There’s nothing better than hitting the road with your family. Not only does it give you the chance to enjoy some quality time with your kids, but you can also broaden their horizons and introduce them to new things. When you’re ready for your next getaway with your clan, come to Tyler. Set among the pine forests of East Texas, Tyler is known for its blooming roses and vibrant azaleas and spring flowers. Spend any time here and you’ll also discover it’s one of the most kid-friendly destinations around with plenty of exciting things to see and do for toddlers and teenagers alike. Discover all the possibilities below.
Ignite Your Child’s Imagination
In one moment, your youngster is a veterinarian. In the next, they’re a doctor or an archaeologist. At the Discovery Science Place, your kids can do it all. Ideal for families with younger children, the museum is full of exhibits that offer immersive, hands-on experiences. Let them dig for fossils in the Dino Dig Pit, explore The Cave in Discovery Landing, or take on the role of a grocery store clerk, newscaster, banker, and more in Hometown USA. While they’re here, they’ll engage with other children and discover what interests them. With an inclusive environment and accessibility for those with physical handicaps, a day at Discovery Science Place is fun for everyone.
Embark on a Journey Around the World at the Caldwell Zoo
Lounging lions, leaping monkeys, and towering giraffes, oh my! Covering 85 acres, Tyler’s Caldwell Zoo is home to animals small and large from all over the globe. Bring the family out for a fun and educational day seeing and learning about the world’s many creatures. Your journey through the zoo starts with squirrel monkeys, aquatic birds, and flamingos. At the end, you would’ve passed through the tropical rainforests of South America and the plains of East Africa and North America. Along the way, you’ll encounter cheetahs, black rhinos, lemurs, black bears, and even zebras. About halfway through your adventure, stop by The Overlook to get a bite to eat at the Chakula Café and feed a giraffe.
Beyond seeing all the zoo’s inhabitants from afar, you and your family can get up close and personal when you sign up for an animal encounter. Say “howdy” to a penguin and watch a training session before feeding a black bear. Whether you’re introducing your kids to an exotic creature or you’re admiring them from afar, a day at the Caldwell Zoo is an amazing way to create memories with your family.
Splash Away at a Waterpark
Soar down water slides and float along a lazy river all while on your own wilderness adventure. There’s nothing better than getting wet and wild at a waterpark, unless you’re at the Waterpark at the Villages of course. Located at the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Villages Resort, the indoor waterpark is a year-round attraction with a wave pool, and body and tube slides. Your youngsters can also enjoy the playscape and three slides just for kids. While there’s plenty of fun for all, the best part is you don’t need to be a resort guest to visit the waterpark. Simply pack up your gear and come to the ticketing booth during the park’s operating hours and you’ll be zooming down winding tubes in no time. Download the free Outdoor & Adventure Pass for an exclusive discount to the Waterpark.
While the Waterpark at the Villages has an abundance of kid-friendly activities, there’s even more where that came from at Jellystone Park at Whispering Pines. Nestled among towering pines on 47 acres north of Tyler, the Yogi Bear-themed resort is full of well-appointed cabins, RV sites and campgrounds, and an on-site shop that has everything you need for your stay. As for things to do, there are adult and family swimming pools, nature trails, outdoor game areas, pickle-ball courts, laser tag, a miniature golf course, and more. With so many activities, this is the perfect place to let your kids experience the outdoors.
Tyler is just the place to be in the summer too, thanks to its multitude of splash pads located at spots like Bergfeld Park, Faulkner Park, and the Fun Forest Pool. Between the waterpark, Jellystone Park, and Tyler’s parks, there are many places you can cool off in the Rose City.
Enjoy the Outdoors
The towering pines and lush beauty of the Pineywoods sets a captivating backdrop for your next family adventure. Right here in town, you’ll find 27 parks to explore, including Rose Rudman Park and Southside Park. Both are joined by a lengthy trail system, while the latter also has an all-inclusive play area with ADA-accessible playground equipment and an abundance of picnic areas.
There’s plenty more to discover at Tyler State Park, located just north of town. Hike along more than 13 miles of trails that meander among dogwood, hickory, and oak trees, with the shorter EZ Loop, Blackjack, and Lakeshore paths better suited to younger hikers. When you’re not hiking, try your luck at hooking a bass, catfish, crappie, or perch, or rent a boat and explore the 64-acre, spring-fed lake (or swim in the pristine waters to cool off in the summer). You can even rent a cabin or book a campsite near the lake, the perfect way to get away from it all.
If you’ve ever had to tell your kids to not jump on the bed, there are two places in Tyler you must visit. The trampolines at both Urban Air Trampoline Park and iJump Tyler Trampoline Park offer all the airtime you could ever ask for, yet both attractions have so much more going on. At Urban Air, your children can conquer a ropes course perched above ground, climbing walls, and a Ninja Warrior-esque obstacle course; feel like they’re flying on the Sky Rider; or explore the Tubes Playground. While the trampolines are a big draw, iJump Tyler is also home to the largest competitive indoor obstacle course in East Texas ideal for older kids and ambitious adults who are looking for a challenge.
