A Day Trip to Natural Bridge Caverns

We are excited to be partnering with Natural Bridge Caverns to bring you this sponsored post. If you're looking for last minute summer fun, then be sure to heed these tips and make a day trip out of it too!

I’m not quite sure how it happened, but here we are in our final weeks of summer break.  And while I may be looking forward to the structure that the school year brings, I’ll admit — I’m a teeny bit sad about having to get back to the grind of hectic mornings, rigid schedules, countless extra-curriculars, and just general reality.  So for now, I’m trying to pack our days with adventure and make as many memories as I can with my two kiddos.

Thankfully, Houston’s sweet spot on the Texas map makes day trips so easily accessible for us Houstonians, and my family and I have been checking off as many destinations as possible before school is back in session.  A beach trip?  Check!  The hill country?  Check!!  180 feet below the ground?  CHECK!!!

Yup, you read that right… One of my most favorite road trips as a child was heading out to Natural Bridge Caverns for the day, and this year my kiddos were finally old enough to explore this Texas treasure too.  Of course, things look quite a bit different than they did when I was a child {in such a good way!}, so you better believe I picked up tons of mom hacks and tricks on our recent visit.  And today, I’m sharing tips for planning a day trip to Natural Bridge Caverns with your kiddos.  All you’ll need to do is choose a day, pack the car, and be on your way!

GETTING THERE

Before you even hop in the car, let me share a few tips for the whole fam…  1} Wear active clothing and shoes with good traction, as you’ll do quite a bit of walking and the cave paths can be slippery, 2} don’t bother styling your hair because the humidity in those caves puts Houston to shame, and 3} opt for a backpack or crossbody bag for ease of use.  {Speaking of which, be sure to pack some bottled water and AAA batteries in there.  More on that later…}

Alright, so you’re on the road and ready to roll.  Awesome.  Getting to Natural Bridge Caverns is a pretty easy drive west from Houston.  However, as someone who heads to New Braunfels fairly often, let me give you a pro tip – be sure to use the Waze App.  If you’re coming in on 46, it can get VERY backed up before you hit I-35, especially on the weekends.  Thankfully, there are a few detours that can help you avoid the congestion and the incessant chorus of “Are we there yet?” if needed, and I’ve found Waze to be the most intuitive navigation system for moms on the go.

THINGS TO DO

You made it – yippee!  Once you get there, you’ll want to stop at the Visitor’s Center to grab your tickets and learn the lay of the land.  From there, here’s my recommendations for making the most of your day…

Gift Shop :: Usually when I go on a day trip, I save any gift shopping until the end of my visit, but at Natural Bridge Caverns – I recommend stopping here first.  They have these adorable light up helmets that are actually incredibly functional while on the cave tours.  My son spotted them when we were carousing the Natural Bridge Caverns website and decided he NEEDED one to make his exploring official, and turns out — he was spot on.  While the caves are strategically lit, that bright LED light on the helmet can make kiddos feel secure and keep them highly visible for your sake too.  Just be sure to bring AAA batteries and ask the friendly staff to help power them up.  {And if you forget batteries like I did, not to worry – you can always purchase those at the gift shop as well!}

Cave Tour :: Next up?  A Cave tour, naturally.  I love that Natural Bridge Caverns has so many different options for every adventure level and interest!  For my two kiddos {ages four & six}, the guided Discovery Tour was just over an hour; filled with amazing stalagmites, stalactites, chandeliers, and soda straws; and just the all around perfect mix of education and fun.  Next time we visit, we plan on checking out the Hidden Passages Tour though as well.  This one includes much of the same incredible sites – but experienced in both light AND darkness.  {You know, since my kiddos think they are pretty much pros now and already have the light up helmets to prove it!}  Oh, and for those of you with older kids, I’d recommend looking into the Adventure Tour where you spend three to four hours climbing, hiking, rappelling, and exploring the caves just like the original explorers.  So cool, right?!

Canopy Challenge :: Aside from the caves, this was my son’s absolute favorite activity! At the Canopy Challenge, you can test your agility and balance on several different obstacles — all while safely harnessed.  And again, they have options for every age and ability level – from the Canopy Explorer Course that goes up 60 feet and has four different tiers, to the Canopy Kids Course that’s designed for the littlest adventurers, to the Canopy Zip Lines that allow you to sail across the sky.  {FYI – My kiddos are both currently eating ALL their “growing foods” so they will be big enough for the zip lines next summer!  #momwin}

AMAZEn’ Ranch Roundup :: And this one? It was my daughter’s favorite!  We had so much fun getting lost in the maze, trying to find the checkpoints, and chasing one another down dead ends and ultimately to the finish line.  Turns out, my kiddos both got my unfortunate sense of direction, so while the maze was a challenge – we loved working together and reaching our end goal as a team!

Gem & Fossil Mining :: We had so much fun with all of the above, that we ran out of time before getting to the gem and fossil mining station.  Regardless, I’m adding it here because it absolutely tops our list of things to do next time we visit!  I literally had to divert my children’s attention away from the area as we made a quick exit because I knew they’d want to dive into those screen trays to discover what treasures they can find – be it arrowheads, gems, or fossils.  However, I knew that we were nearing meltdown mode, and nobody likes a cranky kid who is past due for some rest time.  Amiright?!

PIT STOPS ALONG THE WAY

If you’re looking for more ideas and fun to supplement your day trip, then take it from me with these tried and true favorites below!  My family has personally eaten at all of these restaurants more times than I’d care to admit, so whatever you choose – know it will round off your day trip beautifully.

Family-Friendly Restaurants In & Around New Braunfels ::

Have you visited Natural Bridge Caverns – either as a child or more recently as an adult? Let us know your favorite thing about it in the comments below!

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