Explore an Underground Lake & Enjoy a Frozen Treat on this Tennessee Roadtrip

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Living in North Alabama has great advantages for traveling, with exciting, easy to reach day-trips. Our family loves exploring off-the-beaten path attractions. Sweetwater and Athens are two such destinations in Tennessee, that aren’t far apart and are sure to make a memorable Tennessee Roadtrip for families of any age.

First Stop of this Tennessee Roadtrip: Mayfield Dairy Farm

Our family made the approximately 2 ½ hour drive from the Huntsville area to our first stop on our Tennessee Roadtrip, Mayfield Dairy Farms in Athens, TN. We arrived around 10:30 a.m. and found ample onsite parking. Each tour starts on the hour and lasts 45 minutes. While we waited for our tour to begin, we explored Mayfield’s adorable gift shop and even practiced “milking” the life-size, pretend cow!

Grab a frozen treat after your tour.

The tour started with a short walk to their screening room, where we watched a short video on the history of Mayfield Dairy Farms and the production of milk, ice cream and other frozen treats. On the tour, you walk along the hallways to see the production of the factory through glass windows and then the tour guide will take you on the production floor to see the machinery up close. The tour ended at their ice cream parlor. There, you are 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 several before picking the ones we loved. You can enjoy your scoop inside at one of several tables or venture outside to sit on one of the benches located nearby.

The entire family will enjoy a tour of Mayfield Dairy Farm on this Tennessee Roadtrip.

Things to Know Before You Go:

Location: 4 Mayfield Lane, Athens, TN 37303 (map)


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Phone: 423-745-2151

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Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. No tours are conducted on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Website says to call for holiday hours. Athens, TN is in the Eastern Time Zone. Hours appear to change from time-to-time, so be sure to check the website when planning your visit.
Admission: Admission includes the tour and ice cream.
Adults (ages 16+) $8.50
Kids (4 – 15) $6.50
Toddlers (3 & under) Free admission, $1.50 ice cream
Parking is available onsite, and is free.
Bathrooms – Restrooms are inside the Visitor Center. The women’s restroom has a baby changing station.
Tours take between 1 and 1.5 hours
Strollers/Wheelchair Accessibility
There are stairs on the tour, I would recommend a baby in a carrier for younger babies/toddlers.
Other: The entire production tour is all indoors. Purchase tickets at the Visitor Center in the gift shop. Photography is prohibited on the production floor tour.

The Lost Sea Adventure

The 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! Afterward, we had lunch at their delicious on-site café. The café offers sandwiches and barbecue, at a very reasonable price and was the perfect end to our Tennessee Roadtrip.

Tours start at 9:30 a.m., with new tours beginning every 15 minutes until 7 p.m. 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 round trip walk on wide, but at times, sloping and wet, pathways. The tour begins and ends at the same location…which is a massive yellow tunnel leading down into the cave.

Before entering The Lost Sea Adventure Tour you have to make your way through the yellow tunnel.

Tour groups are led by entertaining and knowledgeable guides, who discuss the cave’s history, rock formations and various cavern rooms. During the tour, you get to experience total darkness for about a minute when they turn off the lights. At the halfway point in the tour, you’ll arrive at America’s largest underground lake, both beautiful and serene. You’ll walk to the boat dock and board one of the awaiting 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 as our favorite part of our trip! The guide discusses how and when the fish were brought into the cave, and the purpose for bringing them there.It’s a great story, so instead of spoilers, go experience it for yourself!

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

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

See Also

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

Things to Know Before You Go on this Tennessee Roadtrip:


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Location: 140 Lost Sea Rd, Sweetwater, TN, 37874 (map)

Phone: 423-337-6616

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Hours: Check website, they change based on the season but always open at 9 a.m., with tours starting at 9:30 a.m. and last until at least 5 p.m. This location is in the Eastern Time Zone.
Admission:
Adults (ages 13 & up) $24.95 plus tax
Kids (ages 4 – 12) $14.95 plus tax
Toddlers (ages 3 & under) FREE
Parking: Free and onsite
Bathrooms: There are men’s and women’s bathrooms inside the Visitor Center. The women’s restroom does have a baby changing station.
Tours take between 1.5 – 2.5 hours.
Strollers/Wheelchair Accessible: Due to the slopes and wet spots throughout the cave, I recommend using a baby carrier. Due to the inclines this tour may not be suitable for those with mobility issues.
Parent Tips: You can purchase tickets online in advance or buy them at the Visitor Center. Call ahead to find out hours for the café if your family chooses to eat there. No backpacks are allowed on the tour. The cave is a constant 58 degrees, we wore pants and long-sleeved shirts or light jackets. Use the bathrooms before the tour, it will be your last chance until the tour is over.

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