Entertainment Travel

Tyler State Park

Tyler State Park is one of the most popular state parks in all of Texas. Since Texas is a fair-weather state for most of the year, it is sometimes difficult to secure a camping spot for your RV. But, if you’re persistent and work the Texas Parks & Wildlife website frequently you can eventually land a comfortable camping experience.

We took our 2018 Heartland Mallard to Tyler State Park to celebrate our son’s birthday. The Park has several types of campsites from which to choose. We prefer full hookups and a good view, whenever possible, so we chose a spot at the Lakeview camp which not only offers the full hookups but also a beautiful view of the lake.

Sometimes, if Internet luck is on your side, you can secure a location that is lakeside. For this trip, however, we were parked across the street, so-to-speak.

Regardless, we had plenty of space and privacy. Here’s a look at our campsite facing away from the street.





As you can see, there’s plenty of space for a tent. My son and his wife brought their tent and set it up near the picnic table. There was still plenty of room for fun. In fact, in the evening, they started a fire and made the best dutch oven cobbler ever!

Sidenote: we camped here during the park’s annual Christmas light celebration. My son brought his projector and we watched movies on the back of our Mallard!

There’s plenty to do at Tyler State Park including kayaking and canoes, fishing, hiking, geocaching, birdwatching or, as we like to do, just relaxing. If you’re the kind that needs access to WiFi, Tyler State Park has it but it is pretty limited. Likewise for television reception even though the city of Tyler is nearby. But that’s OK. Tyler State Park is meant to be enjoyed for its beauty and wide open spaces. It’s really a great place to unplug from the daily grind.

Entertainment Travel

American Freedom Museum

Take in over 200 years of American history at the American Freedom Museum in Bullard, TX, just a few miles outside of Tyler.  On the campus of the Brook Hill School, visitors to the American Freedom Museum are greeted by an 1861 Parrot Rifle Cannon and an 1857 Congressional Desk and Chair in the museum lobby.   There’s even a photo of then-Senator Abraham Lincoln sitting in a similar chair.

From there, visitors can take in the Hall of Presidents which features signed documents from every President from George Washington to Barack Obama.

The largest exhibit is the museum’s Hall of Freedom featuring artifacts pre-dating the Revolutionary War up to Operation Enduring Freedom including a moving tribute to 9/11.

The museum recommends 90 minutes to tour the facility.  I highly recommend a good 2 or 3 hours if you’re a history buff.  And the American Freedom Museum appeals to all ages.  My party of six ranged in age from 8 years old to 75!

This relatively-new museum has so much to offer and is one of the best U.S. history museums west of Washington, D.C., and certainly within 100 miles of Tyler.  Recommendation:  have lunch at the new Jucy’s location on Old Jacksonville Road.  The American Freedom Museum is just down the street from there.

Entertainment Travel

Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary

Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary has a Tyler, Texas, address but is tucked away in the piney woods just north of Tyler near the towns of Red Springs and Lindale.

Tiger Creek is home to dozens of rescued “big cats” and other endangered species and the organization is dedicated to providing a natural habitat for each animal while still making them accessible to the viewing public.

Tiger Creek is family-friendly with plenty of parking, a cafe, and a gift shop. It’s also very close to Jellystone Park at Whispering Pines RV & Cabin Resort.



Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary

17552 Farm To Market 14

Tyler, TX 75706


Entertainment Travel

Ellen Trout Zoo – Lufkin, Texas

Image of Toco Toucan, Ellen Trout Zoo, Lufkin, TexasOur Deep East Texas adventure took us to the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin. For a mere 7$ per person, we were treated to a pleasant walk through some of the most beautiful animals our world has to offer. For the most part, the zoo is arranged in “continents” so that you have immediate context as to the region these creatures have in common in the wild. Many of the enclosures have a big, glass window so you have a nearly-unobstructed view of the residents within.

The zoo is heavily treed so there’s plenty of shade and there’s even a “stop spot” every few exhibits with tables, seating and, in some cases, ceiling fans to help young families (and older folks!) take a load off.

Admission for four adults was $28 total, or $7.00 a person. Rates are cheaper for kids 2-11 and seniors over 60.Image of Bats, Ellen Trout Zoo, Lufkin, Texas

Unaffiliated with the zoo, but located across the street, is the Z&OO Railroad operated by the Lufkin chapter of the Lions Club International. It’s a miniature excursion train very similar to the Forest Park train that has been in operation at the Fort Worth Zoo for many years. We didn’t ride the train but the engine livery was beautiful and plenty of smiling faces, young and old, were enjoying the shiney locomotive.

Inexpensive and fun for the entire family, check out the sites and sounds of the Ellen Trout Zoo!

Ellen Trout Zoo

402 Zoo Circle

Lufkin, TX 75904