Natural Bridge Caverns Review

Emerald Lake is one of many large, natural pools found within Natural Bridge Caverns. The green color comes from the diffraction of light waves passing through the water.

Emerald Lake is one of many large, natural pools found within Natural Bridge Caverns. The green color comes from the diffraction of light waves passing through the water.

My family visited Carlsbad Caverns many times when I was growing up, and I have been wanting to share a little bit of the magic that I remembered from my childhood with my own kids.  Visiting Natural Bridge Caverns has been on my bucket list for a long time, and we finally got to cross it off this last week!

Natural Bridge Caverns currently has four tour options available:


  • Discovery Tour – 75 minute tour where you can see awe-inspiring, ancient formations centuries in the making and still growing today, such as amazing stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones, chandeliers and soda straws.
  • Lantern Tour –  75 minute tour using cave lanterns, available only at 9 am
  • Hidden Passages Tour –  70 minute tour gives guests an up-close view of rare and delicate cave formations illuminated by a state-of-the-art lighting system and includes a total darkness experience
  • Discovery Adventure Tour – 3-4 hour tour, explore the Discovery Passages the way the discoverers did in the early 1960’s on this incredible tour that allows you to follow the path that the original discoverers took. This tour includes a half mile through wild cave and passages that have not changed since the caverns’ discovery.

We took the Discovery Tour, which is the original tour, and you travel 180 feet below the ground.  The total distance traveled during the tour is only 3/4 of a mile, but when our tour guide explained that you are doing the equivalent of going down 18 floors and traveling back up 18 floors, it put things into perspective!

When you arrive at Natural Bridge Caverns, you can purchase your tour tickets at the Visitor’s Center.  During the summer months, they have tours leaving frequently, and we were able to join a tour that was leaving just 15 minutes after our arrival.  The Visitor’s Center also has a concessions stand, restrooms and water fountains, and a gift shop.  My kids found lots of treasures in the gift shop and would have stayed there even longer if I would have let them.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 6.34.00 AM

Our tour group had approximately 30 people, and our tour guide told us that on weekends, which is their busiest time, the groups can have up go 60 people.  You have a tour guide for the duration, and ours did a great job of explaining the history of the caverns, details about how different formations were made, and also pointed out key “landmarks” so to speak.  He was informative, engaging, and funny and it went by very quickly!  You will also have an opportunity to take a group photo with a beautiful backdrop that you can purchase for $12 (keep in mind that prices may change) at the end of the tour.  NOTE:  Our tour guide did mention that on the weekends when there are more people, they have tour guides in each of the bigger rooms rather than with individual groups (another reason to go during the week if you can!)

My kids absolutely LOVED this experience!  They saw some amazing formations and it was completely different from anything else we’ve ever done.  They spent a couple of hours as our road trip continued researching the caverns and different formations!


According to their website, the tour is only 3/4 of a mile, but it can be a bit strenuous.  Going down into the caverns was not bad, but coming back up was a work out!  There is a point where you have to climb 35 steps and I remember thinking once we were done with that, the worst of it was over.  Boy was I wrong!  That is followed by a steep, winding incline! I will say that it was totally worth it, but it was a wake up call for me that I need to get in shape. If you have asthma, definitely make sure you bring an inhaler along. They do a great job of having “breaks” in between strenuous periods and there are benches and even water fountains at some points.  Our tour guide checked in frequently to make sure everyone was doing OK.

Their site gives a disclaimer that “strollers are not recommended.”  I cannot imagine trying to navigate with a stroller.  If you have younger children, you may want to wait until they are a bit older unless you are comfortable carrying them for part of the way.  With the exception of one specific spot at the beginning of the tour, you also cannot touch any of the cavern walls or formations.  They do have hand railings throughout the tour, but if you have a rambunctious or curious toddler or preschooler, it may be difficult to keep them from touching things, and a distraction to try to keep up with them, too.  This is a great tour for older children, though.  My kids are 9 and 12 and loved every bit of it!

