Let’s Go Caving! *Plus Nestle Giveaway*
This giveaway is now closed, but please enjoy the post on our Family Adventure day to the Caverns! Congratulations to the winners: Sharon, Ray, Abbie, Steph, Heather, and Stacey Kirk from Facebook! We have sent an email to each winner with instructions on how to claim your prize package! Please note that a lot of our Southern Plate family members have the same name, which is why I’ve notified each winner personally. Thank you so much for entering! Gratefully, Christy
I’ve talked before about the purpose of our Family Adventure Days and what a difference they have made in our family, so today I’m happy to bring you our latest adventure. When trying to decide on somewhere to go for our family day this past weekend, we had one thing in mind: it’s hot outside. With that thought, what better place to go than a natural wonder with natural air conditioning?
When it comes to caves, chances are that you have more options than you think. I found a handy little website that lists a great many of them by location (click here to visit). Ricky first looked up Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville, Tennessee, and it looked wonderful. They also have special deals for families and you can save even more money if you purchase ahead of time over the internet. But I got to thinking that we could probably find one more local (Cumberland Caverns is 2 and a half hours drive for us) and so I looked at DeSoto Caverns, and was surprised to find that it was over two hours away as well (and shockingly more expensive). Enter Cathedral Caverns, about an hours drive and the most economical ticket prices of all!
So here is the breakdown for a family of four:
- Cumberland Caverns: They have a wide variety of ticket prices, specials and packages, including a coupon you can print to get two kids in free on Fridays with the purchase of one adult admission! Visit their website to find a package that fits your family and save some moolah. Lots of great deals here, we were just looking for something closer. What we would have chosen was the Family Fun Internet Special which includes admission for two adults, two children, and gem mining for two kids – $55.00
- DeSoto Caverns Park - This must be a privately owned park. They tout rides and all sorts of other activities, but we were just looking for a natural cave experience and some quality time with the kiddos. The prices quickly eliminated this one for us. At $18.99 per adult and $16.99 per kid, that would put us at $71.96- and that is just for the cave tour. There are also “rides and attractions” that you buy additional tickets for. A ten pack of attraction tickets is another $29.99. Photo in front of the cave=$9.99. Now y’all know if we go with kids they’re gonna see the rides and attractions and Ricky and I are softees so you might as well count that and the photo in on the costs if were we to take this trip, which would bring us to a grand total of over $110.00. I’m sure this would be a fun day for a family but this is more of a vacation type budget for us, rather than a fun (and inexpensive) family day out.
- Cathedral Caverns - This is where we ended up going, mainly because it was closer. I’d still like to go to Cumberland Caverns one day, though. Cathedral Caverns not only saved us on gas but had the lowest ticket prices of all – $12.00 for each adult, Katy was free (under the age of six), and Brady was only $6.00. Our day in the cave= $30.00 We did opt for the gem mining, which cost $6.00 for each child, but even with that our total was $42.00, still less than half of what it would have cost us at Desoto. Be sure and check out the photos of the result of Gem mining, they gave us a huge bag of dirt for each child and really packed them with stones!
I don’t like to talk money but I just wanted to show you how many different options there are in our area alone and with a little planning, you can save a LOT of money, easily enough for another great Family Adventure Day!
Of course, on family day the fun begins as soon as we get up in the morning, usually with the kids trying to guess where we are taking them. Sometimes we tell them ahead of time but we kept this one a surprise right up until we pulled into the parking lot! We had our usual fun in the car on the way up, silly songs and silly kids!
They were pretty excited when we got there! (Yes, I splurged and got them these hats)
This is the entrance to the cave. It’s massive. They’ve redone the interior to make the entire tour accessible by wheelchair or stroller.
We don’t often think about that but there are so many people who rely on wheelchairs and they are very limited in their options, being left out of many experiences because of it. My mother was in a wheelchair for several months a few years back and it really caused us to see the world through different eyes so a great big kudos to Alabama State Parks for such a nice design here that so many can enjoy.
You don’t have to walk very far into the cave to see some amazing sights, and the further you walk the more amazing it becomes.
This is our tour guide, Tristan. He is a graduate student studying Geology.
He had a wealth of information and made it a point to pay special attention to answering the kids questions.
the kids looking over the side of a bridge deep within the cavern..
at what remains of a much older bridge from way back when.
The trail really winds back for a good bit. We were walking a pretty long time so I suggest grabbing a snack and a drink ahead of time so everyone is ready to go a while without needing anything. A light jacket is also a good thing but we didn’t have those with us so…
You’ll see a lot of photos of my kids with their arms in their sleeves if you go look at the entire album of photos over on Facebook!
(which gives you another chance at winning my great giveaway at the bottom of this post, by the way!)
This is an indoor waterfall, it was just beautiful.
A random photo from the walking path.
When we walked up onto this I felt like I was in Pirates Of The Caribbean or something.
Doesn’t that look like some kind of Norse god figure to you? Imagine it was a natural occurrence!
This is one of the Stalagmite forests in the cave.
It is so massive, you really have to see it in person to get a perspective on how far back it goes, and how beautiful it is.
This is me and my babies in front of the forest.
Katy said “Mama, I’m a real mountain girl now because I’ve even been inside a mountain!”
Bradybug and Daddy as we are about to go through a tunnel to another part of the cave.
Isn’t that amazing? Talk about a whole different side to Alabama!
The younguns enjoying the sights.
We had a wonderful time. The tour was about two hours long and a bit on the chilly side, but being able to say its chilly in July while in Alabama is a good thing, trust me!
Still, while not neccesarily claustrophobic, I gotta admit that it was nice not to have several tons of rock hanging over my head and to get to see sunlight again by the time we came back up!
Then we headed for the mining area
I was pretty surprised at how big each bag was, usually when you see things like this they give you a teeny little bag.
They also gave us charts so that the kids could identify each rock later.
At this point, my kids had no idea what this was, lol!
Each bag yielded a ton of rocks, much more than I had expected and definitely enough to make it money well spent for something the kids will always remember
We had a wonderful time and made a full day of the experience. My kids had never been down inside a cave before and I know they’ll always remember our family day at Cathedral Caverns.
and now something for your Family!
Nestle is offering a fabulous giveaway on this Family Adventure Day post that I know all of you will love!
FIVE people will receive a pack of coupons to get everything you see pictured above, FREE.
To enter, just leave a comment below! Do you have a favorite Nestle product? I’d love to hear about that in the comments, too! All of the products pictured are favorites around our house ! I’ll also be choosing one additional person to receive a coupon pack from the folks who visit and comment on my Cathedral Caverns Photo Album on the Southern Plate Facebook Family page, bringing the total to six winners of these great grocery coupon packs. Remember, these aren’t coupons for an amount off, they are coupons for FREE products, all that are pictured above. I’m pretty excited about this and I know you will be too.
Contest closes at midnight central time on July 19th. Winners will be notified by email and names will be announced on this post July 20th.
Special thanks to the wonderful people at Nestle, who truly understand the value of family time!
“No matter what you’ve done for yourself or for humanity,
if you can’t look back on having given love and
attention to your own family,
what have you really accomplished?”
~Elbert Hubbard. Submit your quote here.
Disclosure: Nestle has offered the coupons for this giveaway and an additional set for the purposes of taking the giveaway photo. I have not been financially compensated for this post and my opinions are entirely my own. My personal opinion, though, is that Nestle is awesome .
Visit these other Family Adventure Day posts to get more ideas for family activities!
- Museum Family Adventure
- Jordans Tour House-Autry Mills
- Falls Mill in Belvedere, TN
- Family Adventure At The Beach
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