About 30 minutes north of Birmingham is Rickwood Caverns State Park, known for its massive cave where visitors can head underground to view ancient formations. The cave is a constant 58-62 degrees which is welcoming in the heat of summer. Visit their website for tour information and fees.
The other main feature of Rickwood Caverns State Park is the cave water-fed Olympic-size swimming pool (there is also a kiddie pool). Visit website for pool fee information.
There is a primitive campground not well suited for RV's, however, there are plans to make improvements
Fossil Mountain Hiking Trail
Gemstone Mining (fee)
Guided Cave Tours
Tennessee Aquarium, located along the banks of the Tennessee River, is truly a gem. Housed in two buildings; each has it own focus. River Journey follows a single drop of rain as it falls into a creek high in the Appalachian Mountains all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. There are stunning tanks filled with colorful trout, immense catfish and ancient-looking sturgeon. The river otters at play will capture your heart. The Ocean Journey building houses salt-water life including colorful coral reef inhabitants, sharks, rays, sea-turtles and more. Penguins can be viewed here and don't forget to enjoy the rain forest where butterflies fly free.
Entry times are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily - Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
Available for Additional Fee
Sleep in the Dark Sleepovers
River Gorge Explorer - a boat ride to view the Tennessee River Gorge
1 Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN
Tryon's Palace is know as the first state capitol of North Carolina. The mansion that stands today may only be a replica of the original completed in 1770, but impressive none-the-less. The original structure burned to the ground right after the state capitol was relocated to Raleigh, It wasn’t until the 1950’s that this modern recreation “faithful to the original architect’s plans” was built on the same site and opened to the public.
Tours are offered of the mansion, other historical homes nearby, gardens and the North Carolina History Center as part of their One-Day pass. The Visitor Center said to see everything it would take about 4 hours. There are options to pick and choose what you would like to visit. For kids, touring the formal gardens only is a great way to get the experience of the place but keep the kids outdoors where they can do some exploring.
Tryon Palace is only closed five days a year: Thanksgiving Day, December 23-25 (2015), and January 1. For the rest of the year, hours are as follows:
Monday through Saturday
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Governor’s Palace has guided tours every half hour, beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. The Kitchen Office is a self-paced building open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Dixon and Stanly houses have guided tours throughout the day. The North Carolina History Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Check with the ticket desk for additional information and specific tour times.
Noon to 5 p.m.
529 South Front Street, New Bern, NC
Tips - The Gardens are stroller friendly. You may want to bring sunscreen, water and bug spray to be on the safe side.