Discover 10 must-try activities for families in and around Tyler.
Tyler may be best known for its world-famous roses and historic homes, but as the largest hub between Dallas and Shreveport, it has plenty of family-friendly attractions that appeal to people of all ages and tastes. Here are 10 must-try activities in Tyler.
1. The Caldwell Zoo
The Caldwell Zoo began as a pet project of retired engineer DK Caldwell in the 1950s. With the donation of 125 acres of land, it has grown into a world-class zoo with over 3,000 animals from the North American, African and South American continents. Many of the animals are endangered in their wild habitats, so visitors get the chance to see amazing creatures while helping conservation efforts. There’s a focus on animal encounters where you get to see and feed animals like giraffes, penguins and bears up close, camps for kids of all ages, and activities like keeper talks and teen programs.
2. Half-Mile of History
In the heart of downtown Tyler, a designated permanent half-mile path circles town square, adorned with roughly 60 stone markers that inform visitors on important historical events, people and places that have contributed to Tyler and Smith County’s community and culture.
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3 Bruno’s Pizza and Pasta
Bruno’s has been serving Italian favorites to Tyler-area families since 1976. Share a pizza loaded with your favorite toppings at Bruno’s Pizza and Pasta or sample some of the classics like lasagna, chicken parmesan or spaghetti and meatballs – just don’t forget to leave room for their famous tiramisu!
4. Tyler State Park
Explore the great outdoors at Tyler State Park, a 1,900-acre spread that features 13 miles of hiking and biking trails through the piney woods. Boat, fish, swim or paddleboard in the lake, camp (or rent one of their quaint cabins), bird watch and geocache. While there are more than enough things to keep everyone busy and having fun, kids will also love participating in the Junior Ranger program.
5. iJump Tyler Trampoline Park
Catch air at the iJump Tyler Trampoline Park, a 25,000-square-foot indoor trampoline park that features an elevated ninja course, laser tag, dodgeball courts, a giant airbag, basketball hoops, an open jump area and a cafe.
6. Times Square Grand Slam
Pick your entertainment of choice at Times Square Grand Slam, which houses a movie theater, an arcade and a bowling alley. It also hosts special events and offers laser tag, a ropes course, virtual reality and dining options.
7. Enjoy a Family Fun Day
Plan a family fun day at any of Tyler’s multitude of kid-friendly venues (that also offer plenty of grown-up fun, too). The Grove Kitchen & Gardens is a unique concept that emphasizes farm-to-table eating, but also offers plenty of outdoor space for kids to roam and play.
At ETX Brewing Co., mom and dad can enjoy craft beers but also arcade games. At True Vine Brewing, kids can enjoy the outdoor space while their parents throw back a cold one. While FRESH by Brookshire’s is much more than a grocery store – they have live music and options for eating that range from sushi to tacos.
8. R. Don Cowan Fin & Performing Arts Center
See a performance at the R. Don Cowan Fine & Performing Arts Center at the University of Texas at Tyler, a focal point for culture in East Texas. The center offers classic and contemporary professional touring events like the Performing Arts Series, Broadway Series, Distinguished Lecture Series and other special events. The Cowan Center offers plenty of options for audiences of all ages, whether it’s the Blue Man Group, the live show of Scooby-Doo, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory or even Texas legend ZZ Top.
9. American Freedom Museum
On the campus of the Brook Hill Boarding School, there’s a 15,000-square-foot museum of military history, the American Freedom Museum, that features more than 650 artifacts, some dating back to the 1700s. Honoring the important role of veterans and military personnel in safeguarding our freedoms, the museum is an exciting way to learn about our nation’s rich military heritage.
10. Engage in a Little Friendly Competition
When you get family together, there’s nothing like engaging in a little friendly competition – especially when the stakes aren’t too high. Check out Lunar Mini Golf (an indoor course illuminated with black lights and neon) or Putt-Putt Fun Center, an outdoor course. Try your hand at axe throwing (it’s harder than it looks) at PUMPJAXE Urban Axe Throwing or work together as a family and remember that teamwork makes the dreamwork at Escapology Escape Rooms.