Bowling Green sits in the southwestern portion of Kentucky, and it is a city filled with activities that make it a wonderful day trip or a fun family weekend. For single travelers or couples traveling without children, there are museums, antique shops, and historical tours of local homes. But, for families searching for unique opportunities where everyone in the family can have a good time, Bowling Green, Kentucky, has several places to offer.
One location that has something to offer everyone of every age, whether traveling alone, as a couple, or as a family with children, is Lost River Cave and Valley. After driving through the front gates, visitors will forget that they just drove by subdivisions and shopping centers as they park and enter a more rural area.
After parking, visitors walk to the souvenir shop to purchase tickets for the first portion of the visit, the guided tour toward and then through the cave with an underground lake. The souvenir shop is an interesting location that offers local handmade products, gemstones, jewelry, and, on this visit, information regarding the history of the region. In addition to tickets, the shop offers gifts and collectibles to fit almost any budget.
Although comfortable walking shoes are a must for Lost River Cave, because of the gravel that is sometimes encountered and especially if it has rained recently before a visit, hiking boots or shoes with good tread are recommended.
Once tickets have been purchased, visitors walk further into the park, down a path toward a wooded area, and between some trees until they reach a small walking bridge. It is here where our guide met with the group and began the tour. After basic information regarding the park and the tour was provided, the guide led visitors along a path through a wooded area and past a body of water, explaining along the way of the history of the region and of the old mill, the history of the “bottomless” body of water, and some history of Lost River Cave. Visitors were allowed to stop periodically to study the landscape, ask questions, and simply enjoy the scenery.
The scenery was of a unique beauty that had to be seen to be believed and one gets the feeling to have stepped into a museum at first glance but once the bowling alley comes into sight, it looks exactly as it does at aboutbowlingballs.com.
This first portion of the guided tour lasted approximately thirty minutes, but times may vary depending on the number of questions asked and answered.
Then, the mouth of the cave came into view. At the cave, the tour is briefly stopped so that additional history of the cave can be explained before entering. Humorously, during this time, the guide explained common former uses of the cave, particularly those associated with parties during the Great Depression.
Because of natural cave drips, the floor of the cave is wet in some locations so care should be taken when walking.
Visitors are led down a short ramp and arranged into a boat that, at one point, passes beneath a very low ceiling. As water periodically drips from the stone ceiling above, the boat slowly and quietly makes its way along a path as the guide continues to supply information regarding the cave, its exploration, its history, and the plant and animal life within the cave.
After the boat tour, visitors are free to roam the rest of the park. Walking trails run in various directions through the park, amongst the trees, and past streams, providing visitors with beautiful views and a relaxing back-to-nature feel beneath tree-shaded paths. Birds, of course, are heard throughout the park and are, on occasion, visible with the naked eye due to the many bird feeders located along the trails.
But, perhaps, the most breathtaking portion of the park is neither the cave nor the trails but the butterfly sanctuary located in the park. At the location where several trails converge is what first appears to be a greenhouse. Yet, once entering, one quickly realizes that the lovely plants are not the most colorful items in the sanctuary. Butterflies are everywhere, flying about the sanctuary and sitting atop flower petals in a bright and splendid array of color. Fatigue seems to vanish and cares melt away as one simply stops to watch the beauty of these delicate creatures.
When leaving the sanctuary, visitors pass through one set of doors, then pass a mirror, and then through the final set of doors. The mirror is there to check for any butterflies that may have unknowingly landed on a visitor’s clothing so that the butterfly may be returned to its sanctuary.
Lost River Cave also has activities that can be purchased for an additional ticket price including climbing an artificial rock wall and mining for gems.
Near Lost River Cave are ample shopping venues, including a mall, department stores, and quaint little downtown shops, and dining options that include local restaurants and national chain restaurants. And just a few miles away from Lost River Cave is Hobson Grove Park, a public park that will please any active child.
Overlooking both Hobson Grove Park and the river is Riverview House, a mansion that was saved from its condemned status and restored to its civil war splendor. Tickets can be purchased at Riverview House for guided tours that include information on the history of the house, information on the lifestyle of the era, and the opportunity to view magnificent antique furnishings of the Victorian style. The guide on our particular visit was a volunteer who had helped with the restoration of the house and appeared genuinely enthused to be able to share information on the history of Riverview. If one chooses to take the tour, be prepared to climb staircases and to walk or stand for approximately an hour, depending on the number of questions asked by the group. Although the tour is quite interesting, young children may grow bored very quickly, making this a tour better suited for older children and adults.
Bowling Green, Kentucky, is a town that has indoor and outdoor activities to satisfy any interest but allows visitors to move at a slower pace, enabling them to relax and enjoy their time in this section of Kentucky.