If you need a sweet-smelling escape, there is a place out east where flowers bloom and pines tell some of the oldest stories in Texas. Though every rose has its thorn, a day trip to the Rose City does not. With a world-class zoo, a candy factory, and lots of delicious eats, Tyler guarantees a vibrant and colorful day.
Tyler Rose Garden
A tripper must stop and smell these roses. What started as a living catalog for Tyler’s blooming rose industry in the 1950s is now a pink, red, and yellow masterpiece with thousands of petaled varieties. After you mosey through the garden, step into the Tyler Rose Museum on the garden grounds to see an exhibit on the Tyler Rose Festival, featuring dresses worn by past festival queens. One of them has a 16-foot train.
Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue
While most barbecue aficionados love the so-called “Texas Trinity” (brisket, sausage, and ribs), in the world of East Texas barbecue, chopped beef reigns supreme. Stanley’s has served up one of the best chopped beef sandwiches in Texas since the 1950s. I recommend getting it piled extra high with hot links and cheese for the epic “Brother-in-Law.” Or try the “Mother Clucker,” a sandwich with a smoked chicken thigh, fried egg, and candied bacon.
Tyler Candy Company
Tyler is well known for its pink blooms, but not many know of its other rose-colored delicacy—pink peanut patties, a treat made of pink candy and peanuts. This small, unassuming factory in South Tyler turns out more of the sweet and nutty treat than anywhere else in the world. Visit the store to stock up on road trip snacks, including pecan logs, old-fashioned peanut brittle, and, of course, peanut patties.
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It may not be as huge as big-city zoos, but Caldwell Zoo has more than enough exotic animals to make for a wild visit. With white tigers, flamingos, rhinos, lions, and lemurs, it’s a true East Texas safari. The Penguin Encounter program, which is open by reservation, invites visitors to have an up-close experience with the curious birds.
ETX Brewing Co.
You may think beer made with noodles, Lemonhead candy, or a fruit smoothie would be weird. Maybe it should be, but the folks at ETX Brewing Co. know how to make these crazy concoctions go down as smooth as an East Texas sunset. When you get hungry, step into The Porch at ETX, located next to the brewery, for a creative burger as delicious as the beer. Who knew mac and cheese and pulled pork were such great burger toppings?
So whether you follow my footsteps or forge your own path,
I hope to see you on the road.
Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper® travel show on PBS.
To view the Tyler episode visit thedaytripper.com.
Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @chettripper.