Here are some of my tips:

  • Arrive early – the temperature in the caverns when we were there was 80 degrees (according to our tour guide) and it was HUMID.  If you visit during the summer months when it’s warmer, you will walk out sweating!  Plus, if you arrive early, you beat the crowds, especially if you decide to visit on a weekend.
  • Visit on a weekday if you’re able too
  • Wear good walking shoes – there are some steep inclines and there is water dripping throughout the tour, so the ground is slick
  • Bring a camera with a flash – you’ll want to take pictures because the views are gorgeous!
  • You can bring water, and there are also water fountains available midway through the tour.  Food is not allowed.
  • Bring a cooling towel to stay cool!

In addition to the cavern tours, they have added a number of other experiences.  My kids were BEGGING to go on the Canopy Challenge Adventure course, but unfortunately, we just didn’t have time this trip.  You could easily make a day trip out of this, and unfortunately, we had only allotted a few hours.

NBC Canopy Challenge 7-23-12, San Antonio, TX

NBC Canopy Challenge 7-23-12, San Antonio, TX

  • Canopy Challenge Adventure Course – a 4-level, 60 foot high challenge course and zip lines! Climb, navigate and hang while secured from a safety harness before you “zip” over the Hill Country on one of 4 zip lines.
  • AMAZEn’ Ranch Round Up – unique Texas attraction that’s fun for all ages. Our one-of-a-kind maze experience was built to honor 5 generations of ranch ownership history in the Natural Bridge Caverns family.
  • Gem & Fossil Mining – Pan for gems, minerals and fossils like miners panned for gold at the Natural Bridge Mining Company.
  • Discovery Village – Enjoy  new food, beverage and retail spaces along with a beautiful courtyard.

Prices for these additional experiences start at $5.99 for children and $9.99 for adults.  Natural Bridge Caverns is open year round and opens at 9 am during the summer!

We will definitely be returning to check out some of the other tours (hopefully I will be in better shape next time) and hopefully my kids will have time to check out the Canopy Challenge Adventure Course and some of the other activities.


If you’re planning to make the trip soon, don’t forget to grab your money-saving coupons! You’ll save $2 off adult Discovery Tour tickets and $1 off a Child’s Discovery Tour tickets!  They expire on 8/31/2016.

Have you been to Natural Bridge Caverns?  What did you think?

DISCLOSURE:  My family and I were provided with free tickets for the Discovery Tour in exchange for this review.  All opinions are mine.

The BFG is a magical story your entire family will love!


During my childhood, my reference point for giants came from Jack and the Beanstalk, and the giant in that book was far from friendly.  My children and I both really enjoyed the antics of the awkward yet whimsical giant featured in Disney’s latest movie The BFG, which stands for “Big Friendly Giant.”  

The movie, The BFG, is based on the children’s book The BFG by Roald Dahl.  Unfortunately, we did not have a chance to read it before we attended the screening but after seeing the movie, both of my kids want to read the book so that they can see how it compares!


In the movie, Sophie, a young orphan girl who suffers from insomnia, wanders around the orphanage at 3 in the morning (which she has defined as the “witching hour”) and eventually settles into her bed to read when the giant “BFG” plucks her from the window and carries her off to Giant Country.

When they arrive in Giant Country, BFG urges Sophie to be careful because his fellow giants are “bone cruncher” “meat dripper” “man gobbling cannybullies” who prefer “beans” (humans) as a food source rather than for their company.  He quickly realizes he has met his match with feisty little Sophie who refuses to follow any of the directives he gives.  Ironically, BFG is the one who is scared, while “Brave Sophie” emphatically proclaims that she is not!

Sophie and BFG have a number of magical adventures including catching a “golden Phizzwizard” (wonderful dream), sharing dreams with families, trying to avoid the other giants, and even meeting the Queen of England!  You’ll laugh hysterically at things like the Frobscottle which produces epic Whizzpoppers and be on the edge of your seat at other moments as you wonder if little Sophie will be able to pull through and avoid the other giants yet again.

