For the 50+ Traveler

East Texas is home to the crown jewels of gardens, parks, and historic home sites with masses of azaleas, dogwood trees, and spring flowers that you must see to believe. Spring flowers in East Texas begin arriving mid-March and bloom for about six weeks. Spend a few days or weekends exploring dozens of dogwood and azalea trails, gardens, festivals, and celebrations of all things in bloom.

Here are 13 of the top dogwood and azalea gardens and trails in East Texas in no particular order.

Dogwoods in East Texas.

The Texas Dogwood Trails In Palestine, March 20 To April 5

1. Davey Dogwood Park

Watch for white or pink blossoms everywhere in the Palestine area, but for the premier show, visit Davey Dogwood Park, a 254-acre public park at 900 N Link Street. You can hike 8 miles of trails or drive 5 miles on roads, viewing forests paint brushed with beautiful white and pink dogwood blooms. The park is excellent for picnics, and don’t miss the Manley Mountain’s view, the highest point in the county. The children will love the fairy gardens; follow the signs.

Pro Tip: See a map of the park here.

2. Ride The Dogwood Brunch Train

Ride the Dogwood Brunch Train from Palestine to Rusk on March 20 or 21, where you will enjoy a delicious three-course meal and a front-row seat to the Dogwood Days springtime show. Watch for luminous pink and white dogwood blooms light up the East Texas Piney Woods as they pass by your window. Allow for a 4-hour roundtrip. Check the schedule for other train rides.

Pro Tip: Attentive hosts will warmly welcome you at Fig Tree Manor, a country-style bed and breakfast in the heart of the historic Old Town District at 203 E Erwin Street, Palestine. Enjoy a pool nestled in a lovely private garden, rock on the porch, and watch the butterflies and birds. (903) 723-2768.

Shop at Wells Creek Crossing and eat pie at the hidden jewel Oxbow Bakery. Indulge in lunch or dinner at Queen Street Grille in the Redlands Hotel, 400 N Queen Street.

Azaleas in Highland Park, Texas.

Azaleas And Spring Flower Trails In Tyler, March 20 To April 5

Featuring mile after mile of spectacular blooming azaleas, dogwoods, tulips, daffodils, and then later in April, you’ll see roses as far as the eyes can see in Tyler. Please don’t feel restricted by the dates since the flower buds arrive earlier and bloom longer. Check Tyler’s website for updates on blooming schedules.

3. Tyler Dobbs Trail And The Lindsey Trail

There are two azalea trails in Tyler, the Dobbs Trail and the Lindsey Trail, both named after the streets, each about 10 miles long, winding through the picturesque Azalea National Historic District.

Begin on the downtown square and head south on Broadway Avenue and watch for the signs that invite you to enter private back yards to see flowers. Be sure to visit the block bordered by College, Dobbs, Lindsay, and Broadway. National magazines repeatedly feature these famous yards. You’ll also see young ladies in Antebellum period clothing attending some of the gardens.

The Azalea Arts and Crafts Fair has gone virtual, where you can purchase flowering plants and gather tips on growing or landscaping your garden. Purchase quilts, pottery, paintings, jewelry, clothing, candles, and more to help support the Azalea Trail event.

4. The Goodman-LeGrand Museum And Gardens

Tour the Goodman-LeGrand Museum and Gardens, Tuesday through Saturday, at 624 N Broadway Avenue. You’ll see the most beautiful azaleas and rose gardens. What a treat!

5. Tyler Pyron Garden

At 212 W Dobbs, Pyron Garden is a private backyard garden with beautifully landscaped azaleas, tulips, and roses. Unfortunately, Mr. Guy Pyron passed in March of 2020, but the private garden will live on.

6. Ina Brundrett Azalea Garden

Be sure to check out the Ina Brundrett Azalea Garden on Tyler Junior College’s campus, near the duck pond, west of the Tyler Museum of Art. You’ll find many types of azaleas, including extensive plantings of the re-blooming Encore varieties.

Azaleas do best with partial sun, morning sun, and afternoon shade. If there is too much shade, they will not bloom. Azaleas need to drain but stay moist; once established, they won’t need water as often. Azaleas grow best in acidic soil where pine trees grow. Apply pine bark mulch to hold in moisture.

Tyler Rose Garden in Tyler, Texas.

7. Tyler Rose Garden

Explore more than 600 varieties amid 32,000 bushes that make up the most extensive collection of roses in the nation, all for free. Celebrating for more than 50 years, visit the Rose Capital in the spring from mid-April through the fall.

