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Outdoor Adventures in Tyler, TX

From family activities to high-flying adventures, there are plenty of reasons to go get some sun in Tyler, TX.

By Marc Acton on April 24, 2014

The WaterPark @ The Villages Near Tyler, TX
Tyler / Staff Photographer

You don’t have to look very hard in Tyler to find a little bit of a wild side. From its luscious gardens and parks to its 85-acre zoo, this growing city lives and breathes the great outdoors.

World Class Animal Experiences

Linda Kunze exudes the love of the outdoors that you’ll find in many Tyler residents. She’s been in the zoo business for 40 years but still loves talking about it, which makes her the perfect education curator for Tyler’s Caldwell Zoo.

 “I’ve been to Kenya, and every time I walk past the African Overlook (which is every day) it brings back fond memories of my trip,” she says.

Exhibits like the African Outlook have made the zoo a favorite destination for visitors from across the state. Kunze says local residents can benefit from a variety of special events, including zoo keeper chats. She says the chats are “a great way for visitors to stay abreast of happenings throughout the zoo and in wild places around the globe.”

The zoo isn’t the only wild show in town, either. Tyler’s Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge has rescued dozens of exotic cats from being cast away by closed-down zoos or private owners. Visitors of all ages are going to get more than just pretty things to look at, says co-founder Terri Werner.

“When you visit, we’re going to tell you the story and facts about each cat. And what’s really unique is that you’re actually talking to the animal keeper, so you can ask them [everything] you’ve ever wanted to know about that animal.”

Tyler also has something for those looking for a more leisurely paced experience. Cherokee Trace is a drive-thru safari where you’re liable to have to stop your car for anything from a kangaroo to a Canadian bison in the road. This area attraction brings together a surprising variety of animals from all over the world and lets you see and photograph (and feed!) them from the comfort of your own car.

Choose Your Own Tyler Adventure

If you’re looking for an outdoor experience that’s a little more, well, adventurous, Tyler’s still got you covered. New York, Texas ZipLine Adventures was recently chosen as the state’s best adventure tour by the Discovery Channel’s Official Best Of. If you’re not too busy being blown away by the feeling of zipping through the countryside more than 100 feet off the ground, the views will knock you off your feet. School field trips and corporate challenge course outings are also available.

If you’re still not sold that Tyler residents can get a little wild, the WaterPark @ the Villages should seal the sunny deal. In a state full of lots of really big things, it’s the second largest indoor water park with 19,000 feet of all-weather fun. From gentle wave pools to slides for the most particular of thrill-seekers, the WaterPark has something for everyone, giving Tyler residents and visitors a place to cool off after long days of outdoor wild adventures.

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