If you’re seeking a pleasant and educational outdoor experience in the greater Austin area, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center should be high on your list of options. The botanical garden is open to the public and dedicates its operation to the creation of a more sustainable Earth through both research and overarching education.

The Wildflower Center functions as a research unit for the University of Texas. It encompasses 279 acres and welcomes over 100,000 visitors every year. Research at the center is focused entirely on plants native to Texas. In fact, more than 800 types of plants from throughout the state are on display. Additionally, efforts are made to incorporate the plants into various landscaping designs for the best environmental impact. The grounds also include other displays such as water gardens, a woodland area, walking trails, rotating art exhibits, and a butterfly garden. One garden is even developed to act as a model of sustainable living and play. Children and adults alike can certainly spend an enjoyable day visiting the grounds.

Lady Bird Johnson and former actress Helen Hayes founded the center in 1982 and originally named it the National Wildflower Research Center. Mrs. Johnson was a lifelong advocate of environmental causes and these gardens serve as a tribute and reminder of her contributions. Over the course of its existence, the center has evolved from a private non-profit organization focused on Texas wildflowers into a major research facility with a broader mission of conservation, restoration, and sustainability.

The Wildflower Center is open daily from 9am to 5pm (store and cafe hours may vary). Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and senior citizens and $4 for children ages 5 to 17. Children 4 and under may enter for free. The center is located about 20 minutes drive from downtown Austin at 4801 La Crosse Ave. Unfortunately there are no options for public transportation in the vicinity, so a car is necessary.