25+ Exciting Things to Do in East Texas

Whether you’re looking for a short day trip or a fun weekend getaway, East Texas is sure to provide some unique experiences and great memories.

Out-of-staters may associate Texas with West Texas desert landscapes or even the Hill Country, but the beauty of East Texas is best appreciated by locals in the know.

From the peaceful Pineywoods to historic small towns to famous festivals, there are some truly incredible attractions in East Texas.

Here are some of the best things to do in East Texas!

east texas fall colors seen on a small road

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Spend a day at Lake Livingston.

Have some fun in the sun at the beautiful Lake Livingston!

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Hike through the winding trails of the Pineywoods, set up camp at one of their campsites or RV hookups.

Full of bird-watching houses and mountain biking trails, this hidden spot of nature is perfect for an East Texas weekend getaway. 

tent on the shores of lake livingston at sunset, one of the best places to camp near houston

Stroll through the beautiful Miza Azalea Gardens in Nacogdoches.

Just outside Stephen F. Austin University, the natural Azalea Gardens provide some of the most unique scenery in Texas. 

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This 11-acre plot of land is home to a variety of greenery, ranging from gorgeous shades of bright pink and green. 

Be sure to grab a map at the front entrance to navigate through the trails that hold over 8,500 different flowering plants and trees. 

blooming azaleas in garden, best activities east texas

Get some sun at Galveston Beach.

For one of the most classic things to do in East Texas, take a road trip over to Galveston to enjoy the beach.

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Soak up some rays while exploring some of their most popular beaches in Galveston, such as Steward Beach or East Beach.

Be sure to apply that sunscreen as you build sandcastles and capture some picture-perfect moments by the sea. 

aerial view of colorful umbrellas and crowds in galveston, home to some of the best beaches in texas

Explore the Pineywoods via the Texas State Railroad.

An opulently decorated rail car on a steam train and gorgeous Pineywoods scenery out the window–what could make for a more memorable Texas experience?

Enjoying a 4-hour steam train ride from Palestine to Rusk is one of the most unique things to do in East Texas.

Plan to book your tickets early, though, especially if you hope to visit in the summer: not all of the train cars include air-conditioning!

view out of the texas state railroad via a red train

See the sights at Galveston Island Pleasure Pier.

Whether you’re looking for some authentic food or a one-of-a-kind thrill ride, the Pleasure Pier at Galveston Island is home to some of the best family fun in East Texas!

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Soar to great heights on the Texas Star Flyer, or cool off with a ride on the Pirate’s Plunge.

For some of the best food around, grab a table at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. or Landry’s Seafood.

Galveston Pier with beach in the foreground where people are swimming. Galveston is one of the best houston day trips

Experience the nation’s Largest Renaissance Festival.

Located in the small town of Todd Mission, Texas, the annual Texas Renaissance Festival is one of the most unique activities in East Texas!

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Dress to impress in garments of the Renaissance Era as you walk through over 70 acres of activities and entertainment.

Take a bite of one of their famous turkey legs, or experience their one-of-a-kind pub crawl tour.

The festival has your logging covered with over 200 acres of camping sites and RV hookups to choose from.

knight in armor at a renaissance fair event

Stroll through nature at Beaumont Botanical Gardens.

Just outside of the Louisiana border, the Beaumont Botanical Gardens provides the true beauty of East Texas plant life. 

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Walk through the 23 acres of gardens and flower plots, and be sure to stop into one of the conservatories to witness their natural water lily ponds.

Make sure to check their website for any community events that may be held during your trip!

lily pond in texas

Embark on an adventure through Sam Houston National Forest.

Just outside of Huntsville, Texas, the Sam Houston National Forest and Grasslands has some is sure to impress with some of the most authentic nature of East Texas.

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Home to their famous 128 mile Lone Star Hiking Trail, lace up your boots as you embark on this journey through the edge of the Pineywoods.

Grab your binoculars as you go bird-watching at one of their many recreational spots, or rent out a canoe or paddleboat for a day out on one of their many creeks. 

Piney woods in Sam Houston National Forest as seen looking up

Add tubing to your list of fun things to do in East Texas.

No trip to East Texas is truly complete without airing up a tube and floating down one of its many beautiful rivers!

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The Trinity River winds over 700 miles through the North-East Texas region and is home to a variety of natural life.

Pack an ice chest for the river or picnic to enjoy on the bank as you spend a day in the sun floating down this East Texas river.

overhead shot of a man in an inner tube floating the river texas

Embrace local history at the Museum of the Gulf Coast.

The Museum of the Gulf Coast, located in the coastal town of Port Arthur, Texas, is the perfect attraction for beach-goers and history buffs alike!

