Above: The cave at Longhorn Cavern State Park

Things to Do Near Austin, Texas

Highlights from past trips to Austin included kayaking on Lady Bird Lake in the heart of the city, savoring barbecue at long-standing local hot spots, shopping at quaint boutiques on South Congress Avenue and visiting the imposing Capitol. Here are the sites and activities around town that we found especially memorable on our most recent jaunt.

History Immersion

Lyndon B. Johnson's private plane - Photo by Andrew Harper editor
Lyndon B. Johnson's office in his Texas ranch - National Park Services

The 36th president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, was born and raised in Texas Hill Country, on a tranquil ranch set along the Pedernales River in Johnson City, a small town 60 miles west of downtown Austin. During his administration (1963-1969), Johnson spent about a quarter of his time at his ranch, which was dubbed the “Texas White House.” The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park preserves the president’s boyhood home, a two-story white structure with green shutters, the cemetery where he and his wife are buried and the 700-acre farm, where Hereford cattle, American bison and Texas longhorns roam freely. Johnson said of his unassuming home and ranch, “All the world is welcome here,” and indeed he regularly played host to diplomats and visiting dignitaries. On our visit, we toured the president’s plane and admired the Friendship Stones, slabs of concrete where guests of the ranch, including fellow politicians and some celebrities, signed wet concrete to memorialize their visit. Johnson’s ranch house embodies the traditional 1960s American home, complete with colorful print furniture, Formica countertops, avocado-green color schemes and rotary dial phones in every room, including the baths, to ensure Johnson was readily available at any moment. The LBJ Ranch is a vivid place of historical significance with interactive displays and unique memorabilia from his time in office, making it a noteworthy destination for visitors.

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park
100 East Ladybird Lane, Johnson City. Tel. (830) 868-7128

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Above: The cave at Longhorn Cavern State Park

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