Johnson City, featured in the August issue of Texas Monthly, is located at the crossroads of the Texas Hill Country and provides the perfect getaway where you can visit our historic areas, and enjoy our art galleries which include Taste Wine + Art, Western Art & Artifacts, A. Smith Gallery, and LMC Murals. You can also enjoy visits to our local vineyards, the famous Whittington’s Jerky General Store, Black Spur Emporium and Coffee Shop, Kara’s, The Treasure Chest, Pieces of the Past, The Old Lumberyard, DeLeon’s Outpost, The Historic Pearl, Hop To It Home Brew, and more!
Looking for somewhere to stay while you’re here? No problem - we have a Best Western as well as the Hill Country Inn. Thinking more of a Bed & Breakfast or cabin? Our choices include the Chantilly Lace Country Inn, Lighthouse Hill Ranch, The Sandy Road Guest Haus, Songbird Meadows B & B, Hillside Acres, Stanton Ranch vacation rental, and Exotic Zoo Resort Cabins. We also offer several conveniently located RV Parks and Resorts, including Miller Creek RV Resort, Road Runner RV Park, and Pedernales Falls State Park.
Take time to visit our historical area, the LBJ National Historical State Park, which includes LBJ’s boyhood home and the Johnson Settlement. Guided tours are provided at the boyhood home at no cost. Nearby, in Stonewall, you can also visit the Western White House, the home of LBJ and Ladybird, where the entire first floor is now available to tour.
You can also explore our state parks, including Pedernales Falls State Park, located along the banks of the scenic Pedernales River, featuring picturesque waterfalls, abundant animal and bird life, fishing, swimming, camping, picnicking, hiking, and horseback riding. Also located along the banks of the Pedernales in Johnson City on Hwy. 281 is the Pedernales River Nature Park. This park is a day use park only and there is no fee.
While enjoying all the activities available, you’re sure to work up an appetite, and there are several places for you to fill up including Ronnie’s BBQ, Hill Country Cupboard, Pecan Street Brewing, Texas 290 Diner, Dairy Queen, Big Daddy’s Dixie Fried Chicken, Al’s Grocery, Subway, El Charro, and El Agave.
You’re invited to come enjoy the Fall Lavender Trail on Saturday, October 6th. The following lavender farms are participating: M & J Lavender Farm, Becker Vineyard, Chantilly Lace Country Inn Bed & Breakfast Restaurant Lavender and Herb Farm, and Rocking L Ranch. At M & J Lavender Farm, you can participate in a lavender distillation demonstration around noon, and they’ll be open to the public from 9-6. Visit the other farms' websites for details, hours, and special events.
The next event that you must attend is the 13th Annual Wild Game Dinner on Saturday, October 6th starting at 5 p.m. The Wild Game Dinner will take place at the Blanco County Show Barn in Johnson City. Folks come from all over to attend this event and spend the night at our local lodging facilities. This is a great family event and children are welcome. For a $15 donation, you can dine on wild game to your heart’s content, receive a chance for the door prize, and enjoy live music provided by the Mike Clifford Band so you can dance until midnight. Better yet, children under 10 are free! Along with all this fun will be raffles, a live auction, and a silent auction. Items available will be shotguns, rifles, hunting equipment, camping equipment, Bauble in a Bubble, hunting trips, and more. A limited number of reserved tables are available for $250, which includes 8 dinner tickets. Call 830-833-5335 to reserve a table, buy advance tickets, or donate a silent auction item. This event raises funds to support the Blanco County Youth Livestock Show.
Another event that raises money is the 20th Annual Johnson City Pig Roast, whose proceeds benefit the Cherokee Home for Children. This event takes place at the Blanco County Fairgrounds on Friday through Sunday, Oct. 12th, 13th , and 14th. Admission is $25 for the entire weekend, and children 6 and under are free. Anyone under 21 must be accompanied by an adult. There’s a lot a fun to be had this weekend including a Poker Run, Bike Show, Bike Games, free BBQ on Saturday, live bands on Friday and Saturday evening, and a wide array of vendors. For details go to their website at www.jcpigroast.org.
If you like wine, you’ll love the October Texas Wine Trail! This is the busiest time of year at our vineyards. They compete with hundreds of events going on in Texas throughout October, thus they have created events as fascinating and tempting as possible. This year, they have tailored the October Texas Wine Month Trail…along with trimming down the price. Visit their individual websites for details or go to www.texaswinetrail.com. If you come to tour vineyards on October 6th , then plan on stopping by Good Shepherd Catholic Church for their annual Mexican Dinner and Raffle. Enjoy a traditional Mexican dinner including homemade cheese enchiladas, beef taco, tamale, rice, beans, tortilla, homemade salsa, dessert, and iced tea. Serving will begin at 11 a.m. at the church located at 285 281 Loop Road in Johnson City. To-go plates will be available in case you’d like to take it along and eat at the vineyards or parks. Just down the road from Johnson City in Hye is the Garrison Brother’s Bourbon Distillery, which offers daily tours of the facility. This is a tour worth taking - not only is the setting in the gorgeous hills, but it’s a fun and educational experience.
Every 3rd Friday, there is a car cruise-in, where you can participate or view classic, collector, antique, and hot rod cars and trucks. Drivers who arrive by 7 p.m. are eligible for door prizes. Everyone is welcome to participate, and the cars are parked on the Blanco County Courthouse square for easy viewing. For more details go to www.3fjc.com.
Check out the events calendar on our website to see what’s going on when you plan to visit. Johnson City is a great place to visit, and better yet, you can stay here amongst the Texas hills, enjoy our small town atmosphere, and make day trips to nearby areas. For more details on Johnson City, visit the website at johnsoncitytexaschamber.com.
A Little Johnson City History
The Site of the Johnson Ranch on Town Creek, the site of present day Johnson City, was at a very old crossroads. A north-south route from Blanco to the Colorado River was known as early as Spanish Times. In 1579, Miranda passed this way, crossing the Pedernales in the vicinity of Johnson City on his way to inspect the supposed Silver deposits near Llano. When Lyndon B. Johnson’s Grandfather, Sam Ealy Johnson, Sr., gave up his cattle-driving business (driving cattle up the Chisholm Trail had become unprofitable), he and his brother, Tom Johnson, sold out to a nephew, James Polk Johnson. The nearest post office, mill, & general store were located 14 miles south. There were still renegade Indians roaming the area, so travel over any distance was viewed with great apprehension. For that reason, settlers in the north end of Blanco County began to plan for a city in the northern area.
In 1879, a barbecue was held at the springs on Town Creek located on the Johnson Ranch. At this meeting, 3 sites for a town were offered & the one accepted by vote of settlers was a 320-acre plot on the Pedernales River offered by James Polk Johnson. After the decision, his many friends took him up on their shoulders and cheered him for his victory and for the decision by the residents to name the new town after him.
James Polk made the transition from rancher to businessman very successfully. It was the organizational ability of James Polk Johnson that converted a natural way station to a settled community and county seat. James Polk’s Grist Mill was a steam-powered cotton gin and gristmill on Town Creek. Principal crops in this area were corn and cotton. In the early 1940s, the gin was purchased by George Crofts and converted to a milling and grain operation, which flourished until the late 1970s.
By the time of his premature death at age 40 in 1885, James Polk had built the first gristmill, the Pearl Hotel, & had the building (now the Johnson City Bank) under construction that was to be a general merchandise store. This building came to have the first jail in its basement and served as the first Johnson City courthouse. The first church congregation (Methodist) met in an upstairs room of this building until their church building was constructed, and later Lyndon B. Johnson had his local offices in this building constructed by his second cousin.