Just an hour west of Austin, Johnson City is a perfect day trip destination. Whether you are interested in the story of LBJ, outdoor adventures, wineries, art, or science, this area of the Texas Hill Country has a lot of offer.

Lawn chairs in the yard at the Texas White House
The Texas White House at LBJ National Historic Park. Credit NPS, Cynthia Dorminey.

The town is named after the ancestors of the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and is home to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. To learn about his roots, start in town at LBJ’s Boyhood Home and make sure to visit the Johnson Settlement where Johnson’s grandfather lived during the Chisholm Trail Days. Then head 14 miles west on Highway 290 to explore the LBJ Ranch. When you arrive, pick up a map and free permit for a self-guided driving tour of the ranch in your own vehicle. For even more in-depth information, you have the option to purchase an audio CD to narrate your drive.

children in the Aquaponics Greenhouse the Science Mill museum in johnson city texas
Aquaponics Greenhouse. Courtesy of the Science Mill.

Johnson City has several independent galleries near the courthouse square on both Nugent Avenue and Main Street. Artists and locals collectively gather at the regular Artwalk, from 4-8 p.m. on the last Saturday of each month, where galleries host artist talks, live music performances and more.

Also located near the square is the Science Mill—a family-friendly museum filled with high-tech exhibits created to engage kids with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts. Kids love regular exhibits like Cell Phone Disco, Fossil Dig, Mind Ball and other hands-on activities. The Science Mill has a café and a great gift shop so you can easily spend half a day exploring.

Whether you just need a bite for lunch or wanting an evening out on the town, Johnson City offers many restaurants, wineries and breweries including Bryan’s on 290, Blanco River Pizza Company, Pecan Street Brewing and Hahne Estates Winery, Texas Hill Vineyards and Crowson Wines.

Annual events include the Blanco County Fair & Rodeo in August, Market Days every fourth weekend from March through November and Lights Spectacular from late November through early January.

Waterfall at Pedernales Falls State Park
Pedernales Falls State Park. Credit Vance Miller, courtesy of RootsRated.

Just outside of Johnson City, on the way back to Austin, is one of the largest parks in Central Texas—Pedernales Falls State Park. With more than 5,000 acres, Pedernales includes 20 miles of trails, scenic views and camping areas. The park is great for families and offers hiking trails with different levels of difficulty. 

Learn more this day trip destination from the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce or by stopping by their Visitor Center, 100 E. Main St.

Contributed by Katie Cook.