For the lucky folks who have a three-day weekend to enjoy for Labor Day, we have created our list of fun things to do in East Texas. And the good news is, they're all quite budget-friendly!
Check out these places:
1. Waterparks - There are a few good places to visit to have some fun water play in our area. It's a good idea to wear a lot of sunscreen, and to go early in the day when it's least hot. Check out The Waterpark at the Villages in Flint, which is open to the public. You could also drive over to Canton, Greenville or Nacogdoches to spend the day at Splash Kingdom Family Waterparks.
Also, many parks have splash pads and fountains for kids to play in, for example, Lear Park in Longview, which has a huge splash pad to enjoy. You can also visit Chambers Park Spray Play Pad in Lufkin, or even the small dolphin fountain in Tyler's Bergfeld Park. Check out this website for more information.
2. Hands-on museums - Most parents in East Texas are aware of our fun hands-on museums in the area, but in case you're new to the area, here are a few to consider. In Tyler, Discovery Science Place offers a variety of fun exhibits that kids are enthralled by, and they change things up fairly frequently, so you might check in to see what the latest is, even if you've been in the last year.
In Gregg County, there is an equally amazing museum for children called Longview World of Wonders. They have a similar philosophy to Discovery Science Place, which is inspiring children to learn and discover through hands-on play, and on Tuesday, August 11, they are having a free "World of Wellness" health fair for children, featuring hands-on activities and demonstrations to help kids get a healthy start on the school year.
4. Museums for adults are a great way to cool off if you're not entertaining children, or if your children are old enough to think looking at art or history displays is fun. Check out the Tyler Museum of Art at Tyler Junior College, which currently has an amazing display of art created using nothing but Legos. It's really astonishing. They also have an exhibit called Reflections of East Texas that will be in place through September 27, and which features the art of local artists sharing their perspectives on life in East Texas.
Longview has the Longview Museum of Fine Arts ready to amaze locals with well-executed exhibits, as well. Currently, they are featuring the East Texas Regional Artists Show, so check that out and support local arts. Also, August 20 features "Ladies Night" at LMFA from 6-8 p.m. These nights are classes taught by women, to women, and are BYOB. These occur each month on the third Thursday.
Other museums of interest in the area:
Kilgore's East Texas Oil Museum
Mineola Historical Museum
Palestine's Museum for East Texas Culture (check out these photos to see some of the museum, including a real vintage log cabin, reassembled in the basement)
5. Galleries - If you'd like to see art from living artists, and possibly even meet some of them, check out galleries like Tyler's Gallery Main Street. It features local talent in a beautifully curated, modern space on the square in downtown Tyler.
Athens has a nice gallery called Gallery 211 which features local artists' work, as well. Check out that gallery here.
Ben Wheeler features the Flying Fish gallery, one of the first merchants that opened in town through the Ben Wheeler Arts and Historic District Foundation, in 2009. It's a small building that is completely packed with art. Take your time to walk through and take it all in.
6. Live music - There is so much live music available in East Texas, so you're sure to find something that you'll enjoy ducking out of the heat to listen to indoors. Check out The Forge and Moore's Store in Ben Wheeler, Ricks on the Square in Tyler, The Rafael Espinoza Music Academy in Mineola which brings in acts from all over the world, and many more places. A simple Google search will show you a seemingly unending variety of music in our area.
7. Movies - Most folks love going to the movies. Most cities have large theaters, and you already know about those. But if you'd like something special, try driving a bit to a special place like Mineola's Select Theater and Lake Country Playhouse (they share the space, so you can see movies almost weekly, with the occasional live production on some weekends).
In Tyler, check out the calendar for the Liberty Theater on the square. It's a beautifully refurbished building, and offers Indie films, cult classics, and films by Texas filmmakers. On August 13, for example, they'll show Tomato Republic, a feature about politics in the city of Jacksonville. Don't miss that!
If you are inspired to visit any of these places soon, we hope you'll share some pictures with us from your visit! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and your photo might be featured in a slideshow.
Helpful phone numbers - Make sure to call ahead, as some places may be closed on the day you wish to visit.
Discovery Science Place 903-533-8011
Longview World of Wonders: 903-212-4969
Tyler Museum of Art at TJC: 903-595-1001
Kilgore Rangerette Museum: 903-983-8265
Texas Oil Museum: 903-983-8295
Mineola Historical Museum: 903-569-2631
Longview Museum of Fine Arts: 903-753-8103
Museum for East Texas Culture: 903-723-1914
Mineola Select Theater - 903-569-2300
Liberty Theater - 903-595-7274
Gallery Main Street - 903-593-6905
Flying Fish Gallery - 903-833-5743
Gallery 211 - 903-292-1746
Moore's Store - 903-833-5100
The Forge - 903-833-5970
Ricks on the Square - 903-531-2415
If you have more ideas for cool ideas for hot East Texas days, email us at email@example.com to fill us in!
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