Pro Tip: Stay at the Woldert-Spence Manor Bed and Breakfast Inn, Tyler’s oldest bed and breakfast. The manor is a restored historical landmark with rates including a full delicious breakfast served in the formal dining room. 611 W Woldert Street. (903) 533-9057.

Janie’s Cakes opened in 1987, bakes pound cakes from all-natural ingredients, backed by skills learned at the New York Culinary Institute of America. 308 East Front Street. (903) 592-6150.

Enjoy lunch Tuesday to Friday at the Museum Cafe at the Tyler Museum of Art, 1300 S Mahon Avenue, the town’s best-kept secret. Save room for the fresh-baked cobbler.

You may hear “Have a rosey day” more than once as you explore this city of flowers.

White azaleas in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Nacogdoches, The Garden Capital Of Texas (Or “Nac,” As The Locals Call It)

8. Ruby M Mize Azalea Garden

The most extensive azalea garden in Texas, the Ruby M Mize Azalea Garden, is located on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University, in Nacogdoches, at 2107 University Drive. Guided tours of the Mize Garden are available weekdays during the season for $5 per person. Be astounded by over 6,500 azaleas, 200 camellias, and 180 varieties of Japanese Maples along more than a mile of walking trails across 8 acres.

Download the Azalea Trail 2021 Brochure showing the Ruby M Mize Garden and three trails totaling 25 miles of driving routes through beautifully landscaped residential areas. Each course starts at the Visitor Center, at 200 E Main Street, near the Nacogdoches Fire Museum.

9. The Southern Indica Trail

The Southern Indica Trail, 8 miles featuring Indica azaleas, takes you past the Durst-Taylor Historic House and Garden, the Stone Fort Museum, and the Nacogdoches Railroad Depot, plus the Old University Building, dating back to 1859.

10. The Evergreen Azalea Trail

The Evergreen Azalea Trail winds 9 miles past mostly evergreen azaleas. It steers you by the Mast Arboretum and Oak Grove Cemetery, the final resting place of four signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence.

11. The Fashion Azalea Trail

The Fashion Azalea Trail, 8 miles long, takes you by The Gayla-Mize Garden and Demonstration Garden, including azaleas and camellias. Zion Hill Baptist Church is home to one of the oldest African American Baptist congregations in Texas.

12. Stephen F. Austin Mast Arboretum

The SFA Mast Arboretum is just a short walk over the bridge from the Ruby M. Mize Garden, with 7,500 species of shade-tolerant plants, gingers, pollinator plants, agaves, and more across 10 acres.

Pro Tip: Stay at the Hardeman House Bed and Breakfast, 316 N Church Street, downtown, just two blocks from historic brick Main Street. (936) 205-5280.

The Fredonia Hotel and Convention Center, 200 N Fredonia, is where mid-century modern luxury meets local. Dine in the hotel at 1st City Cafe, Nine Flags Bar, or Republic Steakhouse -- the place to go for a perfectly cooked steak. The Fredonia was named for an 1826 rebellion when area settlers briefly declared themselves independent from Mexico as the Republic of Fredonia.

There are plenty of antique shops downtown. Or get a cupcake at Blue Horse Bakery. Sip a brew at Fredonia Brewery, have a glass of wine at Red House Winery, or visit The Bosslight, a curated bookstore with the best Texas authors. View the Cole Arts Center, the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Art exhibition center at the Old Opera House. Sample Tall Pines Vodka and other artisan craft spirits at Front Porch Distillery.

13. Mrs. Lee’s Daffodil Garden In Gladewater

These aren’t azaleas, but what a best-kept secret in East Texas! Mrs. Lee’s Daffodil Garden, a private paradise tucked away on 816 acres that transform every February and March to golden cascades of yellow daffodils scattered over 28 acres. Wander along a 4-mile trail that meanders around two lakes, between wooded valleys, and around a replica pioneer log cabin. The garden opens around the middle of February and remains open through March or later, depending on Mother Nature, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.

The garden is closed if the roads are wet. Contact the Daffodil Gardens directly at (903) 845-5780 for blooming schedules and road conditions. The park’s future remaining open depends on the number of people who visit and register their attendance. The Helen Lee Foundation manages the garden at 21600 CR 3103, Gladewater.

East Texas towns like Palestine, Tyler, and Nacogdoches entice visitors year-round. Spring is a grand time to explore these bountiful pink and white dogwood blooms and azaleas adorned in colors of pink, purple, red, yellow, orange, and white.

Pro Tip: Download the Visit Nac app (available for both Apple and Google Play) for planning and trip information to Nacogdoches. Download the EGuide Tyler app (also available for both Apple and Google Play) for events and things to do in Tyler. And download the Visit Palestine, TX app for all things Palestine.

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