LivingTravel3 days in Johnson City

3 days in Johnson City

The childhood home of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Johnson City is also one of the most picturesque small towns in Texas. It is set amidst rolling hills and lush pastures dotted with sprawling old oaks. A three-day visit offers the opportunity to explore history, see wildlife, and enjoy one of the best state parks in Texas.

Día 1 – Bedbird Meadows Bed & Breakfast

Located about five miles south of downtown Johnson City, Songbird Meadows (1022 Stanton Ranch Loop, 830-868-2468) has three immaculately maintained rustic cabins. You’ll get a hot breakfast delivered to your door every morning. These are hearty, homemade meals, often including fresh cookies, quiche, yogurt, and banana bread.

After settling in, take a short walk around the property. In addition to a great variety of songbirds around various feeding stations, it is possible to see wild turkeys, deer and hares. Two nature trails on the property lead to majestic oak trees and breathtaking views of the mountainous region. In the evenings, choose a spot by the pond for the best wildlife viewing opportunities. The pond sometimes dries up during dry years, but is full until June 2016.

If you still need more stress relief, this B&B has something you won’t find anywhere else: a Chinese food station. A tea cart full of old dishes is ready to help you with your anger issues. Just make sure your plate hit stays within the specified area and aim your throws only at the provided pile of wood. Perhaps a visit to the nearby prayer garden would be a good way to calm down afterward.

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To satisfy the hunger you’ve undoubtedly worked for, head to the East Main Grill (209 East Main Street, 830-868-7710). Part of the Old Lumber Yard complex, the restaurant is known for its steaks, burgers, and honey-walnut fried chicken. East Main Grill is also in the heart of small downtown Johnson City, so you can do a little window shopping after your meal.

Day 2 – LBJ Childhood Home and Texas White House

After enjoying a homemade breakfast and bird watching for a while, take the short trip to LBJ’s childhood home (200 East Elm Street, 830-868-7128). Note that there are several LBJ-related locations in and around Johnson City. Most of them are under the Lyndon B. Johnson Historical Park umbrella, but they are actually in different locations. The LBJ Ranch and the Texas White House are just a few miles west of Johnson City.

Free tours of the childhood home begin every half hour on the front porch. Look up and you will see that the porch ceiling is painted sky blue. This was often done in early Texas homes because it was believed that wasps would not build nests on a blue roof because, well, it looked like the sky. In March 1937, it was on this very porch that Lyndon Baines Johnson announced his first run for Congress. The modest home was restored and furnished to be historically accurate for the mid-1920s period.

After the tour, have lunch at the nearby Pecan Street Brewing (106 East Pecan Drive, 830-868-2500). While it may be a bit early to try one of their popular home brews, the other big selling point here is the pizza. Choose from a wide variety of toppings to build your own 8-inch or 14-inch pizza, which is cooked in a brick oven. They also offer a pizza with a gluten free crust. Lighter sandwiches and salads are also available.

To continue the LBJ theme for the day, head over to the LBJ Ranch (199 Park Road 52, Stonewall, 830-868-7128). Now you can get a driver’s license and tour parts of the ranch unsupervised, but a knowledgeable guide will really help you appreciate the ranch’s role in history. Make sure to see their famous floating car. LBJ used to play with journalists by driving around the ranch in the car and then, without warning, driving the car directly into a lake. No matter what you think of his policies, LBJ was without a doubt one of the most interesting presidents in the nation.

Just a few more miles west along Highway 290, you will find one of the most beautiful wineries in Texas. Torre di Pietra (10915 East US Highway 290, Fredericksburg, 830-644-2829) offers free 30-minute tours daily. A wine tasting, which includes six small samples, costs $ 15. The winery regularly hosts live music on its outdoor patio overlooking the vineyards. The main building is made largely of stone and looks like a glorious Tuscan villa in the heart of Texas. Before leaving, grab a bottle of wine or two to enjoy at the B&B.

Day 3 – Exotic Resort Zoo and Pedernales Falls

As you prepare for the outdoor adventures to come, don’t forget to bring a bathing suit and a change of clothes. It will definitely get hot and sweaty, and a cool bath will be a sweet relief.

Drive a few miles north of Johnson City to the Exotic Resort Zoo (235 Zoo Trail, 830-868-4357). Guided tours of the 137-acre park depart every 15 minutes. You can buy a food bucket to distribute to friendly animals along the way. Two of the park’s largest animals, Rusty the Buffalo and Omar the Camel, will board the open-air bus for you to feed them. The park is also home to kangaroos, zebras, exotic deer, and ostriches. At the petting zoo, you can feed and play with baby deer, miniature horses, goats, and llamas.

Serious wildlife fans can even stay at the Exotic Resort Zoo. The park rents five cabins of different sizes. Three of them are equipped with a kitchen. The two-story Elk Lodge has an upper deck balcony with stunning views of the park and its wildlife.

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Your next stop, Pedernales Falls State Park (2585 Park Road 6026, 830-868-7304), is located a few miles south of the Exotic Resort Zoo. The main attraction here is the wide river that runs along a stepped channel dotted with large rocks. Instead of a large waterfall, there are a whole series of small waterfalls along the river. After a heavy rain, swimmers are not allowed because the Pedernales River turns into raging rapids. Even on the days when swimming is prohibited, it is an incredible sight.

If the river is calm today, you are probably ready for a cool dip in the water. When the river is cooperating, there are also several places for tubing or kayaking along the river.

For an easy hike, follow the trail to the blind birds or enjoy the butterfly garden near the headquarters. For a more challenging hike, try the six-mile Wolf Mountain Trail. You can cool off along the way in small streams, and there are several small canyons and overlooks to enjoy.

After all this exercise, you will be ready for a great lunch. Bryan’s at 290 (300 East Main Street, 210-483-3272) serves surprisingly sophisticated dishes in a setting that exudes small-town charm. Featured dishes include Asian Glazed Pork Tenderloin and Bryan’s Half Chicken with Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese. The salmon and lamb dishes also regularly receive praise from loyal customers. Save room for dessert, however. You don’t want to miss out on the amazing chopped pecan and pear tart with whipped cream.

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