Everything’s coming up roses in Tyler, where the East Texas destination is a mere 90 miles west of Dallas-Fort Worth, making it a natural escape into the pine forests, lakes, and flowers.
But the official Rose Capital of America doesn’t just score high on the blooms. You’ll also find some of the best barbecue in the state, charming shops and boutiques along brick streets, and tons of small-town, laid-back charm.
Here are some of the best ways you can enjoy Tyler and escape the big city hustle and bustle.
Stop and smell the roses — and azaleas
The world-famous Tyler Municipal Rose Garden is a 14-acre kaleidoscope of orange, pink, red, white, and yellow blooms. For nearly 100 years, Tyler has been a major player in the rose industry.
October is considered peak season here — and it’s also when the annual Texas Rose Festival is hosted. But you can explore the garden just about any time of the year to admire the roses.
The historic neighborhoods of Tyler are also prettily painted by the pinks and whites of azaleas, so be on the lookout for those, too.
Eat like a local
Start at Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ, which is undoubtedly one of the best barbecue joints in Texas. Be sure to order the Mother Clucker, a sandwich with spiked and smoked chicken, spicy mayo, and cheddar cheese topped with an over-easy fried egg and served on toasted jalapeño cheese sourdough with house-made guac and candied bacon. Oh, and they also have the largest selection of whiskey in East Texas and live music just about every night.
For simultaneous dining and shopping, head to The Potpourri House that was started by two Tylerites in 1982. The restaurant is renowned for its enormous salad bar that has every possible kind of salad and all the toppings as well as a potato bar, soups, and more.
After you eat, you can shop a selection of gourmet foods, decor items, candles, and accessories at the restaurant’s boutique.
Try Tyler-made craft beer
At True Vine Brewing Company, their motto is integrity, community, and love — and it shows.
Come for the artistically driven beers — the Mermaids & Unicorns blonde ale is a must — and stay for the family-friendly hangout which includes a rustic taproom along with a dog park, playground, and stage for live music.
Craft beer connoisseurs will also love ETX Brewing Company, a family-owned microbrewery that pours everything from an American stout with organic toasted coconut to a blonde ale with passion fruit.
They’re located just south of Tyler’s downtown square and have an outdoor area where local bands play every week. At their onsite restaurant, The Porch at ETX, you can order up hearty faves like mac ‘n cheese fries, wings, or a burger to go with that beer.
Browse unique boutiques
Window-shopping comes with lots of charming views, thanks to downtown Tyler’s brick streets and historic architecture.
Grab a punchy, themed T-shirt at Brands and Threads; shop for all-natural body oils, face masks, and other goodies at Moon Rivers Naturals; and browse 10,000 square feet of antiques, vintage furniture, and collectibles at Ye Olde City Antique Mall.
Take a walk in the park
Thirteen miles of picturesque trails are yours for the taking at Tyler State Park, where you’ll also be in the presence of majestic, 100-foot-tall pine trees. Guided tours are also available and they're a great way to experience an in-depth look at the park’s flora and fauna.
After hiking around, cool off with a dip in the lake and camp out under the stars.
Say hi to the animals
Caldwell Zoo is one of the most popular small zoos in America, where you can get behind-the-scenes experiences with amazing animals, learn from zoo experts, and feed the giraffes at the African Overlook.
Do it for the ’gram
There’s no denying that Tyler is photogenic. Roses, nature, brews, and ’cue all make for Instragammable moments.
So, too, does the Downtown Art Alley project, which was created as a space for local artists to collectively display their work.
The Wings of Tyler mural is another photo opp waiting to happen, and you can also find wall art at The Discovery Science Place, ETX Brewing, and True Vine Brewing.
For a retro-perfect pic, look no further than the Liberty Hall marquee downtown; the theater was originally built in 1930.
And for architecture aficionados, don’t miss the Azalea District and its picture-perfect, early- to mid-20th century homes in a range of styles, including Queen Anne, Craftsman, Classic Revival, ranch, and more.
Find more to love and plan your great escape at Visit Tyler.