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Visiting the national park on the Pedernales River

Visiting the national park on the Pedernales River
HARRY & LINDA KAYE PEREZ The Boyhood Home of our 36th president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, is among the attractions for visitors to Johnson City.

In 1879, at a good ol’ Texas barbecue on the banks of Town Creek, locals met to choose a site for a new town. The winner was a 320-acre plot of land on the Pedernales River offered by James Polk Johnson, a distant relative of our 36th president. A good place to start exploring both the town and the man it produced is at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park Visitor Center at the Intersection of Ladybird Lane and Avenue G in Johnson City.

LBJ Park

This National Park is divided into two parts. At the Johnson City location, you can visit the Visitor Center, LBJ’s Boyhood Home, and the Johnson Settlement.

The Visitor Center should be your first stop. In addition to exhibits about LBJ’s life accomplishments, campaign memorabilia, and items from the past such as LBJ Ranch branding irons there are two excellent 30-minute videos offered, one on LBJ and the other on Lady Bird.

Boyhood Home: Lyndon lived here from the age of 5 until his high school graduation in 1924. It is furnished in the early to mid-1920s period and depicts the rural Texas lifestyle of 75 years ago. Free ranger-guided tours are offered every half hour, from 9-11:30 a.m. and from 1-4:30 p.m. Meet the ranger on the front porch a few minutes before the next tour is scheduled to start.

Johnson Settlement: Johnson’s frontier heritage goes back to his grandfather, Samuel Ely Johnson Jr., who established a cattle droving headquarters in the 1860s on land that is now part of Johnson City, Texas. His log cabin, barns, cooler house, and windmill still stand. Visitors can take a self-guided nature trail from the Visitor Center (less than 1 mile round-trip) or can access the Settlement by car just off of S.H. 290 on the way to Stonewall.

The second part of this park is near Stonewall, 14 miles west from Johnson City, and includes LBJ Ranch and the Texas White House. Here on this land LBJ was born, lived, died, and was buried, and here Lady Bird resided until her death in 2007.

At the Visitor Center in Stonewall, get your free driving permit and tour route map. To get the most out of this area, a CD narrative audio tour is available for purchase at the gift shop. Then at your own pace, you can visit his birthplace, the family cemetery, and the Texas White House.

The 30-minute tours of the Texas White House are limited to 12 people; there is a small fee, $3, for visitors 18 years of age and older. The Ranch is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day; gates open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.. Recommended time for each site (Johnson City and Stonewall) is a minimum of two hours.

Special events are offered throughout the year at the Ranch. For example, on June 6, “Movies Under the Stars” at the LBJ Ranch will present “Apollo 13,” staring Tom Hanks. Gates open at 7 p.m.

Take lawn chairs or blankets and your own refreshments. Future movie presentations will include “Sons of Katie Elder” and “The Sound of Music.” These are free events.

On Aug. 27, President Johnson’s birthday, there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at the Johnson Family Cemetery. The public is invited; the program will begin at approximately 10 a.m. Tours of the Texas White House will commence following the ceremony.

More to do

Both Johnson City and Stonewall are on the awarding-winning Texas Hill Country Wine Trail. In Johnson City you will find the Texas Hills Vineyard and in Stonewall check out the Woodrose Winery or visit the Pedernales Cellars and enjoy a one-hour tour of their unique geothermal barrel cellars. There are great eateries all along the route.

The Sculpture Ranch and Galleries encompasses 140 acres of woodland and grasslands in Johnson City, featuring large-scale sculptures on the grounds. The sculptures are accessible by roadways or by walk paths. Check their website for open and closing times as they do vary.

There’s so much to see and do we can’t possibly list it all here. The 80-mile drive to Johnson City and then beyond is a wonderful way to spend time getting to know Texas.

Harry and Linda Kaye Perez are freelance writers from just down the road from Floresville. Together they share a passion for traveling and writing, and discovering the very best in all corners of the world. Email them at

Find out more

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park


Texas Hills Vineyard

878 Ranch Road 2766, Johnson City, TX 78636


Woodrose Winery

662 Woodrose Lane, Stonewall, TX 78671


Pedernales Cellars

2916 Upper Albert Road, Stonewall, TX 78671


The Sculpture Ranch and Galleries

377 Shiloh Road, Johnson City, TX 78636


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