Dallas and Fort Worth might be the first cities that you think of when East Texas comes to mind. However, the rural areas farther east of those big cities are home to some really charming places — particularly Mineola.
Surrounded by nature, history, shopping, and restaurants, there are tons of things to do in Mineola Texas to make your next country getaway a memorable experience.
Outdoor Things to Do in Mineola Texas
The wealth of nature — rivers, lakes, wetlands, and woody areas — make Mineola Texas an adventurer’s paradise. Aside from roaming nature, though, the city has other outdoor attractions that are worth checking out. Here are some of our favorite things to do outdoors in Mineola.
Do It All at the Mineola Nature Preserve
With over 2,900 acres, Mineola Nature Preserve is a pristine wetland teeming with wildlife — longhorn cattle, buffalo, and more. Because of the more than 193 bird species that call it home, this sanctuary is considered the Birding Capital of East Texas.
Alongside wildlife-viewing and bird-watching, the preserve has miles of trails for hiking, biking, and riding horses. On the Johnnie Bend Trail, you can watch a beehive at work (safely behind glass). Plus, there’s a Mineola Bigfoot Paddling Trail on the Sabine River.
If you like playing disc golf, bring your gear to test your skills on the 18-hole course, which is used for tournaments. You can even bring a bow and arrow with you to use the archery range. Additionally, there are some fantastic spots throughout the sanctuary where you can stargaze at night.
Play at the Mineola Civic Center & RV Park
Just 1 mile from downtown Mineola, the Mineola Civic Center is a multi-use area where locals and visitors gather for fun in the sun. Among the numerous amenities are lighted pickleball and tennis courts and running and walking trails.
The colorful John J. and Rheba Myers Splash Park is a place for kids to cool off from Memorial Day through Labor Day. And, the Peggy & Jack Jones Pavilion near the tennis courts is a covered area with restrooms and a concession stand. There are also several picnic areas for barbecuing.
Visit the Animals at the Mini ‘S’ Exotic Zoo
Anyone who loves animals won’t be able to pass on visiting the Mini ‘S’ Exotic Zoo. For nearly two decades, the USDA-licensed zoo has welcomed private tours of its state-of-the-art facility, allowing visitors to have one-on-one interactions with its array of exotic animals.
At any given time, the zoo breeds, exhibits, and takes care of more than 30 international species, many of which face extinction. You can choose a guided, 45-minute interactive encounter with a specific animal — sloth, kangaroo, wallaby, Asian otter, ruffed lemur, bobcat, and more.
If you want the ultimate experience, book the Deluxe Encounter for a two-hour guided tour of the facility and multiple interactive educational encounters with the exotic animals.
Play a Round of Golf at Mineola Country Club
For a day at the links, go to one of the best courses in the state — Mineola Country Club. Despite being a club, it’s open to the public. The challenging 9-hole course has a Par 35 and features a few bunkers and water hazards.
Highlights of the course are its fast greens and amazing views. And, you don’t have to be a member to take advantage of the other amenities — swimming pool, pavilion, and restaurant.
Ride the Mini Train in Iron Horse Square
Next to the Mineola Transportation Plaza, Iron Horse Square is a 5-acre park that brings the city’s railroad heritage to life. It’s home to the famous Mineola Mini Train, a 15-inch-gauge replica of a Union Pacific train with open-air passenger cars.
All ages can ride the quarter-mile track around the park for free from April through October and for special events and holidays. Afterward, kids can burn some energy at the train-themed playground while parents rest on the benches.
Attend the Mineola Iron Horse Heritage Festival
In late September, the city gathers to celebrate its railroad heritage during the Mineola Iron Horse Heritage Festival. You can expect food vendors and pop-up shops, as well as a variety of entertainment — a train robbery, dancing, Weenie dog races, a cornhole tournament, and pie-eating and watermelon-eating competitions.
Indoor Things to Do in Mineola Texas
While outdoor activities might be the main reason you choose Mineola for your getaway, the city has a few indoor attractions as well. Here are the top three things to do indoors.
Learn About the Rails at the Museum of Railroad Memorabilia
Keeping with the railroad heritage theme, we recommend touring the Museum of Railroad Memorabilia at Transportation Plaza. This historic depot is still an active Amtrak station, and after a 2005 remodel, it contains a small railroad history museum.
The main feature in the museum is the model train layout that depicts 1930s Mineola and its three railroads. The model includes interactive train models that you can control. Also, a TV shows more than 100 pictures of trains and railroad workers.
Explore the Mineola Historical Museum
If you’re interested in even more history, you can learn about the city itself at the Mineola Historical Museum. It’s located in the Historic Downtown District in a 1937 post office building, and admission is free Thursday through Saturday.
The more than 4,200 square feet is full of historical items that give you a window into the cultural and natural history of the area. There’s a replica of the Historic Select Theater, a telegraph office exhibit, original post office boxes, military memorabilia, replicas of mid-century dentist and physician offices, and more. Plus, the museum has a couple of art exhibits.
