howe caverns

Only a few weeks remain before we send the kids off to school. (I can hear you cheering from here). If you are looking for one last hoorah, or day trip with the kids be sure to check out Howe Caverns! Depending on where you are located in the Hudson Valley it is a 1-2 hour drive. If your kids are into caves and maybe a little curious what it’s like under ground they will LOVE Howe Caverns. Kids age 5 and under are FREE!

Howe Caverns is located in Cobelskill, NY (about 156 miles from NYC). The caverns were discovered in the 1800’s by farmer Lester Howe. Today tours run every 20-30 minutes and spectators come in droves to experience the cold, dark caves with a short boat ride at the end. There is more to do than just check out the stalagmites and stalactites along the River Stix.

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This family friendly vacation spot offers some High Adventure experiences. Guests can ride a 4-tower zip line, follow the Sky Trail ropes course 30 feet above ground, a 26 foot climbing rock wall, jump 18 feet into the air on an air jumper and my personal favorite ride the H2OGO ball! Check out the details of all these activities here.

lester howe

My kids are still too little for all the extra activities, but they loved every minute of the traditional cave tour.  The tour begins with a short animatronic show offering the history of Lester Howe and his discovery. Then it is a 90 minute walk through the cave which is dripping with “cave kisses” (water) from the rock ceiling. The humidity level during our tour was at 75% (which made for some great cave hair), but the temperature was around 54 degrees. It is literally a cool experience.

The tour guides keep it pretty entertaining along the way by pointing out fun shapes in the rocks like the Witches Groto and the Turtle rock. Feel free to stop and hum into the “pipe organ.” The end of the line is a short boat tour where the guides push off from the cave walls, and use a long pole to help navigate through the calm waters. The water is only 2-6 feet deep and there are emergency boats parked up ahead (that was reassuring).

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What you need to know:

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*Bring a sweat shirt or something with long sleeves to cover up.

*No back packs.

*Best for non-potty trainers since it is a 90 minute tour and no quick access to bathrooms.

*The elevator takes you 346 feet underground, but it is a 30 second ride.

Adult admission price is around $25, kids under 5 are free. You can purchase your tickets online in advance, or on site.

Half way through the walk is a professional photo op. You can purchase a souvenir pic for only $9.00.

You can picnic on the grounds and there is a small cafe. The food is delicious, but pricey when paying for a family. You do have the option to buy a pizza and share with the family (as long as you do not have picky eaters).

The gift shop isn’t terribly expensive. We purchased adorable miner hats that my kids now use to read their books in bed for only $12 each. For around $4.00 you can select a gem and staff will create a unique spiral necklace- great souvenir.

The fudge shop is not to be missed!

Even though we did just the cave tour and dinner it was the perfect day out with our little ones. I am impressed by how well they handled the walk (no one begged to be carried and no one had any potty accidents!!). They weren’t shy about asking questions in front of 30 adults. The most curious question they had was, “are any starfish living in the underground river?”

My last visit to the caves was 1980 something on a school trip. It was great to see how much this once tiny tourist stop has grown. And, it’s pretty exciting to know it’s only an hour away from my home!

Watch these great video clips from adventures at Howe Caverns!

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.