The Luray Caverns are truly a sight to behold. Formed by eons of erosion and discovered in 1878, they mark the largest cave complex in the Eastern United States. The caverns are nearly overflowing with impressive stalactites, stalagmites, and dazzling mirror pools. Not to mention that the caverns are situated in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley; overall, they're a must-visit destination. Luray Caverns is open every day of the year and usually expects some half a million visitors in that timeframe.

01Reaching the Luray Caverns

Toss in a coin and make a wish at this Luray Caverns pool OKRAD / Getty Images

The Luray Caverns rest at a fairly remote, rural location in West Virginia. There are no bus routes, but larger towns and cities nearby offer taxicab services that can get you to the Luray Caverns and back. However, the best method to reach the Luray Caverns is driving yourself. If you need to fly in, Washington D.C. or Richmond, Virginia are sensible destinations, and you can rent a car from companies like Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

02Pets Allowed (Restrictions May Apply)

Explorers and the cave freemixer / Getty Images

Pets are allowed in the Luray Caverns under two major conditions. They need to be small enough to hold and carry the whole duration of the tour. Additionally, dogs need to be kept on leashes at all times. Unfortunately, there’s no onsite kennel or a suitable place to leave your pets, so you may want to leave your furry family at home for this trip.

03Don't Stress Over Planning

A panoramic shot of tourists near the Stalactpipe Organ Alex Wong / Getty Images

Planning, buying tickets ahead of time, and checking dates are usually essential. However, there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to visiting the Luray Caverns. Their tours famously never run out of space, even during the peak season; although, you may feel a bit more hurried when visiting during this season. The only reason to plan ahead is if you’re part of a large group in order to ensure the best experience and to take advantage of a group discount. You can buy tickets onsite for the same price as buying them ahead of time online, and the tickets are good all day long.

04Make Full Use of Your Ticket

A mystifying Luray Caverns mirror pool Anh Huynh / Getty Images

In addition to the Luray Caverns tour, your ticket entitles you to several other perks. You can see the history of transportation visualized at the impressive Car and Carriage Caravan. Here, various models of carriages and cars are arranged in chronological order. The charming Luray Valley Museum is also included in the trip and consists of two parts. One is a collection of antiques and artifacts from the earliest days of settlement up to the onset of the Great Depression, while the other is a recreation of an 18th century West Virginia town. Thankfully, the denizens of the mock-town are happy to answer questions!

05Have Children? Try the Kid-Oriented Extras

A boy having fun at a rope adventure park Imgorthand / Getty Images

While the ticket includes a few extras, there are two separate, explicitly kid-oriented courses you can get for your kids. One includes access to a rope climbing park, which consists of three levels so the children can climb according to their ability, comfort, and confidence. The other is a garden maze where the whole family can have fun getting lost together.

06Wear Suitable Clothes

A lake within Luray Caverns Vladone / Getty Images

The Luray Caverns are so insulated from the outside weather that they stay at a fairly stable 54 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. However, the humidity is quite high and some describe the temperature as ‘feeling’ more like 65. If you’re visiting in the summer, bringing a sweater and a pair of jeans would be smart. If you’re visiting in the winter, be prepared to shed a layer or two.

07Pick High Season or Low Season

freemixer / Getty Images

The Luray Caverns are busiest when the kids are out of school and going on vacation with their parents. As a result, peak season tends to be around spring break, late spring and on through early fall. October through to spring represents the low season, when you’ll be able to skip the crowds and enjoy a quieter visit to the Caverns.

08Be Ready for a Fast-Paced Tour

Shimmering pools within the caverns AndruGoldman / Getty Images

Since the Luray Caverns are such a popular destination, the tours are highly efficient to make sure everyone gets to see the major stops within. Groups stop at a station for twenty minutes, where a tour guide provides information on their assigned stretch of the cavern. This is more strictly observed during peak season, as some areas are rather small and physically require one group to go so the next can follow. However, the tickets are good for all day and you’re free to reenter.

09Visit the Luray Caverns Store

Fresh Fruit Preserves RonBailey / Getty Images

Once you finish the tour, you’ll walk right into the Luray Caverns Store. It’s an authentic gift shop filled with locally produced candies, Virginia wines, and a rich selection of locally produced jams, jellies, and butters. If you’re traveling from outside Virginia, it’s an excellent opportunity to get a taste of fresh, local goo

10Finish Your Trip with a Tour of the Shenandoah Valley

The rolling hills of the Shenandoah National Park OGphoto / Getty Images

The Luray Caverns are located in the Shenandoah Valley, and a drive around the Valley is a perfect way to spend the day after you leave. The Shenandoah is nestled between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, and it’s a truly beautiful stretch of wilderness. History enthusiasts will enjoy learning about the critical role the Shenandoah played in the Civil War, from Stonewall Jackson’s brilliant campaign there in 1862 to Philip Sheridan’s devastating invasion in 1864.