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Monthly Archives: December 2012

The LBJ Presidential Library (2313 Red River Street) on the UT-Austin campus opened in 1971 and has been a popular Austin attraction since then.

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We have visited many, many times over the years and we were excited to see what it was like after the recent major renovation. The LBJ Presidential Library re-opened to the public on December 22.

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The re-design has added “new exhibits for a new generation” and incorporates features like touch screens, films, and audio recordings.

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One of the major goals of the re-design is to show visitors how issues, events, and achievements from Johnson’s administration still impact our lives today.

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We were glad to see that our favorite presidential limo had earned its place in the re-designed library!

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The new exhibits are visually appealing and informative.

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Many interesting items from the library collection are on display.

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The “Lyndon Johnson and His Times” exhibit on Level 3 (entry level where the lobby is located) has a timeline spanning LBJ’s life that includes all sorts of events (not just those related to LBJ) and provides helpful historical context.

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Also on Level 3 is the “LBJ’s Humor” exhibit, which features an animatronic President Johnson telling stories. My six year old said this was his favorite thing at the library!

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We went up the massive staircase to the Great Hall on Level 4. From the staircase, you have a four-story view of the LBJ Presidential Library’s official archives collection, which holds 45 million pages of documents.

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This touch-screen exhibit below describes the civil rights movement and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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Also on Level 4, you will find the Presidents and First Ladies Exhibit, which displays the official portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies from George and Martha Washington to the present.

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The LBJ’s Presidency Exhibit brings history to life with photos, films, recordings, artifacts, and interactive features.

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Important events as well as LBJ’s roles are clearly explained.

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This exhibit includes a display regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. There is not anything graphic shown but it’s probably a good idea to be prepared to answer your children’s questions regarding this tragic historical event.

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Many fascinating historic documents were on display: like this telegram to President Johnson from Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Important issues of the day are highlighted and explained.

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My six year old enjoyed listening to the recordings on these “phones.”

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1960s culture was showcased as part of the LBJ’s Presidency Exhibit.

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We took the elevator up to Level 10, which is the only other floor of public exhibits in addition to Levels 3 and 4. It includes a couple of things you would recognize from the original library: the Oval Office replica and Mrs. Johnson’s office.

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Oval Office replica (7/8 scale)

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Mrs. Johnson’s Office

This is the view from the 10th floor of the library.

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Level 10 also has the First Family in the White House Exhibit, which describes the family’s life during Johnson’s presidency.

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The boys liked this film which featured commentary about living in the White House from Lady Bird Johnson and her daughters Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson.

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The Life in the White House Exhibit includes examples of gifts given to President and Mrs. Johnson. There are quite a few treasures to investigate!

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We covered all three floors of exhibits in about an hour. (Without kids, it would probably take at least twice as long.) On our way out, we stopped at The Store at LBJ gift shop. We headed to the outdoor plaza, which obviously lends itself to a game of stepping only on the black rectangles.

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We went down the stairs on the south side of the library, which is beautiful even without the fountain running.

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The kids ran up and down a big hill.

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We rested at this nice little spot at the top of the hill until it was time to go home. We were all glad we took the opportunity to visit the new and improved LBJ Presidential Library!

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THE RUNDOWN:
Austin Active Kids Opinion: Interactive history covering an important and tumultuous era….just remember to build in some time for outdoor fun, too!
Outing Time: 1.5 hours (1 hour for the museum and 1/2 hour for running around outside afterward)
Reminders: In the past, admission to the LBJ Presidential Library was free. After the re-design, small admission fees will be charged: $8 adults, $5 seniors, $3 kids 13-17, and still free for children 12 and under. Operating hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily (except Christmas Day). The library has its own parking lot (Lot 38), located on the east side of the library off of Red River. The entrance to this parking lot has LBJ Presidential Library flags posted. Please note that if you park anywhere other than Lot 38 you will be subject to UT parking fines if you park in a restricted area. The library has restrooms and water fountains. No food or drink is allowed in the museum. No flash photography.

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While Auditorium Shores is usually in the news as a concert or festival venue, it’s also a great spot for a family outing with a fantastic view of downtown.

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There is a parking lot entrance for Auditorium Shores at 920 West Riverside Drive. If that lot is full, head west on Riverside Drive and look for street parking or a couple of small parking lots.

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The entire Auditorium Shores area will be getting a facelift beginning in Fall 2013 and the Fannie Davis Gazebo has already been refurbished.

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Under the South 1st Street Bridge (also called the Drake Bridge) is a beach-like area where children can explore among the rocks, shells, and knobby cypress knees (cypress tree roots seen to the right of the rock below).

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The kids enjoyed wandering around the lakeshore.

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Keep in mind that Auditorium Shores is a leash-free zone for dogs. You will see lots of happy canines playing, running, and jumping into the lake to fetch balls. Our dog had a great time!

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This little pier went out over the lake. It was like a magnet for the boys!

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We walked west along the trail to the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue.

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There was a lot to look at along the shore!

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We walked less than 1/4 mile on the trail and crossed Riverside Drive to get to Butler Park. The kids immediately ran straight up Doug Sahm Hill without bothering to follow the leisurely spiraling sidewalk.

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At the top of the hill, you will find this stunning view as well as benches so you can rest and take it all in.

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There also is a huge map of Texas.

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Looking southeast from the top of the hill, you can see Palmer Events Center and this field ready for play time.

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To the west is a pond, where you can stroll along and look for fish or turtles.

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Directly south of the hill is the Liz Carpenter Fountain, with its jets of water in full force.

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It looks like the appeal of the fountain was impossible to resist despite the December chill in the air!

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THE RUNDOWN:
Austin Active Kids Opinion: Unbeatable fun in the city!
Outing Time: 2 hours
Outing Distance: Less than one mile
Reminders: Auditorium Shores has restrooms and a water fountain. Brings snacks, drinks, and a picnic blanket if you plan to stay a while. If you want to check the Liz Carpenter Fountain schedule ahead of time (so you can pack towels and an extra change of clothes), call Austin 3-1-1.
In case your kids still have some energy left, you can take them on a short 1.5 mile loop on the Hike and Bike Trail. From Auditorium Shores, head west on the trail past the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue. Take the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge over the lake and go right once you’re on the north side of the lake. The South 1st Street Bridge will then take you back to Auditorium Shores. If you want to try out some other routes, check out these maps for ideas.
You might want to look up a calendar like this one before you head to Auditorium Shores to make sure there are no major events booked the day you plan to go.