We were here to chill and explore and, as such, we didn't want to do any cooking, even though our cabin had everything I needed to whip up a gourmet meal. So shortly after arriving, unloading our gear, downing a cold beer (we never go anywhere without a cooler of beer) we took a 15 minute drive through beautiful rolling heavily treed country side to Johnson City. We picked Pecan Street Brewing for dinner and not just because it is a brew pub, but that helped make the decision easier!
We were shocked and surprised when we arrived at President Johnson's hometown (population 1852 good country folks) - it was packed. The sidewalks were busy with lots of folks and kids; every street corner was packed with parked cars; there were several horse drawn carriages decorated with Christmas lights; and lots of people were enjoying hay rides. Turns out that from November 23rd to January 1st, Johnson City transforms into the "twinkliest town with good old fashioned Christmas cheer in the hill country" when it celebrates Lights Spectacular. Wow, very impressive - over a million lights fill three city blocks including the Courthouse, City Park and Pedernales Electric Co-op headquarters. The pictures below don't do it justice.
By the time we got home, we were ready for bed and I couldn't believe how soft and compfy our bed was - what a great night sleep with dreams of sugar plums, sparkling Christmas lights, reindeer, and that cold Pecan Street craft beer called "Screw Loose Blonde!"
The next morning before heading into Johnson City for breakfast at the renowned Hill Country Cupboard which is world famous for selling nearly three dozen of the "World's Best Chicken Fried Steaks" I spent a couple hours planning what we would do for the rest of the day. We decided to explore Johnson City and the surrounding area.
Johnson City was the hometown of President Lyndon Johnson and was founded by his uncle, James Polk Johnson. James Polk Johnson built the first gristmill, the Pearl Hotel and just before he died at the age of 40 in 1885, he started building a general merchandise store which was home to the towns' first jail in its basement and the first church upstairs. Today, Johnson City is home to antique stores, art galleries, a lot of Lyndon Johnson history, several restaurants, some parks, several wineries, and lot more. My plan to explore Johnson City included:
After a very good breakfast we were ready to set off on our exploring Johnson City adventure only to find out that the Science Mill was closed on Mondays. So rather than waste time driving, we looked up each of the other activities planned for the day and found out everything was closed on Mondays - the wineries, the galleries, several of the restaurants, and just about everything else was buttoned up tight! So we headed to Pedernales Falls State Park and hiked to the falls - thanks to all the rain there was plenty of water going over the falls and it was a beautiful sight and an easy hike.
Hiking always makes me hungry and since all the good restaurants were closed on Monday in Johnson City we headed the other way to Dripping Springs for lunch at a cute little spot called Rolling in Thyme & Dough. Following lunch, we were back in the car to meet the owner of Ranch 3232, Ken Bodeman.
Ken bought nine acres of beautiful rolling terrain about a mile and a half from Pedernales Falls State Park on Ranch Road 3232. His property is in a great location to explore lots of what the Texas Hill Country has to offer. Ranch 3232 is 15 minutes to Johnson City or Dripping Springs; 30 minutes to Marble Falls or Wimberley; and Fredericksburg is only 45 minutes away. Which means you have lots of wineries, breweries, and distilleries to tour and sample their offerings; quaint shops, antique stores, art galleries, and several excellent museums to check out; some very good golf courses within 40 minutes; Pedernales River and Lake LBJ for fishing, swimming, tubing, or kayaking; an exotic safari zoo nearby; Enchanted Rock to climb; some excellent biking and hiking trails in Pedernales State Park; and lots of very good restaurants and fun bars.
Ken is working hard to create a unique and eclectic getaway that will be a mixture of RV sites, cabins, tiny houses, and safari tents for a fun glamping experience. Ranch 3232 is still a work in progress but currently there are two 250 square foot tiny houses; nine full hook-up RV sites; a 950 square foot fully furnished casita with a loft; two safari tents; a laundry room; and four private unisex guest bathrooms with showers. Ranch 3232 is peaceful, serene, and quiet - with beautiful sunsets.
Speaking of sunsets, if you drive back up the hill to the entrance of Ranch 3232, there is a small dirt parking spot which will give you a beautiful panoramic view of the countryside for several miles and watching the sun set from here is stunning!
The two cozy micro (studio) cabins are one room cabins with heating and air conditioning; bathroom with a shower, toilet, and sink; kitchen area with a microwave, coffee maker, mini frig, and a sink; a comfy queen bed; and an outside porch with chairs, a grill, fire pit, and picnic table. Towels, bed sheets, soap, and toilet paper are included and dogs are welcome - trust me, the dogs will have a blast exploring Ranch 3232 with you!
We loved staying in the 950 square foot casita and found it perfect for a weekend or longer getaway. The queen bed is soft and comfy (very hard to get out of in the morning!); the kitchen is well stocked with everything you need to cook a gourmet meal (pots, pans, silverware, plates, etc.); the living room has a couple tables and a soft leather L-shaped sofa; and the bathroom has a shower, towels, toilet, and sink. Climb up a flight of stairs and there is a loft with two twin beds that kids will love! We enjoyed a competitive game of horseshoes in our front yard one afternoon but I wasn't real happy about my wife kicking my butt - who would have known she was a horseshoe champ!
Outside the front door of our cabin was a wide and long deck with a rocking chair and rocking bench seat overlooking the property and a beautiful sunset at night. There is also a fire pit, a couple picnic tables, and a Weber Grill to cook up some tasty burgers and ribs or whatever!
If you like "Glamping," which means glorious/luxury camping without the pain of camping (setting up the tents, sleeping on the ground, no AC, etc.) then you'll love the glamping tents at Ranch 3232. They have a couple glamping tents that are 16' in diameter and 16ft in diameter and home to a queen bed, plugin station, side tables, and rugs plus AC and heating.
After a great night's sleep, we were up early to head into Dripping Springs for breakfast followed by a day of sampling specialty cocktails and tasting flights of different flavored vodka on their outdoor patio of Deep Eddy Vodka, but when we arrived we found out the Deep Eddy Vodka is only open from Thursday to Sunday. So we headed to Twisted X Brewery to sample of their flights - you guessed it, closed Monday to Wednesday.
Now I'm really starting to get angry! A quick search discovered a new brewery that is named Suds Monkey Brewing I and with a name like that I was confident that they would be open and we could sample some of "Da Brews" like: Monkey Tail Pale Ale, Funky Monkey IPA, Cheeky Monkey, or Monkey Wrench Session IPA - nope, they are closed Monday to Friday. There are several other breweries and seven wineries we could have tried but I was tired of driving, getting very hungry, and a tad frustrated - which means we headed to the Barbershop which is a no-frills Beer and Wine bar located in historic Downtown Dripping Springs. The Barbershop is located in what was a wooden, rock, and tin garage opened in 1924. It morphed into a barbershop, movie theater, and finally a really cool beer and wine bar. We got there around two only to find out it didn't open unit three but I wasn't leaving Dripping Springs until I sampled some craft beer. After a short nap in the car the doors to the Barbershop opened and I was in heaven and as happy as a kid in a candy store (beer bar in my case!).
After the Barbershop we had to head home. When we got home I started looking for a date (a Saturday and Sunday) when we could visit Ranch 3232 and check out all the places we wanted to go on our next trip.