Luray Caverns is a great little place to go and only about two hours away from DC. Here is how I recommend scheduling your time. You can drive to Luray, VA in about two hours if you go on I-66 to I-81. Tack on an extra hour if you opt to take the very beautiful Skyline Drive between Front Royal and Route 211, which will take you right into Luray. There is a $15 fee to take the Skyline Drive but it is worth every penny. Just do it.
The caverns themselves are beautiful, filled with stalactites, stalagmites, rocks and other things that are underground. The young woman behind us in line was scared of encountering bats but this is a squeaky-clean cavern, complete with lights, a paved walkway and tour guides who talk about the various things I would know more about, had I paid attention in my geology class. No bugs, from what I could tell, and thus no bats.
One word of caution – get there early. The tours begin at 9 a.m. every day, but if you arrive as late as noon, like we did, you will wait in a long line that leads you to something that looks like a cattle chute and finally will arrive inside, where the cavern entrance is. We were in line for about an hour. It looked like this:
Our long-ass line
The tickets are available online for $19 each but the folks behind us got a AAA discount and were able to get all four people in their party into the caverns for about $55. So wait until you get there to buy tickets. Honestly, I didn’t think it was worth $19. I could easily part with $15 for the experience, as it took an hour and a half to get through the caverns and reemerge from underground, but $19 is a little steep.
After the cavern tour, head back up to Front Royal and have dinner at the Lucky Star Lounge. If you are there on a Sunday between 3 and 5 p.m. you can not only have some of the area’s best food but you can also enjoy the cool bluegrass-folks-inspired music of Drymill Road. This is one of the best bands I have heard live in some time. It’s worth timing all this precisely to have this be the final stop on your way home. The food and service are wonderful and I look forward to returning soon.