Located west of Tyler at the intersection of Texas Highway 64 and Texas Highway 19 is the City of Athens in Henderson County. Incorporated in 1902, today its population is about 12,000 residents. Elevation is 489 feet above sea level.
Athens is known as the "Black-Eyed Pea Capitol of the World", and is a Certified Texas Retirement Community.
Athens is reported to be the locale where the American hamburger was invented by Fletcher Davis in the 1880s at his lunch counter on the north side of the courthouse square. The invention led to the annual celebration of the "Hamburger Festival" for many years, an event that Athens is planning to reinstate. Davis cooked a hamburger steak on his flat grill, and then placed the browned patty between two thick slices of homemade toast, and added ground mustard mixed with mayonnaise, Bermuda onion and sliced cucumber pickles.
Hotels and Lodging Accommodations in Athens Texas
Athens has several motels, hotels and other accommodations, including:
Accommodations in nearby Tyler include a Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Select, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Country Inn & Suites, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn, and others.
Athens Area Attractions
Popular Athens area attractions include the widely known and visited Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC), combining outdoor education with a production fish hatchery. This $18 million facility was built without the use of state funds even though it belongs to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. TFFC houses a hatchery, laboratory, aquarium, and education center focusing on underwater wildlife in the state’s freshwater streams, ponds and lakes.
The East Texas Arboretum & Botanical Society provides over 100 acres of natural East Texas nature and beauty. Other attractions include the Henderson County Historical Museum, the Henderson County Fairgrounds, the Athens Scuba Park, the Cain Center and Cain Park, Lake Athens, and the Tara Winery. For more information, visit the website of the City of Athens.
The Athens Scuba Park is a world-class dive site, attracing SCUBA divers from across the USA, and the world. A 35-foot deep, 8-acre spring-fed clay pit at the park is on the grounds of the old Harbson-Walker brick factory, one of the area's first industries. The spring-fed warm waters boast an average visibility of 35’ that can peak at 70’. Natural white clay was excavated for use in making refractery bricks for fire places from the late 1800s until the 1960s. Opened in 1987, the park features underwater wrecks of buses, airplanes, and boats, plus caves and other locales suitable for both recreational diving, and the training of new divers.
The City of Athens Department of Tourism offers a scenic driving trail for visitors to take this fall season to view the fall foliage of East Texas. Henderson County has breathtaking scenic highways and byways that are identified on the easy to follow interactive map. The 55-mile self-guided driving trail begins and ends at the Athens Partnership Center, located at 201 W. Corsicana Street.
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Other Athens Area Attractions
While visiting Athens and the Tyler area, you may want to take other interesting day trips in several directions:
- Jacksonville - to the south of Tyler on U.S. 69
- Love's Lookout - beautiful 30-mile vista to the East
- Canton - home of First Monday Trade Days
- Gladewater - antique capitol of East Texas
- Kilgore - home of the East Texas Oil Museum and Kilgore College
- Longview - historic buildings, shopping, restaurants
- Marshall - Marshall Pottery, Railroad Museum, more
- Lake Tyler - swimming, boating, fishing, skiing close-in to Tyler
- Lake Palestine - boating, fishing, swimming, marinas, waterfront restaurants
- Toledo Bend Reservoir - boating, fishing, swimming, marinas, hiking, camping, golf, resorts, restaurants
- Bullard - just south of Tyler, home of wineries and the Freedom Museum