When your youngsters are practically bouncing off the walls, let them play at one of Tyler’s two trampoline parks.
See All the Colors of the Tyler Rose Garden
Bathed in shades of red, orange, pink, yellow, white, and everything in between, the Tyler Rose Garden showcases many of nature’s most vibrant and eye-catching colors. Spread across 14 acres, the world-famous garden contains more than 500 varieties of roses, with peak blooming season occurring in mid-May and October. Although the roses are magnificent, there’s more to see. Stop by the camellia and day lily collections before checking out the Honey Bee Observation Hive, where your kids can get a close look at the inner workings of a bee colony. No matter what time you do visit the Tyler Rose Garden, make sure to explore the Tyler Botanical Garden. This section of the rose garden has other flowers that bloom throughout the year, making it a true attraction for all four seasons.
Treat Your Family at a Kid-Friendly Restaurant
After you’ve splashed around in an indoor waterpark or explored the wilds of a first-rate zoo, you’ll probably have a few hungry bellies to deal with. Fortunately, Tyler is home to a range of restaurants that are kid- and adult-friendly. The Grove has an enticing menu with entrees like jumbo stuffed shrimp and a Wagyu New York strip steak along with a selection of beer, wine, and cocktails that you can sip on while your youngsters play games on the outdoor lawn.
For a day out in the sun, tip back a few brews as your kids enjoy the huge patio, playground, and yard games at True Vine Brewing’s location on Earl Campbell Parkway. While the adults have a large selection of delicious craft beer, your kids can choose from a range of non-alcoholic drinks (including root beer, lemonade, and a rotating soda) along with Neapolitan-style pizzas from the next door Sola Bread Co. There’s even more craft beer to savor at ETX Brewing Company, where you can relish your drink of choice as your kids play the classic arcade games in the taproom before ordering a burger or a chili cheese dog from The Porch at ETX Brewing Company.
Whether you need some essentials or you want to really treat yourself, head to Fresh by Brookshire’s. This massive grocery store has it all, from a broad array of beer and wine to fine cheeses and other groceries. Get a pizza or order a burger from the Fresh Grill, then take your kids over to The Park at Fresh, where you’ll find separate playgrounds for older children and your little ones, as well as restrooms with changing stations nearby. Get in some grocery shopping, order up some great food, and entertain your kiddos; what’s not to love about that?
Throw Axes, Conquer Escape Rooms & More
If your kids are older, Tyler has plenty for you to do with them as well. Work together as a family to solve puzzles, crack codes, and beat a scenario as immersive as it gets at either Escapology Escape Rooms or Get Out Escape Room. Looking to give them an experience that’ll probably make them say “awesome!” Go ax throwing (yes you read that right) at PUMPJAXE Urban Axe Throwing. Similar to throwing darts but with axes, you’ll aim for the center of a round target under the watchful eye of an Axepert. Kids older than 10 can throw axes, but they have things that youngsters can toss too.
Some friendly competition with your children is a great way to bond, and mini-golf is a fun way to do just that. Vie for the lowest score as you play through the obstacle-loaded courses at the neon-lit Lunar Mini Golf of Tyler or Putt-Putt Golf & Games. Once you’re done with the 18-hole course at the latter, keep the fun going at the video game arcade.
Play for a Day at Times Square Grand Slam
They say you can’t have it all. Unless you go to Times Square Grand Slam, of course. This nearly all-in-one entertainment hotspot really does have it all. Catch the latest Hollywood hit in the state-of-the-art movie theater or go bowling before playing all kinds of games in the arcade. You can also experience all the excitement of a video game in the laser tag arena, where you and your family can compete against other teams in a two-level arena filled with obstacles, fog, and plenty of hiding spots. For even more adrenaline, take on the 11-element ropes course set above the arcade.
All these fun things to do will probably make you hungry at some point, but you don’t have to go far to savor something delicious. The Infield Restaurant, VIP Bar and Coffee Bar serves everything from pancakes and chicken tenders to tacos and brick-oven pizzas, as well as cocktails and coffee for when you need a pick-me-up.
When you want to do a little bit of everything, bring your family to Times Square Grand Slam.
Catch an Immersive Show at a State-of-the-Art Planetarium
Fly along with asteroids in outer space, dive to the depths of the world’s oceans, and more at the Tyler Junior College Earth & Space Science Center featuring Hudnall Planetarium. Featuring the first 40-foot Spitz nano-seam domed theater in East Texas, the planetarium serves up a viewing experience that is as immersive as it gets. Along with its scientific programming, the planetarium routinely screens children’s shows for kids 10 and younger, including Accidental Astronauts and Little Star that Could. After the show, check out the on-site interactive displays and exhibits before letting your kids run around the outdoor play spaces.
Ready for your next family road trip? With its abundance of kid-friendly attractions, everyone will love a getaway to Tyler.