When talking about caves and caverns, a lot of people would think of strenuous activities. Caving is also one of the activities that many families would pass on because caves and caverns usually require more physical strength. Some caves even require its visitors to hike just to reach its passage. But did you know that not all caves are like that? Yes, there are actually caves that even kids and differently-abled visitors can enjoy.
A lot of us have already gotten used to caves that are hard to explore. Shows on both the big and small screens also often depict cavers like so. And because of this, it’s hard for us to think that there is a cave that everyone in the family can enjoy without exerting too much physical energy. But apparently, the United States has family-friendly caverns. One of which is the Shenandoah Caverns. Regardless of your age, we’re sure that you will enjoy this place.
In case you’re new to this place, we listed some of the attractions and amenities that await you here.
- 1 Inside and Around Shenandoah Caverns
- 2 More Shenandoah Caverns Facts
- 3 Shenandoah Caverns Admission Price
- 4 Shenandoah Caverns Hours
- 5 Best Places to Stay in Shenandoah
Inside and Around Shenandoah Caverns
Shenandoah Caverns, isn’t your ordinary cave. It’s not like others where you will only get to explore a portion of the cave because it’s dangerous to go further or you will only get to see rock formations and that’s it, nothing to be seen anymore. Apparently, this cave has many things to offer inside and above it. Take a look at some of the things to expect that makes it deserving of the buzz.
The main highlight, needless to say, are the caverns that it has. Basically, the site has 17 “rooms” and passageways where you can get to see different rock formations. And what makes this place unique is that you can explore all these chambers.
Inside, you can get to see a variety of unique, intricate, and even unexpected rock formations. Some of the cavern’s most famous rock formations are the Capitol Dome, Rainbow Lake and Beyond the Veil. The best part of it is that they are lit with colorful lights, making them stand out all the more.
This cave is also famous for its Breakfast Bacon. It’s not the type of food you can eat inside for breakfast, though. Rather, they are rock formations that resemble, well, bacon. But what makes people buzzing about it is its details that make it really look like real bacons. In fact, it was featured in National Geographic Magazine.
A guide will also accompany you throughout this experience. They will not just help you make your way through the caverns but they will also share different stories and other facts that will let you get to know the place even better. Plus, they will gladly answer curious questions that you may have.
2Main Street of Yesteryear
Again, Shenandoah Caverns isn’t your ordinary cave. This is because this place also has a mini museum, the Main Street of Yesteryear. Here, you can travel back in time where everything wasn’t advertised yet on television and online.
To give you a better idea of what awaits you here, this place features antique department store window displays from the 40s and 50s. From Cinderella Going to the Ball to the Three-Ring Circus theme, there’s always a display that will surely captivate guests of all ages. With these displays inspired by the department stores like Kahn’s and Woodward and Lothrop, especially their set up displays at Christmas for families to enjoy as they strolled down the street, you’ll surely feel as if you’ve raveled back in time. It’s one of the coolest places to visit after exploring the caverns.
3American Celebration on Parade
Parade floats are always present in parades. But what happens after the parade?
Most of the parade floats are often disassembled. In this way, they can be reused at a later date. However, not all of the parade floats are disassembled. Some of them ended up at Shenandoah Caverns’ American Celebration on Parade.
In this attraction, there’s no need for you to wait for festivals or parades as you can explore some parade floats here. And the best part of it is that, you can stare at it or take pictures of and with it for as long as you like as you can get up close and personal with them at your own pace.
Some of the notable parade floats here are the floats that were used in 1949 for President Truman’s Inaugural Parade. There is also the 40-foot high flag that was used in multiple inaugurals beginning with Reagan’s in 1989. In addition to that, you can get to see floats from the Rose Parade, including the Mother and Baby Elephant Float.
4Dino Mining Gemstone Mining Sluice
And if the aforementioned attractions aren’t enough, don’t worry, Shenandoah Caverns has more to offer. One of which is the Dino Mining Gemstone Mining Sluice. Here, you can pan for gems and the whole family can join too.
For starters, you need to buy a bag of mining rough. One regular bag costs $5.95 and it comes with 3 ounces of gemstones. If you want more gemstones, you can bug a bag that’s worth $29.95 where 10 ounces of gemstones and arrowheads, 4 ounces of fossils, 1 ounce of shark’s teeth and more. You can pan for gems at the attraction’s sluice located outside the building. But because of its location, panning for gems is weather permitting. Also, note that it closes when the temperatures drop around the start of October. Thus, we highly suggest that you plan your visit well.
