Treetops sway gently as birds flutter over their branches, breezes waft around their trunks, and humans careen between them at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Mammoth Cave Adventures' series of seven ziplines across two courses trail from tree to tree, each line standing slightly higher than the last as visitors decked out in helmets and harnesses speed across the cables, teeter over two skybridges, and perch on platforms between each lofty tier. Seasoned guides lead the 90-minute excursions as they spout environmental and historical trivia about the rolling hills and dense forest of the 60-acre course, which is located just outside of Mammoth Cave National Park.
The company also puts cables to exhilarating use with a Giant Super Swing, which plummets strapped-in visitors from the top of two towering hickory trees into a free-falling arc that swings 40 feet above the ground. Its new Drop Tower allows guests to experience the scenic view of Mammoth Cave National Park while dangling 70 death-defying feet above the ground. For slower-paced adventures, a stable of gentle equines ferries guests along serene trails and countryside vistas during hour-long horseback rides, which are designed for all equestrians regardless of their skill level or the number of sugar cubes in their pockets.
Though the creatures on display at Dinosaur World don’t need much space to roam, plenty of care has been taken to furnish them a comfortable habitat. They peer imposingly from the hillsides, crane their necks up through native trees, and stomp through prairie fields. Although a life-size mammoth or T. rex might be hard to miss, little visitors might still jump with delight at noticing a baby dino suddenly appear from behind a bush. Giant brachiosaurus necks arch high above treetops, while toothy meat-eaters and spiny stegosauruses roam the world below. The fiberglass, steel, and concrete models reach up to 80 feet in length, and are built according to the latest scientific discoveries about what dinosaurs looked like and what styles were trendy in the Mesozoic era.
The first Dinosaur World location was a former alligator farm in Florida, and today it has spread to encompass outposts in Kentucky and Texas. As Swedish-born Christer Svensson began to fill it with statues, he consulted with experts around the world to not only create realistic reptiles but to surround them with fun, educational activities. Kids can sift through sand to find shark’s teeth, gastropod shells, and trilobites in a fossil dig, get to know some lizards a little better on the playground, or examine ancient eggs and raptor claws in the museum.
After spending millions of years out of sight, wiling away the time by boring a cave deep into the earth, the Hidden River powered the town above with hydroelectricity before pollution forced it to close off from human eyes again. 50 years later, a recovery project restored Hidden River Cave, and today its depths play host to tours of the generator's remains and the underground river still flowing more than 100 feet below the ground.
Hidden River is one of the largest privately operated caves in the Mammoth Cave area, and along with hands-on exploration, American Cave Museum & Hidden River Cave spreads knowledge and awareness with two stories of educational exhibits. There, visitors explore topics such as prehistoric explorers, the history of saltpeter mining, and how to discern stalactites from walruses stuck in the cavern's ceiling.
Kentucky Down Under provides a taste of the land of Aus with a platter of authentic Australian animals, culture, and a gift shop, plus a Kentucky cave. Upon arrival, a staff member can help you plan your adventure with stops at an aviary to gawk at Australian finches; Camp Corroboree for a 45-minute presentation on Aboriginal culture, including the soothing hum of the didgeridoo; a guided tour through the kangaroo-, wallaby-, and emu-infested Outback; and more. In addition to the Aussieness, Kentucky Down Under shows off a local treasure with the Kentucky Caverns. During the 45-minute tour of the earth-hole, explorers can witness the ever-changing formations of stalactites, stalagmites, and life-size Dennis Franz rock statues. Between animal petting and stalactite hugging, KDU-goers can grab a salad, sandwich, or bison burger at the Outback Café. The park is open year-round.
With skating, black-light mini golf, arcade and interactive games, there's something for pretty much everyone at Ralphie's Fun Center. The sprawling entertainment complex also houses billiards tables and an 18-lane bowling center. At special times, the bowling center's lights go down, black lights come on, and everything glows bright for cosmic bowling. Between the fun, visitors can break for food such as hamburgers, pizza, hot wings, and more. More information can be found on Ralphie's Fun Center's Facebook page.