Beat the heat this summer with an underground adventure at Luray Caverns to cool off. The summer is the perfect time of year to check this breath taking wonder of the world off your bucket list. Luray Caverns is a short drive for DMV families, providing the perfect day trip opportunity, or even the perfect place to start if you are planning a trip to the explore Shenandoah Valley area. I put together this article to help your family plan out a fun and stress free trip.
WHAT TO EXPECT
For Maryland families expect a two hour to two and half hour drive to Luray, Virginia. Once you arrive in the parking lot, make your way to the main visitors center. Once tickets are in hand, you will make your way to the caves where your ticket will be scanned and you will head down the outdoor ramp to start your journey. Don’t be alarmed if there is a line; it moves along fast and you will find yourselves in the caverns quickly. The self-guided tour follows a one-way path through the caverns that is a little over one mile long. There are guides stationed throughout the caverns to answer questions and share interesting facts while going at our own pace. You will be awe struck by these beautiful formations that are over a million years old. Be sure to stop and stare and even take plenty of pictures of the natural beauty of the stalactites and stalagmites. Luray is so grand, that it reaches over 10 stories high and covers 64 acres. There is a chamber that’s the actual size of a ballroom. A few of our favorite sights were Dream Lake a formation of water that reflected the stalactites like a mirror and The Great Stalacpipe Organ; which plays music. The day we went it wasn’t crowded and the guide was able to give a history lesson on the organ and a live demonstration.
EXTRA ACTIVITIES AND THINGS TO DO AT LURAY
What I didn’t expect was so much to see and do in one spot. Luray is a campus full of fun. All in one spot there is a plethora of fun that you wont have to drive around to different spots to explore. Besides exploring the cavern there are: three museums, a rope adventure course, garden maze, gift shops and cafe.
- Museums- The Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, Shenandoah Heritage Village, and Toy Town Junction are included with every Luray Caverns ticket. If you have a little one that loves cars you wont want to miss The Car & Carriage Caravan Museum. Walk through this remarkable collection antique automobiles and learn about the history of transportation. There are over 75 different historic vehicles in this collection. On the far end of campus is where the The Shenandoah Village is located. This 3 acre museum complex offers both indoor and outdoor exhibits to discovery the rich history of the Shenandoah Valley. Last but not least, there’s a smaller museum Toy Town Junction, featuring a collection of trains and toys from yesteryear.
- Rope Adventure Course– I was happy with our decision to splurge on the ropes course. When we purchased our tickets we added on the ropes course activity for the kids. I was shocked and amazed that even my little son only two years old could participate. After checking an attendant strapped the kiddos in to a harness, than they walked over to to course where they each could step out to their own comfort zone. There were different levels of ropes course challenges. The bottom for littles who can walk. A chaperone can help them walk through different obstacles. The older kids went off solo explored the different levels. This activity was great for not only strength building but self-esteem and self-confidence as well.
- Garden Maze– Get lost in this labyrinth of fun where guests are challenged to navigate their way through twists and turns to find hidden clues that will reveal the maze’s mystery. I recommend leaving the wheels behind for this adventure. Let the littles run around and let out some steam. This path is made of mulch and difficult to push a stroller or wheelchair through.
TIPS & TRICKS TO MAKE YOUR TRIP STRESS FREE
- One of my biggest tips is to pack a camera for your kid(s). Give them the opportunity to take pictures.
- The Caverns are stroller friendly. The entire path is paved and handicap accessible. However, I would recommend to pack a small stroller or baby wear for this trip.80’s. We were light rain jackets and found ourselves taking them off half way through the cave. It was cool like a room with air conditioning but not chilly.
- Dress in layers. I have heard different reports from different people on temperature. We went on a nice sunny day in the high 70’s to low
- There is a lot to do on campus. I recommend making it a day; visit the museums, test out the ropes course and get lost in the garden maze.
- While at the Shenandoah Valley Museum be sure to do the mining activity. I know it costs extra; however, it was my kids favorite part of the day. Their treasure bags had lots of cool crystal and rocks.
- The little town of Luray is adorable. We enjoyed having lunch at a local Mom & Pop Shop called Baby Moon that was exceptional. The sandwiches were tasty and the baked goods were heavenly!
- Planning on exploring the Shenandoah Valley? Be sure to visit James Madison’s Montpelier Estates. The museum is a lot of fun. Guide coming soon!
- We stayed at the BlueGreen Shenandoah Crossing Resort; where you can camp, rent a cabin or stay in the lodge. The amenities were great: mini golf, pools, tennis courts and horse back riding.
EXPLORE BEYOND THE CAVE
Play-Learn-Grow is my motto! Make learning fun by reading books, watching videos and participating in hands on activities before and after the trip.
- Caves Alive- Lesson Plans/Activities/Worksheets/Videos
- In The Playroom- All About Caves & Caverns Activity
- Free School Video – Types of Caves and How They Are Formed
- Home School Pop Video – How Rocks Are Formed
LURAY CAVERN INFORMATION
Address: 101 Cave Hill Rd. Luray, VA 22835
Ticket Price: Adults: $32/Children: $16/Under 6: FREE/Seniors: $29
Hours: Open Daily 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
***The Playful Parent does not receive payment for featuring attractions. All opinions are my own; I like to share experiences and information so that parents have resources on fun family outings. Discounted or complimentary tickets are an advantage but not a requirement. The Playful Parent is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that advocates learning through play and promotes family bonding, all information and photographs are intellectual property of TPP. I hope that these tips help with your planning so that you have a great time during your next trip to Luray! Thank you for reading…Play, Learn, Grow!***