Peaceful. Serene. Relaxing. Those are the words that come to mind when thinking of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. But do those words actually mix with a cantankerous 2 ½ year old? Or any children for that matter? Sure they do! It’s very possible!
In the hills of South Austin lies this quiet gem. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center is a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In 1982, former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson and actress Helen Hayes created an organization to protect & preserve the Nation's natural landscape & native plants. This center, now a part of the Organized Research Center of the University of Texas Austin, aims to "help preserve and restore the beauty and biological richness of North America."
There were many different gardens, streams, trails, and displays to look at - all there to demonstrate the sustainable use of the natural landscape. We enjoyed strolling along the various trails - from the Hill Country to the Savanna Meadow - each distinctly different but relaxing just the same.
We also enjoyed viewing all the plants that were in bloom in the different gardens. The Display Gardens, as seen below, feature 23 individual beds that demonstrate the different uses of plants native to Texas, from deer-resistant blooms to a southwestern rock garden.
Take the time to explore the many acres with your children. Allow them to direct the way and if they want to stop and look at the tadpoles for 10 minutes – let them. It is a wonderful opportunity to connect with nature for both you and your children. My son’s favorite thing to do was sit on every bench he came to it. It was a great way for us to have “forced” relaxation and allowed me to quietly sit with my thoughts. I can’t help but think that would bring a smile to Lady Bird’s face.
For children, there is actually a great deal to do at the Wildflower Center. Sneak into the Little House through their child-sized door and play with nature-themed puzzles, activities, and books. Slowly walk through the Butterfly garden, keeping an eye out for any of the delicate insects. Take a walk on any of the many ½ mile to mile long paths that take you through a forest, a meadow, or Texas landscape. I was told that a Children’s Garden is planned to be completed in the near future. It's going to be another great place for the kids to get their hands dirty! And for the older kids, there are some great activities that the Wildflower Center suggests, including a fun Scavenger Hunt, located here.
There is something to do at the Wildflower Center each season with children. Obviously, the spring is an ideal time to visit the Center, with the Wildflower season beginning on March 12 and lasting through May. Don't miss the Artists & Artisans Festival, March 17th& 18th and National Wildflower Week (May 7-13). Over the summer, the Center hosts summer Nature Nights, which includes nature hikes, crafts and more on Thursday evenings in the summer. Bring the family our in full costume over Halloween. And the winter features several artists and educational exhibits. You would be amazed at how many events go on at the Wildflower Center.
Catch a conversation with a volunteer docent and learn so much more – ours showed us Lady Bird’s brick, a tortoise fossil, the 9 foot deep “springs”, aqueducts that collect rainwater for the center and taught us why the arch is curved in the entrance. All things I would never have learned had I not stopped and took my time (another great lesson to teach us to slow down!).
The gift shop is filled with wonderful Texas-themed goodies – Austin shirts, Texas-themed books for every age, and Bluebonnet seed balls to grow a patch of bluebonnets in your backyard.
We brought a picnic lunch and enjoyed a nice sunny lunch outdoors at the Picnic Pavilion.
I throughly enjoyed the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It is a great place to take the children and teach them to appreciate all that Texas has to offer in our lush and natural landscape. Take your time, enjoy yourself, and walk away relaxed.
Other Fun Things to Do in Austin:
Texas Travel Facts on Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center:
Location: 4801 La Crosse Ave, Austin, TX
Hours: Tues-Sat (9 am - 5:30 pm), Sun (Noon - 5:30 pm), Closed Mondays
Admission: Adults - $8.00
Students (13 and older) - $7.00
Children (5-12) - $3.00
Recommended Time: 2-3 hours
Good to know: All ages welcome, lots of walking, lightweight clothing and comfortable walking shoes are recommended, strollers are allowed, cameras are welcome (non-professional photos), gift shop & dining room is available, no pets
I was invited to visit the center and was provided admission. I was not financially compensated for this post. All opinions of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center are strictly my own based on my experience.