Here’s everything you need to know to plan your day trip to the Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch!
The entire park is known as the “LBJ Ranch” but it is actually two parks separated by the Perdenales River. On the north bank is the actual LBJ Ranch which sits inside the National Historical Park. The south bank comprises the State Park. This post will help you navigate both parks.
Where to Begin Your Day!
The Visitor’s Center in the State Park
- This is where you will get your free driving permit for the National Historic Park, and it works as a parking permit for the State Park as well.
- Don’t forget to pick up a map! You may be lucky and receive an explanation with your map.
- The websites only give coordinates. So, here’s the exact location of the LBJ Ranch: N 30 degrees 14′ 15.82″ W 98 degrees 37′ 34.75″. Don’t worry, Google and other navigation systems can find it by using the name!
- Hours of Operation: Entrance Gate to Ranch 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM, Exit Gate closes at 5:30 PM. The State Park opens at 8:00 AM and closes at 5:00 PM.
- Come back later to browse the Visitor’s Center exhibit on the Texas Hill Country, watch a movie, and peruse the gift shop!
First Stop on the Tour: The Texas White House
Once you pick up your driving permit and map, drive into the National Historic Park, all the way to the Ranch House, aka the “Texas White House”, to begin your day! The Ranch House is the only place on the property that requires a Park Ranger’s presence. The Rangers provide 30 min. tours to a limited number of visitors. To cut down on your wait time, start your day here!
National Historic Park Sites
(1) The Ranch House (Texas White House)
The Ranch House was Lyndon B. Johnson’s family’s home. You can take a tour of the home and walk through time! It’s the only place at the park that requires an escort. It’s also the only time you’ll be required to pay an entrance fee.
The home was original three rooms: a living room, backroom and bedroom upstairs. There was no kitchen because they cooked in the large fireplace. The home now hosts more than 8 rooms and a large kitchen. When Lyndon B. Johnson donated the home to the National Park he requested the interior be maintained to reflect the years of his presidency. A walk through the home gives visitors a glance into the past. Colors, furniture, electronics are all reminiscent of the 1960’s, with the exception of Lady Bird’s private quarters where she lived until the early 2000’s.
- You can purchase your tickets inside the Visitor’s Center next to the Airplane Hanger
- Tickets are $3 / adult (under 18 are free!)
- Tours last approx. 30 mins
- There is a max. of 12 people per tour so it’s first come first serve!
- No photos are allowed inside home since everything inside are the personal belongings of the Johnson family and they ask visitors to respect their privacy (they’d rather images didn’t appear on social media)
- Click here for more information
(2) Air Force 1/2 and LBJ’s Vehicles
When Lyndon B. Johnson would fly home from Washington D.C., he would need to stop in Austin first to switch planes. Air Force 1 was too large for the runway at the ranch. Thus, Air Force 1/2 was born. The smaller plan would take him from Austin to the Ranch. Since that was its only purpose, when Johnson became Former President Johnson, the plane retired to the ranch with him. You can glimpse inside the cockpit and very small quarters. It’s a good thing it’s a short flight from Austin to Stonewall!
In the garage near the house are several of the vehicles the Johnson family drove on the ranch and around Texas. Some of these include a fire truck which was a present from Brady, Texas and an amphibious car! He also preferred his convertible since he was 6’4″ tall.
(3) Lyndon B. Johnson’s Birthplace
After touring the Ranch House, Vehicles, and Airplane Hangar, drive down to Johnson’s Birth Home and Cemetery. There is a small parking lot next to the cemetery. You can then walk to the remaining sites, including the School House (which I skipped).
The Birthplace Home is a reconstruction of the home where LBJ was born. Johnson hired an architect and used old photos for the project. He had to furnished to replicate the home as it was during early 1900’s. LBJ was born on August 27, 1908. There is an old photo on a placard outside the home for comparison. For more information about the home, click here.
Note: LBJ’s “Boyhood Home” and the “Johnson Settlement” are located in Johnson City. If you drive through Johnson City to reach the Ranch, you’ll see a sign to turn down Lady Bird Lane. That is NOT for the ranch, but for these other attractions.
(4) Johnson Cemetery
Lyndon B. Johnson loved the Perdenales River so it seems fitting that his final resting place is along the river. The two largest headstones belong to LBJ and Lady Bird. His siblings and parents rest on either side of him. In front of the Johnson family is a plane stone with the name Martin engraved on it. This marks the grave of LBJ’s aunt and uncle who owned the Ranch House before LBJ and Lady Bird moved in.
