The first destination of our family road trip was Longhorn Caverns. This would be the kids' first cave, and our son was really excited. I'm not sure if our not-yet-3-year-old daughter even knew what a cave was.
My husband was pretty excited. He used to do a lot of spelunking when he lived in Nashville, but that was a while ago. I have only a little experience with caves. I've been to Carlsbad once, and my family had visited Longhorn when I was a kid, though I barely remembered it. The best caves I've ever been in were in Israel in these tiny tunnels carved into the limestone that you have to practically slither through, but that's a story for another time.
Longhorn is in a lovely spot in the Hill Country. The kids loved the hilly road leading up to it, shouting "Wheee!" as we went up and down. While we waited for our tour to start, the kids had fun playing on some rocks, and there are hiking trails and picnic areas as well.
Longhorn Caverns were formed by quick-moving water, and it has a lot of smooth surfaces and large rooms. It was used by different groups of people for different things over the last 400 years.
But my favorite fact is that it was a speakeasy during Prohibition. It's 68 degrees down there all the time, so it's like it's air-conditioned. And it's a cave, it's pretty concealed. They had a bar and a dance floor and tables and chairs and everything down there. Today you can rent it out for weddings and events. I've since heard of DJ dance parties being down there.
As far as I was concerned, the caverns were just plain awesome. I pretty much wanted to stay in there. If I were planning a wedding right now, I'd want it down in Longhorn Cavern. (None of our pictures inside the cave came out that great, but you can see lots on their website.)
Both of our kids had a fun time inside the cave, especially Jago, who is 6. Miela did get tired and had to be carried, but it was still worth it for us and she still had fun. Especially with the nice grounds to explore and picnic at, Longhorn Cavern is a great family outing.
I was even able to get an obligatory bluebonnet shot of the kids! (Explanation for non-Texans: Our state flower is the bluebonnet, and they grow all over, especially in Central Texas, often in big clumps. It's common to take portraits surrounded by the flowers.)
After we finished at Longhorn, we headed to South Llano River State Park, which is outside of Junction, to camp for the night. There was a beautiful sea of purple wildflowers.
This was a really nice spot that I hope we visit again in the future. We got there a bit late to explore that evening, and in the morning we were kind of ready to keep driving, but it was a great first night camping!
It was a great start to a great trip!