Explore an underground lake and enjoy a frozen treat on this Tennessee road trip – Rocket City Mom | Dauktion

Living in North Alabama has great travel advantages, with exciting day trips within easy reach. Our family loves exploring off the beaten track attractions. Sweetwater and Athens are two such Tennessee destinations that are not far from each other and offer families of all ages a memorable Tennessee road trip.

First stop on this Tennessee road trip: Mayfield Dairy Farm

Our family made the approximately 2 1/2 hour drive from the Huntsville area to our first stop on our Tennessee road trip, Mayfield Dairy Farms in Athens, TN. We arrived around 10:30am and found ample onsite parking. Each tour starts on the hour and lasts 45 minutes. While waiting for our tour to begin, we explored Mayfield’s adorable gift shop and even practiced “milking” the life-size mock cow!

After your tour, grab a frozen treat.

The tour started with a short walk to their screening room where we watched a short video about the history of Mayfield Dairy Farms and the production of milk, ice cream and other frozen treats. On the tour, you’ll walk the aisles to see the factory’s production through glass windows, and then the guide will take you into the production hall to see the machines up close. The tour ended at her ice cream shop. There you will be rewarded with a free scoop of ice cream on a cone or in a cup. We had so many flavors to choose from and sampled a few before choosing the ones we loved. You can enjoy your kugel indoors at one of the several tables, or venture outside to sit on one of the nearby benches.

The whole family will enjoy a tour of Mayfield Dairy Farm on this Tennessee road trip.

Things to know before you go:

location: 4 Mayfield Lane, Athens, TN 37303 (Map)

phone: 423-745-2151

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Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. There are no guided tours on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. The website says to call the holiday periods. Athens, TN is in the Eastern Time Zone. Opening times seem to change from time to time, so be sure to check the website when planning your visit.
entry: Admission includes the guided tour and the ice cream.
Adult (16+) $8.50
Children (4-15) $6.50
Infants (ages 3 and under) Free, $1.50 Ice Cream
Park is available on site and free of charge.
bathroom – Toilets are located in the visitor center. The women’s toilet has a changing station.
tours Take 1 to 1.5 hours
Accessibility for strollers/wheelchairs
There are stairs on the tour, I would recommend a baby in a carrier for younger babies/toddlers.
Miscellaneous: The entire production tour is all indoors. Buy tickets at the visitor center in the gift shop. Photography is prohibited during the production tour.

The Lost Sea Adventure

Lost Sea Adventure is a short 20-minute drive from Mayfield Dairy Farms and is located in Sweetwater, TN. Here we ventured deep into a beautiful cave system and took an underground boat ride on America’s largest underground lake! We then had lunch at their delicious on-site cafe. The cafe offers sandwiches and barbecues at a very reasonable price and was the perfect way to end our Tennessee road trip.

Tours start at 9:30am, with new tours starting every 15 minutes until 7:00pm. Each tour group has no more than 25 people and lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. This is a cave system with an easy to moderate ¾ mile loop hike on wide but sometimes sloping and wet trails. The tour starts and ends at the same place…that is a massive yellow tunnel that leads down into the cave.

Before entering the Lost Sea Adventure Tour, you must go through the yellow tunnel.

Tour groups are led by entertaining and knowledgeable guides who discuss the cave’s history, rock formations, and various cave rooms. During the tour, you’ll experience total darkness for about a minute when you turn off the lights. Halfway through the tour, you will arrive at America’s largest subterranean lake, beautiful and tranquil at the same time. You go to the jetty and board one of the waiting boats. After a few minutes in the boat they hand out fish food (beef liver pellets) to feed large rainbow trout. This was unanimously voted our favorite part of our trip! The guide explains how and when the fish were brought into the cave and why they were brought there. It’s a great story, so instead of spoilers, experience it for yourself!

Enjoy a boat ride on the underground lake and feed the fish.

After our tour we took some time to stroll through the Lost Sea Village which has several shops to browse and buy souvenirs. There is also the Lost Sea Nature Trail which we didn’t get to enjoy because everyone was quite tired after a long and exciting day. Although we didn’t experience it, they do offer a special overnight tour for groups of 12 or more for the slightly more adventurous souls. According to the website, this special tour includes access to more areas of the cave system and must be booked at least 2 weeks in advance.

The Lost Sea Adventure is one of the largest subterranean lakes in North America.

Things you should know before taking this Tennessee road trip:

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location: 140 Lost Sea Rd, Sweetwater, TN, 37874 (Map)

phone: 423-337-6616

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Hours: Check the website, they change according to the season, but always open at 9am, with tours starting at 9:30am and lasting until at least 5pm. This location is in the Eastern Time Zone.
Adult (13+) $24.95 plus tax
Child (4-12 years) $14.95 plus tax
Infants (up to 3 years) FREE
Park: Free and on site
bathroom: There are male and female toilets in the visitor center. The women’s toilet has a changing station.
tours takes between 1.5 – 2.5 hours.
Pushchair/wheelchair accessible: Due to the slopes and wet patches throughout the cave, I recommend using a baby carrier. Due to the inclines, this tour may not be suitable for those with limited mobility.
Tips for Parents: You can buy tickets online in advance or buy them at the visitor center. Call ahead for cafe hours if your family wants to eat there. No backpacks are allowed on the tour. The cave is a constant 58 degrees, we wore trousers and long-sleeved shirts or light jackets. Use the restrooms before the tour, it will be your last chance until the tour is over.

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Victoria Hewlett

Born and raised in Pasadena, California, I now call Alabama home. Growing up, my parents loved exploring and traveling, so I’m always looking for new places to explore with my family (when I’m not behind the desk as an auditor). I have 3 wonderful children aged 2, 9 and 13, a wonderful husband, a turtle and a cat. Life is precious and short. I love the saying, “We don’t travel to escape life, we travel so that life may not escape us.”

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