Exploring Tyler

For college students, making the choice of what college to attend often hinges on what there is to do for fun in the city where they’ll be living and learning. For quite some time, the general stigma has been that Tyler is a dull, one-horse town with absolutely nothing to offer the college age crowd. The truth is, Tyler is a vivid, interesting town with a lot of history and some interesting things to do; it just takes a little know how and imagination to find the thrills and excitement hidden away in Tyler.

Students can take a trip to the Caldwell Zoo to get in touch with their wild side, and check out some exotic creatures from all over the planet. Admission is only $8.40 for adults, making it a great way to spend the afternoon without breaking the bank. Enrolling in an annual zoo membership offers an even better deal- unlimited admissions and special events for under $40.

If the thrill of combat and action is what the thrill-seeker is after, and Call Of Duty has lost its luster, then Bullard Paintball is a surefire option for some intense gunplay. Just south of Tyler next to Bullard Middle School, the five courses are junkyard-esque fields littered with vehicles, shipping containers, and other makeshift obstacles. Grab a group of 10 close comrades and make the trip to the danger zone – for $35 a player, everything needed for an unforgettable afternoon is supplied.


If strategy, cunning, and perhaps a little geek culture is preferred, then the aptly named Geek World is a paradise for fun. Featuring board game nights, officially sanctioned weekly Magic: The Gathering tournaments, video games on tap, an enormous wall covered in comics and enough l33t culture to melt any n00b’s brain, this small shop located across from the Broadway Square Mall is spot on for the powerful wizard tactician dwelling inside every college geek.

No student can be well rounded without an appreciation of music. For some, a night downtown in some hidden venue enjoying some serious talent is the very definition of a perfect night. Hidden in the sloping streets of downtown Tyler’s art district is the Coffin Shop, a local venue known for hosting impressive shows from some of the best underground talent the area has to offer. Shows are generally inexpensive to attend, with tickets floating under $20, though it varies depending on the artist performing and the day of the week.

Some students prefer a more quiet, peaceful outing, and these individuals will find a relaxing getaway into the forests of Tyler State Park; just what the doctor ordered. This massive park is the perfect place to escape into the depths of the woods, enjoy the lakeside serenity or sit around the campfire weaving memories with friends. If a more outdoorsman experience is desired, there’s fishing (provided you have your license), hiking trails, biking trails, kayaks and canoes available for rent, and the park even puts on scheduled events all year round. For only $5 a day and with camping sites starting at  $14, Tyler State Park is another budget conscious offering for a fun time around Tyler Junior College.

One thing that isn’t even close to hidden is Tyler’s love for Tex-Mex – foodie students craving a little spice are never too far from some tasty enchiladas, fajitas or some killer tacos. Don Juan’s on the Square has been a long-standing staple for “authentic”  Tex-Mex, and the ever popular Mercado’s has a steal of a deal on fajitas for two on Wednesdays. At the end of the day, though, there’s nothing quite like cooling off with a top-shelf margarita from Chuy’s.

Tyler’s bustling with things to do for every kind of student – it just takes a little exploring to track these activities down. One issue Tyler does face for coeds, however, is the relatively early shutdown time – once the clock hits midnight, it’s lights out for most of the attractions around town. When the sun goes down, it’s up to the students to use their own imagination to breathe life into the night.

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