But in case you have no choice but to visit on days when the activity isn’t available, don’t fret much. You can always buy bags of mining rough and pan it in your home during off season; you’ll still be able to have fun with your family and/or friends.
Another exciting thing that awaits you at the caverns are the special events. The site often holds different events that will make your every visit fun and memorable. But among all of those, the caverns is famous for its American Fright Night and the Shenandoah Uncorked.
American Fright Night
Basically, American Fright Night a haunted attraction that’s considered the Valley’s largest all in-door haunted house.
If you wish to test how brave you are, plan your visit on October 16, 17, 23, 23, 25, 30, 31, and November 1. During these days the American Celebration on Parade site is turned into a haunted house with scenes from your worst nightmares made even scarier with intense audio, lighting, low visibility, strobe lights, fog, and other special effects. And the best part of it is that the scenes change every year. Hence, you’ll surely have different experience every time you visit.
The attraction takes 20-30 minutes to go through and it is a physically demanding environment. Hence, make sure to plan your schedule well and prepare yourself for some scare. And because the attraction can be incredibly scary, it is not advisable that you bring children, who are 12 years old and under, with you. It is also not recommended for visitors who are claustrophobic and/or other medical condition. It is not advisable for those who are pregnant as well.
Virginia is one of the places in the US where you can also get to taste some good wine. In fact, the state ranks number 6 in wine production in the US. And with such a high demand, you know that their wines are also worth talking about. But when you’re in Shenandoah, there’s no need for you to travel far after exploring its caverns. Apparently, the site also hosts an event called Shenandoah Uncorked, one of the well-loved events in the caverns. Here, you can get to taste wines from more than 10 wineries in Virginia. During this event, you can also grab some delicious snacks on the local food truck. So if you want to know what the buzz is all about, don’t forget to keep an eye on the caverns’ calendar of events.
6Play Area and Walking Trails
If you brought the younger members of the family with you and you feel the need to take a break, Shenandoah Caverns also has a place for the young ones. Adjacent to the Dino Mining Gemstone Mining Sluice, Shenandoah Caverns recently added a play area. Here, children under 12 can enjoy a playground complete with a slide and swing.
The site also has walking trails for when you just want to have a scenic walk. However, note that some parts of the walking trails are still under construction.
7Shenandoah Caverns Café
With all of the attractions and activities you and your family can enjoy at the Shenandoah Caverns, you might need to fuel up. Don’t worry as you don’t have to go far from the site. This is because the site has its own café in site where you can savor delicious local burgers, handcrafted milk shakes, fountain soda, and more.
In the same area, you can also enjoy an outdoor picnic table seating. From here, you can also have a seat and eat while keeping an eye on the younger ones in your family enjoy the playground.
But these aren’t the only interesting things about the place. Here are some more facts that we’re sure will pique your interest more.
More Shenandoah Caverns Facts
Aside from Shenandoah Caverns’ amenities and other attractions, it also hides a number of stories and other features that make it even more interesting. Most of them, however, can only be heard when you tour the caverns. But hearrd some of facts that we’re sure will convince you more to visit the site.
One of which is that it has its own elevator. Some caverns don’t have an elevator. Hence, visitors are required to walk and climb to fully explore the caves. But this cavern is different. In fact, it is the only cavern in Virginia that has an elevator. Hence, you won’t have to worry about getting around the cavern.
And speaking of accessibility, another thing to love about this cavern is that it can be explored even by those who are in wheelchairs. But then again, it is not 100% wheelchair accessible. While the path is crushed gravel with inclines and declines and ramps, it is still a natural wonder. Hence, there’s no way that the sites facilitators can make it 100% accessible to handicaps. But the good news is that those who are in wheelchairs and even strollers can still access 80% of the caverns. It’s still something that’s worth talking about.
Another interesting thing about this cavern is its discovery. In October of the year 1884, two teenage boys were just playing in the quarry near their farm when they saw a strange cold air coming out of the hole in the ground. Curious about what they saw, they went closer to it, used ropes and candles, and discovered an amazing underground world that we now call Shenandoah Caverns. But this is just a small part of the cavern’s history. Once you go on a guided tour, you’ll surely hear more stories of about the cavern’s discovery.
Another noteworthy detail about this cave is its temperature. For starters, the temperature here remains about 56 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. Thus, make sure that you bring a sweater or a jacket no matter what the weather is.
Many people also believe in superstitions about getting dripped on inside the cave. They say that if this happens to you, then you will encounter good fortune sooner or later. See it for yourself and visit the site.