Watch a Show at the Historic Select Theater
As the oldest movie theater to continually operate in Texas, the Lake Country Playhouse and Historic Select Theater is full of old-fashioned charm. The theater features shows of all kinds — films, plays, and symphony performances.
On Thursdays, the theater celebrates the 35th anniversary of films. And in early September, it’s the host of the Annual Century of Cinema Film Festival.
Downtown Mineola Texas Antique Shopping
As a Main Street City, Mineola’s downtown streets are lined with preserved historic buildings and the storefronts of various shops. While you’ll find boutiques of all types, antiques are among the most plentiful treasures to discover.
Uniques & Antiques
In business for more than 15 years, Uniques & Antiques is an antique mall where various vendors can set up their own shops at booths, along walls, and in a DIY workshop. Whether you’re looking for eclectic or wild items, you’re sure to find it here.
Owner Trisha Mae Shockley teaches a Machine Embroidery Stitcher’s Course.
Another antique mall, Karen’s Korner is home to several vendors that sell a range of antique, collectible, and holiday items — from new to used to old. You can find hand-sewn clothes, glassware, furniture, and signs, as well as cheese, jams, jellies, meats, and salsas.
The unique Between Friends shopping mall is home to more than 20 vendors who provide the finest in antiques, collectibles, and more. You can expect to find home decor, hand-sewn items, jewelry, essential oils and soaps, light fixtures, and more. Plus, it’s home to some of the best fudge in the area.
Hosting about 30 vendors in one large space, LW Antiques has all kinds of antiques and vintage items. Some of the vendors showcase their skills with new items too — hats, overnight bags, T-shirts, jewelry, home decor, handmade stuffed animals, and foods, such as dip mixes, hot sauces, and soup mixes.
Sweet Magnolia Vintage
Opened in 2010 by a mother-daughter duo, Sweet Magnolia Vintage has been the go-to destination for antique books, china, and vintage linens. Here, you can find quilts, Southern Scents Candles, lamps, T-shirts, Dixie Belle products, art supplies, stoneware, and accessories.
More Shopping in Mineola Texas
Aside from all the antique and boutique shopping that you can do in downtown Mineola, there are a couple of awesome shops outside of the downtown area. You can’t visit this city without stopping at The Pecan House and The Waldo Way!
The Pecan House Country Store
When you want some savory and sweet snacks, The Pecan House is the perfect place to find them. This traditional country store carries a variety of peanut butters, peanut brittle, and freshly roasted peanuts. Plus, you can buy homemade salsa, honey, juice-sweetened preserves, and other Texas treats.
The Waldo Way
With a shop open Wednesday through Saturday, The Waldo Way is a Mineola Texas dairy farm that raises rare Guernsey cattle. Its dairy store and artisan bakery carries raw A2 Guernsey milk, raw honey and granola, artisan bread, farm-fresh salsa, grass-fed meats, and more.
Activities & Shopping Spots Near Mineola Texas
If you’re looking for even more things to do during your Mineola Texas getaway, consider venturing to some nearby cities and towns. Here are some of our top picks for activities and shopping within a one-hour drive of Mineola.
Explore Other Parks
There are a couple of excellent parks that you can visit in East Texas. The Wood County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens in Quitman offers 23 acres of scenery with a walking trail that leads you by several flower beds, shade and sensory gardens, and a water-wise garden. You can tour an 1869 home on Wednesdays too.
Then there’s Tyler State Park, one of the most beautiful places in the region. It’s full of 100-foot trees and historic buildings. On the 64-acre lake, you can go fishing, swimming, and boating. And, there are more than 13 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and more.
Play More Golf
East Texas has several wonderful golf courses that offer stunning views of native flora and fauna as well as have unique features. Some of them even have their own restaurants for your convenience. A few of the most highly rated courses include:
- The Links at Land’s End in Yantis
- Lake Fork Golf Course in Emory
- Garden Valley Resort & Golf Club in Lindale
- Tempest Golf Club in Gladewater
Trophy fishing is a very popular activity in East Texas because there are so many lakes with an abundance of largemouth bass. Also, you can catch black and white crappie, bluegill and redear sunfish, channel catfish, and white bass throughout the area.
At 27,264 acres, Lake Fork is the largest body of water for fishing near Mineola Texas. Several bait and fishing equipment shops are located around the lake, as are fishing charter companies. Some other good fishing spots include Lake Quitman, Lake Winnsboro, and Mineola’s very own Lake Holbrook.
Peruse First Monday Trade Days
For a shopping day trip from Mineola Texas, you can’t go wrong at First Monday Trade Days in Canton. With more than 5,000 vendors selling items of all kinds, it’s the biggest flea market in the world. The market only opens the weekend before the first Monday of each month, so plan ahead to avoid missing out!
