Less than two hours away from Washington DC, nestled in the Shenandoah mountains, is the town of Luray, Virginia. It was lovely to walk around, with its little town square, Singing Tower and great mom & pop restaurants, but we were there for the highlight: Luray Caverns. My whole family loved it!
We found enough to fill a whole day at Luray Caverns. With your general admission ($24 for adults & $12 for kids ages 6-12; 5 and under are free), you get the Luray Caverns tour plus admission to the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum and the Luray Valley Museum. There are a few ways to get a discounted tickets: with a AAA card ($2.00 off each adult ticket) or by showing your Giant grocery card (50% off a second adult ticket). You'll want to start off with the underground caverns tour.
Many of my photos from underground did not come out well–I was just using a point & shoot and it's dark down there–but I did capture this great shot of Mirror Pond, which was an area where the pond beneath reflects the ceiling for a 3-D effect. It was so cool! The tour moves slow enough that you can really enjoy what you're seeing, and the guide explains all about cave formation so both adults and children can understand the science. I had never been in a cave before, so I was blown away by the beauty of it all. We especially liked the Stalacpipe Organ that played music.
The Car and Carriage Caravan Museum was small but included gems like an 1892 Benz and showed transportation history from the 1700's through 1900's. My son and I love old cars, so we enjoyed it the most. The Luray Valley Museum had artifacts from the local area and restored, historic buildings you could walk around so the kids could see the one-room schoolhouse, meeting room, and more.
We splurged and let the kids each get a bag of rocks & soil so they could “pan for gold.” They'd seen this before in many places but we'd never actually said yes! This was their souvenir from our trip, and each treasures their collection of rocks.
The Garden Maze had us going in circles–we had done corn mazes at farms before, but this was very elaborate, and we loved the humorous signs telling you when you were going the wrong way or completely lost. We had to find four checkpoints along the pathways and stamp our tickets to solve the riddle at the end of the maze. It's filled with a cave, misters to keep your cool, and a beautiful fountain in the center. The Maze is an extra $6/person if you purchase at the time of your Caverns admission.
This was not a frugal trip for us, not like many of the Day Trips from DC I've blogged about. It was an expensive (for us) day, but we made great family memories, and my kids still talk about going spelunking.