Lake Palestine Campground

We decided to head east for a change and explore Tyler and Lake Palestine. On the way through Tyler, we had dinner at Mercados. It was recommended by a couple of different people. We had a good margarita and okay traditional Mexican fare. 

We spent Thursday and Friday night in one of the lodge rooms at Lake Palestine Campground and Lodge.

Lake Palestine lodge

Lake Palestine Campground sits on 10 acres on a peninsula in a cove of Lake Palestine. They have RV sites, one tent site, and a variety of lodge rooms. We had a room that overlooked the cove and was 10 feet from the water. Lake Palestine Campground is a good spot to stay because it is centrally located for exploring Lake Palestine, an easy 10-minute drive to Tyler, and 15 minutes north of Palestine.

Playing Around in Tyler

historic homes of tyler

Following a good breakfast in the Lake Palestine Campground cafe, we headed to Tyler to play “The Traveling Texas Tourist”. The first stop was the Tyler Visitors Bureau to pick up all the standard tourist information and to make sure that we didn’t miss any of the Tyler attractions and things to do. 

Discovery Science Place is across the street from the visitors bureau. It’s an excellent place to spend some time with your kids. They have three hands-on exhibit halls where kids are free to move around and explore, plus hands-on learning centers, a subterranean display, and an interesting travel exhibit from San Francisco. Kids from 5 to 12 should really enjoy a few hours here.

Brookeshire's wildlife exhibit

After the museum, we cruised by some of the beautiful and majestic historical homes dating back to the 1860’s. We ended the day at Brookshire’s World of Wildlife Museum and Country Store. The museum has over 250 mounted examples of wildlife and a replica of a 1920’s grocery store.

Brookshire’s is also a place that the kids will enjoy. They can get up close and personal with a mounted tiger and other animals!

We were impressed with the number of attractions in Tyler. You can learn more about some of the other things to see and do in and around Tyler by visiting the Texas Outside Guide to Tyler. It includes a great list of things to see and do in Tyler.

Dinner, Dancing, and Drinking

After all that tourist stuff, we were ready for a good dinner and some partying. It was disappointing to find that everyone we talked to all day had a hard time thinking of a fun joint with live music. We called a couple pf places only to find out that they have music during the summer only. We ended up at Old Grande Restaurant.

Olde Grande is a two-level facility with a good restaurant, dance floor, and bar in a large upstairs room. Dinner was very good. Try the steak with a sweet bourbon sauce.

We enjoyed Old Grande because your dinner is served a few tables back from the dance floor, which means you can eat a good meal, listen to the music, and watch the lively dancing crowd at the same time. A good three piece band played 70’s to 90’s music and kept the dance floor full. Downstairs, with a bar, dance floor, pool tables, a live band, and a lively crowd, attracts a younger crowd. This is a good place to eat, dance, socialize, or just listen to some music.

Golf and Winebibbing in Tyler

kiepersol winery

We had another good breakfast then were off to check out Kiepersol Estates Vineyards. They’re located about 20 minutes south of Tyler.

We chatted with the wine master and sampled some wine on their deck overlooking the vineyard and countryside. Kiepersol also has a very nice 5-room B&B and an excellent restaurant and bar. The grounds are beautifully appointed and landscaped. You can take a horse drawn carriage ride through the property and vineyard.

Saturday afternoon, we went to the links at Oak Hurst Golf Course just south of Tyler. This golf facility has two courses, Oak Hurst and Peach Tree.

Oak Hurst is an outstanding golf course offering everything that we enjoy in a course. That includes scenic beauty, rolling hills, excellent conditions, lots of water, good value, variety, and challenges. We rated it 8.2 stars. You can read our review by clicking here.

By comparison, Peach Tree looks boring with side-by-side holes and straight and flat fairways.

Dining Party at Lake Palestine

After asking everyone we talked to where to eat and party (got mostly blank stares and few good answers), the winning recommendation for dinner was Coffee Landing Restaurant (903 876-4923) on Lake Palestine.

Coffee Landing is known for their seafood buffet for lunch and dinner, but they also have steaks, sandwiches, and more. We had the seafood buffet. It was good and included two types of fish, crab, salads, desserts, lots of shrimp, crawfish, stuffed crab, veggies, deserts, and much more.

We waddled out of Coffee Landing and headed for the closest, and only recommended, nightspot for some cold brewskis and live music. Half Moon Bar & Grill (Gresham) can best be described as a small, local hole-in-the-wall type bar with a fun and friendly crowd, pool tables, video games, TVs, and some pretty good live music.

We spent Saturday night at the Duck Inn B&B. This is a nice house right on the lake with four cozy rooms for rent. Each of the rooms have an outside entrance, private bathroom, excellent view of the lake, private patio, and some rooms have hot tubs. Duck Inn also has a boat dock and hammock for your enjoyment. The owner, Ann, is a great lady, perfect host, and excellent chef. Duck Inn is also a great place to stay to relax or to explore the surrounding area.

Duck Inn B & B
Duck Inn B & B
Duck Inn B & B

What We Saw at Caldwell Zoo

Sunday morning, we were off to the Caldwell Zoo to mingle with some more animals (although they weren’t the partying type like some of the party animals from the night before).

Everyone we asked raved about the Caldwell Zoo. Rightfully so. This is an excellent zoo and is Tyler’s number 1 attraction. What makes this a nice zoo is that the animals are viewed in various sections that represent their origin, for example:

  • The North American section has animals like prowling jaguars, mountain lions, bald eagles, and roaming buffalo;
  • The South American section has attractions like the world’s largest rodent, giant anteaters, colorful macaws, and squirrel monkeys;
  • Two aquariums full of saltwater as well as Texas river and bay fish, snakes, snapping turtles, penguins, and spiders;
  • East African section with elephants, giraffes, tigers, and lions.

Caldwell Zoo also has a gift shop; casual Cafe offering diners views of zebras, lions, giraffes; a walk through aviary; and a children’s petting zoo. Caldwell Zoo is well worth the price of admission. Prices range from $14.50 to $19.50. Kids under 2 get in free.

Caldwell Zoo
caldwell zoo bird
Caldwell zoo

Biking Around Tyler State Park

Since wandering around the zoo didn’t wear off enough fat calories from the Coffee Landing buffet, plus all the beer from the Half Moon Bar, we decided to hit the bike trails at Tyler State for some exercise.

Tyler State Park, which is 7 miles north of downtown Tyler, is 985 acres of natural beauty around a very pretty 64-acre lake. Tyler State Park has excellent RV and tent campsites, canoe rentals, screened shelters, and 16 miles of trails. These popular trails are some of the best in Texas as they meander up and down the hills, cutting through the Pinewoods, and around the clear spring-fed lake. The trails are fairly hilly and offer a full range of loops from family appropriate to expert trials. Some of the terrain can be steep and technically very challenging.

You can read our review of Tyler State Park by clicking here. Enjoy! This is a great park.

After a few hours on the trails. It was time to head back to the Big D.

Mike Sharp
Author: Mike Sharp

I have a passion for travel and outdoor activities, and now I'm enjoying retired life. I will continue my traveling, golfing, boating, and enjoying life all across the great state of Texas.

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