Ever wondered what was between Dallas and the Louisiana border? Turns out, there’s lots to do and see in the Piney Woods of Texas. From Canton to Jefferson to Harleton, there’s so much to explore in our state. Check out our list of things to do, most of which are less than two hours away!
245 Park Road 2, Karnack, TX 75661
Claimed to be the only natural lake in Texas, Caddo Lake State Park promotes outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, camping, kayaking and geocaching. Boasting over seventy species of fish and more than twenty-six thousand acres of lake, you and your family would be remiss to not take a weekend to explore the five hundred acres of park. Local Profile’s tip is to make sure you reserve in advance as this park fills up quickly due to its popularity. While you’re there, be sure to stop by the National Wildlife Refuge to learn about endangered species and all the creatures that rely on the swamp there.
871 Ferguson Road, Harleton, Texas 75651
Wine lovers out there should make the drive out to Enoch’s Stomp, a gorgeous family-owned vineyard northeast of Longview. They offer quarterly pick-up parties, a gorgeous venue for events, scheduled tastings and tours and even a fun run through the grape vines. If you’re driving from Dallas and don’t want to drive back the same day, they also offer beautiful villas for booking.
624 N Broadway Ave, Tyler, TX 75702
There are few tours as interesting as the one you’ll get when you visit the Goodman-Legrand House right outside downtown Tyler. Built in 1859 as a one-story house for an attorney, several transformations, a house fire and a Civil War changed the landscape (and the house itself) forever. Bought by the Goodman family in 1866, the house was passed down for four generations before being left to the city of Tyler by Sallie LeGrand, the last heir of the estate, who instructed the house to be maintained as a museum. Much of the original artifacts, clothes, books and diaries of the occupants have been left for public perusal. Be sure to catch a presentation on the bottom floor that explains the history of the house before you go exploring.
114 North Johnson Street, Mineola, Texas 75773, United States
The longest continuously running movie theater is only an hour and a half from DFW, nestled in downtown Mineola. Snag dinner across the street at Cowburners Barbeque, then catch a 50 Cent Tuesday classic movie or watch more modern fare. They also show local theater talent, as well as host birthdays and events. The inside has been renovated to replicate the original 1948 look, complete with curtains, wooden fold-out seats and a neon sign.
305 E. Austin St, Jefferson, TX 75657
It’s so hard to choose one thing to do in this tucked-away town that we chose the whole thing! Once upon a time, this village was the busiest riverport in the whole state, bustling with boats, bursting with trade and full of well-to-do families. Today, it boasts the largest amount of historic landmarks registered with the state, with a rich history dating back to the mid-eighteenth century. Previously known as the Queen of the Bayou, the locals take pride in preservation and the attractions you can find, including paranormal tours, bed-and-breakfasts, wildlife sanctuaries and downtown shopping.
6088 Babe Zaharias Dr., Beaumont, TX 77705
Taking a moment to appreciate the beauty in our state is so important, and the non-profit Beaumont Botanical Gardens clearly understands. This spring, these historic grounds are undergoing renovations so by this spring, locals and visitors alike can enjoy the best blooms, ponds, walking trails and conservatory East Texas has to offer. You can even book their conservatory for an event or wedding.
1200 Henderson Boulevard, Kilgore, TX 75662
The 2024 season at the Texas Shakespeare Festival at Kilgore College is about to kick off with “Romeo and Juliet” at the end of February, then feature “Much Ado about Nothing” and “Julius Caesar” in May. You can also watch “Peter and the Starcatcher,” “Tinker Bell,” “Sweeney Todd” and a dramatic reading of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. You can even book a roadshow by their professional actors, or take an acting class or camp through Kilgore College.
649 TX-21, Alto, TX 75925
Not to be confused with Caddo Lake, the Caddo Mounds are named after the Indigenous tribe that settled the area twelve hundred years ago, leaving behind three ceremonial hills in the middle of the woods. Historians surmise that the village left in the 13th century due to lessening influence. You can reserve a guided tour, or take a tour of your own. There are also several walking trails and a museum, as well as a tour of the El Camino Real de los Tejos historic road.
800 First Monday Lane, Canton, TX 75103
Don’t let the name fool you, this place is not open on first Mondays, but it is open Thursday through Sunday. If you’ve lived in North Texas for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard of this famed market that takes up blocks and blocks of fields in Canton, a 90-minute drive from DFW. It’s been said you can buy just about anything, and you can even stay nearby and spend the whole weekend exploring, walking and eating all the delicious food. Vendors come from not just Texas, but several surrounding states. The name “First Mondays” takes after the monthly Monday visitation by the circuit judge drew larger and larger crowds selling wares, and was finally moved from the downtown to a large parcel of land. In the present day, the event draws over 100,000 people on a 700,000 square foot area.
Watch the eclipse and support East Texas businesses
Want to watch the eclipse but afraid you’ll miss it in Dallas? Drive about 90 minutes east and you can catch the full eclipse over much of East Texas. You could even book a bed-and-breakfast with your family and make a long weekend of it. Be sure to bookmark this article for things to do while you wait for the sun to do its thing.