Choose from their many exhibits that span from Maritime History or boat and ship remains that once sailed long ago.

The museum also has one of the largest Hall of Fames in Texas, which tells the stories of many influential Texas that were raised in the area. 

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Shop til’ you drop at the First Monday in Canton.

Otherwise known as the World’s Largest Flea Market, First Monday in Canton, Texas is the perfect adventure for any shopper or antique lover!

Each fair hosts over 5,000 vendors who come from all over the state to sell and portray their homemade goods. 

Be sure to stop by one of their hundreds of food vendors for some authentic sips and treats.

Collection of small porcelain items for sale at a flea market. First Monday Canton is one of the most interesting things to do in Texas for people interested in flea markets!

Take a paddleboat around Lake Palestine.

With its 135 miles of shoreline, Lake Palestine is one of East Texas’ best natural getaways!

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The lake’s natural springs are home to some of the most diverse wildlife and natural terrain.

Rent a canoe and paddle through the 18 miles stretch of water, or pick up a fishing guide at the front entrance for a day full of fishing and fun!

sunset over lake palestine texas

Visit the Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham.

The birthplace of Blue Bell Ice Cream is open to curious visitors with a sweet tooth on weekdays, and it’s a must-see stop in Brenham.

Any Blue Bell Creameries visit should be followed up with a visit to the on-site Ice Cream Parlor, where you can enjoy gigantic scoops of Blue Bell for $1 each!

two scoops of blue bell ice cream being held up in the sunshine at a tour blue bell brenham

Enjoy a wine tasting at Kiepersol Vineyard, Winery, and Distillery.

Tucked away just outside the unique town of Tyler, Texas, Kiepersol Vineyard is the optimal weekend getaway in East Texas.

From taking a tour through its many acres of vineyards, having a taste of their authentic wine and spirits, or getting a table at their pristine restaurant, this trip feels as if you’ve been transported straight to an Italian Vineyard!

If you’re looking for a place to stay, look no further than their on-site bed and breakfast.

red wine being poured into a glass. wine tasting is one of the best things to do in boerne tx

Go kayaking on Caddo Lake.

Lined with bald cypress trees and populated by alligators, Caddo Lake definitely isn’t a standard Texas lake!

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It is, however, one of the most unique places to visit in East Texas, and it absolutely belongs on any list of what to do in East Texas.

Not a big fan of kayaking?

You can also visit with a more standard boat tour!

front end of a gray canoe in caddo lake, one of the best east texas state parks

Hike through Texarkana’s Bringle Lake Trail.

This hiking trail located in one of the most northeastern regions of the state is home to some of the richest greenery of the state.

With its many winding forks lined in wooden bridges and stone paths, this 5-mile trail has ample space for hikers, walkers, and mountain bikers alike. 

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Enjoy a hot air balloon ride, one of the most unique East Texas activities.

The small town Longview, Texas is home to one of the most incredible things to do in East Texas: take a hot air balloon ride!

Whether you want to attend the Great Texas Balloon Race or sign up for a tour with one of the companies that offers year-round rides, Longview is the place to be.

This one-of-a-kind experience will take you to the skies of East Texas.

two hot air balloons on a sunny day, what to do in east texas

Admire the beautiful architecture of St. Anthony Cathedral.

Located in the heart of Beaumont, Texas, this century-old monument is captivating in its architecture and history.

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Whether you are planning to attend a mass or stop by on your next East Texas road trip, be sure to walk through its main hall to take in all that it has to offer.

Be sure to check their website for any community events or tours that are offered during your trip!

interior of St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica, Beaumont, TX
RohnDesign, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Spend your holiday season at Santa’s Wonderland.

Just south of College Station, Texas, Santa’s Wonderland welcomes friends and family every year from November 1 through Christmas.

Hop onto one of their tractor-pulled-trailers for a one-of-a-kind light show experience that truly embraces Texas culture!

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Grab a tube and slide down their snow mountain, or lace up your skates for some ice skating in the snow.

Don’t forget to grab one of their famous chicken legs or a glass of hot chocolate before you walk out the door!

close up of christmas tree decorated with red and silver ornaments

Explore Sabine National Forest, one of the top East Texas attractions.

One of the largest plots of land in the state, the Sabine National Forest has some of the most unique terrains that are reflective of both the states it calls home–Texas and Louisiana.

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Book a few nights at one of their wide selection of cabins, or hitch a tent for a quiet night under the stars of East Texas.

With some of the richest history of all national nature reserves, the tranquil Sabine National Forest will check off items on the bucket lists of any nature lover or everyday traveler.

boardwalk in pineywoods texas

Go fishing in Lake Houston.

