Just under four hours south of Dallas and about an hour west of Austin, on the banks of the Pedernales River, you’ll find Johnson City.
Clocking in at a grand total of 1,780 people as of the last 2020 census, this Texas Hill Country destination is on the teeny side — but don't let that fool you.
It has some seriously big personality to go with its small-town charm, plus some presidential cred, too. It’s also known as the gateway to the area’s wineries, including those along the 290 Texas Wine Trail.
Here’s a short list of more highlights that make Johnson City the place to be.
See presidential swagger
While it wasn’t named for 36th President Lyndon B. Johnson, much of his life was spent in Johnson City.
You can take a driving tour of the LBJ Ranch, making stops at his birthplace, the Johnson family cemetery, and the ranch house known as the Texas White House.
You can also head to the LBJ State Park & Historic Site for nature trails that wander through pastures with longhorns and bison, along with a living history farm and historic cabins.
Chase the falls
The Pedernales Falls State Park is another natural gem, with miles of incredible hiking trails along the river. Just don’t look for a waterfall in the classic sense — here, big rocks interrupt the water, creating cascading horizontal falls.
Emu, wallaby, buffalo, camels, donkeys, zebras, ostriches, and antelope, oh my! And that’s only to name a few at the Exotic Resort Zoo, where you can get in on guided or choose-your-own-adventure safari tours. You can also get extra wild and stay overnight in one of the eight onsite cabins.
Witness history and science
A historic, 1880s-era mill has been converted into a center for exploration and curiosity: the Science Mill. It features more than 50 interactive, world-class exhibits, a 3-D theater, and an on-site cafe that provides an entertaining learning environment for both kids and kids at heart.
Stay in a lighthouse, a yurt, or a winery
Johnson City boasts an impressive list of one-of-kind accommodations, including an 86-foot-tall lighthouse at Lighthouse Hill Ranch that sits atop of a 200-foot-high hill. The views are breathtaking from its eight-sided observatory on the fourth floor.
Also on the ranch is the Arc de Texas, modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, with four well-appointed suites, a rooftop terrace, and more of those glorious 360-degree views.
Experience glamping at its very finest at Walden Retreats, where luxe safari tents overlook the Pedernales River across 96 acres of private property, which is all yours to explore.
You can also glamp at Johnny Yurts micro-community, where they have eight yurts onsite, each equipped with its own modern fire pit and wine-barrel hot tub.
And you’re only steps from Carter Creek Winery Resort & Spa’s vineyard, tasting room, restaurant, and Old 290 Brewery when you stay in one of their beautiful villas. Cheers to that!
Discover more things to love about Johnson City here.