Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center visits are extremely popular among Austin area natives and visitors alike. Located about ten miles southwest of Downtown Austin, this dynamic center covers about 279 acres of picturesque land that are a joy to explore. Figuring among the highlights at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center are twelve acres of botanical gardens, which display hundreds of native plant species. The gardens aren't the only things worth checking out on a visit, however, and thanks to the other great facilities, it can be easy to spend at least a few hours here before you even consider heading back to your hotel or vacation rental. There's even an art gallery here!
Lady Bird Johnson, who served as the First Lady of the United States from 1963 to 1969, founded the Wildflower Center in Austin with the help of actress Helen Hayes in 1982. The purpose was to embrace the native plants of Texas and those of North America in general, as Johnson was a big advocate of preserving and cultivating native plant species. The name of the center was inspired by Lady Bird Johnson's love of wildflowers, and once spring rolls around, the center's numerous wildflowers start to blossom. Thanks to former First Lady Johnson's efforts, wildflowers bloom all over the area in the spring, attracting plenty of visitors who come to enjoy the colorful displays of bluebonnets, evening primroses, and other species. Spring is arguably the best time to enjoy an Austin vacation, partly because of the blooming wildflowers and partly because of the oft-idyllic weather.
The gardens at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center come in a variety of forms. Some are theme gardens that are designed to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and all told, there are approximately 650 different species of native Texas plants that are on display. The main focus is on plants that are native to the surrounding Texas Hill Country. This is a very scenic region, and when Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center visitors aren't checking out the main gardens, they might take to the two miles of trails to do some hiking and general sightseeing. Along the various trails, there are native shrubs, trees, wildflowers, and cacti, and there is even a trail that offers insight into the center's dedication to landscape restoration research.
Checking out the gardens and exploring the hiking trails are just two ways to stay busy on a visit to the Wildflower Center in Austin. The center also features a fantastic observation tower that affords scintillating views of the area, and its native plants research library is the largest of its kind in the country. On the weekends, free lectures can be enjoyed, and often, weekend visitors can also enjoy guided walking tours at no extra cost. Shopping at the gift shop and breaking for something to eat at the convenient café are also options when it comes to keeping busy at the center, and it's always a good idea to keep an eye on the events schedule to see what might be going on during your trip to the Texas capital region.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center events are known for their overall quality, and there are a bunch of different ones to choose from. At various times of the year, plant sales figure on the events schedule, and in the spring, the Nature Nights series allows visitors to enjoy the park in the evening, with stargazing capping the night off. Other Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center events include a holiday season lights display, a silent art auction, and an arts and crafts festival.
The operating hours at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin vary depending on time of year, with March through April being the peak season. In general, the grounds are open from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The center's store and café have the similar hours, with minor changes to the opening and closing times. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center events follow their own hours. The Nature Nights series, for example, takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on select Friday nights in the spring.