Each month, topics in this column alternate between cool, new places to go and family-friendly activities to do at home. This month, keep cool underground!
It has been one of the hottest summers on record in Austin, and though the summer break has ended, the heat hasn’t let up yet. If you are looking for ways to stay cool and comfortable in these high temperatures, and swimming in the neighborhood or backyard pool has lost its appeal, consider another invigorating excursion – cave exploration!
To get your excursion planning started, here are three fantastic cave experiences in the Austin area for a cool, cave escape:
With cave temperatures at a constant 68 degrees all year long, Longhorn Cavern is a truly cool place that you’ll want to take out-of-towners to experience. Boasting the title of the “National Cave of Texas,” these caverns will not disappoint. Above ground, the stonework, structures and trails built by the Civilian Conservation Corps are worth exploring, too.
The most popular way to experience these ancient caves is through the Walking Tour, which can easily be booked online. Admission prices are very reasonable with all tickets under $20. If you have kids that love a hands-on learning experience, you can bundle a ticket with a Gemstone Mining experience.
For a little more adventure, Wild Cave tours will put you in a hard hat and harness to allow you to explore deeper, hidden caves with a trained guide. To learn more, go to visitlonghorncavern.com.
Inner Space Cavern
Not to be outdone, nearby Inner Space Cavern is regarded as one of the best-preserved caves in Texas. Inner Space is part of the Texas Cave Trail system, which is made up of five enormous caves in the area, each of which differs slightly in ecosystem and appearance.
Inner Space offers four different types of tours, two of which are for the more adventurous of heart. Their most popular and classic is the Adventure Walking Tour that is suitable for beginners and all ages. On the one-hour walking tour, visitors will learn the history of the caverns in a comfortable 72 degrees. You can also hear about the various animals whose fossils have been found in the caves, including one of a saber-toothed tiger.
Once above ground, visitors can take a ride on Inner Space’s brand-new Saber Tooth zip ride, a 33 mph tandem ride that rises 130 feet up in the air! For more information about ticket prices, go to innerspacecavern.com.
Cave Without a Name
If the name doesn’t get your attention, the beauty and history of this cave system certainly will. Located 11 miles outside of Boerne, this cave is considered one of the most beautiful in all of Texas. It acquired its peculiar name as the result of a local naming contest. One boy said the caverns were “too beautiful for words,” and the phrase stuck.
Cave Without a Name is made up of six major rooms. Each room has magnificent natural features. The acoustics in The Throne Room are so impressive that musicians are invited to come play live concerts in the space. Visitors will stay comfortable in the natural 66-degree air too.
For a listing of upcoming musical acts, visit cavewithoutaname.com. To make reservations for a walking tour, you must call the reservation phone number at 830-537-4212.
Jess Archer is a freelance writer in Austin. Find Jess at writerjessarcher.com.