15 Best Things to Do in Henderson, TX

Henderson, TX
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The city of Henderson is the county seat of Rusk County in Northeast Texas.

In 1843, residents named the place “Henderson” after James Pickney Henderson, who was instrumental in the town’s founding.

The city has become a pivotal hub in Northeast Texas for over two centuries.

Henderson is in the gorgeous East Texas Piney Woods, about 45 minutes south of Tyler.

The city’s downtown historic district is full of life and features numerous structures constructed before the Civil War.

So pack your bags and prepare for the best things to do in Henderson, Texas!

Discover Literary Masterpieces at the Rusk County Library

Front view of Rusk County Library
Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Libraries aren’t usually the first places to mind when people name must-see destinations.

However, the Rusk County Library is the place to go if you like to read and need a quiet area to get some work done.

The Henderson Public Library opened for the first time on September 15, 1937, in the basement of the Rusk County Courthouse.

In 1990, the Library became part of Henderson’s Main Street Project.

The city added 18,000 square feet during the renovations, comprising a third story and two basement levels.

The Rusk County Library still serves the local community with books, movies, and other materials.

They have a great staff and a wide selection of books, including many recent New York Times bestsellers, in addition to periodicals and digital resources.

You may find them on East Main St., Henderson, Texas.

Learn about History at the Depot Museum

Henderson’s Depot Museum is the perfect place to learn about East Texas’s rich history and culture.

The Missouri Pacific depot dates back to 1901 and served as a vital transportation hub for early settlers in Rusk County, Texas.

A fascinating mix of Native Americans, Frontier Pioneers, Southern Farmers, and Oil Hungry Wildcatters settled in what is now Rusk County.

Their story unfolds in twelve restored historic buildings spread over five acres.

The depot itself is like a mix between a museum and a playground.

Even the kids can enjoy themselves at the museum’s play area.

There is also a three-hole outhouse, a log cabin, a dog trot house, a railroad caboose, a doctor’s office, a printing press, a syrup mill, a broom factory, and a syrup and broom factory.

The staff has extensive knowledge of Henderson’s illustrious past.

You can buy exciting souvenirs in the modest gift shop at the Depot Museum.

Practice Your Swing at the Henderson Sports Complex

Visit the Henderson Sports Complex and join the local community's many sporting events.

This complex is a great place to chill out, play, and enjoy good food at the concession stands.

This sports facility is home to the Henderson Boys Baseball Association, Henderson Girls Softball Association, and the Henderson Soccer Association.

In addition, it features baseball and softball grounds, a basketball pavilion, and a picnic area.

There are four baseball diamonds, with the largest reserved for the Pony League.

The other fields are for the Little League, the Texas League, and the Peanut League.

It also has four individual cages where you may work on your swing.

The covered courts come equipped with lighting, making it a fantastic area to play basketball at night.

However, parking at the Henderson Sports Complex might be difficult during large gatherings.

The sports complex is located at Highway 259.

Travel Through Time at the Howard Dickson House

Explore the historic Howard Dickson House.

This home is a prime example of the Greek Revival architectural style.

It has become a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1855, the Howard Brothers built the first brick house in Henderson.

The Howards lived here for 50 years, followed by the Dickinsons for another 50.

The home served as a boarding house for workers in the 1930s East Texas oil boom, but by the 1950s, they had deserted it.

The house is now a living museum with antiques from the 19th century.

You can find the Howard Dickson House at Main Street, South Henderson.

Watch the Rodeo at the Youth Expo Center of Rusk County

The Youth Expo Center of Rusk County is a great place to go if you’re looking for a great facility in East Texas.

The Rusk County Expo Center accommodates various events, including concerts, a monster truck rally, livestock sales and exhibitions, and more.

It also has a fully equipped rodeo arena with seating for 4,000, an outdoor warm-up arena, washing bays, stables, and a concession stand.

There is ample parking, making organizing any kind of event a breeze.

You can find this center at West Henderson Road, Henderson.

Have a Picnic at the Lake Forest Park

Consider spending the day in Henderson’s Lake Forest Park, where a 15-acre lake provides stunning scenery.

Set along Lake Forest Parkway, this park covers an expansive 60 acres.

It has barbecue grills, picnic tables, and lighted pavilions.

Have a picnic by the lake and catch fish while eating burgers or steak off the grill.

Allow the children to run around and use the playground equipment.

The annual Henderson Fourth of July Celebration also takes place here.

Likewise, Lake Forest Park features a disc golf course with nine holes.

Take the Kids to Yates Park

Play area at Yates Park
Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The 14-acre Yates Park is on Van Sickle Street.

Take a seat and relax on one of the many benches located throughout the park.

New playground equipment with impact-absorbing padding keeps kids safe.

Unwind in the evenings at one of their pavilions equipped with lights, chairs, and grills.

Yates Park’s entrance and perimeter were recently covered in brand-new iron fencing.

Bring Your Dog for a Walk at Fair Paws Dog Park

Bring along your four-legged pal and relax in the fresh air.

Allow your dog to run around and bark in the park.

