Thinking about visiting Cumberland Falls with your toddlers? Traveling with little ones always brings along a set of challenges that you don’t have to deal with when you are traveling solo or with a partner. You can make your trip to the breathtaking “Niagara of The South” easier by using these easy to follow tips! (PS: watch the video at the bottom of this post to see what it’s really like visiting Cumberland Falls with toddlers!)
Cumberland Falls is in Corbin, Kentucky. If you aren’t from Kentucky, you’ve probably never heard of Corbin. If you have, it’s probably only because you heard that it’s the birth place of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The falls are visited by people from all over the globe and is home to the rare natural atmospheric phenomenon, the moon bow.
A moon bow is basically a lunar rainbow that is created by the moons light refracting off the water droplets in the air. They’re only visible during a full moon. So rare, the only places in the world that you can see a moon bow is at Cumberland Falls and at Victoria Falls in Africa.
Now, before you head to Cumberland Falls, you should know what to take with you to make your experience in the state park with toddlers a smooth one.
Tip #1: Pack Bug Spray!
When you first park at the falls, there will be a long sidewalk that runs along the river. There are several sets of staircases leading down to the river. People use this area to fish, take pictures, have picnics, hang their hammocks and to get a great view of he arched bridge over the river. Bugs also use this area. You can’t walk around in this area without being SWARMED. Save yourself from having to cut your trip short, by packing bug spray.
The bug spray will also come in handy when you make your way to the beach beside the river, where again you can’t take two steps with out finding yourself at the eye of a flying bug hurricane.
The Best Time To Visit Cumberland Falls
As a little girl, my mom would take me to The Cumberland Falls on summer weekends. I have the best memories of seeing the falls with her, but to be honest, the state park is best visited in the fall. The colors around the falls and the river are just hands down more attractive in autumn. We visited in mid-October this year and I think the fall colors would have been even more striking if we had waited a week or to.
After a few months of very little rain and a quick transition from hot summer weather to cool fall temperatures, everyone was saying we would be lucky if the leaves changed colors at all. To our surprise, they really were quite beautiful.
Tip #2: Don’t Bring A Stroller
There is a ton of walking to be done around the falls. Toddlers will definitely get tired, mine sure did. However, this really isn’t a place to bring a stroller. There are SO MANY stairs that you have to take to get to different overlooks, the beach, etc. that a stroller would be a nightmare to lug along with you. Depending on the age of the your little one(s) you are traveling with, a baby carrier can be a life saver. My girls now weigh 30 pounds and 35 pounds, so I’m no longer interested in carrying them around on my chest or back all day. But, for three years, I did carry them around like that and it saved me from so many break downs and tantrums.
Here are a few popular carriers, including two budget friendly options. All are great for toddlers because they are made to hold more weight.
Lille baby 3 in 1 Carry On Toddler Carrier
-great for kids 20-60 pounds
Bebamour New Style Designer Sling 2 in 1 Carrier
-great for kids 8-44 pounds
Deuter Kid Comfort Active Child Carrier
-great for kids up to 48 pounds
Infantino Cuddle Up Ergonomic Hoodie Baby Carrier
-great for kids 12-40 pounds
Tip #3 Wear Closed Toe Shoes
Even if you your kid(s) will be in a carrier most of the time, closed toe shoes for when they are walking around are a must. There are places around the falls for kids to climb and run around. My daughters favorite parts about visiting the falls were the places were they could climb up rocks, tree roots, or up and down stairs. (I mean, the stairs alone were a good enough reason for me to wear my tennis shoes.)
The only way to get to one of the overlooks is by climbing down some rocks and at one part of the park you will come to a place where you can climb into a cave. The cave was my favorite part of the park as a child and now it’s my girls favorite part. Such a cool thing! Both the cave and the overlook will be best experienced if you and your toddler(S) have on appropriate shoes.
If you are interest in some awesome, ergonomic, toddler friendly shoes–check these out! Plae Toddler Sneaker My youngest daughter had some issues walking from 9 months until the time she turned two,(pigeon-toed, bow legged, and tripped a lot), and these came highly recommended.
Tip #4: Don’t Bring A Tote Bag Or Purse
Holding and chasing after your kids by the water or on the stairs while your tote bag or purse falls off your shoulder adds stress to your trip and is just annoying. Instead, bring a trusty back pack with you. This is a place where you are going to want to bring more with you than your phone and a bottle of water. Here are just a few things I recommend bringing with you to Cumberland Falls to have an incredible, memory filled time while in the state park.
Cumberland Falls Packing List
1. back pack
2. blanket to have a picnic on, to lay out on the beach
3. picnic meal, snacks, drinks, etc.
4. hammock (my family uses these)
5. toddler carrier
Tip #5 Don’t Skip The Beach
The beach at Cumberland Falls State Park can be daunting when you have toddlers with you. There is a long and steep staircase leading down to the beach along the river and the end of the staircase is very steep is covered in sand and VERY SLICK. However, I would never tell anyone to skip the beach even if you have toddlers with you. The beach is gorgeous and offers views of the river that can’t be seen anywhere else in the park.
The beach also offers a few fun places that a trip to the falls wouldn’t be complete without. A wooden teepee has been constructed on the beach that kids LOVE to play in and around. And as a momma, I loved it too, because it’s the perfect place to get pictures of my babies.
Secret Cumberland Falls View
After you come down the stairs, walk towards the left side of the beach and you will see large boulders that seemingly lead to know where, but if you climb up and through them, you will get a view of the falls that others don’t. Below is a picture of the secret view in the falls, but to really see how to get to the secret view, watch the video at the end of this post.
Tip #6 Consider Traveling With Family
One of the things I was really happy for on this trip was that my mom came with us. There is a part in the park where you can walk on out on the huge slabs of rock out by the water. Both of my girls were so excited by this and they both ran off in different directions. It was a life safer having my mom there to chase after one of them while I went after the other. Of course I could have handled them by myself, I do it all the time, but it was way easier having someone there to help.
Another option for solo parent traveler is to get backpacks with leashes for your toddlers. For years my husband and I have been against these because it just felt so wrong and weird. However, in situations like when we were at Cumberland Falls by the water, I realize that keeping my kids safe is way more important than it feeling weird.
My kids are getting to an age where they don’t want to sit in a stroller and they don’t want to be packed or carried around on my shoulders–they want to go go go. If you are in a similar boat, here’s a few options to help you keep your little one(s) close to you and safe while you travel.
Skip Hop Toddler Leash and Harness Backpack
Fashion Toddler Travel Backpack
Toddler Dinosaur Backpack With Safety Leash