East Texas Family Fun & Things to Do

East Texas attractions and things to do ... museums, outdoors, parks, lakes, festivals, entertainment and more!
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East Texas is home to a wide variety of fun activities and attractions for the entire family.

Choose between zoos, animal parks, ziplines, train rides, camping, swimming, water parks and much more!

Included on this page are highlights of some of the more popular activities for families across this part of Texas.

Whether you are touring in South East Texas, around Beaumont, or in Upper East Texas in Tyler, or elsewhere in the area, there are many things to do for adults and children alike.

Texas State Railroad

Steam engine No. 316 of the Texas State Railroad

A popular East Texas attraction is the well known Texas State Railroad, which has a rail station in Rusk and one in Palestine. Vintage steam and diesel locomotives take passengers across the celebrated rails of the Piney Woods Route between the quaint East Texas towns of Palestine and Rusk on a 50-mile roundtrip adventure.

This quintessential daytrip, only a few hours from the metropolitan communities of Dallas and Houston, will create a memory that will last a lifetime.

Caldwell Zoo

Caldwell Zoo in Tyler Texas

The Caldwell Zoo in Tyler is an accredited institution, and participates in many breeding projects.

Animals born at the zoo include giraffes, flamingoes, black rhinoceros, giant anteaters, and many others.

The 85-acre zoo containing more than 2,000 animals representing 250 species from East Africa, North America, and South America.

The zoo includes a children's petting pen, two aquariums, picnic areas, a café that overlooks an African savanna and gift shops with original African items.

The zoo also has seasonal presentations including a bird show, alligator feedings, giraffe feedings, and elephant demonstrations.

The Caldwell Zoo is located at 2203 Martin Luther King Blvd Tyler, TX 75702. Phone 903.593.0121

For hours of operation, ticket information, and other details, we recommend you visit the official website of the Caldwell Zoo.

Sea Rim State Park

Sea Rim State Park

Offering more than five miles of natural Gulf of Mexico beach shoreline, Sea Rim State Park is where the marsh meets the surf, making it prime binocular-hunting grounds for numerous species.

Bring a kayak or canoe (or rent one at the park) and paddle along one of its paddle trails, or comb the sand for sea treasures that wash up on the shore.

Details at Texas Parks and Wildlife

Grapeland Safari

Grapeland Safari

The Grapeland Safari features over 400 zebras, kangaroos, camels, turtles, emus and other animals roaming freely on 60 acres, all visible from the comfort and safety of your own vehicle.

The drive-thru safari is privately-owned, by the Herring family, and been in operation since 2005. There is also a petting zoo and gift shop.

The Safari is located at 13440 U.S. Highway 287 N, Grapeland, Texas, 75844, on the east side of the highway. Phone 936.687.5292.

For more information, visit ...

Website of Grapeland Safari and Grapeland Safari on Facebook

Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin

Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin

The Ellen Trout Zoo is owned and operated by the City of Lufkin which is responsible for its daily operation.

The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and houses over 800 mammals, birds and reptiles from around the world.

Located at 402 Zoo Circle, Lufkin, Texas 75904. Phone 936.633.0399

Official website of the Ellen Trout Zoo

Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari

Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari

Cherokee Trace Drive-thru Safari is home to an amazing variety of wildlife. See over two dozen exotic and endangered species that thrive in an open habitat similar to their native territory.

At your own pace, enjoy a self-guided drive through the hills and open savannahs of this 300-acre preserve.

The safari is located  at 1200 CR 4405, about 12 miles east of Jacksonville, Texas. Phone 903.683.3322

Cherokee Trace Website for more details

TJC Planetarium in Tyler

TJC Planetarium in Tyler, Texas

The new CESSE planetarium at Tyler Junior College has become a "don't miss" Tyler attraction.

The new theater is equipped with Digistar 4, the latest in digital projection technology. TJC is one of only two facilities in Texas to utilize this new system – and one of only 50 worldwide.

Similar to IMAX, the Digistar 4 offers giant-screen transfer capabilities that can present not only astronomy and other science-based programming but also expansion into geography and history.

