Things to Do in Lufkin
Munch on candy right from the factory, watch giraffes nibble on leaves, and explore tranquil hiking trails in a national forest. These are just three of many things to do in Lufkin, a charming East Texas town nestled in the heart of the Piney Woods region. Surrounded by dense pine forests and scenic lakes, Lufkin has much to offer nature lovers. Yet with the shops and restaurants in its historic downtown, as well as its zoo and museums, there is plenty to see and experience in town as well. Read on to discover some of the things to do in Lufkin and start planning your retreat to the Piney Woods today.
Visit the Ellen Trout Zoo
Hippos, giraffes, white rhinos, and even tigers are among the nearly 800 exotic and wild animals you can see at the Ellen Trout Zoo. Walk along the tree-shaded pathways and you’ll encounter creatures from around the world, both large and small. Reptiles such as the gargantuan Galapagos tortoise roam their habitats while Saki monkeys and tamarins bound from one branch to another. Make sure to say “howdy” to the toucans and the awe-inspiring spectacled owl before watching the tigers and jaguars prowl. At the end of your tour, make sure to ride the pre-Civil War replica train that will take you on an adventure through thickets of pine trees and along a beautiful lake.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Atkinson’s Candy Co.
If you have even the slightest sweet tooth, you’re probably familiar with Atkinson’s candies. The famous Chick-O-Sticks or the delightfully crunchy peanut butter bars can be found just about anywhere. You won’t find any better place to enjoy these sugary snacks than in Lufkin, where Atkinson’s was founded about 80 years ago. While you can’t tour the main facility, where many of Atkinson’s crave-worthy confections are still made, you can shop at the onsite factory store. Fill your bag with anise squares, butterscotch, and caramel sweets, candies that are just as much of a Texas tradition as anything else in the Lone Star State.
Tour Lufkin’s Museums
See the layers of the earth, learn how dinosaurs became fossils, and explore the history of East Texas when you stop by the museums in Lufkin. Step far back into time at the Naranjo Museum of Natural History, where you’ll encounter a broad array of educational exhibits ranging from dinosaur bones to precious stones and gems. To discover Lufkin’s history as a lumber town, head to the Texas Forestry Museum. One of the largest of its kind in Texas, the museum’s displays include a paper mill room, sawmill town exhibit, and a logging locomotive.
For an in-depth look at the people, industries, and events that helped shape the region, browse the collections of historic photographs at The History Center in Diboll. Don’t miss the outdoor railroad exhibit, where you can climb aboard, ring the locomotive’s bell, and explore the caboose. Your East Texas culture trip ends at the Museum of East Texas, a showcase of rotating paintings, photographs, and illustrations by regional artists throughout the year.
Explore a National Forest
Lufkin is surrounded by forests of loblolly and shortleaf pine trees, providing a beautiful backdrop for an adventure in the great outdoors. If your starting point is Lufkin, the possibilities are endless. Scenic hiking trails that weave through both the Angelina National Forest and the Davy Crockett National Forest give you plenty to explore. For the ultimate adventure, plan a backpacking trip along the 20-mile-long Four C National Recreation Trail in the Davy Crockett National Forest. The journey takes you along streams and creeks and through the oak, hickory, sweet gum, willow, and pine forest of the Big Slough Wilderness Area.
There are many other things to do in the national forests near Lufkin, as well. Pack your fishing rod and tackle box and find a spot on the bank of Lake Sam Rayburn or one of the three other fishing areas in Bouton Lake Recreation Area, Boykin Springs Recreation Area, and Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area. Along with some serious angling for largemouth bass and channel catfish, the latter two recreation areas are hotspots for birding, wildlife watching, hunting, and countless other adventures.
Stroll Downtown Lufkin
With its old-fashioned brick storefronts, a visit to Downtown Lufkin is like traveling back in time. Yet all the picturesque architecture isn’t just for show, as the area is home to an abundance of shops to browse, restaurants to dine at, and plenty of other surprises. Peruse the wares at art and antique stores and buy something fashionable from the boutique shops before settling in for a glass of merlot at Restoration Wine Bar. Once the sun sets, catch a concert or movie at the historic Pines Theater or chase a caffeine high at Standpipe Coffee House. A day spa, yoga studio, ice cream parlor, furniture store, and an art gallery can be found within Downtown Lufkin, giving you plenty of reasons to come back.