The region’s most popular tourist attraction is the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden and Museum (420 Rose Park Dr., 903/597-3130, www.texasrosefestival.com , 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Sat., 1:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. Sun., $3.50 adults, $2 children 3–11).
The museum is well worth visiting, with numerous displays showcasing the elaborately jeweled, hand-sewn gowns worn by rose queens dating back to 1935. Be sure to check out the scrapbook pages from each rose queen, including memorabilia, personal recollections, and photos (including one with a queen and her freshly killed deer).
Visitors can also view videos about the history of Tyler ’s rose industry and rose festival, and experience an interactive “attic” exhibit with a bizarre collection of antiques and collectibles from Tyler’s past.
The municipal garden is the primary draw, however, with its sea of colorful roses—more than 35,000 bushes representing the nearly 500 distinct varieties. Though the blooming period is from May through November, early May is the peak of the flowers’ natural growing cycle. This is when the garden’s 14 acres burst with the bright sight and sweet scent of fresh roses.