You know that old saying, “everything is bigger in Texas”? Well, I think everything is BETTER in Texas, too! This great state of ours has so much to offer. From miles of coastline to rolling hills, farm land to thick forests, one could never leave Texas and still feel like they’ve been all over the world and seen it all!
Recently, we partnered up with Texas Tourism to go exploring out in the piney woods of East Texas and, although it is just a short hour and a half drive from Dallas, it feels like you’ve traveled for hours by plane. I bet you are wondering what there is to do out East that makes it well worth the trip? Luckily, I’m about to give you the full scoop. Consider your next road trip planned!
Our top picks:
- True Vine Brewery – Tyler, TX: Founded in 2011 by two home-brewing friends, it is now one of East Texas’ most sought after micro-breweries. With a focus on family and community, True Vine brings together folks of all backgrounds. From their specialty brews that can be shared with new friends, to the special events that they host, True Vine is the perfect representation of hard work, Southern routes and a good old fashioned time.
- Texas State Railroad – Palestine, TX: If it is the outdoors you crave, hop aboard the Texas State Railroad! Nestled in the heart of the Piney Woods of East Texas, the Palestine to Rusk train experience is four hours long and allows for tourists and locals alike to enjoy the beauty of the region. There are even special event rides such as Pints in the Pines, a must-do for beer lovers; Saturday Night Startlight Rides, Pumpkin Patch rides during the Fall season and, of course, Polar Express rides during Winter. From the moment you step aboard, you are transported to a time many years ago where the pace of life was slower and that in and of itself is worth the visit!
- Tyler Paddle – Tyler, TX: The folks at Tyler Paddle are the definition of chill. From hourly stand up paddleboard rentals, special events like SUP Yoga, Full Moon Paddles, part rentals and more, Tyler Paddle is the perfect place if you’re looking to enjoy some time on Lake Tyler. Located just next to the Lake Tyler Petroleum Club, you’ll want to spend the entire day on the water. Bonus? You can bring Fido along, too!
- 903 Handmade – Tyler, TX: Located in the historic area of Downtown Tyler, 903 Homemade is an adorable boutique owned by Kristy and Nate Norman. What makes this shop so special is that they only carry items that are produced by handmade craftsmen. They have a great selection of clothing, jewelry, greeting cards, home goods and more!
- Sister2Sister Cookies – Tyler, TX: You’d be hard pressed to find someone who lives in the Tyler area who doesn’t rave about Sister2Sister Cookies. Naturally, Sister2Sister was created by two sisters who focus on preserving their traditional family cookie recipes and bake everything fresh daily. They are some of the best cookies I’ve ever had and the coolest part of all? Their store has a drive-thru window!
- Tyler Rose Garden – Tyler, TX: Believe it or not, Tyler, Texas was one of the first cities to commercialize the sale of roses. Because of the city’s strong ties to the rose industry, Tyler is often referred to as the Rose Capital of the United States and has the largest public collection of roses in the country. The Rose Garden is open from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week and admission is free.
- Cork Food & Drink – Tyler, TX: Cork, as the name suggests, is Tyler’s most coveted wine bar. From walls that are covered with local art for sale, special deals and events daily, and a delicious Euro-Asian focused menu, it’s no wonder that Cork is incredibly popular. When we stopped in, they had even made us a special Oh Hey Dallas menu!
- Oxbow Bakery – Palestine, TX: Oxbow Bakery is a well-known secret in East Texas. Often recognized by publications for having “must try” pies, Oxbow Bakery is family owned and operated and calls Oxbow General Store home. Located in Old Town Palestine, Oxbow serves up pie by the slice or by the whole pie and has over a dozen flavors, some seasonal, that they offer. It is a can’t miss!
- The Foundry Coffee House – Tyler, TX: Located just “off the square” in downtown Tyler lies, The Foundry as locals call it. This coffee house is actually located on the first floor of a church and aims to forge “community and conversation” for its patrons. There is a strong emphasis on local products and roasteries here, with the art even being produced by locals, too! Be sure to try their iced chai latte or carrot cake whoopie pie!
Are you sold yet?
I’ll admit, being the city girl that I am, I did not expect to fall so head-over-heels in love with the Piney Woods of East Texas. The small city charm, paired with the popularity of the area makes it the perfect getaway without compromising on things to do. As you can see from our list of adventures above, there is plenty to explore, friendly faces to meet and fabulous food and drinks to enjoy! Being just over an hour from Dallas, it is truly something to add to your travel bucket list and the best part of all? No plane tickets, passports or long drive required!