Free Things to Do in Tyler, TX

September 8th, 2022 by

You have plenty of options in Tyler, Texas, for when you want to get out of the house but don’t want to spend a lot of money. The city offers many free sites and activities for you to enjoy without breaking the bank. Here are six free things you can do in Tyler, Texas.

Tyler Rose Garden

Enjoy some peace and reflection among the flowering blooms of the Tyler Rose Garden. Featuring over 32,000 bushes and 600 cultivars, it’s the largest public collection of roses in the U.S. The garden is one of several Tyler sites designated as a National Treasure by the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to its many blooms, the Tyler Rose Garden features ample green space, a meditation garden and pond, and an archway fountain.

It’s free to tour the garden on your own. If you have a group of 10 or more, you can request a tour of the garden led by Smith County Master Gardeners. The Tyler Rose Garden also hosts various events throughout the year, including the annual Texas Rose Festival in October. There may be a charge for some events.

Location: 420 Rose Park Drive, Tyler

Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset

Smith County Historical Society Museum

Take a step back in time with a visit to the Smith County Historical Society Museum. The museum features a vast collection of artifacts detailing the history of Smith County. Housed in the historic 1904 Carnegie Library building, the museum features permanent and temporary exhibits, so there’s always something new to see.

The museum’s permanent exhibit, titled 20th Century of Progress, showcases the growth of Smith County from its humble beginnings to the present day. It contains photos and memorabilia from the 1900s, which help explain the economy and culture of this area of Texas. Past temporary exhibits have featured numerous collections, such as a Great War exhibit. The museum also holds various events and monthly public meetings where a guest speaker expands on a Smith County historical topic.

Location: 125 South College Ave., Tyler.

Hours: Free visits and tours are available by appointment from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; contact the historical society to make an appointment.

Camp Ford Historic Park

In addition to the museum, the Smith County Historical Society manages Camp Ford Historic Parkin Tyler. Camp Ford served as a Confederate prisoner of war camp during the American Civil War in the 1860s. The largest camp located west of the Mississippi River, it operated from August 1863 until May 1865, detaining over 5,300 prisoners at its peak.

Today, you can visit Camp Ford Historic Park to learn more about this part of Smith County’s history. The public park features various graphics that explain the history of the camp. There’s also a walking trail with interpretive signage and a picnic area. All parts of the park are free for you to explore.

Location: 6600 U.S. Highway 271, Tyler.

Hours: Open daily from dawn to dusk.

Faulkner Park

When you want to get outside for some fresh air, head to Faulkner Park, one of the crown jewels of the city’s park system. The park opened in 2001 and features picnic areas, pavilions, baseball and softball fields, batting cages, and a playground. It has a fishing pond for anglers and recently opened a skate park with ramps and hills for the public to use.

While you’re at the park, you can hike or bike on the nature trails, a nine-mile system that connects to various points of interest in Tyler. During the summer months, take your kids to the Faulkner Sprayground to cool off in the heat. Faulkner Park also houses a municipal tennis centerwith eight lighted tennis courts. The center hosts free-play hours during the week and also offers low-cost programs and classes for players.

Location: 410 W. Cumberland Road, Tyler.

Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Lake Palestine

On a warm day, make the short trip to Lake Palestine, located about 15 miles southwest of Tyler. Operated by the Upper Neches River Municipal Water Authority, Lake Palestine is the largest lake in the Tyler area. With 135 miles of shoreline, it’s the perfect place to spend a day relaxing in the sun or taking a dip in the water.

Lake Palestine’s 18-mile length also offers many spots for fishing. You can choose to fish in deep or open water or find a secluded spot on the lake, such as a cove or bay. The lake contains a variety of fish, including white bass, hybrid striped bass, and flathead catfish. You can also hike or bike around the lake to get some exercise while enjoying the view. Boating, canoeing, water skiing, and camping are other popular activities at Lake Palestine.

Location: Lake Palestine is located on State Highway 155; find directions to a public access facility on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

Hours: Open daily; check the weatherbefore you go.

Camp Fannin Veterans Memorial and Memorial Statue

In the 1940s, over 200,000 U.S. Army recruits completed their training at Camp Fannin, located northeast of Tyler. Those recruits were sent overseas to serve during World War II, where many became casualties. Honor their service with a trip to the Camp Fannin Veterans Memorial and Memorial Statue, which stands to remember all the veterans who served in the war.

Dedicated in 2003, the living memorial contains a 60-foot circular plaza engraved with a large star. The point of each star has a granite marker denoting the five branches of service that were active during WWII. In the center of the plaza, a life-size bronze statue depicts a Camp Fannin trainee wearing a training uniform. The artist used authentic WWII equipment and clothing when creating the statue to ensure its historical accuracy. A trip to the memorial can help you learn more about this part of Tyler’s history and remember those who trained and served there.

Location: 11937 U.S. Highway 271, Tyler.

Hours: Open daily.

Now you know more about six free activities you can do in Tyler, Texas. Which one of these places do you plan to visit soon? If you’re a Tyler local, did we miss one of your favorite free spots in the area? Send a messageto Classic Toyota of Tyler, and let us know so we can add it to our list. We love highlighting the fun, unique places that make this community such a wonderful place to live, work, or visit.


Tyler Rose Garden 4by formulanoneis licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0

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