A Family Guide to Spelunking Mammoth Cave
From caves to corvettes to train cabooses, Kentucky knows how to show families a good time. Find out how to plan a kid friendly trip to Mammoth Caves.
Mammoth Cave National Park is a great place for a family vacation, but spelunking in caves is not always kid friendly. Fortunately, there’s more than just caves in Kentucky. Here’s what to do, which tours are the best for kids and where to stay.
Dinosaur World caters to everyone’s inner paleontologist. A ‘dig’ site allows children to unearth dinosaur bones using the same tools as a paleontologist. Kids can also sift through sand and find their very own fossils to take home. A shaded walking path features life-sized dinosaur as well as a playground. The small museum and video theater offer a chance to get out of the heat.
Food is not served at the park, but picnics are encouraged. The park is not large, the walking trail won’t take more than 45 minutes. This is an excellent way to spend 2 to 3 hours as a family.
The Mammoth Cave National Park has a large menu of cave tours for visitors to select from. For families with smaller children, go for the Mammoth Cave Discovery Tour which is a self-guided tour. If things don’t go well, it’s easy to leave.
For older kids, opt for the Mammoth Passage Tour which covers the same ground as the self-guided tour, but provides more information and a chance to experience true darkness. The Historic Tour is a good option for kids who aren’t afraid of caves and can handle a two hour walk.
Cave tour tickets sell out fast, so order ahead online or arrive in the morning to purchase tickets for later in the day. Note that on guided tours, for safety reasons, it may not be possible to leave early.
Lost River Cave
Lost River Cave is located 40 minutes from Mammoth Caves in Bowling Green Kentucky. It is a one-of-a-kind cave tour, because the tour is done via boat. This tour involves a short walk to the cave entrance and after that, everyone boards a small boat. Tour guides relay tales of bottomless rivers, gangster hideouts and Civil War lore.
Lost River Cave also has a Butterfly Garden, paved walking trails and a mining operation that allows kids to pan for treasure.
Other Mammoth Cave Attractions
Cave City is the tourist hub for Mammoth Caves and has many different opportunities for family fun. Race on go kart tracks, take a swing at putt putt golf, captain bumper boats or win prizes at game arcades.
In the Bowling Green area there is the Historic Railpark Museum and The National Corvette Museum, both of which are family friendly. Bowling Green also has a mall and other major retailers.
Where to Stay: Mammoth Cave Lodging
The key to Mammoth Cave lodging is to book a hotel with a pool, an essential for keeping kids happy during downtime. Beyond that, most tourists stay in Cave City which is close to the Mammoth Cave National Park.
Cave City has the go kart tracks and putt putt golf courses. However, Bowling Green Kentucky not only has a mall, it’s closer to the National Corvette Museum, the Historic Railpark Museum and Lost River Cave.
Depending on the ages of the kids and the goals of the trip, either location can be a good fit. Both areas are close enough to each other that commuting is possible.
Whether it’s go karting, choo choo trains, dinosaurs or spelunking, there’s enough excitement in Kentucky to keep kids of all ages busy. This is the kind of trip of which great family memories are built.