Shenandoah Caverns Admission Price
Not all good things come for free, though. Unfortunately, Shenandoah Caverns’ admission tickets come at a price. If you’re an adult, your tickets to the cavern costs $25. Meanwhile, the admission tickets for children who are six to 12 years old costs $13. For some, the ticket prices aren’t that affordable. But it’s worth it as a guided tour is also included. Plus, you can get to enjoy the other attractions on site such as the Main Street of Yesteryear, as well as the American Celebration on Parade (however, note that the latter is subject to close for private events, including holidays. The attraction is also closed from Labor Day to November 13 for American Fright Night).
The caverns also offer special pricing to various professions on discount days through the year. From January 18-19, federal government employees can receive free admission. On February 15 to 16, healthcare professionals don’t need to spend a dime to explore the whole place as their admission tickets are also free. From March 14 to 15, teachers and school staff will also receive free admission. And if you’re a Shenandoah County resident, you can also explore the caverns for free during between May 2 and 8.
Meanwhile, September 26 and 27 are days when first responders’ tickets are free. And on November 11, 14 and 15, veterans and military personnel are given free admission.
On top of that, their immediate family will be granted discounts too. Adults’ ticket price costs $18 only. Meanwhile children can get $3 off their ticket prices.
If you qualify for these discounts, don’t forget to bring your ID.
Shenandoah Caverns Hours
Before your visit, it is also important to know the caverns’ operating hours. In this way, you can get to maximize your trip, especially if you’re planning to go to nearby attractions.
As for the caverns’ hours, from Labor Day to Memorial Day, its lobby opens at 9 AM to 4 PM. From Monday to Friday, the tours depart at 10 AM. But on weekends and around holidays, they build tours as guests arrive. The longest wait time, though, is around 25 minutes. But luckily, wait times are often less. Still, we highly suggest that you allot extra time just in case.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the caverns’ operating hours are a bit different. During these days, the lobby opens at 9 AM and closes at 5 PM. And unlike the other season, tours during these days start as early as guests arrive.
As for the other attractions that the caverns has, note that the Main Street of Yesteryear is open the same hours as the caverns’ lobby. Meanwhile, the American Celebration on parade is open from 11 AM to 4 PM from November 14 to Memorial Day. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, however, the attraction is open between 10 AM and 5 PM. As for The Caverns Café, it is open daily from 10 AM to 3 PM.
Best Places to Stay in Shenandoah
The caverns is just one of the many things to enjoy at Shenandoah. This pace actually has a lot to offer more than one can imagine. In case you plan to stay longer at Shenandoah, you might want to consider booking a hotel. Here are some of the hotels we highly recommend.
Hermitage Hill Farm and Stables
Hermitage Hill Farm and Stables has spacious comfortable rooms to offer. But this place is also worth visiting even if you don’t plan to stay the night. This is because there’s a lot going on in this place that will make your Shenandoah vacation all the more fun and memorable. For starters, this place is known for its craft brewery and an excellent place to hand out with your friends and/or family over an award-winning beer. This place also boasts of its rural setting that will relax you.
The Mountain Home really meant it when they called it “home.” This is because this place will really make you feel at home. Even on your first step to the hotel, you’ll already be welcomed by ginger snap cookies and lemonade. Aside from the comfortable rooms, you will also enjoy their fresh breakfast cooked to order, featuring homemade cider, jams, as well as juices.
MayneView Bed and Breakfast
Aside from the comfortable rooms, one of the things that you will surely enjoy at MayneView Bed and Breakfast is its hot tub. Sure, it’s just a hot tub but what makes it unique is that you can relax in it while enjoying the sunset view over the mountains. This is because this hotel also boasts of fantastic views of the surroundings that will make your eyes feast on a landscape view you probably haven’t seen before. On top of that, this hotel is perfectly located near different attractions in the area. Of course, the food they serve is worth talking about too. Here, you can even start your day with a hearty breakfast with potatoes, meat, fresh fruit, as well as some delicious homemade pastries.
If budget is not a problem, we suggest that you treat yourself at The Georges. Located in the heart of Lexington, this boutique hotel will treat you with its luxurious rooms where you can relax more after a long day exploring the caverns, as well as the attractions nearby. This place also boasts of its elevated restaurant with an outdoor seating that will give you a stunning view of the surrounding area
The United States, alone, has a lot of caves to offer waiting to be explored. Each of them has a different atmosphere that will cater to different types of travelers. But if you’re looking for a cave that families can enjoy, Shenandoah has a cavern for you and we’re sure you’ll love it.