East Texas Family Fun & Things to Do
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
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.
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
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.
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 ...
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. The Zoo has now been accredited since September of 1983 and was the fifth zoo in Texas to receive accreditation.
Call 936-633-0399 for more information.
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
TJC Planetarium in Tyler
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
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
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 Park at the Villages - southwest of Tyler, on Lake Palestine - (903) 534-8400.
Splash Kingdom Water Park - near Canton on Interstate 20.
Kaleidoscope Ranch is a breathtaking 60-acre ranch in East Texas north of Big Sandy at 1936 Silver Maple Road. The Ranch provides the perfect escape from the daily routine, allowing visitors time to reconnect with family, take photos with cute animals, and even gather your own eggs from our chickens each morning!
The Ranch has four cabins currently available to rent. Included is a fully equipped kitchen with everything you need to cook and dine. Linens and towels are provided. Family room with TV, DVD player, DVDs, games, and books.
While renting a cabin at the Ranch, visitors can hike with a herd of miniature donkeys, feed camels a snack, or brush the shire draft horses' flowing manes.
For detailed information and reservations, phone 903.347.2747, and visit
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.
Established in 1974, Big Thicket National Preserve protects a biologically significant portion of the Piney Woods of southeast Texas.
For more information visit the Big Thicket website at NPS
Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center
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
Tyler State Park
Tyler State Park is located just north of Tyler, 2 miles north of Interstate 20 on FM 14, then into the park on Park Road 16.
This beautiful 985 acre park in the rolling hills features a 64 acre lake, campgrounds, hiking trails, pavilions, cabins, mountain biking, nature studies, canoes, paddle boats, kayaks, bike boats, jon boats, park store and much more.
At Tyler State Park, you can boat, fish, swim in the lake, hike, mountain bike, picnic, geocache, camp, bird watch and study nature.
Explore the Pineywoods on more than 13 miles of trails. Don’t miss the Whispering Pines Nature Trail, laid out more than 70 years ago by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The Roselake Ranch offers a wide variety of activities and entertainment options for the entire family. Services include:
Located at 3632 County Road 271, Garrison, Texas 75965, north of Nacogdoches
For more information, phone 936.559.8222 or visit ...
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|
|Dutch Windmill Museum||Nederland|
|Wave Pool and Lazy River||Texarkana|
|Putt-Putt Golf||Longview & Tyler|
|Elise's Family Fun Center||Winnie|
Popular Travel Destinations & Vacations in Texas