Back-to-school season is almost here and many families are looking for last minute day trips in Berks County to celebrate the last few days of summer. Crystal Cave in Kutztown, PA is the perfect place for the whole family to enjoy. The cave is easily accessed via Rt 22/78 and Rt 222, between Reading and Allentown. Once you arrive, get ready to be amazed by Pennsylvania’s first show cave.
Learn a Little Cave History
The one hour tour of the cave provides visitors with all kinds of cave history. But, before you arrive, a little cave info is in order. Crystal Cave was discovered by two men blasting for limestone in 1871. When the smoke cleared, their explosives revealed more than they had bargained for, a huge hole leading into a cavern. News of the accidental find traveled quickly, and before long, curiosity drove locals to explore the cave for whatever treasures it held.
Worried about damage, local farmer, Samuel Kohler, purchased the cave and its surrounding land in early 1872, His first order of business was to put up a wooden door to keep trespassers out. He then began planning the grand opening of the cave. Only six months after the cave’s discovery, the “Grand Illumination of the Crystal Cave,” opened the natural wonder to the public. Amazingly, Crystal Cave’s stalactites, stalagmites and beautiful formations continue to wow visitors 148 years later!
Crystal Cave typically offers tours from March 1 through November and closes for the months of December, January and February. The hours of operation are Monday-Sunday from 9:00am-5:00pm, however given the added guidelines and limited capacity of tours, it is always best to call before you arrive to confirm hours and availability.
If you are able to secure a spot for a tour, arrive early. Weekend tours usually fill up by 1pm with the last tour of the day starting at 4:40pm. Free parking is included with admission.
If you never explored a cave, you might not know what to expect or how to prepare for your visit. First things first, Crystal Cave remains a cool and constant 54 degrees. While this may be a refreshing change from the hot and humid summer days, if you chill easily, a light sweater or jacket is recommended.
Cave surfaces can be wet and steep, plus Crystal Cave’s one hour tour requires lots of walking. Be sure you wear comfortable and slip-resistant shoes, like sneakers, for your underground adventure. Following the tour, those shoes will come in handy if you decide to explore Crystal Cave’s hiking trails, or play a round at the miniature golf course at the site.
Follow Safety Guidelines
While Crystal Cave is now open for visitors, the attraction has implemented health and safety guidelines based on recommendations from the CDC and PA Dept of Health. These precautionary measures are in place to help ensure the safety of guests and staff amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Crystal Cave requires face coverings and temperature checks of ALL guests and employees. Hand sanitizer is available. The ice cream parlor is take-out only; but, outdoor seating options available. Guests must maintain a social distance of 6 feet, limiting the capacity of tours and shops. Crystal Cave employees will wear gloves during transactions and thoroughly clean restrooms, hand railings, souvenirs, and counters throughout the day.
Give Yourself Extra Time to Explore
When planning your visit to Crystal Cave, it is recommended that you give yourself more time than the hour allotted for the tour of the cave and showing of the “Inside the Earth”. The premises offers many additional activities including gemstone panning, miniature golf, and hiking trails. You can also visit the Gift Shop and Rock & Mineral Shop, Ice Cream Parlor, restaurant with Dutch food specialities, and Historic Museum.
Crystal Cave offers plenty of things to fill your day, but you might want to venture into nearby Kutztown, PA, home of the annual Kutztown Folk Festival. Stoll the beautiful grounds of Kutztown University and the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center. Grab a delicious bite to eat at Saucony Creek Craft Beer Brewery & Gastropub, or shop the town’s welcoming Main Street.