Fall foliage at the East Texas Arboretum in Athens
Located west of Tyler at the intersection of Texas Highway 31 and Texas Highway 19 is the City of Athens in Henderson County. Incorporated in 1902, today its population is about 12,000 residents. Elevation is 489 feet above sea level.
Athens is known as the "Black-Eyed Pea Capitol of the World", and is a Certified Texas Retirement Community.
Athens is reported to be the locale where the American hamburger was invented by Fletcher Davis in the 1880s at his lunch counter on the north side of the courthouse square. The invention led to the annual celebration of the "Hamburger Festival" for many years, an event that Athens is planning to reinstate. Davis cooked a hamburger steak on his flat grill, and then placed the browned patty between two thick slices of homemade toast, and added ground mustard mixed with mayonnaise, Bermuda onion and sliced cucumber pickles.
Athens in Autumn
The Athens tourism department offers a scenic driving trail for visitors. The 55-mile Athens self-guided driving trail begins and ends at the Athens Partnership Center, located at 201 W. Corsicana Street, in Athens.
The Athens scenic driving tour meanders along the back roads of Henderson County to view fall foliage at several attractions along the way such as NY-TX Zipline Adventures, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, Lake Athens, East Texas Arboretum, and Tara Vineyard & Winery.
Hotels and Lodging Accommodations in Athens Texas
Athens has several motels, hotels and other accommodations, including:
Accommodations in nearby Tyler include a Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Select, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Country Inn & Suites, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn, and others.
Athens Area Attractions
Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens
Popular Athens area attractions include the widely known and visited Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC), combining outdoor education with a production fish hatchery. This $18 million facility was built without the use of state funds even though it belongs to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. TFFC houses a hatchery, laboratory, aquarium, and education center focusing on underwater wildlife in the state’s freshwater streams, ponds and lakes.
The East Texas Arboretum & Botanical Society provides over 100 acres of natural East Texas nature and beauty. Other attractions include the Henderson County Historical Museum, the Henderson County Fairgrounds, the Athens Scuba Park, the Cain Center and Cain Park, Lake Athens, and the Tara Winery. For more information, visit the website of the City of Athens.
Aerial view of the Athens, Texas Scuba Park
The Athens Scuba Park is a world-class dive site, attracting SCUBA divers from across the USA, and the world. A 35-foot deep, 8-acre spring-fed clay pit at the park is on the grounds of the old Harbson-Walker brick factory, one of the area's first industries.
The spring-fed warm waters boast an average visibility of 35’ that can peak at 70’. Natural white clay was excavated for use in making refractory bricks for fire places from the late 1800s until the 1960s. Opened in 1987, the park features underwater wrecks of buses, airplanes, and boats, plus caves and other locales suitable for both recreational diving, and the training of new divers.
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Other Athens Area Attractions
While visiting Athens and the Tyler area, you may want to take other interesting day trips in several directions:
- Canton - First Monday Trade Days, Texas Horse Park, Splash Kingdom Water Park
- Gun Barrel City - Fishing, boating and outdoor activities around Cedar Creek Lake
- Palestine - Texas State Railroad, Davey Dogwood Park, Dogwood Trails Festival, Anderson County Courthouse
- Nacogdoches Texas - Spring azalea trails, Ruby Mize Azalea Garden, Mast Arboretum
- Rusk - Texas State Railroad, Cherokee Civic Theatre, Grapeland Drive Thru Safari
- Jacksonville Texas - Tomato Fest, ATV Mud Nationals, Tops in Texas Rodeo
- Love's Lookout - beautiful 30-mile vista to the East
- Tyler Texas - Municipal Rose Garden, TJC Planetarium, Caldwell Zoo, Tyler Museum of Art, Brookshire's Museum & Country Store, Lake Tyler, Rose Rudman Recreational Trail, Cotton Belt Depot, Goodman-LeGrand House
- Lake Tyler - swimming, boating, fishing, skiing close-in to Tyler
- Lake Palestine - Boating, fishing, skiing and camping, just south of Tyler
- Bullard - just south of Tyler, home of wineries and the Freedom Museum
- Edom Texas - Art galleries, Festival of the Arts, Artisans Trail, Blue Moon Gardens
- Lindale Texas - Old Mill Pond Museum, Hideaway Lake, Miranda Lambert Store & Red 55 Winery
- Mineola Texas - Mineola Nature Preserve, Bigfoot Paddling Trail
- Lake Fork - At 27,264 acres and 315 miles of shoreline, Lake Fork was designed to be a premier bass fishing lake and currently holds records for 34 out of the Top 50 largemouth bass caught in Texas.