With gas prices at an all time high, more folks are staying closer to home here in Tyler and Longview this Memorial Day weekend. With that in mind, I have put together a few stay-cation ideas for you. Whether you have some lofty ideas or just want to get down and dirty this Memorial Day weekend, here are some places to go and things to do that will save you some time and some money since all these are in the East Texas area. You are sure to have some fun on your "Stay-Cation".

1. Get Wet

Make a splash and head for one of two water-parks. Just 30 minutes west of Tyler on I-20 in Canton is Splash Kingdom Waterpark you are sure to cool down on a hot Memorial Day Weekend. One hour east of Longview in Shreveport is Splash Kingdom's Water Town. Besides a water slides and a lazy river they both have indoor arcades and concessions as well as places to have a picnic. You can log on to find out what the current prices are.

There are several area lakes that are open for swimming and water activities. A popular skiing location is at Lake Gladewater, and it doesn't cost anything to get into the park.

2. Get Wild

Renowned animal expert "Jungle Jack Hanna says that Caldwell Zoo in Tyler is a "goldmine" and that the African Savanna Exhibit at The Caldwell Zoo is the third best one he has ever seen.  Tyler, Texas is proud to offer Caldwell Zoo as an educational escape during the Memorial Day weekend. If you have never been to the Caldwell Zoo or even if it has been years, get the family together and go visit the animals. The zoo is nit just for kids. Adults can have a great time seeing these animals and learning about them.  Visit their website to learn about prices and times.

Close to Tyler there is Lions and Tigers and Puma's, Oh My! Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge is home to over 40 rescued big cats. Meet these majestic animals, learn about the feline species known as Panthera Tigris and find out how you can help to ensure their future in the United States and worldwide.

3. Get Dirty

Barnwell Mountain Recreation Center For outdoor enthusiasts, Barnwell Mountain Recreation Center located 5 miles east of Gilmer on Highway 155 is the perfect place for off road fun. 1,800 acres of off-road trails for trucks , ATV's and motorcycles. There are also camping and picnic areas with great views. And for day use, Barnwell will only charge $20 per vehicle.

For ATV enthusiasts looking for wide open spaces and seemingly endless miles of trails, the 2,000-acre River Run ATV Park is a good place to visit. Located in the Tomato Capital of the World--Jacksonville, Texas--River Run ATV Park provides multiple trails, many with ponds, for plenty of action and mud along the Neches River. (Vehicles are not allowed in the river, however.) Rates are $5 per person for a one-day ride, $10 per ATV, and $15 for 4X4 trucks as of March 2010. Rates are each $5 more on weekends. Primitive camping and RV hookup are $20 per night. Camping is available at $35 per weekend night. Weekly and monthly rates are also available. Credit cards are not accepted. Their website has a ton of information.

4. Get High

In the late 60's the 5th Dimension sang, "Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon." Ever wonder what a bird's eye view of Tyler and Longview would look like? Well here are a couple of options for your Memorial Day weekend.

Breeze Balloons specializes in making your adventure something you will remember for a lifetime. We have both Sunrise and Sunset Hot Air Balloon flights year round! They can accommodate private flights, large groups, and wedding parties. Don't forget the Balloon Races are coming up soon in Longview. Call  for more information on your adventure at 214-616-4651 or email them at info@breezeballoons.com

Skydive East Texas - only a short drive away from Tyler - is a full service skydiving center located in East Texas at the Gladewater Municipal Airport. Their highly trained professional instructors will provide you with step-by-step personal instruction whether it is your first skydive (Tandem) or you would like to learn to skydive (Tandem Progression). Safety and personal, friendly attention to you and your skydiving experience is their greatest priority. Just give them a call at 903-845-5867.

5. Get Back To Nature

When the going gets tough, the tough go camping. Load up the family, pack the tent and get back to nature.  Tyler and Longview have plenty of places for you to just sit back and enjoy the moment.  We strongly recommend sitting around the fire and tell ghost stories -- enjoy the fresh air.  Maybe say thanks to all those men and women who served and paid for our freedom.

This is a great starter park for a family's first camping expedition. The compact park has all amenities within a short walk. Activities for all ages include bird watching, hiking, fishing, relaxing, boat rentals, bicycling, swimming, and observing nature. Campsites vary from tent to RV with full hook ups; most are near restrooms with flush toilets and hot-water showers. Screened shelters can be reserved. They are especially nice for families with tots or older campers looking for headroom under a roof and a solid floor. The park has a camp store and children's playground.  Easy to find 789 Park Road 16 - Tyler, TX 75706-3630 - 903-597-5338.

Caddo Lake, a 27,000-acre cypress swamp, is the focal point of the park. Most of the activities, such as fishing, canoeing, hiking, and nature watching take place on or around the lake with its bayous and cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss. A variety of campsites are available as well as screen shelters and cabins. When night falls, it is pitch black and eerie until the moon rises. Take a walk in the dark and don't use your flashlight. You will probably hear the owls hooting. This remote park is a great place for a quiet getaway weekend. The interpretive center features exhibits of area flora and fauna. Bring your bicycle for easy transportation around the park. Drop by the childhood home of Lady Bird Johnson in Karnack on your way to the park. Her father donated part of the land for the state park, which is situated near the Louisiana state line -- 245 Park Rd 2 - Karnack TX 75661 - 903-679-3351

Whatever you do -- please take a moment to just sit back and enjoy the moment.  We get really busy here in Tyler and Longview and need to slow down this Memorial Day.