We drove down Friday right after lunch, visited the museum / exhibit area of the visitor center, went for a short walk, and then went on our cave tour. It was about an hour long and Elliott happily walked the whole thing, though I wore his carrier on my back just in case. We had dinner at the hotel restaurant and then took the boys on a stroll along the Heritage Trail, a boardwalk that ran right behind our room. On Saturday morning we hiked for about an hour and a half. The terrain was rugged enough to feel exciting but not so bad as to be exhausting, and it was very pretty. The trails were very nicely maintained and not at all crowded, despite the park offering a bunch of free activities as part of National Parks Week. We were really impressed with the park and really happy with our decision to visit. Nico completed three activities in a Junior Ranger activity book and got a certificate and a little badge to bring home. As part of the free weekend, they were offering self-guided discovery tours of the historic part of the cave, so we did that after our hike.
We debated staying another night, but the rain the next day meant we wouldn't want to do any hiking, and Nico had been invited to a school friend's birthday party on Sunday afternoon, so we opted not to stay. We left the park after the cave tour and drove to Cave City, which is pretty much a tourist trap that sprung up to occupy park visitors, I'm pretty sure. Our purpose there was to take the boys to Dinosaur World since Nico is finally going through a dinosaur phase. (As a lifelong dinosaur lover, I am quite gleeful about this and feel that my time has finally come as a parent.) We spent a fortune on this venture, but it was worth it. I don't think Nico walked one step inside the park - everywhere he went, he was bounding or galloping or running, pointing and exclaiming and shouting about the dinosaurs he saw. MB splurged on mineral panning tickets and the boys got to sift fossils out of a big bin of sand (the sand was easily Elliott's favorite part). We left as the park closed for the day, slightly sunbaked, very sweaty, covered in sunscreen and a little bit of dirt, feeling great about our little weekend adventure.
Reading: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Playing:   the radio, surprisingly often lately