Planning a trip to the Piney Woods region and looking for the best things to do in East Texas?
There are many amazing things to do in East Texas for all types of travelers.
In East Texas, you can explore stunning nature, historic places and much more.
There are museums, gardens and other attractions that will be sure to enthrall you.
No matter where you go in the eastern Piney Woods region, there is always a new corner to explore or a landmark to take in!
Let’s explore some of the highlights and attractions of East Texas!
Best Things to do in East Texas
East Texas is one of the most underrated areas of the Lone Star State.
Tourists to Texas often plan a trip to either the Gulf Coast or West Texas.
Locals like visiting Cadillac Ranch and Palo Duro Canyon in the panhandle or the scenic Hill Country.
Few visitors to Texas plan a trip to the East Texas region.
However those who will can enjoy a number of unique East Texas attractions like the mesmerizing Caddo Lake, a historic railroad, Lake Sam Rayburn, and more nearby attractions.
Here are some of our best things to do in East Texas and the Piney Woods region.
Kayak the Caddo Lake
Caddo Lake is one of the best things to do in East Texas.
It makes the perfect day trip from Dallas and its suburbs.
The beautiful lake is located on the Texas Louisiana border and is incredibly scenic.
The lake spans about 16,000 acres and is considered one of the top natural attractions in the South.
On the shores of the lake, you will find Caddo Lake State Park – one of the most popular state parks in Texas.
The Caddo Lake State Park offers many attractions and activities for visitors including kayaking on Caddo Lake, hiking, birding, fall colors, and more.
You can rent kayaks from a number of lakeside businesses or bring your own with you and paddle among the landscape of bald cypress trees and draped Spanish moss at your own pace.
Ride the steam train at Texas State Railroad
The Texas State Railroad offers history buffs and train enthusiasts a chance to ride vintage steam engine trains.
Riding the train from Palestine Railroad Depot to Rusk and back on the Texas State Railroad is an amazing experience.
On the ride you can enjoy the amazing landscapes of the Piney Woods, rolling hills, and Texan wildlife including deer and armadillos.
The annual Polar Express Train Ride is a favorite holiday activity in Texas.
The Texas State Railroad also has other specials like a Pumpkin Patch Express and Easter train for the kids.
Adults can enjoy photography excursions, fall foliage, or dogwood blossoms in spring on the Texas State Railroad.
Go wine tasting on the Piney Woods Wine Trail
Most visitors associate wineries with the Texas Hill Country, but did you know that even East Texas has a popular wine trail?
The Piney Woods Wine Trail is features a number of wineries including:
Blossom Hill Winery – The first winery in the region featuring award-winning wines and homemade breads.
Four Winds Vineyard & Winery – One of the leading boutique wineries in East Texas with cultivated grapes.
Visit the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame
The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame is located in Carthage, TX.
The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame is a great place to learn about country music legends from Texas as well as the local Piney Woods region.
The museum honors some of the biggest names in country music from legends like George Strait to modern musicians.
Carthage itself is a charming small town with a historic downtown.
Spend a weekend in Beaumont
No visit to East Texas can be complete without visiting Beaumont.
Beaumont is a major city and has plenty of attractions for tourists including the Beaumont botanical gardens, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, and the Fire Museum of Texas.
Another must visit attraction is the Texas Energy Museum where you can learn about the discovery of oil and the oil boom in Texas.
Beaumont is also home to the Rainbow Bridge over the Neches River.
Outdoor lovers will enjoy Tyrell Park – a lovely park with play areas and trails.
Smell the roses in Tyler
Tyler, Texas is a charming small town in East Texas.
The city is famous for its rose cultivation and is known as the Rose Capital of Texas.
You will find several attractions for rose lovers in Tyler.
You can visit the Tyler Rose Garden as well as the Tyler Rose Museum.
The Tyler Rose Garden is spread over an area of 14 acres and is the largest rose garden in America.
Tyler also hosts the annual rose festival called, the Texas Rose Festival.
This fun festival occurs in October and has a Rose Parade featuring a Rose Queen, afternoon tea in the rose garden, and other cool events.
Tyler also has many other attractions such as Tyler State Park around Lake Tyler, Tyler museum including the Goodman Museum, Museum of Fine Art, Caldwell Zoo, and more.
Tyler is also home to two blueberry farms: Blueberry Hills Farm and Tyler Blueberry Farm. We love picking the berries at the Blueberry Hills Farm with the kids.
Tyler’s Azaleas Bloom trails are also great to see during the spring.
Admire the daffodils in Gladewater
Helen Lee’s Daffodil Garden is a hidden gem in East Texas!
At the garden, you can explore acres and acres of daffodils in April and May.
This beautiful garden is just amazing to visit.
Go antiquing at Canton
Canton’s First Monday Trade Days are one of the best things to do in East Texas for those who love one of a kind treasures.
This is the largest free flea market in America and extremely popular amongst bargain hunters.
On First Monday Trade Days, you can find anything under the sun.
There are about 700 vendors selling items like furniture, antiques, crafts, tools, and so much more!
You can also attend special events at First Monday Trade Days including a Truck and Tractor Show where you can admire some of the most beautiful antique trucks in Texas.
