Known as “The Rose Capital of the World,” Tyler also serves as a kind of unofficial capital for East Texas. A regional center of commerce and the arts, Tyler, Texas boasts a surprisingly diverse list of entertainment options sure to please city slickers and country folk alike.
Breakfast: Cafe Bhojana Java
400 W. Rusk
We at Tex Traveler would like to point those of you expecting to find nothing but barbeque and catfish in East Texas towards the Cafe Bhojana Java. With an eclectic menu full of organic and vegan options, this cozy little restaurant is tucked away in the Brick Streets neighborhood of Tyler. So whether you pop in for a cup of coffee, a bacon-avocado popover, or a hearty quiche, you’ll want to start your day at this great café.
Tyler Rose Garden
420 Rose Park Dr
You already know that Tyler is “The Rose Capital of the World,” but after a visit to the Tyler Rose Garden, you’ll never forget it! Located on 14 acres, the Tyler Rose Garden is the largest rose garden in the nation, and as scenic as it is, the variety of offerings may be even more impressive. The Garden has over 38,000 rose bushes coming in at least 500 different varieties in every size and color imaginable. Admission is free.
Lunch: Pat Gee’s Barbecue
17547 CR 26
Travelers looking for authentic East Texas barbecue will be hard pressed to find an establishment more authentic than Pat Gee’s. This Tyler tradition has been serving up top-quality ‘cue for decades, and when founder Pat died in 1999, his son Arthur took the reigns as pit-master. We recommend the brisket, but whatever you end up ordering, you’re sure to enjoy the ambiance; Pat’s is located a few miles outside of Tyler in an old wooden building, and diners sit close together to chow down. It’s a portrait of East Texas life.
Tyler Museum of Art
1300 S Mahon Ave
Another unexpected delight in Tyler, Texas is its top-class art museum. With a permanent collection of over 1,500 pieces emphasizing the works of Texan artists, the TMA serves as a repository taking visitors through the state’s history in the visual arts. It’s important to note, the museum is closed Mondays.
Dinner: Kiepersol Restaurant
21508 Merlot Ln
Tyler’s Kiepersol restaurant is a little hard to find (it’s located in a gated neighborhood), but you can take our word that getting there is well worth the effort. More than a restaurant, Kiepersol describes itself as “a food, wine, and spirits destination,” and features a winery and distillery on its premises, with their award-winning products sold at a number of retailers throughout the state. The restaurant is similarly acclaimed and features (of course) an extensive drinks list.