Shop the 80 Acre Market
The 80 Acre Market is a former family home in Gilmer Texas that has become a community destination for shopping. You can find clothes, home furnishings, gifts, and so much more. It’s only open two weekends each month, but it always has family activities, live music, food trucks, and more to make the experience worth the drive.
Where to Eat in Mineola Texas
While downtown Mineola is known for its antique and boutique shopping, it’s also where many of the city’s restaurants call home. You’ll find plenty of locally owned eateries and bars, many of which have live music and craft beverages. Check out some of our favorites below.
East Texas Burger Company
Located in LW Antiques, East Texas Burger Company is an iconic restaurant known for its half-pound Ol’ Fashion Burger and the fact that Bonnie and Clyde ate here. In addition to burgers, the restaurant serves baskets and sandwiches, fried fish, chicken-fried steak, and more.
Kitchens Hardware & Deli
Offering a distinct dining experience, Kitchens Hardware & Deli is open all day, including brunch on Sundays. From traditional breakfast dishes to grilled sandwiches, steaks, and burger baskets, there’s something on the menu for everyone.
On top of that, the restaurant has a full bar and a happy hour on Saturdays. Also on the weekends, it hosts live music.
At the historic Beckham Hotel, Logan’s Place is an exquisite restaurant and bar with a 1920s to 1940s vibe. You’ll find burgers, wraps, loaded nachos, lobster rolls, and more on its menu. And every weekend, there’s live music by various artists — from rockabilly bands to talented pianists.
CowBurners BBQ & Taproom
If you’re in the mood for barbecue, CowBurners BBQ & Taproom is the best place to go. This joint serves Czech sausages, smoked turkey, ribs, brisket, and other barbecue staples. The bar always has craft beer on tap as well.
Mineola Texas Nightlife Spots
Alongside the numerous restaurants in downtown Mineola, you’ll find a couple of fine nightlife establishments. No matter which one you choose, you’re sure to have a relaxing evening of drinks, cigars, and live entertainment.
Specializing in hand-crafted cocktails, RNA Tavern has an extensive selection of liquor, including dozens of tequilas and whiskeys. Its most unique aspect, though, is that it has the largest inventory of popular and notable handmade cigars in Mineola Texas.
The bar frequently has live music and themed nights too, such as Wine, Art & Music night and a Ladies Night Luau. No matter when you go, the tavern will have cool vibes for you to soak up.
The Ironhorse at the Beckham
For cocktails and cigars at the historic Beckham Hotel, head to The Ironhorse. The bar makes signature cocktails and has a top-shelf selection of spirits. The cigar bar has a quiet glow and offers premium hand-rolled, brand-name cigars. Along with a variety of live music, the bar hosts themed nights for various holidays.
More Restaurants & Nightlife Near Mineola Texas
When you decide to explore other cities and towns outside of Mineola, you don’t have to wait to return to grab a good bite to eat. And, several of these restaurants host live entertainment.
At Speakeasy Coffeehouse in Quitman, you can treat yourself to a cup of coffee and a bakery treat in a unique atmosphere. The shop serves smoothies, tea, hot chocolate, bottled drinks, and Italian cream soda as well.
On Wednesday and Saturday evenings, the shop opens its Tattler Lounge & Listening Room. This upscale cocktail lounge and listening room hosts monthly happy hours and ladies’ nights.
The Barrel House Bar & Grill
In Winnsboro, The Barrel House Bar & Grill is well known for its creative dishes. It tantalizes your taste buds with the award-winning Barrel House Burger, chicken-fried steak, honey bourbon-glazed chicken, prime rib, and more. You can order almost anything from the bar, and live music is arranged on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The Cannery Lindale
A one-of-a-kind entertainment space, The Cannery Lindale has food, drinks, dancing, and shopping in one place. Its restaurants include Jojo’s Rock Hard Ice Cream, My My’s Wood Fired Pizza, Roots Coffee Co., Texas Music City Grill & Smokehouse, and Wing Dingers. Multiple stages regularly host up-and-coming acts and world-class stars.
The Grove Kitchen & Gardens
Offering a fine-dining experience, The Grove Kitchen & Gardens focuses on farm-to-table meals. The restaurant serves brunch, lunch, and dinner on a sprawling farm in Tyler. It has seasonal beers, craft cocktails, a long list of spirits, and a wide range of wines. Entertainment of all types is scheduled weekly too.
Where to Stay While You Explore Things to Do in Mineola Texas
For a chic, country home away from home during your adventures in Mineola Texas, choose Fall Farm Country Inn. We’ve been making guests fall in love with East Texas since 1945.
While you’re here, you’ll enjoy access to a variety of amenities, such as a swimming pool with spa, a covered pavilion with swings, and a country gourmet breakfast. So when you’re ready to book your Mineola Texas getaway, check our availability.