In April we took a field trip that was totally worth a whole day of skipping school. I didn’t grow up in Texas and really don’t know much about pre-Carter presidencies anyway, so I was eager to find out about LBJ.
I wrote more about this trip on a field trip page after I spoke with a National Park ranger friend who happened to be working there in April. She gave us some tips on how to visit both sites in a day trip.
We headed out from Austin after traffic settled down a bit, and arrived at the LBJ boyhood home right near the Hill Country Science Mill in Johnson City. We stopped first at the visitor center.
There’s an interesting room full of lots of facts about the LBJ presidency in the visitor center. Be sure to read all this, especially if you haven’t done much prep for the trip.
Rangers are here to answer questions when you arrive and are so friendly. There’s also a gift shop and you can buy your National Parks passport here. Be sure to ask for the Junior Ranger program sheet as well, which you complete both at the boyhood home and at the ranch.
The park ranger we found in the visitor center also gave us the tour and homeschooled her own kids. She gave a tour that was really interesting to all the kids in our group (ages 7-11).
There’s a geocache somewhere in Johnson City as well!
After hitting all the sites in town, we headed out to the ranch where LBJ spent 25% of his presidency. Lady Bird apparently wanted to do some traveling to other places too, but the President liked to just head to the ranch any chance he could. I can see why!
You have to stop and pick up a pass to drive through the ranch when you enter. Be sure to buy the driving tour CD plus DVD. The CD is well worth the $7 (they recently lowered the price to make it more appealing since it really makes the tour around the ranch more personal).
Stop and have a picnic when you enter if you like – there’s a place to watch the buffalo and eat down to the right of the visitor center.
Also, be sure to make the first stop to see the settlement – it looks just how it did when the Texas pioneers were living there!
We ran out of time near the end, having to leave just after seeing Air Force 1/2
And some really sweet 2 week old baby goats (still a working ranch out here)
We had to leave to get back to Austin and didn’t want to rush the house tour on the ranch, so we’ll be headed back there in a few months to see it and complete the ranger program!