Let’s go spelunking
As summer reaches full swing, temperatures skyrocket and children sing the ever-popular choruses of, “It’s hot!” and “There’s nothing to do!”
It’s the perfect time to herd the kids to the car and head to one of Pennsylvania’s coolest summer attractions.
From breathtaking underground waterfalls to creepy-crawlies dotting cave walls, the state’s caverns may be Mother Nature’s best-preserved secret.
So whether you’re searching for a place to take your kids on a Monday afternoon or looking for a weekend getaway adventure, we’ve compiled a list of caves for you to explore, as well as other attractions in the area for you to visit. And the best part? The naturally chilled air afforded by underground caves is cheaper than air conditioning!
Indian Echo Caverns
368 Middletown Road, Hummelstown
Cut through 440-million-year-old Beekmantown limestone, this cave includes a 45-minute tour of natural beauty through its lakes and natural rock formations. It’s a cool 52 degrees inside, making the caverns a perfect, naturally climate controlled destination for a hot summer daytrip.
What to do near Indian Echo Caverns:
100 W. Hersheypark Drive, Hershey
Pennsylvania State Capitol
North 3rd and State streets, Harrisburg
The Bears’ Den at the Hershey Lodge
325 University Drive, Hershey
Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park
222 Penns Cave Road, Centre Hall
Located in the shadow of Penn State’s Happy Valley, Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park is the country’s only all-water cavern and wildlife area. The caves are accessible via guided motorboat tours along an underground stream. In addition to admiring the geology of the caves on the boat tour, there is also a 90-minute motorized tour covering 1,500 acres of Penn’s Cave forests and local wildlife. Penn’s Cave was given the 2008 Century Farm Award to congratulate its status as a working farm operation.
What to do near Penn’s Cave:
Palmer Museum of Art
Curtin Road/Penn State Campus, University Park
Original Waffle Shop
1229 North Atherton St., State College
DelGrosso's Amusement Park
4352 East Pleasant Valley Blvd., Tipton
Famous Crystal Cave Park
963 Crystal Cave Road, Kutztown
Discovered in 1871, the cave, known as the state’s oldest operating cave, is nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Other on-site attractions include an ice cream parlor, miniature golf course and gift shop.
What to do near Crystal Cave:
Lehigh Valley Zoo
5150 Game Preserve Road, Schnecksville
Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery
9850 Newtown Road, Breinigsville
Leesport Farmer's Market
312 Gernants Church Road, Leesport
This cave located 50 miles south of Pittsburgh is famous for something that no other cavern in Pennsylvania can claim—it is the largest natural bat hibernaculum in the state. With three miles of labyrinthine caves contained below a 435-foot privately owned geological preserve, some visitors forego a normal walking tour in favor of cave rappelling, in which visitors are taught how to climb up and then rappel back down two 40-foot cliffs inside the caves.
What to do near Laurel Caverns:
Flight 93 National Memorial
6424 Lincoln Highway, Stoystown
McDonald's Big Mac Museum and Restaurant
9061 Route 30, North Huntingdon
Fallingwater & Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture Tours
1491 Mill Run Road, Mill Run
Cavern Street, Manns Choice
Tucked inside the hills of sleepy Bedford County, this cave offers the only fossilized coral reef cavern in the world, started 400 million years ago when Pennsylvania was covered by The Great Inland Sea.
5374 Indian Trail, Spruce Creek
Located between Altoona and State College, this is the state’s most historic limestone cavern. The caves offer scenic wildlife with more than 40 species of birds. Indian Caves is a “living” cavern, meaning that the stone formations within its walls are still growing to this day.
Route 45 in Centre County, Woodward
Known affectionately as “The Big One,” Woodward Cave reflects five spacious rooms. Besides the 50-minute guided tour provided at the cave, visitors also camp on the campground and in the rustic cabins on Woodward Cave’s 13-acre property.
What to do near Woodward Cave:
4989 Col John Kelly Road, Lewisburg
Lewisburg Farmers Market
600 Fairground Road, Lewisburg
Camp Woodward Skate Park
Route 45, Woodward, PA
Maya Kosoff is a rising junior in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and an intern at Central Penn Parent.