Bowling Green, Kentucky offers some pretty amazing subterranean adventures for families. Here are 4 caves to visit in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
I know, this seems like the obvious one, but it’s absolutely worth a visit. There’s a reason that it’s been a tourist attraction for 200 years. It’s one of America’s oldest tourist attractions, right behind Niagara Falls. And Mammoth Cave National Park is home to the world’s longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored and reportedly “no end in sight.”
A cave tour is a must-do, and don’t be afraid to go all in. My group took the Frozen Niagara tour, which was great. It was an hour and doable for most ages and abilities. The time in the cave just flew by. We all agreed that we would have loved to do a longer tour. Next time!
Tip: Don’t be afraid to engage your guide. Our guide, Rick (he was National Park Service ranger so a real life Ranger Rick!) was full of fascinating information about the cave, its inhabitants, its geological history, and the etymology of caves (the Greek word for cave also translates to “nostril” because caves inhale or exhale depending on the difference in temperature above and below ground). Seriously, Rick covered everything.
I even took a selfie with him at the end of our cave tour when we were above ground.
Walking through a cave is one thing, but boating through it is another. The only place you can do so in Kentucky is Lost River Cave in Bowling Green. It’s not just a few feet, either. You can sail almost a mile into Lost River Cave.
While it’s a geological wonder, the stories of the past are what really fascinated the history lover in me. Arrowheads discovered in the cave are more than 8,000 years old. Our guide shared riveting stories of Civil War soldiers on both sides in the cave, of Jesse James hiding out in the cave, and of how the cave was turned into a night club where Ella Fitzgerald performed.
You can’t tell when you see the sign along the road, but this place is huge, both in space and in history.
Tip: The trails make for some lovely walking that family-friendly. Also, don’t miss the butterfly habitat.
You may not think of cars and caves as going together because, well, they don’t. But when a giant sink hole opened underneath the National Corvette Museum a few years ago, it sent cars tumbling more than thirty feet into the caves below the building.
The good news is that no one was hurt and everything is completely safe now. The museum turned the devastating experience into a learning opportunity. On the two year anniversary of the event, it opened an exhibit dedicated to the sinkhole. Not only do they have some of the cars on display so you can see the after effects, there is also a simulator of what it would have looked like and sounded like from below ground. You can see where the sinkhole was and where the cave is thanks to marking on the floor.
Tip: Kids really love the crane game that’s like a video game on a large screen with the premise of helping pull cars out of the cave. And see if any owners are picking up new Corvettes at the museum – it’s an option and it’s very fun to see their excitement at sitting in their car for the very first time.
Bonus: Salt Cave – aka the Mom Cave
The Be Happy Yoga and Salt Cave may not be underground, but it’s a fun, different kind of cave, one that is very relaxing and good for you, too.
If there are man caves, some time relaxing in the Salt Cave is like being in a mom cave. While there are weekly options for bringing kids, allow me to suggest that moms send the rest of the family to search for white squirrels on the Western Kentucky University campus or just head to Lost River Pizza which is a few doors away. Enjoy some relaxation time. The zero gravity chair makes it feel like you’re floating and the salt can offer numerous health benefits. It’s your vacation, too, right?
You can read more about what to do, as well as where to stay and eat, in Bowling Green in my piece on Chicago Parent here.
Disclosure: I was hosted at some of these caves but received no compensation for writing this post and all opinions are my own.
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