Thank you to our partners at Natural Bridge Caverns for sponsoring this post and allowing us to have a day full of adventure to check out all of their great activities! For more information, go check out naturalbridgecaverns.com.
I remember visiting Natural Bridge Caverns shortly after I first moved to San Antonio over 10 years ago, but I had no idea they now offer so many other experiences! Our day of summer fun was a blast to share with my daughter and some of our awesome neighbors. Here are all the highlights from our perspectives as moms and elementary-aged kiddos:
We started off our day with the Hidden Passages Cave Tour. We had previously been on the Discovery Tour on other trips, which is less physically demanding and easier for little ones. According to our tour guide Sarah, who was super knowledgeable and had an awesome dry sense of humor, the Discovery Tour is a great introduction to the science of caves, while the Hidden Passages Tour gives a much more detailed history of how Natural Bridge was found, slowly explored, and opened up over time. It was fascinating to see the actual spots where they first dropped in to the main room of the cavern and imagine their shock at seeing so many beautiful formations!
Hidden Passages is a shorter walking distance overall, but the path is almost entirely stairs, so strollers are not permitted. It takes about 70 minutes total, and I was pleasantly surprised that the cave’s humidity was not overwhelming and that our morning tour time avoided the heat of the day. You will be most comfortable in shoes with non-slip bottoms, and you are allowed to bring a water bottle with you. Our seven- and eight-year-old girls had no problems navigating the stairs all on their own, but they took advantage of the handrail and extra support from us moms regularly. We all were amazed to see the cave’s different sections with every variety of formations close enough to appreciate (but not touch!). One of my favorite stories was hearing about how the owners had to jackhammer out a path between rooms for two solid weeks in order to not damage any formations with explosives.
At the innermost room of the tour, the guests sit on benches and the tour guide turns out all the lights in the Cathedral Room. Experiencing total darkness was a bit uncomfortable at first but made the lit-up room seem even more astonishing afterward. Parents should definitely make kids aware of this part if they are afraid of the dark, but it only lasted a few minutes and we got in a lot of snuggles to keep everyone calm. We all agreed the tour was a great experience, and we each had different formations that we liked best.
Next up, we browsed the Discovery Village Trading Post, which is full of beautiful jewelry, souvenirs, and cool rock samples. I want to keep this in mind as a really creative gift idea: gift tickets and a special decorative stone to a budding geologist or explorer! We each got a bag of “rough” that we then got to sift and shake out in Texas’ largest sluice! The girls were excited every time they uncovered a new stone and used the accompanying guide to find the names of each one. It also made a great souvenir to enjoy at home or share with siblings.
After a brief ice cream break, we decided to test our wits at the AMAZEn’ Ranch. One cool feature is the punch card that you scan when you enter and exit to track your time, as well as four checkpoints in the maze to try to find. Our kiddos attempted to make an alliance with other maze-goers because we were temporarily stuck in a loop. There are also three observation towers and a bridge over the maze that can be a big help in figuring out which turns you may have overlooked. This would be a fun challenge for older kids, maybe even for families to divide up into teams and see who can make it through the maze in the shortest time.
Our last activity of the day was my daughter’s favorite, as she is a bit of a daredevil. We had been talking about the Canopy Challenge for days! We got to enjoy both the Canopy Explorer Course, which has activities for the whole family, as well as the zip line. The four-story structure starts out with Canopy Kids Course on the bottom level, which is best suited for ages 3–6 or anyone under 48″ tall. The upper levels have a variety of obstacles that test your agility, balance, and nerves of steel. Everyone is strapped into a secure harness that is connected to the metal track system overhead, so even though it was challenging, it felt safe 100% of the time. We did have a few opportunities to be brave when a fear of heights kicked in, but the way the structure is set up made it very easy to take breaks off to the side or return to a lower level if you felt more comfortable. I basically chased my daughter up to the very top in our 30-minute time window, and I felt like I had to overcome more of my fears than she did! The views of the Hill Country from the top level were really cool and provided a great backdrop to our zip-lining! (Side note: Your child must weigh at least 60 lbs. and be a minimum of 48″ tall to zip line. I highly recommend wearing longer shorts or pants, as the harness might be uncomfortable on bare skin.) The zip line is a quick round trip, but it was a fun experience that my daughter has talked about a ton afterwards.
Our little foursome had an awesome day at Natural Bridge Caverns, and I was so impressed with all the beautiful changes they have made to their property. It has a great variety of age-appropriate activities to appeal to your entire family and makes a great day trip if you are doing a “staycation” around the San Antonio area. They offer group packages, birthday parties, and special pricing for Scout troops of 10 or more as well. There are beautifully landscaped spots where you can take a quick family photo, and there are tons of food and drink options. Every staff member that we interacted with was friendly and helpful, too. Head out to Natural Bridge Caverns to make some great memories with your family!