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Date Night: From Fancy to Simple, Tyler Offers a Lot of Romance

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By Holli Conley

In Tyler, the city of roses, it’s not hard to find a romantic spot to take that special someone. Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary or simply spicing up a free weekend, these are the best date ideas for fun, quality time with your significant other.

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Paint A Pretty Picture

Locally at Pinot’s Palette, located at 322 ESE Loop 323 next to Plato’s Closet in Tyler, you and your date can paint together! The studio has really neat, two-part mirror pieces that transform upon completion into an intricate design. You can also complete your masterpiece right there in the studio by picking a frame to suit your style for $35, making it possible for you, the proud artist, to walk away with your creation ready to hang.

One small step inside the front door of Pinot’s Palette and you will feel your creative fire burning and want to put palette to canvas. The large, colorful painting area is jammed full of workspaces just waiting for the next budding artists.

Something also really unique at Pinot’s Palette is the opportunity to paint your pet. Send the studio your pet’s likeness and they can laser it onto canvas, then you can finish the creation with paint in the studio.

A Night on the Town

Downtown Tyler is a great spot for a romantic evening. Start the evening with dinner at one of Downtown’s restaurants. For a fine dining experience try one of Tyler’s newest restaurants: Jack Ryan’s Steak & Chophouse. Take advantage of the free valet parking and really wow your date.

There are also a couple of options for more casual dining such as Don Juan’s on the Square.

Next, take in a show with VIP box seat tickets at the historic Liberty Hall. The box seats are the best seats in the house and will be a little more intimate for a date night.

End the night with a cocktail or dessert and live entertainment at Rick’s or Jake’s.

All of these are conveniently located within walking distance of one another and make for a great night out on the town.

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Dinner and a Movie

You can never go wrong with dinner and a movie, but sometimes you’re in the mood for something a little more exciting. Spice up this classic date idea with some of Tyler’s unique theater options.

Grab a picnic dinner, lawn chairs, and watch a movie under the stars at SkyVue Drive-In Theater. This theater offers tickets for $6 per person and shows a double feature.

One of Tyler’s newest theaters, Studio Movie Grill, is another interesting option for a movie night. Studio Movie Grill is a one-stop-shop for dinner and a movie. You can eat dinner while watching a movie, or have a dessert or cocktail while you watch. Studio Movie Grill also offers classic date night movies for $3 a ticket on select nights. Check their website for details.

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Enjoy Live Music

Tyler comes alive with the tunes of good music around every corner. Whether you are interested in a specific music event such as the Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival or listening to a local band, Tyler has a variety of acts to satisfy your musical tastes.

Some of our favorite places to catch local bands are Cork Food & Wine, Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ, XLN, and Republic Ice House – just to name a few.

Downtown Tyler offers several fun acts as well on the weekend at Jake’s or Rick’s. Or for a more classical night you might choose to see a performance by the East Texas Symphony Orchestra.

No matter if you want to dance the night away or enjoy a cocktail with music in the background, Tyler has what you’re looking for.

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Go on an Adventure

There’s something awfully romantic about going on an adventure together, and there are plenty adventures to be found around town.

Try hiking, biking, camping, or water sports at Tyler State Park or one of Tyler’s many public parks.

Runners might consider doing a color run or mud run together in the area.

Animal lovers can enjoy Caldwell Zoo or Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge.

For the thrill seekers, try one of Tyler’s newest attractions: One Way Out. If you are a fan of puzzles and problem solving, this game is for you. You will be locked in a room where your team will use clues, hints, and teamwork to escape before time expires. Working together to solve the clues is a great way for a couple to get to know each other better and build a stronger relationship.

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Love Don’t Cost a Thing

Let’s be honest, dating can be expensive. Luckily, in a beautiful city like this, romance is not hard to find on the cheap.

Tyler is home to several free museums that would be great for a date. Visit the Goodman-LeGrand House & Museum or the McClendon House to tour these romantic historic homes.

For the history buffs, you might enjoy the American Freedom Museum just outside of Tyler in Bullard, or the Half Mile of History Walk in Downtown Tyler. While you’re in Downtown, stop by the Gallery Main Street, which features a new exhibit of original art approximately every eight weeks.

Tyler also hosts several cheap or free events throughout the year. Events will include everything from movies in the park to concerts and art walks.

Finally, when talking about budget-friendly date options, we can’t forget a stroll through the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden. With 14 acres, 32,000 rose bushes, and more than 500 varieties, this is the largest rose garden in the United States. The Rose Garden is free and open to the public year-round. This is probably the most romantic location in all of Tyler and a great place to bring your love.

With all of the fun options in Tyler, it’s not hard to find exciting date night ideas. Whether you want an expensive night out or a date on a budget, these ideas will help. Sometimes it’s fun to break away from the norm and try something new. With all these ideas, we encourage you to get creative and get out on the town with your significant other.

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Around East Texas

Laugh Out Loud: Card 53 Comedy

By Johnny Griffith

These guys are kidding around, seriously. The word is getting out about the fact that Tyler has a growing comedy scene. One of the hot spots in that community is Card 53 Comedy, an improv ensemble who specialize in random acts of hilarity on and off stage.