I have talked to so many people who say they haven’t heard of this book or weren’t sure what The BFG meant.  Don’t pass this one up!  My kids and I absolutely loved this movie from start to finish and will definitely see it again after we read the book!   It’s everything you’d expect from a Steven Spielberg movie!

Grab a copy of the book to read with your kids here–> The BFG book by Roald Dahl

Make sure you download the GobbleFunk Dictionary to help you decode The BFG’s funny language!  Your kids will love these BFG Coloring sheets, too!

Check out the trailer below:

Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

DISCLOSURE:  My family and I had the opportunity to attend the screening of The BFG.  All opinions are 100% mine.

Cinderella Movie Review: Have courage and be kind

DISCLOSURE: My kids and I were given the opportunity to attend the Cinderella screening. All thoughts are 100% mine!


“Have courage and be kind” were the last words of wisdom spoken by Ella’s mother before she died.  When I asked my ten year old daughter what her favorite part of the movie was, I expected to hear about the ball and the beautiful dresses.  Surprisingly, it was those last few moments between mother and daughter because “it was the theme that was replayed throughout the entire movie.”


Several years after Ella’s mother passes away, her father decides to marry again and with his new wife, Lady Tremaine comes two new step-sisters, Anastasia and Drisella.  Ella calmly reminds herself of her mother’s advice as she meets them all for the first time and many other times throughout the movie, especially when her stepmother and step sisters treat her cruelly after her father dies, and even give her the nickname “Cinderella” after she falls asleep near the ashes of the fireplace one night.  As a parent, the idea that our children learn from us and follow our example wasn’t lost on me, either. The “wicked step-sisters” were petty and selfish like their mother while Ella was kind like her parents had been.


Growing up, I loved to watch the animated version, and as an adult, it was fun to watch it come to life so to speak, and I fell in love with the story all over again!  After watching Maleficent, I was expecting some sort of plot twist, but if you’ve seen the animated version or read the story at some point, it’s the same basic storyline except we get to experience her childhood and “meet” both of her parents.  I felt like a kid again as I watched her fairy godmother transform her for the ball and as she snuck away for a few private moments with Kit, her Prince Charming, before the clock struck midnight.  It was a sweet reminder that the magic of fairytales is not just for children (and according to my son, “not just for girls, either”).  It’s still nice to have a fairytale “happily ever after” ending!  I’m a huge Downton Abbey fan, too, and it was fun to see Lady Rose as Cinderella and Daisy as an evil stepsister!


Make sure you arrive early enough to catch Frozen Fever, which plays before the movie!  My kids and I couldn’t stop laughing as we watched the latest antics of our favorites – Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven.  We can’t WAIT for Frozen 2 to come out!

If you’ve seen the movie, what did YOU think?

Nerf Zombie Sidestrike Blaster Review


Hasbro recently provided me with an opportunity to review the new Nerf Zombie Sidestrike Blaster.  I have a seven year old son who was more than willing to take on the challenge!  When the box arrived, my son was so excited that within seconds, he had it out of the packaging and was ready to go!  Suddenly, darts were flying everywhere and my son was excitedly saying “Mom, this is the best day ever!”  I wish I had captured it on video because it was so cute!

Nerf Zombie Sidestrike Blaster Review


Whether your child is a “zombie hunter” in the making or just loves a good Nerf gun fight, the Nerf Zombie Sidestrike Blaster is sure to be a hit!  It includes the gun itself, a holster, and 6 darts.  Although the suggested age range starts at 8, my son just turned 7 and had no problem figuring out how to use this with no help at all!  My son is a lefty, and was able to easily use this, which was a plus for us!