The Fair Paws Dog Park is an off-leash dog park within the boundaries of the Henderson City Fair Park.

Exercising is essential for everyone, including your four-legged buddies.

There is a lot of open room at Fair Paws, so you can play catch and make new acquaintances.

There are separate areas for large and small dogs, which makes the place safer.

In addition, they include water fountains, garbage stations, and play equipment.

The Fair Paws Dog Park opens every day at Yale Street.

Watch Live Shows at the Henderson Civic Theater

Visit the beautiful downtown district of Henderson to see a top-notch performance at the Henderson Civic Theater.

The Henderson Civic Theatre, founded in 1986, acquired the original 1885 Opera House in 1988.

The Henderson Civic Theatre is a community-based, non-profit organization that aims to perform and promote dramatic arts of all kinds.

The theater puts on four productions annually, drawing many tourists to Henderson.

Each year, the theater kicks off its production season in the fall, presenting five shows and a special show for Henderson’s annual Syrup Festival.

You can find this theater at East Main Street.

Honor the Past at the Smith Memorial Park

Located at the intersection of South Main and Jacksonville Drive is the 1.4-acre Smith Memorial Park, a small neighborhood park.

The park contains the historical gravestone of General James Smith and his wife, Hannah Parker.

The tomb of General James Smith has endured through the years, bearing quiet witness to Henderson’s development.

The city of Henderson stands on property he donated to his buddy James Pickney Henderson.

Revisit the history of Henderson at the Smith Memorial Park.

Enjoy a Stroll at Montgomery Park

Located near the intersection of Jacksonville Drive and Slaydon Street is the 1.3-acre Montgomery Park.

It features a baseball field with a backstop for practice.

The Pavilion now features picnic tables for your enjoyment, courtesy of the local Rotary Club.

Also, there’s playground equipment for the kids to use and have fun with.

Spend the day with your kids at Montgomery Park!

Other Things To Do Nearby

Cross the Rusk Footbridge

View of the long Rusk Footbridge
LMPark Photos / Shutterstock.com

Take a walk to Rusk Footbridge if you need some peace and clarity among the tall trees, flowing creeks, and pristine environment.

Stretching 546 feet, the Rusk Footbridge claims to be the longest footbridge in the United States.

Constructed in 1861, the bridge allowed travelers to cross the valley during the rainy months.

The structure had restoration work done in 1889 and again in the 1960s.

The bridge has made it possible for people from Rusk and the surrounding area to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and appreciate the natural beauty right outside their doorstep.

You can find it in Rusk, Texas, 38 minutes from Henderson.

Uncover the Clues at the London Museum Café & Soda Fountain

The London Museum Café & Soda Fountain houses a memorial museum honoring the victims and survivors of the London School explosion.

The London Museum tells the tale of the catastrophic explosion that devastated the London School on March 18, 1937.

There are many fascinating remnants of the blast; you can view them all in about an hour.

There is a friendly, welcoming environment, and the entire staff comprises dedicated volunteers who are experts in their fields.

Upon completing your visit, you can relax at the museum’s on-site cafeteria and soda fountain.

The London Museum Cafe & Soda Fountain is in Overton, Texas, 15 minutes from Henderson.

Volunteer docents lead guided tours.

Commune with Nature at the Martin Creek Lake State Park

Night view of Martin Creek Lake
JiroTX / Shutterstock.com

If you’re looking for a great place to spend the day swimming and exploring, look no further than Martin Creek Lake State Park.

This area is perfect for anglers, cyclists, hikers, and backpackers.

Explore the park the same way the original Texans did by following the Old Henderson Road Loop between Henderson and Shreveport.

Scenic view of Martin Creek Lake State Park
Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the lit fishing pier, fish cleaning station, and boat ramp.

Bring fishing equipment and fish from the shore or dock.

Spend the day taking pictures of the diverse wildlife, and then unwind in the evening at a traditional tent site or cabin. T

The Martin Creek Lake State Park is in Tatum, Texas, 22 minutes from Henderson.

Take a Tour of the Monte Verdi Cotton Plantation

Visit the Monte Verdi Cotton Plantation, winner of the Texas Historical Medallion in 1964, for a glimpse into the antebellum history of East Texas.

Constructed in the Greek Revival style and finished in 1856, Monte Verdi is a stunning example of the period’s architecture.

Julien Sidney Devereux built the mansion on his 10,721-acre plantation.

In 1964, the state of Texas honored the home with a historical medallion.

The state dedicated a new Official Texas Historical Marker to the plantation in 2018.

This marker commemorates the “Monte Verdi Plantation Family Slaves.”

Located in Cushing, Texas, this historical home only opens by appointment from Monday through Thursday.

The Monte Verdi Cotton Plantation also belongs to the National Register of Historic Places.

You can reach this place after a 27-minute drive from Henderson.

Final Thoughts

Henderson is the ideal weekend getaway destination thanks to its charming downtown, rich historical heritage, and genuine Southern hospitality.

The city is a great base to explore the beautiful lakes, historic homes, museums, campgrounds, and live theater.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Henderson, Texas!

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