Beat the summer heat with kids: Go caving

Cascade Caverns is a great place for kids

When we’re not traveling, we live in San Antonio, Texas. Summer time here is like the opposite of northern winter – the kids don’t want to go outside, we can’t hike, and we watch more movies and public television kids shows than I’d like. Sure, we also go to the public pool and we have a water slide for the backyard, but the kids still complain about hot car seats and hibernate inside.

Normally we get out of town in the summer, like a visit to my parents in Maine. But this year we have to stay put since baby #3 is expected at the end of August.

Here in Central Texas, the geography is just right for caves. I had recently explained what a cave is to my 4 year old and he was really interested, especially the part about the cave being cool all year.

On a recent Saturday we went to Cascade Caverns because at 30 minutes away it was the closest, it’s one of the least expensive, and it has running water, which is rare in Texas. It’s also less commercialized than other caves with their interstate billboards. The low key atmosphere and less than an hour tour was just right for our 2 and 4 year olds.

The excitement started with handing out flashlights (the 4 year old was in charge of the family’s light) and showing the hole that used to be the entrance via bucket and pulleys. Then down steep steps and into the 100% humidity and 64 degree cool of the cave. No jackets necessary.

Cave highlights were definitely running water, especially a drip waterfall, although the 2 year old got us all muddy after swishing her hands on the wet floor.

Escape the summer heat in Cascade Caverns

The cave was a hit with the two year old, especially the water and mud.

There were fossils, including a turtle fossil in the ceiling and a few mastadon bones and tusks. But the best part for us as parents was our 4 year old’s wide eyes and excitement at our adventure.

After our 11am tour, we headed to Boerne, Texas for lunch. Our kids don’t like pizza, they’re not crazy for bbq, but every time we mention eating out they yell for tacos until we relent. If tacos are your thing too, Mary’s Tacos in Boerne will be an excellent end to the outing.

Additional caves near San Antonio that we will eventually visit during other hot summers:

  1. Natural Bridge Caverns is the largest commercial cave in Texas, with a smooth cement walkway and high ticket prices.
  2. Cave without a Name is also located near the small town charm of Boerne, Texas
  3. If a state park is more your style, Longhorn Caverns State Park is about 2 hours north of San Antonio near Burnet, Texas.

What are your favorite caves to go with kids? What other ways do you use to beat the summer heat?

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