Cave City, Kentucky, is a unique tourist destination that offers shops, museums and prehistoric experiences — both in the form of caves and Dinosaur World, where you can wander about hundreds of life-size dinosaur models located along the theme park's paved trails. Take pictures with Brachiosaurus, Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex. Excavate artifacts in its interactive boneyard or browse its museum, featuring an impressive collection of trilobites, dinosaur eggs, mammoth bones and more. Or, bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds. Dinosaur World welcomes both kids and pets.
Drive time from Chattanooga: 3 hours, 33 minutes
Other claims to fame:
> Mammoth Cave, the world's longest cave system, is located just ten minutes from Cave City, Kentucky. The national park offers more than just cave tours, it also allows fishing and paddling on the Green and Nolin rivers, and hiking and biking along its 80-plus miles of trail through the park.
> Just down the road, Hidden River Cave in Horse Cave, Kentucky, offers a cave with two subterranean rivers to explore, plus the world's longest underground swinging bridge. Above ground, guests can zipline, rappel into a cave and visit the American Cave Museum to learn about the important archaeology and geology of the area.
> Kentucky Action Park in Cave City offers outdoor action and fun for the whole family. Enjoy bumper cars, minigolf, go carts, guided horseback rides, ziplining, rock climbing and, most notably, a quarter-mile long Alpine Slide.
Places to stay:
>Turnhole Bend Campground is part of a trail loop within Mammoth Cave National Park. The hike in is two miles, and sites are pet- and campfire-friendly. Make your reservation ahead of time, though — this spot is popular.
> Get comfy at Rock Cabin Camping, 5091 Mammoth Cave Road, offering cozy, stone cabins that are a stone's throw from both Dinosaur World and Mammoth Cave National Park. Cabins range in size from single rooms to three bedrooms with a kitchen. Amenities include a microwave, mini fridge, towels and linens.
> Grand Victorian Inn at 5 Old Dixie Highway in nearby Park City, Kentucky, offers unique luxury via Victorian-style guestrooms. Relax on the wraparound porch after a complimentary breakfast before heading out to explore for the day.