Located just northeast of the hustle and bustle of Houston, Texas, Lake Houston is a quiet getaway for those looking to escape the city.

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After picking up a fishing guide that details the wide variety of wildlife in the area, break out your fishing pole and spend a day by its large stretch of shoreline. 

If you’re looking to spend the day out on the water, feel free to drop in your boat at any of their eight boat ramps.

sunset over one of the lakes around houston texas

Experience Texas culture in downtown Houston.

As one of the biggest cities in the nation, Houston’s downtown will promise a day immersed in culture and fun!

Take a tour through the visitors center at the NASA Johnson Space Center to let your curiosity soar to new heights.

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If you’re not up for catching an Astros game at Minute Maid Park, stroll down to Vic and Anthony’s Steakhouses for one of the best meals in Texas.

If you have a full agenda, try scheduling a bus tour that will take you through the important landmarks and sights of this unique city.

Book tickets to visit the Space Center today!

downtown houston at night during blue hour with skyscrapers in the background

Check out original creativity at Tyler Art Alley.

This spectacle, located in the heart of Tyler’s Downtown District, is home to many local artists and their creative expressions.

What was once a bare alley of the downtown strip has been brought to life through the hard work of aspiring thinkers!

As you take a walk down this monument, you will be sure to spot some art that ties into Texas History and East Texas culture. 

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Visit the oldest town in Texas: Nacogdoches.

The historic Nacogdoches Downtown District has one of the largest selections of shops and eateries in East Texas.

With its famous stoned-pathed streets and rich culture, there is always entertainment for everyone in the family on every corner.

After stopping by one of their many antique stores or hand-crafted jewelry shops, be sure to end the day with a night at Banita Creek Hall for some of the best live music around!

intricate victorian home in downtown nacogdoches, one of the best places to visit in east texas

Check out the Round Top Antiques Fair.

Perhaps only second to First Monday in sheer popularity, the gorgeous small town of Round Top holds more than one antique fair each year!

And, even if you don’t visit during the festival, you’ll find plenty of shopping opportunities in this East Texas town.

henkel square market in round top texas, one of the cute towns in texas

Satisfy your sweet tooth at Rudy’s Honey Farm.

The Pineywoods are home to beautiful scenery, unforgettable wildlife… and honey!

On your next trip to East Texas, stop by Rudy’s Honey Farm of Livingston, Texas to witness the natural honey-making process first hand. 

Take a tour of the facility and all it has to offer, and don’t forget to take home one of their unique, organic honey products (ranging from jars of honey to lotions and beyond) as a souvenir.

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Stay in a cozy bed and breakfast in Jefferson.

The adorable small town of Jefferson, Texas, is known for its incredible collection of bed and breakfasts.

It’s a perfect romantic getaway in for couples looking for a quiet weekend, and staying in a bed and breakfast here is one of the best things to do in East Texas.

Be sure to shop in the gorgeous Jefferson General Store while you’re in town!

sign advertising pralines sodas ice cream coffee in front of the jefferson general store, one of the best jefferson attractions

Take a walk through time at the Veterans Plaza and Vietnam Replica.

The Veterans Plaza and Vietnam Replica of Longview, Texas is a moving tribute to wartime sacrifice.

Go back in time as you walk through the storytelling stones and replicas of the many artifacts from the Vietnam War. 

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Have a field day at P-6 Farms.

P-6 Farms in Montgomery, Texas is the perfect East Texas attraction for seasonal fun.

With its ever-evolving schedule of events and festivals, these East Texas activities are sure to impress!

Ranging from Easter Farm Days in the spring to pumpkin patches in the fall, kids and adults alike will enjoy a day out at P-6 Farms!

close up shot of large orange pumpkins dallas texas

Have a drink at the Oil Horse Brewing Company.

With a wide variety of in-house brewed beers and lagers, Tyler’s Oil Horse Brewing Company has some of the best East Texas sips and live entertainment. 

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Pick from their large selection, ranging from their famous 1877 Irish Red to their one-of-a-kind Big Inch with hints of coffee and caramel flavor. 

Check their website to stay up to date on the many events and live music held in their taproom monthly.

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2 thoughts on “25+ Exciting Things to Do in East Texas”

  1. What about places like the Gas and Oilfield Museum or the World’s Richest Acre located in Kilgore, Tx. And the great little Gaston Museum located in between Henderson and Tyler with its hands on storytelling of life in a Texas oil boomtown. Or an excellent daytrip destination to The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage. Look them up online and see for yourself what the Real East Texas has to offer.


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