Located in rolling hills, deep woods and pasture land, East Texas has a wide range of appeal, and things to do in the cities and on short road trips.
From world-class golf courses, walking trails, cultural attractions, state parks, festivals, antique shopping, fall motoring and art museums, the East Texas area has something for everyone.
For those that enjoy the outdoors, and a taste of adventure, this is the road trip for you! We venture to Athens to tour the Texas Freshwater Fish Hatchery, and the East Texas Arboretum. Then we head to New York, Texas that is, for some zip line adventures. We finish the trip around Lake Palestine, and fun at the Water Park at The Villages.
It's only a 100 mile loop from Tyler, and back! But the nature of the adventures indicate that this is more of like a two-day trip, or maybe a one-day if you drop off a stop or two.
Route and map of the East Texas Outdoor Adventure road trip
Click map for details at Google Maps
You can start your East Texas Adventure tour anywhere on the route, and have an exciting journey!
However, Tyler is an excellent, central starting point for those taking day trips, and with a large selection of hotels and restaurants, is a great place to spend relaxing evenings after a day on the road.
Tyler has a wide range of places to see and things to do year-round. Tyler's mild climate provides an ideal environment for outdoor activities and recreation.
Lake Palestine is located about 15 miles southwest of Tyler, on Texas Highway 155, the result of a dam on the Neches River. It has a surface area of 25,560 acres, and was completed in 1962. It is the largest lake in the Tyler area in addition to Lake Tyler.
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.
Faulkner Park is a large facility operated by the City of Tyler on Cumberland Road at South Broadway - tennis center, water sprayground, fishing pond, baseball fields, hiking trails, nature trails, biking, picnic facilities.
Several golf courses and country clubs are available in the Tyler area, some public, some private. So be sure to call for information and memberships, T-Times, cost, etc.
After exploring Tyler, let's head west on Highway 31 to our outdoor adventure to the west!
Fall foliage at the East Texas Arboretum in Athens
Located west of Tyler at the intersection of Texas Highway 31 and Texas Highway 19 is the City of Athens in Henderson County. Incorporated in 1902, today its population is about 12,000 residents.
The East Texas Arboretum & Botanical Society provides over 100 acres of natural East Texas nature and beauty.
Areas include the Discovery Barn, Dream Garden, Little Red School House, plus numerous gardens and trails.
The historic Wofford House Museum, built in 1850, was relocated to the Arboretum several years ago. It now stands as a reminder of early pioneer days complete with period furnishings, memorabilia, and a seasonal garden.
The arboretum is located at 1601 Patterson Road, Athens, TX 75751 (Hwy 175 inside Loop 7). For more information, phone 903.675.5630.
The Athens Scuba Park is a world-class dive site, attracting 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.
Aerial view of the Athens, Texas Scuba Park
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 refractory 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 .
The Scuba Park is located at 500 N Murchison Street, Athens, TX 75751. For more information, phone 903.675.5762.
Another popular and widely known attraction in Athens is the 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.
Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens
TFFC houses a hatchery, laboratory, 300,000 gallons of aquariums, interpretive wetlands trail, and education center focusing on underwater wildlife in the state’s freshwater streams, ponds and lakes.
Kids love this place, and we highly recommend it!
The entrance is located at 5550 FM 2495, Athens, Texas 75752. Phone 903.676.BASS (2277) for more information. Driving directions and map to the Fisheries Center
If you are spending more than one day on this road trip, note that Athens has several motels, hotels and other accommodations, including:
New York Texas ZipLine Adventures
Another popular outdoor attraction is the New York Texas ZipLine Adventure, located near the community of LaRue, Texas, about 15-20 minutes east of Athens.
Each ZipLine Tour lasts approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Choose between a 6 ZipLine Tour or the newest 9 ZipLine Challenge Tour with a 1500 ft. line with 2 cable sky bridges leading to a 40 foot zip tower.
Tours are available for ages 5 and up. Certain restrictions apply. A "ground school" coaches those new to the sport.
The ZipLine is located at 7290 CR 4328, LaRue, Texas 75770
Detailed directions to the ZipLine
For more information, call 903.681.3791.
A popular family spot is The Waterpark @ The Villages offering 25,000 square feet of fun space. Its 19,000-square-foot, glass-enclosed recreational area is climate controlled and features a retractable roof for outdoor summer excitement.
Areas include a relaxing lazy river, 4 water slides, wave pool and more.
It is located near Lake Palestine, just off FM 2661, between Highway 155 and Highway 31. The address is 18270 Singing Wood Lane, Flint, Texas 75762.
Detailed directions to the Waterpark
Phone 903.534.8400 for more information.
Getting hungry after a full day of outdoor activities?
For those desiring to eat at Lake Palestine, you might try the convenient and popular Lake Palestine Resort Grill & Store or the The Villages Marina Grill.
After a leisurely meal at the lake, it's a short drive back east into Tyler on Highway 155.