My husband and kids had a Nerf war using the the Nerf Zombie Sidestrike Blaster, Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster, and Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker bow.  They had a blast!  My husband commented about how far the Nerf Zombie Sidestride Blaster shoots (their website says that it shoots up to 75 feet – we didn’t test that distance out, but wow!) and about how accurate it is.  I caught him online searching for a Nerf gun for himself and I couldn’t help but smile!  My dad came over last night and joined in on the fun, too!  The kids thought it was fun to see Grandpa playing!  I even tried it out, and it’s fun to shoot and packs a punch!  Zombies beware!

Here are some of the things that we love about the Nerf Zombie Sidestrike Blaster:

  • It includes a dart storage compartment, so you don’t have to worry about losing your darts!
  • The price is reasonable!  It retails for $14.99, but it’s even less on Amazon!
  • It’s easy for kids to grip and use!
  • It shoots far and the accuracy is great!

The only “con” we could think of is that it is a single shot product, so it does take time to reload in between shots.

This would be GREAT for Easter baskets or an upcoming birthday!  You can purchase one here–> Nerf Zomebie Sidestrike Blaster

There are some other great products in the Nerf Zombie line that you should check out, too:

DISCLOSURE:  I was provided with a free Nerf Zombie Sidestroke Blaster for review.  All opinions shared in this post are 100% mine!


Disney Planes Movie Review!

My kids have been watching the previews for the Disney Planes Movie for weeks now and anxiously awaiting the release! They have apparently watched the previews so many times that by the time we actually went to see the movie this week, they knew all of the main characters by name before the movie even started! One of the “perks” of blogging is that I get to attend some movie screenings before the release date, and we were all excited to go see Planes earlier this week.

Disney Planes Movie Review


If you’ve seen the movie Cars, then you will be somewhat familiar with the storyline in this movie.  Dusty Crophopper is a small town crop duster with big dreams!  He wants to win a world-wide flight competition.  Off course, the odds are stacked against him.  Not only is he a crop duster and not built for speed, but he is also afraid of heights!

During the competition, Dusty finds a trusty sidekick, El Chupacabra, who is set on winning the heart of a fellow competitor, Rochelle  Like Mater in Cars, El Chupacabra isn’t exactly socially savvy and his antics kept everyone entertained throughout the movie.  He was probably my favorite character just because you never knew what he was going to do next!  Dusty also has a nemesis, Ripslinger, who is determined to win the competition and who vows to do whatever it takes to come out on top.  Dusty has his own love interest, Ishani, who is also faced with the inner struggle of choosing between winning at all costs and being true to herself.

Like Lightning McQueen and Doc Hudson, Dusty also finds a mentor along the way.   Skipper is a World War II veteran with plenty of stories!  He helps Dusty learn some tricks of the trade and he learns a few things from Dusty along the way, too!

One of the criticisms of the movie has been that the plot line is predictable.  When you go to a Disney movie (or any children’s movie), you expect for it to be somewhat predictable.  You expect the main character to have an enemy, be faced with some sort of trial, and to come out ahead in the end.  Most children’s movies are “feel good” movies that carry a theme of a little guy coming out ahead.  If you were expecting something different, you will probably be disappointed,.  Although the storyline was comparable to Cars, the characters also had their own unique quirks.  Unlike Lightning McQueen, Dusty was a crop duster from a small town.  He had humble beginnings, and didn’t have Lightning’s arrogance which made him “likeable” from the start.  When I go to a children’s movie, I just “success” by what my kids think.  They loved it, and I laughed several times myself.  If your kids loved Cars, they’ll probably love this one, too!

If your kids loved Planes, they can keep enjoying the fun with these two interactive games:

  • Propwash Pursuit :Take control of Dusty and fly around Propwash Junction (available for desktop)
  • Jetstream Racers : Help Dusty navigate courses, earn points, and unlock more characters (available for desktop, tablet, and mobile devices)

You can also check out Disney’s Flew Tube for more video clips, Planes inspired recipes, craft ideas, and more!

Check out the trailer here:

You can follow Disney Planes on Twitter and Disney Planes on Facebook, too!

DISCLOSURE: My family was able to attend the movie screening for Planes for free. I was not compensated for this review in any way. All opinions are 100% mine!