No matter the weather outside, the temperature inside Virginia’s caverns lingers comfortably in the high 50s. Grab the family, lace up your best walking shoes and take a day trip underground at one of these caves. (Bonus: They’re all within a two-hour drive of Northern Virginia.)
Located on a campground, Endless Caverns is open to the public from April until mid-November. The 75-minute cave tour is the longest in duration in the state and features sights such as the Yosemite Room, the Crock, the Cathedral Room and other rock formations—including a real fossil of a woolly mammoth’s tooth. Endless Caverns is also conveniently located near other attractions in the Shenandoah Valley area, making it the perfect stop to add to a greater road trip itinerary.
Perhaps the most iconic and well-known of Virginia’s caves, Luray Caverns is an extraordinary sight for all ages. Access to the caverns is only available via guided tour, and it’s recommended to purchase advance tickets online. During the hourlong journey underground, guests walk through cathedral-like rooms with giant stone formations, bodies of water and shimmering crystals that stretch from the ceiling and even the Great Stalacpipe Organ, the world’s largest musical instrument that taps the caverns’ stalactites to produce sound.
In addition to the caverns, the property boasts a variety of family-friendly attractions. A general admission ticket also includes entry to the on-site Luray Valley Museum, which documents the history of the Shenandoah Valley region, and the Car and Caravan Carriage House Museum, home to an impressive collection of antique vehicles. For an additional fee, visitors can get lost in the Garden Maze, climb high at the Ropes Adventure Park or pan for their own precious gemstones to take home as souvenirs.
Take the guided 1-mile tour of the Shenandoah Caverns (the only caverns in the state equipped with elevator service) to view unique formations such as the Bishop, Diamond Cascade, the colorful Oriental Tea Garden and the glimmering Rainbow Lake. After the tour, step back in time at the Main Street of Yesteryear exhibit, a display of ’40s- and ’50s-era department store windows. Continue the Americana experience next door at the American Celebration on Parade museum and see giant parade floats from past presidential inaugurations, Rose Bowl parades and other national celebrations. Then forget your diet and indulge in a float from Shenandoah Caverns’ original 1957 soda fountain and drive down the road for a savory treat at the nearby Route 11 Potato Chip Factory.
The closest caves to the D.C. region, Skyline Caverns are one of the few places in the world where visitors can see rare anthodites—a type of thin, spidery crystal formations. The guided tour of the caverns showcases other natural wonders like the Capital Dome, Painted Desert, Wishing Well and Fairyland Lake formations, three underground streams and the 37-foot Rainbow Waterfall. Kids and those young at heart can also enjoy a seasonal ride on the Skyline Arrow miniature train. For an additional fee, guests can try to find their way through the reflective twists and turns of the Enchanted Dragon Mirror Maze.