You might think that Johnson City is named for President Lyndon Baines Johnson—but you’d be wrong. Although it’s the center of many of the Hill Country historic attractions associated with him, the town was actually founded in the late 1870s by James Polk Johnson, a second cousin to the former U.S. president.
Dog-friendly Johnson City Attractions
The Exotic Resort Zoo. It’s unusual for dogs to be permitted in wildlife parks but this private park will permit well-behaved pooches aboard the safari trucks. (Be honest with yourself when you’re considering this one. There’s no way we could take our two dogs on the open-air trams with all these strange and wonderful animals around.) The 137-acre ranch is viewed on guided tours for a look at 80 different species. The 500 animals seen from the open-air safari trams include camel, buffalo, deer, and more. Open daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Info: 235 Zoo Trail four miles north of Johnson City on US 281; (830) 868–4357; www.zooexotics.com. Fee.
LBJ National and State Historic Parks. Located between Johnson City and Fredericksburg, these combined parks span 700 acres and comprise LBJ’s Ranch (often called the “Texas White House” during his term) as well as historic areas. Dogs on fixed leashes no longer than six feet are permitted on the LBJ Ranch as well as on the walking trails at the LBJ State Park and Historic Site; they are not permitted inside buildings. You can also take a self-guided driving tour of the ranch, a great way to see a real, working Texas cattle ranch. You’ll also find picnic areas for a stop for you and Fido. Info: US 290 14 miles west of Johnson City; (830) 868-7128; www.nps.gov. Free; there’s a fee if you and your travel partner want to take turns and join in the ranger-led tours of Johnson’s home.
LBJ National Historic Park. This downtown park contains the LBJ Boyhood Home and the Johnson Settlement, rustic cabins and buildings that once belonged to LBJ’s grandfather, a cattle driver, and give visitors a look at the beginnings of the Johnson legacy. Although your dog cannot enter any of the buildings, the two of you are welcome to walk (on a fixed leash no longer than six feet) along the Settlement Trail, a circular trail just under a mile long that winds among the buildings. Info: South of US 290 at Ninth St.; (830) 868-7128; www.nps.gov. Free.
*DogTipper Choice Pedernales Falls State Park. This state park is one of our all-time favorite getaways with our dogs. Although dogs (and people) are not permitted on the cascading falls for which the park is named, you’ll find plenty of downstream fun beneath the cypress trees. Enjoy a day of swimming and wading with your dog as well as picnicking, camping, and hiking. Note: this park can experience dangerous flash floods. If you notice even a slight rise in the river, you should get to higher ground immediately. The park has sirens to warn of an approaching flash flood but stay alert to changing conditions. Info: 2585 Park Rd. 6026; (830) 868-7304; www.tpwd.state.tx.us. Fee.
Sniff Out More Information
Johnson City Convention and Visitors Bureau; (830) 868–7684; www.johnsoncity-texas.com.
For more on traveling in Texas with your dog, please order a copy of our DogTipper’s Texas with Dogs guidebook!