The LBJ State Park
Across the Perdenales River from the LBJ Ranch is the State Park. Here you’ll find nature trails, longhorns, a farm, and other typical park activities. This is also where you picked up your driving permit and where you can park for the rest of the day. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon enjoying the outdoors at the State Park portion of the LBJ Ranch!
(1) Longhorns, Buffalo, and Deer
There are two spots in the park where you can see Longhorn. The designated area is in a pasture next to the parking lot. They finally showed up as I was leaving the park. But I found some in a second location: down the Nature Trails from the Visitor’s Center. I spotted two on my visit and had to venture off the path to see them up close. This was where buffalo are supposed to be located. But, the only buffalo I saw were small, metal cut outs surrounding the parking lot. I also only saw one deer, a fawn curled up on the side of a trail.
Want to see more Longhorns? Click here for more information on the Official State Longhorn Herds.
(2) Sauer-Beckman Farmstead
The farmstead runs as it did during 1918. Actors in period dress can be found throughout the farm and will answer any questions you may have about how a farm operated at this time. You’ll find bars of soap, cheese, chickens roaming freely, cows, and a turkey! The farmhouse is furnished to the period and you can walk through each room to see how people lived in the hill country at the turn of the century.
(3) Nature Trails and the Perdenales River
The nature trails weave in and around the Buffalo pasture and Sauer-Beckmann Farmstead. They are easy, flat trails with plenty of tree coverage. I recommend having water and bug spray handy, especially if you are visiting during the summer.
If you’d like to visit the Perdenales River, drive down Ranch Road 1 towards the Picnic areas. There are two parking lots available, but one is located by the group dining hall which may be in use. You can also stop on the way at the Roadside Park (I do not know if parking is available).
(4) Swimming, Tennis, etc.
There are plenty of other activities available at the State Park. The swimming pool is open from noon to 8:00 PM on Wednesdays through Sunday. There is a $3 entrance fee to the pool for those over the age of 13 and $2 for those younger. The pool, baseball field, and tennis courts are located beyond the pasture housing Longhorns. You can drive down Ranch Road 1 to closer parking lots or follow the trail next to the Longhorn pasture.
(5) Trinity Lutheran Church
Not Actually a part of the park, the Lutheran Church is a beautiful blue church worth stopping for a picture. The Johnsons have attended this church, and his uncle planted the tree in front of the parish. For more information about the church, visited its website.
Tips for Visiting the Park
- Download the Texas Parks & Wildlife App
- Use these hashtags when posting your photos
- Pack a Picnic
- Bring the Essentials: water, sunscreen, bug spray, comfortable shoes
- Watch for Cattle! They roam freely on the ranch and may be stopped on the road.
- Check out these websites before visiting:
- State Park: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lyndon-b-johnson
- National Park: https://www.nps.gov/lyjo/planyourvisit/visitlbjranch.htm
- Click on this link to open the LBJ Park Map, available on the Texas State Park’s website.
- The last sign for the park on Hwy 290 is a mile from the entrance, so start slowing down or else you may miss the turn!
Lunch in Johnson City
If you don’t pack a lunch, here are some places to grab a bite to eat in Johnson City. I ate at Pecan Street Brewing because it was one of two places still open by the time we left the park, but I recommend it!
- East Main Grill
- Address: 209 E Main St, Johnson City, TX 78636
- Hours: 11:00 AM to 2:30 PM, open late (5:00 – 9 PM) Wed. through Fri. Closed Tues.
- Pecan Street Brewing
- Address: 106 E Pecan Dr, Johnson City, TX 78636
- Hours: Monday – Friday, 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM
- Bryans on 290
- Address: 300 E Main St, Johnson City, TX 78636
- Hours: Wednesday. – Friday 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM; closed Sun. to Mon.; Tues. 5-9 PM
- Lady Bird Lane Cafe
- Address: 101 S Lady Bird Ln, Johnson City, TX 78636
- Hours: 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM; Closed Monday and Tuesday; Opens at noon on Sunday
Coffee in Johnson City
Need a caffeine pick me up? Here’s two spots to get a cup of coffee. I stopped in to the Black Spur Coffee, Home of the “Grumpy Barista”, and then browsed the very cool antique shop, Echo, across the street.
Black Spur Coffee
Address: 100 US-290, Johnson City, TX 78636
Located in the same building as another store and has a lot of gardening decor outside
Wednesday – Friday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Saturday 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Sunday 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Closed Monday and Tuesday.
For more ideas for day trips from San Antonio, check out my post on Lady Bird Johnson’s Wildflower Center.