The Top Things To Do In Johnson City, Texas

Wineries, shopping, sprawling naturescapes, and a touch of presidential history collide in Johnson City, Texas.

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An hour west of Austin is Johnson City, Texas, known as the hometown of President Lyndon Johnson. Of course, the small town is steeped in history, but stay for a bit and you'll find yourself in awe over the area's natural beauty, impressive wineries, and wide open spaces. Here, it's easy to escape the big-city crowds and find a bit of solitude mixed in with a good dose of local charm.

Visit the Science Mill

Opened in 2015, the Science Mill is a must for families wanting to give their kids a bit of education while traveling. Full of interactive exhibits and programming, the Science Mill helps children understand the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) while inspiring curiosity. Exhibits include a fractalarium, a beautiful mesh of science and art; Deep Sea Robotics, which teaches about oceanic drones and their importance in reaching unexplored depths; Masters of Disguise, which teaches about animal camouflage with live animals; the Paludarium, with crabs, fish, and an entire swampy ecosystem; and Jurassic Flight, a virtual reality experience that takes you back to prehistoric times.

Tour the Texas White House

For a look at the presidential and personal life of President Johnson, head to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, also known as the Texas White House. The Johnsons donated the Texas White House to the National Park Service in 1972, and Lady Bird continued to live here until her death in 2007. Here, you'll find Johnson's home, nestled alongside the Pedernales River, where Johnson conducted presidential business while in office. Numerous world leaders visited here, as Johnson was the first president to create a work-from-home White House away from Washington. Take a driving tour around the ranch, or see the hangar and air strip that Johnson had made for quick flights to and from Washington.

Experience LBJ State Park and Historic Site

Driving up to the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site, you'll see beautiful live oak trees and Texas longhorns dotting the landscape, a Texas snapshot worthy of experiencing. This state park includes the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm, where park rangers dress in period clothing and explain what life was like here in the 1860s. Guests can help with daily chores here, including churning butter, gathering eggs, or gardening. The park also includes trails where you'll see roaming bison wildflowers, longhorns, and historic cabins. There's also river access, a pool, amphitheater, and a visitor's center for souvenirs and books.

Learn about the Lyndon B. Johnson Boyhood Home

Back in town, learn even more about President Johnson at the Lyndon B. Johnson Boyhood Home, where Johnson lived from age 5 until he graduated from high school in 1924. The home was built in the 1880s by Samuel Ealy Johnson Sr., the president's grandfather. The Johnson family moved to Johnson City from a farm in nearby Stonewall, and Johnson and his four siblings Rebekah, Josefa, Lucia, his brother Sam Houston, and parents Sam and Rebekah shared the small home. The house is furnished in the 1920s period and displays what rural Texas life was like almost a century ago.

Sip Your Way Through Wineries

Johnson City is located along U.S. Highway 290, which is home to loads of wineries throughout Hill Country. Sample wines that were made in Texas, or try some great selections brought in from California and Oregon. Farmhouse Vineyards Marketplace and Tipsy Trailer grows grapes that can handle the Texas High Plains heat, and offers white wines, red wines, and sparkling wine out of their 1978 Airstream turned tasting trailer named West Texas Tipsy. Next to the Blanco County Courthouse in town, Alex Anthony Vineyards offers wine tastings from their selection of 10 wines. Crowson specializes in "zero-zero wine," which means nothing is added or taken away, and does wine tastings by appointment. Westcave Cellars uses only Texas grapes for their wines, with the majority of the grapes grown on site.

Explore Pedernales Falls State Park

For a nature escape, head to Pedernales Falls State Park, where the Pedernales River flows through massive limestone slabs that are great for lounging and swimming. There's lots of easy to challenging hikes here, including the .5-mile Twin Falls Nature Trail, which takes you by a scenic overlook to the falls, and the 6-mile Wolf Mountain Trail winds around Tobacco and Wolf mountains and by canyons and beautiful pools. Aside from hiking, visitors can also swim, kayak, mountain bike, bird watch, geocache, and ride horses. There's also a bird blind and butterfly garden. At the bird blind, see if you can spot an endangered golden-cheeked warbler, which nests in the park.

Toast the Day at Pecan Street Brewing

Located in the old Blanco County Supply and Hardware Building, Pecan Street Brewing is a great place to hang your hat after a long day of exploring. The building used to be the gathering place in town, where locals drank coffee and shared stories, and today, the fun continues, but with craft beer instead. Here, beer is brewed on site and paired with comfort food classics like fried chicken, burgers, plus brick-oven pizzas and salads. Grab a pint or a flight and sit outside in the pet-friendly biergarten, or dance the night away as live bands are featured on weekends.

Spend an Afternoon on the Square

Enjoy a bit of retail therapy about town, where shops and boutiques offer clothing, jewelry, unique gifts, and more. The Old Annex Market has more than 20 vendor booths selling home decor and upcycled finds, and Oak and Olive Boutique sells trendy clothing, accessories, and home goods. At Black Spur Emporium, find fun metal artworks, Mexican pottery, candles, handcrafted jewelry, plants, and lots of home decor. For antique finds, head to Vintage 205 on Main Street, where vintage wares such as baskets, chairs, furniture, and signage abound.

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