Coolest Caves in the Midwest for Michigan Families to Visit
Looking for slam-dunk spelunking spots? These 10 great vacation destinations give local parents and kids a truly underground family experience!
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- Location: Marengo, Indiana
- Phone: 888-702-2837
- Hours: 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. weekends; until 6 p.m. weekdays
- Pricing (2012): 40-minute walking tour is $14/adults, $8/kids, free/ages 3 and under (many other tour packages are available, from 60-minute walking tours to five-hour underground adventures)
Ready to get dirty? For adventurous kids (ages 12 and up on this one), venture on hands and knees – and stomach! – as part of the Waterfall Crawl. This tour lasts two hours. But there are plenty of other options, both for more adventures (think crawling through even-rock caverns) and simple walking tours for all ages. With so many ways to explore the cave, it's no mystery why this is Indiana's most visited show cave!
- Location: Hannibal, Missouri
- Phone: 800-527-0304
- Hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. through summer (check website for year-round hours)
- Pricing (2012): $29.90/adults, $18.90/kids ages 8-12, $3.50/ages 7 and under
First opened in 1886, the Mark Twain Cave, originally called McDowell's Cave, was a frequent haunt of the young Sam Clemens (Twain's real name). The cave is now a registered National Natural Landmark where you can tour 6 1/2 miles of winding, narrow passages during the 55-minute tour (notorious outlaw Jesse James was a visitor, too). The complex includes the Cameron Cave, which has a longer, one-hour-and-20-minute tour – where you'll be led by lantern-light. The caves are about an hour south of Hannibal, and camping spots are available on the property.
- Location: Stanton, Missouri
- Phone: 573-468-CAVE
- Hours: 8:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily in summer months
- Pricing (2012): $19.50/adults, $9.75/ages 5-11, free/children ages 4 and under
Known as "America's Cave," Meramec Caverns has a long and storied history since its discovery by a French explorer back in 1720 (at one time, Jesse James used this one as a hideout, too!). The extensive cave has several rare formations tucked within its seven stories and 26 miles of passages. The tour lasts about one hour and 20 minutes and makes a 1 1/2-mile round-trip journey.
- Location: Liberty, Ohio
- Phone: 937-465-4017
- Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the summer, daily
- Pricing (2012): $15/adults, $9/ages 5-12, free/ages 4 and under
Ohio Caverns is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state – for good reason. The extensive caverns boast an array of colorful formations, including some in blue, orange and bright whites. There are several tours available, including a few that will take you into rooms dubbed "Fantasyland," "Palace of the Gods" and the "Big Room" because of their unique formations, colors and sizes.
- Location: Spring Mill State Park, Indiana
- Phone: 812-849-4129
- Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., tours run every half hour
- Pricing (2012): $3/ages 11 and up, $1/ages 3-10 (note that kids ages 3 and under aren't permitted on the boat tour)
Twin Caves is just one of several attractions located within the Spring Mill State Park. The park houses four interpretative facilities where families can learn about early pioneer life in the area. But for cave fans, there's a 20-minute boat tour that takes visitors 600 feet into a cave – where you might be able to spy the rare, endangered blind cavefish. Note: Reservations are available on daily basis, so staff suggests getting tickets early that day; once the daily slots are filled, no more tickets are sold. Tickets are not available in advance.
- Location: Buchanan, Mich.
- Phone: 269-695-3050
- Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
- Pricing (2012): $3/adults, $1.50/ages 6-11, free/ages 5 and under
Venture into Bear Cave after walking on a winding 40-foot staircase into the 15-foot-deep, four-to-six-foot-wide and 10-to-15-foot-high cave. This small cave has a storied history: A bank robber chose to stash his cash here in 1875. The incident worked its way in the 1903 silent film, The Great Train Robbery. Today, the area is known for its great camping and fishing along the St. Joseph River.