If you're looking for a family getaway this summer that's an easy drive and has tons of fun things to do, Huntsville, AL is the place to go!
Having grown up just 30 minutes west of Huntsville, it also holds a special place in my heart with both a link to childhood memories and home to much of my extended family.
The high-tech city of Huntsville, which sprawls at the foot of a mountain in North Alabama, is equally at home in the 19th century or the 21st. Huntsville's tourist attractions reflect the heritage of Alabama's first English-speaking city, the strife of the American Civil War and the accomplishments of America's rocket scientists.
My kiddos are true Floridians, born and raised so our favorite things to do when we head back "home" to north Alabama each summer is to explore the great outdoors! These kids are used to beaches, trees that are brown by the end of summer, and flat, flat land. The lush green foliage covered foothill mountains along with their cave systems and hiking trails are a literal breath of fresh air to us.
This past summer, I decided it was time to check another item off of my personal bucket list, so we headed about 30 minutes east of Huntsville to Cathedral Caverns State Park.
Originally called Bat Cave, Cathedral Caverns was opened to the public by Jacob Gurley in the 1950's. The cave was renamed because of its cathedral-like appearance. Purchased by the state in 1987, it was opened as a State Park in the summer of 2000. The first feature most people notice about Cathedral Caverns is its massive entrance. The huge opening measures 126 feet wide and 25 feet high, a possible world record for commercial caves. The grand entrance is only the beginning. Inside the cavern are some of the most beautiful formations Mother Nature has ever created including “Goliath”- one of the largest stalagmites in the world measuring 45 feet tall and 243 feet in circumference.
Inside the cavern are some of the most beautiful formations Mother Nature has ever created including “Goliath”- one of the largest stalagmites in the world measuring 45 feet tall and 243 feet in circumference. Cathedral Caverns features many amazing sites: a "frozen" waterfall, a large stalagmite forest and a most improbable stone formation - a stalagmite that is 27 feet tall and 3 inches wide!
One of the many great things about this tour was the year-round 60° temperature of the cave (which felt amazing on a hot July day). This 60-90 minute tour took us on a 1.5 mile round-trip walk to the end of the paved walkway and back. The paved walkway also means this cave is even wheelchair accessible!
If a trip to north Alabama or south Tennessee are in your plans, I highly recommend a visit to the caverns! My crew included myself, my 13 year-old, 11 year-old, and 4 year-old, and this was an easy adventure for all 4 of us that we ALL greatly enjoyed!
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