10 Hidden Gems of East Texas

East Texas radiates Southern charm. From Henderson to Jefferson county, you’ll find vibrant music, down-home cooking and natural wonders. Whether you’re craving soul-satisfying chicken fried steak or you’re trying to find that tranquil outdoor getaway, there’s something in East Texas that will hit the spot. These 10 hidden gems in East Texas are definitely worth the search.

10. Rick’s on the Square

Facebook/Rick’s on the Square

This Tyler Texas restaurant combines two of life’s most wonderful things: steaks and live music. Premium cigars are served alongside their scrumptious dishes, and live music always plays through the speakers. Ricks on the Square’s casual dining atmosphere makes this East Texas venue a true gem.

9. Cattail Marsh Scenic Wetlands

Flickr/Sheila Rosamond

Cattail Marsh sits within Tyrell Park in Beaumont and expands over 900 acres. This wetland is perfect for spotting gators, rare birds and other wildlife. The new viewing platform stretches 520 feet and allows visitors to get up close and personal with the animals.

8. Bouton Lake in Angelina National Forest

Wikimedia Commons/US Forest Service

The Angelina National Forest in Zavalla, Texas is ideal for water sports and hiking. The Sawmill Hiking trail extends 5.5 miles and ends with a gorgeous view of Bouton Lake.

7. Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue

Flickr/A Vandalay

Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue has a long history with slow-cooking meats. This family-owned business has been satisfying tastebuds with brisket, ribs and tacos since 1958. Even before Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue came around, the site was home to two different barbecue restaurants. Brisket is in the blood of Tyler, Texas and so is country music. Stanley’s live music calendar will make you want to come back every week.

6. Banita Creek Hall


Banita Creek Hall sits in the heart of Nacogdoches, the oldest city in Texas.  This venue’s rustic atmosphere and rocking Red Dirt music have cultivated a long line of famous pickers. From Reckless Kelly to Gary P. Nunn, Banita Hall has seen its fair share of legendary musicians, and their hall of fame keeps growing larger.

5. Caddo Lake 

Caddo Lake

Uncertain, Texas may have an outrageously tiny population and an unusual name, but this small Texas town has one of the most peaceful lakes in the state. Caddo Lake sits on the border of Texas and Louisiana and is full of turtles, alligators and wildlife.

4. Little Pine Island Bayou at Big Thicket National Preserve 

Flickr/Patrick Feller

If you’re looking for a place to escape from the world, Little Pine Island Bayou will provide that much-needed break. This tranquil body of water is part of the Big Thicket National Preserve in Kountze, Texas, and remains virtually untouched from modern society. The bayou stretches over 25 miles and is heavily forested. Endangered wildlife roam through the branches as the water slowly flows. The scenic atmosphere draws wilderness lovers, but the area never feels noisy or hectic.

3. Moore’s County Store in Ben Wheeler

Flickr/Dave Hensley

12 miles southeast of Canton lies Ben Wheeler, Texas, a microscopic town with a population of around 400 people. Moore’s County Store opened in 1933 and sold everything from coal oil to horseshoes. When the store closed in 1992, the 6,500-square-foot mercantile sat empty for several years. In 2009, it was reborn as a music venue and restaurant. The tight-knit Ben Wheeler community now gathers around Moore’s Country Store for satisfying burgers and foot-stomping music. Moore’s is a private club, but memberships are free and easy to get.

2. The Shed Cafe

Flickr/Nicolas Henderson

When you take that first bite into Shed Cafe’s chicken fried steak, you’ll squeal with joy. Covered in black pepper gravy and accompanied by buttery biscuits, this is comfort food done right. Edom, Texas is full of quaint boutiques and handmade jewelry, by The Shed Cafe is the star of the town.

1.The Blue Hole

Screengrab via Youtube/Chris Shea

The Blue Hole is nestled near the Angelina National Forest in Jasper County, but it’s not so easy to access. This pristine swimming hole sits on private property and trespassing could lead to a ticket. You’ll have to call ask permission to visit this luxurious pool, but planning ahead is well worth it.

View full mobile page