Enjoy the panorama from Love’s Lookout
Love’s Lookout, located near Jacksonville, is famous for its beautiful panoramic views of the Piney Woods.
Love’s Lookout Scenic Park is located at an elevation of over 700 feet and overlooks the beautiful Neches Bottom Wilderness Area and Lake Palestine Reservoir.
The scenic lookout has picnic tables, restrooms, and many other amenities.
Love’s Lookout is also well known as a bird watching spot with many species of birds spotted here.
Visit the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site in Alto
The Caddo Mounds State Historic Site is a historic site featuring Native American history.
This historic site features the Caddo Mounds or ceremonial platform mounds that are believed to have been built between 1000 and 1500 CE by the prehistoric ancestors of the Caddoan people.
On a trail around the mounds, you can learn about the history of the native people. A small on site museum also has great exhibits.
Enjoy fishing at Toledo Bend Reservoir
Toledo Bend Reservoir is the largest man made lake in Texas and one of the most popular fishing spots in East Texas.
The reservoir is surrounded by Louisiana on three sides and it is very close to Beaumont, making it easily accessible for boating or kayaking.
Toledo Bend Reservoir has a variety of fish species including largemouth bass, striped bass, white bass, crappie, and more.
There are plenty of marinas and camping sites where you can stay at night.
The reservoir is also a lovely spot for birdwatching as over 200 species have been recorded here.
See the Eiffel Tower in Paris
That’s right, there is a Paris in East Texas! And it even has an Eiffel Tower.
Paris, Texas is a charming small town and an excellent place to visit.
Visiting Paris is like stepping into the past and you may feel like you have gone back in time.
This Old Timey Town has all sorts of fun things to see including an impressive replica of the Eiffel Tower, amazing murals, fascinating art galleries, mom and pop shops, and more.
Camp on the shores of Lake Livingston
Lake Livingston, located on the Trinity River, is one of the largest lakes in Texas.
The lake is a great place to camp, have a picnic, or just relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of East Texas.
Camping at Lake Livingston State Park is also an option.
Lake Livingston has several activities for all ages including hiking trails, boating, paddling, and fishing.
Hike at Big Thicket National Preserve
Big Thicket National Preserve is a heavily forested area in East Texas.
The Big Thicket is home to many native plant species, rare plants, birds, reptiles, insects, and animals.
This beautiful preserve is a wonderful place to hike and explore.
It is also home to several state and county parks and is a paradise for nature lovers.
Step back in time at Nacogdoches
Nacogdoches, in East Texas, has the honor of being the Oldest Town in Texas.
On a trip to this charming small town, you can visit the Nacogdoches Railroad Depot, Azalea Garden, and historical museums to learn local history and culture.
Walk the brick streets downtown and gaze at the quaint buildings. Shop local and dine in popular spots.
Nacogdoches makes an excellent day trip from Houston, the cultural capital of Texas and is worth a visit.
Stroll the Main Street of Henderson
Henderson, Texas calls itself a Main Street City.
This is completely true – the Main Street of Henderson is a darling place filled with cafes, eateries, boutiques, architectural gems, and antique stores.
Henderson hosts the Heritage Syrup Festival – a unique and fun event where you can see antique cane syrup machinery, classic cars, and music performances.
See the holiday lights in Marshall
Marshall, located in Harrison County, is a Texan small town with plenty of historic charm.
Marshall offers the perfect day for those whole like quaint towns.
Explore the downtown buildings in horse drawn buggy rides, shop for souvenirs, and eat at a favorite eatery.
During the holiday season, Marshall is home to one of the largest Christmas festival in Texas.
At this time, you can stroll through the city streets to see elaborate holiday decorations including lights from local businesses and organizations.
Christmas in Marshall is truly amazing and wonderful!
Also Read: Best Places to Spend Christmas in Texas
Soar in a hot air balloon in Longview
Love hot air balloon adventures and rides?
Visit the Great Texas Balloon Race in Longview!
The city is the hot air balloon capital of Texas and hosts the state’s longest running hot air balloon event.
The event takes place at the East Texas regional Airport and is lots of fun.
The airport also serves as the gateway to the region.
There are also many other things to do in Longview for families.
East Texas has enough opportunities for outdoor recreation, small town culture, and urban attractions to last your entire life!
We hope you liked our post on the best things to do in East Texas.
Friday 3rd of February 2023
I've lived in East TX for 23 years, never got to do everything on your list.
Saw the Balloon Glow in Canton, and the balloons launching the next day.
There's more than antiques at First Monday in Canton... though I did buy Ford Model A headlights for my antique car.
Several small airports have fly-ins where you can see many small planes. Maybe even take a ride!
There are many places to put a canoe or kayak in the water. Did this most recently up by Princeton.
Last summer I waded in the North Sulfur River near Cooper TX and brought out petrified clam shells, millions of years old.
Most small towns host at least one weekend festival of their own. Check with their Chamber of Commerce for dates. Wills Point's Bluebird Festival had local vendors, carnival rides, car show, etc.
Finally, the people I've met in East Texas are some of the nicest and most hospitable in the country.