If you haven’t experienced this part of Texas, you should know all those tall, beautiful green things are not funny-looking cacti. Sure, they have pointy needles too, but they’re actually pine trees. Believe it or not, Texas has huge tracts of land bathed in the dappled light beneath these steeple-high pine trees, as well as broad hardwood forests too. Dotted with uniquely charming towns, this area contains a mixture of beauty, culture and history that draws immense interest.

Un-Desert

Texas is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet, and this region hosts several tremendous national and state forests. As one heads south, towering pine forests slowly yield to lush wetlands around Caddo Lake and Big Thicket National Preserve. Trails of blooming azaleas and dogwoods are widely celebrated during their spring bloom.Then in the fall, many of Texas’ most epic landscapes put on a real show when the sassafras, persimmon, maples, sweet gums, dogwoods, elms and oaks reveal their dazzling autumn colors.

Black Gold, Texas Tea

Oil is a fundamental part of this state’s fascinating development. In towns like Kilgore, Marshall, Joinerville and Longview, they’re still gushing over the East Texas oil tradition. And don’t forget the World’s Richest Acre in Kilgore, where they celebrate the holiday season with star-topped oil derricks. Explore the oil boom days with museums and a variety of attractions marking the state’s impact on the industry, the evolution of the state’s economy and America’s growth.

Nearby

Old South Charm

Many parts of East Texas, such as Tyler and Nacogdoches, still possess graceful elements of the Old South. It’s fascinating to explore the stately plantation homes and mansions under the shade of magnolia and cypress trees. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride in Jefferson, or a relaxing voyage on a paddle-wheel riverboat in a town called Uncertain, Texas. (We have some of the best city names in the known universe, don’t we?) The abundant Southern hospitality and charm of this region are just unmistakable. Oh, and don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers when you’re in Tyler. There’s no larger municipal rose garden in the nation.

Texas Means Friendly

The Piney Woods region also is rich in the state’s history and friendly tradition. The name Texas comes from the Caddo word tejas, meaning “friend,” that the early Spanish visitors called the first Texans. Learn all about how these Native Texans lived at the ancient Caddo Mounds State Historic Site in Alto. For a taste of this state’s history during the time of its struggle for independence, visit Nacogdoches, one of the state’s oldest communities. It was originally a Spanish fort in the mid-1700s, and was even the site of three short-lived republics.

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