We love to visit historic sites while we are traveling, and if they are enjoyable, as well as educational, that’s an extra bonus! The Lyndon B Johnson State Park in Texas Hill Country is definitely both!
The LJB State ark is really unique in that it incorporates a living history farm, working cattle ranch, the Texas ‘White House’, an airplane hanger, and a fabulous and educational visitor’s center all in ONE destination!
Located about 15 miles east of Fredericksburg, Texas this expansive property has so much to see and do that one could easily spend a day here exploring. Upon arriving in the park, you will need to stop in at the LJB State Park visitor’s center. Don’t worry – you can’t miss it. You really can’t miss the parking lots…
Definitely big rig friendly at the visitor’s center; plenty of room to unhook your tv or toad.
The visitor’s center has a couple of different parts. The main visitor’s center building has a fun gift shop, shows a film about the park and LBJ’s life, and includes restrooms and a small display area. Located nearby is another building that houses a fun and engaging exhibit area, that is largely geared towards kids! Easy to miss, it is located past the visitor’s center, so be sure to check it out.
At the visitor’s center, you will need to pick up a driving pass. Admission to the Texas state park, Sauer Beckmann Living History Farm, and the LBJ National Historic Park, are all free, but you do need the pass for the NHP that you pick up at the state park visitor’s center.
Inside the visitor’s center is a fun gift shop that has something for all ages. And, joy of joys, they even have a penny pressing machine!
After checking in at the Visitor’s Center, you can head on over to the state park side of the site. Driving through great picnic areas, and probably past quite a few deer, you will come to the Sauer Beckmann Living History Farm. This is our favorite part of the park.
The Living History Farm runs just as it would have 100 years ago. They do not use any modern machinery, and the farm is a working farm.
The farm raises a garden, pastures animals, and does all related chores old-school.
We especially enjoyed the days old calves that were there during our visit! They were adorable, resting near their mothers.
The farm is open for exploration, and there are multiple period-costumed staff and volunteers onsite to answer questions and help you discover what homesteading was like 100 years ago!
There are chickens, cows, and sheep that the farm uses for meat, eggs, milk, and wool. Those products are all used onsite as demonstrations for guests. The farm also makes lunch every day for their staff and volunteers using only products produced on the farm!
There are several buildings that are furnished as they were a century ago. Guests are welcome to tour them at their leisure, and staff is on hand to answer questions.
Our favorite room is the kitchen – the kitchen is always staffed, and the lady who was in there during our visit told the kids how the farm utilizes (and utilized 100 years ago) milk without waste, and without refrigeration. She told them how they turn it into different products every day or other day, including showing them the different products (in real process) and telling how they utilize those different milk products in making lunches for the staff.
Probably one of my favorite places on the farm – I loved canning when we were in a house – it’s not really practical in the rv other than a few batches of jam now and again. I love the look of those colorful jars on the shelves tho, and these ones were canned on the farm, using farm produce, and will be used to make the staff lunches!
After touring the living history farm, we hopped back in the van and drove down the road to the Lyndon B Johnson National Historic Park. This ranch was truly President Johnson’s home – he was born here, lived here, and died here. He is even buried on the ranch (you will pass the family cemetery on your way through the park). Next to this entrance sign is a one room schoolhouse. You can enter it from the rear, and take a look around.
The ranch was, and is, a working cattle ranch. You can purchase an audio tour cd of the ranch at the visitor’s center to learn more about the park as you take the scenic drive through the acreage.
The ranch was given to the National Park Service by the Johnsons in 1972, but they retained lifelong use of the house. President Johnson died in 1973. After Mrs. Johnson’s death in 2007, the ranch, and house, which was then restored to its appearance during the presidency, was opened for public tours. House tours are $3 for ages 18 and up, free for minors. There is big rig parking near the hangar, which is a very short walk from the house. You can find out more about touring the Texas White House on the NPS site here.
Tours of the house are given throughout the day; tickets can be purchased at the next door airplane hanger (you can’t miss it since the presidential aircraft that he used is parked right next to it!).
Our favorite stop in the ranch is the show barn (on your drive through the park, you get to the show barn before the house). There are a few exhibits about ranching in the show barn, ranch staff on hand to answer questions, and a few cattle on display.
During our visit the show barn was also home to some 2 week old baby goats. Needless to say, we never did tour the hangar or house this time to the park because we spent HOURS at the show barn with the kids…both kinds..
Peanut is sure that we need a camper goat now. Eeek. I’m pretty sure I’m not ready for that!!!
There is a ton to do on both sites of the Lyndon B Johnson property.
The Lyndon B Johnson State Park side offers fishing, nature walks, swimming, treed picnicking areas, and fun kid-oriented activities in the interpretive center. They even pasture bison and part of the Official Texas State Longhorn Herd. The park is also a fabulous location for photographing the spring wildflower bloom!
The National Park side of the park is the ranch, which is more of a tribute to the presidency of President Johnson, and focuses on education of that time. The ranch offers the ability to stop at several different houses on the property, the cemetery, the show barn, and the hangar and house. The grounds are beautiful, and the drive is big rig friendly (tho you will not be able to park just anywhere).
Touring the hangar, and walking through the displays and exhibits in that building are free (be sure to check out the floating car, and find out how President Johnson got a kick out of freaking out his guests in it). Also, in the hanger be sure to ask about the Jr. Ranger program the park has!
Be aware that there are several different locations to the LBJ NHP. This visit was to just one of them (and our personal fav), but there are others located nearby. You can find out about the other sites on the NPS page here.
The Lyndon B Johnson property, whether it’s the state park or the national park service site, is a super stop for the family. With beautiful scenery, relaxing atmosphere, and educational opportunities galore, you could easily spend a day here. Or wish you did.
It’s one of those stops that is hard to leave!