From stand-alone events, to corporate gatherings and educational events, the players in Card 53 are versatile, talented, and just plain ole’ funny. Co-founder Jamey Whitley was gracious enough to sit down with me and give us some more insight into this stacked deck of funny.

Johnny: In your own words, what is Card 53?

Jamey: The name Card 53 basically represents the 53rd card in a deck of cards…. yes, the instructions. No, I’m kidding. It is the Joker.

Johnny: When did you first sense you had a talent for making people laugh?

Jamey: I think I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh. Whether it was a kid trying to hide my insecurities or in the moments when I could make people laugh to kill a depressed feeling I had. Comedy is rough. “There is no gap between comedy and tragedy” – William Shakespeare

Johnny: Were you known as “the funny guy” in school?

Jamey: I don’t think so. My dad was a band director, and I knew I would be in trouble at home if I was the class clown.

Johnny: How did the idea of Card 53 begin to take shape?

Jamey: Aaron Smith and I met one day in an acting class at The University of Texas at Tyler (UTT). UTT had just disbanded their Theatre program but still offered a Theatre Minor. We both decided to start a theatre student organization called ‘Patriot Act.’

We didn’t have a budget so Aaron mentioned we should try improv. We checked out a Dallas Improv Show and then signed up for classes and started putting on our own shows. We decided to just create our own opportunity.

Johnny: Can you explain, for those of us who may not know, the main difference between more traditional stand-up routines you’ll see on cable or on a streaming service and the Improv that Card 53 is doing?

Jamey: Card 53 isn’t stand up at all. Stand up comedy is written and rehearsed. Improv Comedy is totally different. It’s more like watching theatrical scenes without a script. In Improv everything is completely made up on the spot based off audience suggestions.

If you’ve seen “Whose Line Is It Anyway” on TV this is the most known example of Improv Comedy.

Johnny: Who makes up the current cast of Card 53?

Jamey: Myself and Aaron “Smitty” Smith are the co-founders. We also have RJ Norman who was on “American Idol” and made it to the Hollywood round. Then there is Brad Johnson, who has the hottest Dad bod in Tyler (he’s also available, by the way).

Erfan Vafaie joined and made us more culturally diverse, while also a lot more intelligent. Erfan is an Iranian Canadian who works as an Entomologist for Texas A&M during the day.

Austin Day slings pizza’s out of the oven at Roast Social Kitchen by day and tickles the keys of his piano as our musical director. We also have Charles Praytor, a Music Professor at Tyler Junior College, who sits in from time to time.

Johnny: How do you go about adding more members? Open auditions or just a general knowledge of who’s in the craft and has the right set of skills for the troupe?

Jamey: Currently, we’re not looking to add anyone new but hopefully, we can book more consistent shows in the future and have a problem on our hands where we need to add new talent. For anyone wanting to join, it’s good to have some previous improv training from Four Day Weekend, Stomping Ground Comedy, Dallas Comedy House (all three in Dallas) or one of the nationally world-renowned programs such as Second City, iO, or Upright Citizens Brigade.

Johnny: About how many dates does Card 53 perform a year?

Jamey: It varies. We get hired to perform for a lot of private shows in addition to performing at Liberty Hall in Tyler. Last year, we performed for Robert E. Lee High School’s Faculty Christmas Party, the Whitehouse Chamber of Commerce banquet, UT Tyler’s New Faculty Orientation, and even the Wills Point Middle School Faculty Christmas Party.

Johnny: Does Card 53 try to perform as a complete group or do you sometimes go out in different variations?

Jamey: We’re a total package. We’re not like members of the Avengers, although we have our own individual talents, we work best when we work together. Plus, we’re all best friends so it’s more fun when we’re doing this together.

Johnny: What’s on the horizon for 2018 with the cast?

Jamey: Smitty is a new dad, so that’s pretty amazing. We love adding to our Card 53 family. We’re all about adding to our show to create the best overall experience possible for our audience, so look for even more production quality in our shows.

Johnny: What experience are you hoping people coming to a Card 53 show will walk away with if they’re a first timer?

Jamey: We realize it’s expensive to have a night out on the town and we want everyone to feel like they’re in a bigger city when they come to our shows.

It’s not just for Tyler, it’s for all of East Texas.

Card 53 Comedy can be found at Facebook.com/CARD53 and card53.com.

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Around East Texas

Let’s Get Outside and Get Some Fresh Air

By Holli Fourniquet

If there’s one thing Tyler is known for, it’s for the area’s natural beauty. Nestled serenely in the piney woods of East Texas, the area offers some pretty great landscapes for the outdoorsy types.

According to a recent study, most of us are spending half as much time outside as compared to only 20 years ago. It claims that doing outside activities such as hiking is good for the mind, body, and soul. The research showed that hiking clears your head, makes you more creative, boosts your focus, and recharges your mind’s battery.

With temperatures getting lower by the day, it’s the perfect time to get out of the air conditioning and get back outside again. New adventures await you!

Many people don’t know that Tyler is home to more than 1,000 acres of parkland comprised of 27 city parks, and that doesn’t even include the Tyler State Park! Hikers from all over the region enjoy the area’s ample places to explore, ranging in all intensity levels.

Perhaps the best place for nature hikers to start is at one of Texas’ most popular State Parks: Tyler State Park. The park is located just north of the city limits and stretches over 985 acres. It is known as a tranquil haven in the pines, rich with history and recreational opportunities. The park features 100-foot tall trees, nature, camping, and a cool 64-acre spring-fed lake, not to mention the 13 miles of trails. The lake was just listed on “Tour Texas” as one of the top swimming holes in Texas.

The Tyler State Park’s trails vary from easy to challenging, but each trail promises beautiful scenery amongst some of the largest pines in East Texas. The Trails cross several different forest types and offer amazing views you can’t see anywhere else.

As you hike along the trails, this area is also the perfect place for bird watching with more than 200 species of birds identified at the park, and it is home to a number of East Texas animals, including white-tailed deer, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, reptiles, armadillos, opossums, and more.

Tyler State Park also offers several educational classes with various topics including wilderness survival, birding, snake encounters, and other important information one needs to know when hiking.

If you’re looking for a great “staycation” location this is it. Tyler State Park has campsites and cabins for those hikers who want to stay. Make a weekend out of the trip and try several different hiking trails. For more info on the Tyler State Park go to tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/tyler.

For hikers wanting to stay more within the city limits, the city of Tyler offers more than 1,000 acres of parkland. Walking and hiking trails are very popular within several of these parks. These parks are a great introduction to hiking. Plus, they offer other attractions, events, and services that can’t be beat.

Faulkner Park, located at 410 W. Cumberland Rd., is a great place to begin. This park offers a scenic nature hiking and biking trail. The trail is a loop trail along which you might spot beautiful wildflowers and local wildlife. Dogs on a leash are more than welcome to join you along this trail. Faulkner Park also offers picnic areas, a fishing pond, and a sprayground to enjoy.

Rose Rudman Park and Southside Park are two great trails for beginners. The two parks have concrete walking trails that connect making the entire length of the trail about 2.5 miles long. This is a great setting for walking or jogging. The trails take you through the parks and into the woods via a couple of beautiful bridges. A lot of the trail is shaded, which makes this a great place to visit all year round. Some of the trails follows along a creek that is a popular hangout for wildlife in the area. Bring your camera because there are also some great photo opportunities along this trail. Rose Rudman meanders along side Donnybrook Ave. and Shiloh Rd.

If you are trying to think of a place somewhat out of the ordinary, you might try Noble E. Young Park. The Noble E. Young Park is mostly known for the skate park and is one of Tyler’s most popular parks. Area skaters and bikers like to take advantage of the fun skate ramps in the park. The park also offers hiking and biking trails. This is the one place in Tyler you can bring your skateboard and your hiking shoes and enjoy all the park has to offer. For more info on go to tylerparksandrec.com.

No matter where you decide to hike in Tyler one thing is for sure: Tyler has what you are looking for. Tyler offers challenging hikes as well as hikes for beginners. All of the hikes are family-friendly, accessible, educational, and relaxing.

Get off the couch and explore the nature in your own backyard. Recharge your batteries in one of the most gorgeous places in Texas. You won’t regret it. The beauty of East Texas awaits you. For more ideas on exploring the great outdoors go to visittyler.com.

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Around East Texas

“Four Pedals of the Rose:” Fresh Air & Free Swag

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With warm weather arriving in Tyler, outdoors is a destination for enthusiasts who want to bike, hike, and walk on local trails.

And now, more than ever, being outside is a safe fun place to be – breathing the fresh clean air and seeing the beauty of #tylertx.

The Tyler Parks and Recreation department and the Tyler Bicycle Club continue the “Ride the Four Pedals” initiative, encouraging all ages to ride, run, or walk all four of the designated trails and be a part of nature.

The “Four Pedals of the Rose” is a series of four trails that stretch more than 33 miles and showcase both the city’s urban landscape and its natural beauty. Trails in Faulkner Park, Tyler State Park, the University of Texas at Tyler, and Lindsey Park attract locals and visitors alike. The 10-mile Lindsey Park trail, designed by professional cyclist Nevada Thompson, was completed in 2013 as the newest addition to the network, and was developed as a joint project between the city and many volunteers.

The four designated trails (Lindsey Park Trail, Faulkner Park Trail, The Tyler State Park Trail and the UT Tyler Trail) are designed for runners, walkers, and bicyclists of all ability levels, and each one is different. Beginners can ride parts of each trail and work their way up to the more challenging sections. Lindsey has more open spaces, and Faulkner has more twists and turns, Tyler State Park offers many challenging elevation changes and has been called one of the best trails in Texas. The UT Tyler trail is a shorter option but still offers a fun time.

People who ride, run, or walk all four trails are encouraged to fill out a form online, and will receive an “I Rode the Four Pedals of the Rose” decal from Tyler’s Parks and Recreation Department proclaiming their accomplishment.  

Trail maps are available at

Here is the Ride the Four Pedals Submission Form.

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