Travel Thursday | Tyler, Texas

5 of the best Ways to Escape the Big City to Tyler

When all the stresses of the big city become a burden, plan your next getaway to Tyler. Settled among the breathtaking pine forests of East Texas just 90 miles west of the sprawling Dallas and Fort Worth area, the Rose City feels like it’s worlds away. Explore 14 acres of blooming roses, savor some of the best barbecue in the state and walk along brick streets as you shop in one-of-a-kind boutiques. With their abundant Southern hospitality and laid-back charm, this is the kind of place where strangers become friends in an instant and you can truly unwind. Read on to see some of the best ways you can escape the big city with them.

Tyler, Texas is home to the nation’s largest municipal rose garden.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Imagine standing in sea of orange, pink, red, white and yellow, with the soft aromas of roses tickling your nose. Warmed by soothing fall sunshine, you meander along paths that wind through a kaleidoscope of colors. Take a moment to breathe deep and unwind, as you’re standing in the Tyler Rose Garden, the 14-acre epicenter of the Rose Capital of America (and the nation’s largest rose garden). For nearly 100 years, Tyler has been a major player in the rose industry. In fact, you’ve probably seen one of our roses, as any that is grown in America has likely traveled through here at some point. October is considered peak rose season here (after all, it’s when the more than 80-year-old Texas Rose Festival is held), yet you can come by just about any time of the year to admire the blooms.

As sweet of a sight as the roses are, there are many more flowers to see here. Savor the vibrant shades of spring as you drive through our historic neighborhoods, where blooming azaleas paint the town pink and white. Follow the Azalea & Spring Flower Trail to stop by the Pyron Home, where the owners will invite you into their backyard to see their azaleas. Folks come back every year to visit them. In the future, you might be one of them.

Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Que has been a Tyler, TX, institution for over 50 and has been a repeat honoree on the Texas Monthly best BBQ list for years. Stanley’s took home the people’s choice award for best BBQ at the inaugural Texas Monthly Best BBQ Festival.

Eat Like a Local

When you want to get to know a place, try its food. And you’d better believe we’ve got some of the best, whether you’re looking for casual outdoor dining to something more upscale. Start at Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ, one of the best barbecue joints in Texas. This is the kind of place where the aromas of smoked brisket and pulled pork fill the air and the lunch line winds out the door. Make a new friend or two as you wait your turn to order a plate of ribs that’ll just slide off the bone, savory sausage, or a mouthwatering sandwich (For the full experience, get the bucket list worthy Mother Clucker). Stanley’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and its bar is one of the friendliest spots in town. Pick from the largest selection of whiskey in East Texas and settle in for some live music just about any night of the week.

Of course, Stanley’s isn’t Tyler’s only local joint. Known around here as one of our most unique shopping and dining experiences, there’s no place quite like The Potpourri House. Started by two Tylerites back in 1982, the restaurant is known for its huge salad bar that has everything from fruit salads to a cornbread salad, as well as the fixings for a lettuce salad, a potato bar and delicious homemade soup. Get your fill, then browse the selection of gourmet foods, home décor items, candles and accessories at the restaurant’s boutique shop. Walk in with an appetite and you’ll leave with something you didn’t even know you needed.

True Vine Brewing Co. was the first brewery to open in Tyler and is a fun place for the whole family.

Savor Tyler-Made Craft Beer

Not only is craft beer serious business here in the Rose City, it’s also a way for the friendly folks to come together to enjoy some of the finer things in life. That idea is at the heart of what you’ll experience at True Vine Brewing Company, where the motto is Integrity, Community, Love. Stop by and you’ll notice that True Vine is far more than your standard craft brewery. With its rustic taproom, playground, dog park and a stage for live music, it’s a family-friendly community hangout that has something for everyone. Enjoying a glass of the double dry-hopped Rose City IPA or the refreshing Mermaids & Unicorns blonde ale and socializing the day away is one of the coolest things you can do while you’re here.

For you craft beer connoisseurs out there, you’ll be glad to know you don’t have to go far for even more delicious brews. Located just south of Tyler’s downtown square, ETX Brewing Company is a family-owned microbrewery that pours everything from an American stout with organic toasted coconut to a blonde ale with passion fruit. Check out the mural on the backside of the brewery and the art on the brick walls in the taproom, then find a seat at a picnic table in the outdoor area that hosts local bands every week. When your appetite strikes, get yourself some mac ‘n cheese fries, wings, or a burger to pair with your beer of choice at The Porch at ETX, the brewery’s restaurant. Since ETX Brewing Company is the only place in Tyler that does growler fills, you’ll want to get one filled with your favorite beer before you go.

When you’re looking for great beer and even better company, look no further than Tyler’s two craft breweries.

Downtown Tyler at night. Photo by Kevin Young – Aperture 42 Photography

Browse Downtown Tyler’s Unique Boutiques

Sometimes, all you need is a little window shopping. Thanks to our charming downtown area’s brick streets, historic architecture and variety of boutique shops, we suggest you wear your comfy shoes. Peruse the selection of quality handmade jewelry, handbags, t-shirts and more at 903 Handmade, a just-off-the-square shop that sources many of its products from East Texas and around the country. Then check out the locally themed t-shirts at Ridiculously Good Branding & Thread Co. before shopping  for all-natural body oils, face masks and other goodies at Moon Rivers Naturals, a Tyler-based outfit whose products can be found at Forever 21s nationwide. In the market for antiques? Head over to Ye Olde City Antique Mall, home to more than 10,000 square feet of antiques, collectibles, vintage furniture, and countless other treasures to discover.

Exploring downtown Tyler isn’t just about the stuff you’ll buy or the restaurants you’ll visit. It’s just as much about all the friendly folks you’ll meet along the way. Take your time, enjoy yourself and you’ll leave with a lot more than what you’ve purchased.

Photographer NOTES!!! more the better!
Tyler State Park has hiking and biking trails for all skill levels.

Get Outdoors on a Guided Tour

Breathe in fresh air and hike and bike in the shade of 100-foot-tall pine trees as you explore 13 miles of picturesque trails at the beautiful Tyler State Park. While you can do this on your own, going on a guided tour will make you fall in love with the outdoors all over again. Not only is it a great way to meet knowledgeable locals and other outdoor enthusiasts, you’ll also learn a lot about the wild side of East Texas. Venture out into the park to find birds in their natural habitat (bring your binoculars), see where all the best photography spots are and get an in-depth look at the park’s flora and fauna that you wouldn’t if you were hiking alone.

Don’t leave after your trek is done, as there is plenty still to do. Swim or fish in the lake in the summer, or camp out under the stars at any time of the year. Situated just 21 minutes north of downtown Tyler, Tyler State Park is ideally suited to getting outdoors and reclaiming some peace of mind.

These are just a few of the ways you can escape the big city hustle and bustle with us here in Tyler. If you feel the need to get away, start planning your visit here.

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