In the February 2015 issue, writer June Naylor took us to Kiepersol Estates, a destination in Tyler that offers a winery, distillery, elegant restaurant, and bed-and-breakfast. You could certainly while away a few days in Kiepersol’s wooded retreat, but if you’re the sort who likes to get out and explore, Tyler obliges with myriad attractions. Here are some of our favorites:
The Caldwell Zoo: This 85-acre zoo dates to 1937, when founder David King Caldwell created a children’s development playschool in his home that included monkeys, parrots, and other small creatures. The playschool eventually grew into a proper zoo, and today, Tyler’s Caldwell Zoo houses more than 2,000 animals across some 250 species. Call 903/593-0121.
Tyler State Park: This wooded park features more than 13 miles of trails through the Piney Woods, a 64-acre spring-fed lake (good for swimming, fishing, and boating), six cabins, and loads of campsites. Many of the structures and trails, including the ¾-mile Whispering Pines Nature Trail, were built during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Ca;; 903/597-5338.
Discovery Science Place: Devoted to inspiring curiosity about science, Discovery Science Place includes three galleries full of interactive exhibits, including a giant faux cave with activities related to geology and fossils, a re-creation of a NOAA research vessel, and a miniature depiction of the city of Tyler. Call 903/533-8011.
The Tyler Museum of Art: Since its opening in 1971, the museum has amassed more than 1,500 pieces of 19th and 20th-Century artworks by masters ranging from Jerry Bywaters to James Surls. The museum owns one of United States’ largest collections of Mexican folk art, and also has a café and gift shop. Call 903/595-1001.
Tyler’s Municipal Rose Garden: The garden highlights more than 600 rose varieties and some 32,000 bushes, which thrive in the acidic soil of East Texas. It’s one of the largest collections of roses in the United States. A gateway to the garden, the Rose Garden Center, illustrates the history of the rose and its importance to the Tyler area. Call 903/531-1212.
For information about lodging, dining, events, and more attractions, see the website of the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau.