My alarm went off at nine in the morning. Our hotel room was frosty. That seems to be the one reliable thing about cheap accommodations—the ACs only have two settings, freezing or sweltering.
Kolbe—associate editor of Texas Towns Revealed, one of my good friends, and current travel buddy—slept in the other bed. Her dog, Mowgli, a Chinese Crested, must’ve heard my alarm because he rustled around in his kennel. Soon we were all out of bed, wiping the sleep from our eyes, awake in Tyler, TX. We were ready for adventure, exploring, and meeting new people!
Our first stop on the list was, of course, coffee. How could we do anything without coffee?
We googled The Foundry Coffee House, which we’d heard of from Instagram, and headed over. Y’all, it was so spacious. There were three extremely large rooms, all with ample amounts of furniture—comfy couches, tables, cushioned chairs—and there was room to walk around, or even just stand if you wanted to, without feeling like you were invading someone’s personal space. That is a luxury. If you don’t believe me, just go to any coffeehouse in Austin.
I ordered an iced honey latte and a pastry with Italian sausage, feta, and marinara. The honey latte was amazing. I still think about it from time to time. The cool thing about the Foundry is that all of their syrups are handmade and the coffee is locally sourced. They use Porch Culture Coffee Roasters and Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters. Kolbe and I both took home a bag of Porch Culture.
Inside, we sat there enamored by the large maps that decorated the walls and the abstract art installations. Overall it was a warm, comfy vibe with just a hint of modernism. We made sure to stop in again one last time before heading back to Austin that night, and the two baristas who helped us were super nice and inquisitive, even agreeing to snap some photos so we could have at least one shot of us together. Good people!
After coffee, we wanted to go to the art museum to see an exhibit called “Tough by Nature: Portraits of Cowgirls and Ranch Women of the American West.” Sounds super badass, right? Well, I looked up the address and said, “Oh, we can walk there. It’s less than a dozen blocks away.” We headed out and enjoyed the sites of downtown Tyler as we walked through it.
Then we got to the museum, only…it wasn’t the museum.
I’d looked up the wrong address! We were standing in front of the Goodman-LeGrand house. When traveling, one of the most important mindsets you can have is to just roll with it. After a few moments of frantic discussion—will we have time to make it all the way over to the museum before we have to check out of the hotel?!—we decided to roll with it and change our agenda to visit the house instead of the museum.
The house was originally built in 1859 and has been remodeled a few times since then. Nowadays it’s an impressively preserved mansion in the Classic Revival style. Inside, it possesses a stunning amount of artifacts and curios from the Goodman and LeGrand families, both of which occupied the house for long periods of time. Most especially interesting were the clothes, shoes, hats, and accessories. There were even a few photos of the women wearing the clothes that were on display, which helped bring the artifacts to life.
After visiting the house, we went across town to visit a little flower shop I’d discovered on Instagram called MOSS. Last month one of the shop owners, Meagan, wrote a guest post for Model Behaviors on how to arrange a flower crown. She’s so incredibly talented!
When we walked inside, one of her employees Kristy immediately greeted us with a smile and a thick East Texas accent. “Welcome to MOSS!” She and Meagan showed us around the shop, which was full to the brim with flowers, greenery, chalk signs, hand-carved wooden animal ornaments, and all sorts of odds and ends. Kristy makes hand-formed and hand-stamped jewelry. I got a little Texas charm to make a bracelet for my mom.
There were also soaps, candles, scrubs, and oils from Moon Rivers Naturals, another Instagram account that I love. Their lavender candle was heavenly.
Meagan told us that a few weeks before, a girl from Australia popped into her shop. After chatting for a few minutes, the girl revealed that she was traveling alone through the United States and visiting all her favorite Instagram accounts. She’d gone to Dallas to see a Paramore concert and realized Tyler wasn’t too far away and decided to pop in. Her next stop on the itinerary was Colorado! It’s moments like these when I understand how wonderful social media can be. It has its faults and pitfalls, of course, but it can create so much connection and magic. I’m reminded of its beauty.
If you happen to live near Tyler, I can’t recommend visiting this shop enough. Meagan also offers really affordable summer classes. The topics have ranged from holiday wreath making to learning about local blooms. They also have a music series called Music Makers and Moss that you can check out if you get a chance.
As lunchtime approached, Kristy and Meagan both insisted we visit Stanley’s BBQ. Kolbe’s parents had also strongly recommended it before we went. In fact, pretty much everyone who found out we were visiting from Austin suggested Stanley’s. Must be good, we thought. Turns out, everyone was right!
I had a turkey sandwich and Kolbe had a stuffed baked potato with brisket on top. Because it’s a delicious barbecue place, there was a long line. While we were standing in line, the group in front of us kept looking at Mowgli.
Finally one of them said, “It’s got to be a poodle!”
Another person said, “That is not a poodle.”
Kolbe told them he was a Chinese Crested and then they all cooed over him. Mowgli, of course, basked in the attention. When we got to the front of the line, however, there was a big sign letting us know that dogs weren’t allowed, not even on the porch. Kolbe and I were like, “Oh yeah, we’re not in Austin.” #cultureshock
We ended up taking our barbecue to a nearby park for a picnic lunch. It was just as lovely!
After finishing up, we decided an afternoon constitutional was in order. Kolbe had found a park called the Rose Rudman Trail. It was gorgeous! One second we were in a small city, and then the next minute, it felt like we were in the middle of the woods.
Good thing I always keep bug spray in the car!
There were several other people on the trail, plus some bikers every so often. We walked about a mile around the trail. It was a great way to work off that barbecue!
When we were at MOSS earlier, Kristy told us about this cookie place called Sister2Sister.
She said, “It’s not on the menu, but you gotta try the lemon cookie.” And then she went on to describe how the cookie melts in your mouth but the best part was the icing, which was more like a glaze and it dissolved like butter. We easily found the tiny little drive-through-only shop and ordered half a dozen cookies. I got oatmeal chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, and of course, lemon! I gave the snickerdoodle to my sister later, but Kristy was right, the lemon was divine. Even though oatmeal chocolate chip is my absolute favorite flavor, if I’d known how good the lemon was, I might have gotten all lemon!
After the cookie stop, we decided we were ready to relax for a couple hours on a patio with a cocktail. We poked around on the Internet and found a place called Cork. Learning from our experiences at Stanley’s, we called ahead to make sure we could bring Mowgli, and yay! we could! So we plopped down and camped out.
First I ordered something called a raspberry lemongrass and Kolbe ordered the champagne cocktail. Plus, we got some spring rolls to share. The drinks were delicious, and this was a perfect last stop on our trip. It’s right next to a movie theater, and I could see myself going in for a pre-movie drink if I lived in Tyler.
In fact, I only have two regrets and one complaint. My regrets are that we missed the cowgirl display at the art museum and also that we missed the farmers market. We only found out about it from Meagan and Kristy after it had closed, and we were bummed to find out we’d missed it. My complaint is that while walking around, Kolbe and I got honked and yelled at by men too many times to remember. This is always a disconcerting experience, and it just served to remind me that I never want to live in small-town Texas again. Visiting is fine though!
Tyler is only four hours away from Austin and an hour and a half away from Dallas. It’s the perfect distance for a weekend getaway, and I think next time I’ll splurge on some slightly fancier accommodations. The pine trees and surrounding scenery are so gorgeous, the air is crisp, and there’s plenty of fun, artsy things to do.