can easily explore the Caddo Indian Mounds, Lake Nacogdoches, and Lake Sam Rayburn to get out into the beautiful nature of East Texas. Explore the Historic Town Center known as the Charles Bright Visitor Center to take a trip down memory lane of the oldest town in Texas.

Visit the historic sites of Beaumont Texas

Beaumont - Texas
Beaumont – Texas

Beaumont Texas is located near Port Arthur and the Louisiana border bringing a lot of cajun flair to the city. The first oil discovery in Texas was founded in Beaumont and the city still celebrates its rich history.

There are quite a few historical sites to explore such as the Beaumont Botanical Gardens, the McFaddin-Ward House, the Texas Energy Museum, the Fire Museum of Texas (home to the largest fire hydrant in the United States), and the Saint Anthony Cathedral.

Pro Tip: Do not leave Beaumont without trying a cajun crawfish, my favorite is Ralph & Kacoo’s.

Shop at Trade Days in Canton Texas

A popular day trip from Dallas is to Canton Texas for the famous First Monday Trade Day.

A huge flea market is open on Thursday through Sunday before the first Monday of the month. It is located on 700,000 square feet of a covered shopping area.

It is the largest free flea market in the US. The 4-day long shopping spree hosts over 6,000 vendors and welcomes over 100,000 people each weekend.

You are destined to find just about anything you could want from furniture, jewelry, and even some vintage pieces. Get your wallet ready, I have a feeling you’re gonna find something great!

More About Texas

See the “World’s Largest Bowl of Salsa”

Each year Jacksonville Texas, the tomato capital, hosts its famous Tomato Fest. A one-week street festival.

Visitors travel from all over to get Jacksonville’s world-famous ripe tomatoes, some of the best in the world.

Vendors are selling all kinds of sauces and recipes for you to use the tomatoes in, live entertainment in the streets, and plenty of fun!

My favorite is the “World’s Largest Bowl of Salsa” in 2010 35 volunteers at Tomato fest made 2672 lbs worth of salsa and broke the world record! You can still see the “bowl” they used.

Take a Day Trip to Palestine

Palestine Texas  courthouse

Palestine is located 35 miles south of Athens and is full of historical enjoyment! Adventures include The Texas State Railway, the Museum Of East Texas Culture, and Dogwood Junction Fun Family Park.

Take a trip back in town at the museums and end the night zooming around in go-karts! Palestine is also home to one of my favorite museums, the Curious Museum.

The perfect place for those who like to discover new interesting things like magnetism, geology, and life.

Visit the Cultural Capital of Texas

Downtown Marshall Texas
Downtown Marshall Texas – Photo Wiki commons

Marshall Texas is very famous around the lone star state! Known as the cultural capital of Texas, Marshall welcomes thousands of visitors a year to its historic downtown.

The city has made a successful effort at preserving the sites and structures of the town.

Take a horse-drawn carriage to observe some of the 150 historical monuments and sites the town has to offer.

Some of these are The National Michelson Museum, The Harrison Courthouse, The Marshall Station, which contains the Texas and Pacific Railways Exhibition, Amtrak Bus Terminal, and the Texas and Western “Train of Fame” display.

East Texas Travel FAQ

What is eastern Texas known for?

East Texas is known for its nature and landscapes with some of the tallest pine trees you’ve seen and an abundance of roses and azaleas.

What makes East Texas unique?

East Texas has a distinct culture and history to it, as one of the first places in Texas to discover oil and the main hub during the oil boom it created a rich history and a cultural significance throughout the United States.

Is East Texas pretty?

East Texas is stunning. Dense forests with trees that you can’t see the tops of. Natural rivers and marshes make kayaking a different experience. It is very easy to escape the big city and be immersed in nature!

What is the best town in East Texas?

The answer to this question will depend on who you ask. I will say the most popular town is Tyler, Texas. Tyler gives you a big city feel while still having historical houses and plenty of nature. After all, it is the rose capital of the world.