For current planetarium shows, events, hours and ticket information, phone 903.510.2312 or visit

Fire Museum of Texas in Beaumont

Open since 1984, this tribute to firefighters houses a collection of antique engines and firefighting equipment dating back to the 1800s. Take your picture in front of the original World’s Largest Fire Hydrant! Activities for children include the chance to dress up in a firefighter uniforms and drive the fire engine simulator. The museum also has a gift shop to buy souvenirs.  Located at 400 Walnut Street in Beaumont. For more information visit the Fire Museum of Texas Website

Fire Museum of Texas ... in Beaumont at 400 Walnut Street

Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary

Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary

Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary near Tyler offers visitors and volunteers many opportunities to learn about endangered animals.

Located north of Tyler, and just north of Tyler State Park, at 17552 FM 14. Home to over 40 rescued big cats. Phone 903.858.1008

Website of Tiger Creek

Zip Lines

New York Texas ZipLine Adventures

Another popular outdoor attraction is the New York Texas ZipLine Adventure, located near the community of LaRue, Texas, about 15-20 minutes east of Athens.

Each ZipLine Tour lasts approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Choose between a 6 ZipLine Tour or the newest  9 ZipLine Challenge Tour with a 1500 ft. line with 2 cable sky bridges leading to a 40 foot zip tower. 

Tours are available for ages 5 and up. Certain restrictions apply. A "ground school" coaches those new to the sport.

The ZipLine is located at 7290 CR 4328, LaRue, Texas 75770. Phone 903.681.3791

Water Parks

Water parks in East Texas

Water Park at the Villages - southwest of Tyler, on Lake Palestine - (903) 534-8400.

Splash Kingdom Water Park  - near Canton on Interstate 20.



Big Thicket National Preserve in Southeast Texas

Big Thicket National Preserve

The Big Thicket is an area of dense forest located north and northwest of Beaumont. This 97,000 acre National Preserve protects a unique environmental confluence of swamps, coastal prairies, piney woods, plant life and animals.

For more information visit the Big Thicket website at NPS

Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center

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 of 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. Dive shows and tram tours are offered at designed times.

The Center is located about four miles east of Athens and 75 miles southeast of Dallas. The main entrance is at 5550 F.M. 2495, Athens, Texas 75752. Phone 903.676.2277

Pawsitive Animal Encounters

Pawsitive Animal Encounters

People of all ages should have the opportunity to enjoy an up-close and personal experience with exotic animals not found in the Lufkin, TX area. The goal at Pawsitive Animal Encounters, LLC is to provide as many people as possible with that experience while also keeping our animals safe and happy. 

The animal sanctuary is located on a private residence where they have plenty of space to live long, happy lives. Plus, every animal is housed in a way that mimics their natural habitat or provides the things they need from that habitat.

Animals are safe for children, and the facility is regularly inspected by the USDA. A trip to Pawsitive Animal Encounters is an experience you'll never forget. Book a tour now!

Located at 4719 Peavy Switch Road, Lufkin, TX 75904.

For more information, phone 936.404.8227 or visit ...

Website of Pawsitive Animal Encounters


Pawsitive Animal Encounters on Facebook

Roselake Ranch

Roselake Ranch in Garrison, Texas

The Roselake Ranch offers a wide variety of activities and entertainment options for the entire family. Services include:

  • Rockwall
  • Petting zoo
  • Horse Rentals
  • Horse Boarding
  • Pony Parties
  • Riding lessons
  • Horse training and camps
  • Drill Team
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Castle play area
  • Group farm tours for school groups, church groups or family reunions
  • Nursing home visits

Located at 3632 County Road 271, Garrison, Texas 75965, north of Nacogdoches

For more information, phone 936.559.8222 or visit ...

Website of Roselake Ranch


Roselake Ranch on Facebook


More Things to Do with the Family in East Texas

There are dozens of exciting things to do with the family all across East Texas. Here a just a few more that are popular with residents and tourists ... but there are so many more to explore and enjoy!

Attractions and Things to Do Location
World of Wonders Museum Longview
Discovery Science Place Tyler
The Children's Park Tyler
Gator Country Beaumont
Colorado Canyon Beaumont
Jumping World Beaumont
Children's Museum Beaumont
Skate-O-Rama Nacogdoches
Zip Nac Nacogdoches
Adventure Kingdom Lumberton
Dutch Windmill Museum Nederland
Wave Pool and Lazy River Texarkana
Putt-Putt Golf Longview & Tyler
Eiffel Tower Paris
Elise's Family Fun Center Winnie


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