You may have never even dreamt of the idea of living or working underground. However, there are actually several benefits of doing so. Whether it is an existing cave or a built structure, some people like the idea of minimizing their negative impact on the environment. In addition, many businesses have used the benefits of naturally cool temperatures and low energy costs for years. Underground, you can be safe from severe weather, and enjoy a peaceful and quiet living space.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Crystal City Underground, Crystal City
One of the disadvantages of underground dwellings and businesses is that there is a potential for flooding. Unfortunately, Crystal City Underground has been faced with that problem. However, since they plan to reopen, I have included it here.
Located in a former sand mine, Crystal City is a fun place specializing in sports and music. They offer sand volleyball, disc (Frisbee) golf, big screen TVs and boat rides on an underground lake. They also offer other special activities and Kayak and Canoe Tours.
They host fundraisers, birthday parties, receptions and sports tournaments. They charge $5 to enter the cave which can be applied to any of the activities. All profits from events and activities benefits Jobs, Jobs, Jobs for Jefferson County & the Community Improvement Association of Crystal City.
Location: 700 Crystal Avenue
2. Springfield Underground, Springfield
Located 100 feet underground, Springfield Underground is cost-effective, secure, adaptable and environmentally friendly commercial real estate. Unlike Crystal City, Springfield Underground is mainly commercial, although they do have special events like the 5K pictured here. It is a limited access facility, but does have rail and truck access. It continues to grow, and currently at 2.4 million square feet, it still has space available. They are presently home to warehousing, laboratories, food storage, records storage and data centers, but they are able to accommodate all sorts of businesses.
Location: 2019 N Le Compte Road
3. Sub Tropolis, Kansas City
SubTropolis is a 55 million square foot, 1,100-acre manmade cave in the bluffs above the Missouri River in Kansas City. It is probably the most well-known of all the blossoming commercial underground facilities in the Midwest, and is certainly the largest. Check out a
about this facility in which it is covered in great detail.
Location: 8600 NE Underground Drive, Kansas City
4. Bonne Terre Mines, Bonne Terre
Bonne Terre Mine was founded in 1860 as one of the earliest deep-earth lead mines. It is one of the world’s largest man-made caverns, and was dubbed "One of America's Top 10 Greatest Adventures" by National Geographic. It was the largest producer of lead in the world until 1962!
The two upper levels of the mine are used for one-hour guided walking tours along the old mule trails. The tours are lighted and the mine is a constant 65-degrees year-round. The lower three levels are home to a one-billion-gallon, seventeen-mile long lake, illuminated by stadium lighting above the surface of the water. Here, boat tours and scuba diving are available. See the
web site for more information.
Location: 185 Park Avenue, one-hour south of St. Louis on Route 67.
5. Caveland, Festus
Here is an example of people who actually DO live underground. The “Cave House” in Festus started out as a mine. Later, it was owned by a man who used it to raise mushrooms and fishing worms. In the 1950s a woman named Sue Morris converted it into a roller skating rink and concert venue called “Caveland.” Over its time as this incarnation, it hosted such famous performers as Tina Turner, Bob Segar and Ted Nugent. It closed in 1985 and basically remained unused until the Sleeper family bought the property off of eBay in 2003, and converted into a home.
Caveland was also featured in a
And here are four caves that are just beautiful!
6. Onondaga Cave, Leasburg
Onondaga Cave State Park was established in 1982 and is located on the Meramec River approximately 5 miles southeast of the village of Leasburg. Although Missouri has more than 5,500 caves, Onondaga Cave, a national natural landmark, is considered one of the most spectacular caves in the nation because of the quality and beauty of its formations. Cave tours are available seasonally.
Location: 7556 Hwy. H
7. Fantastic Caverns, Springfield
Fantastic Caverns is a ride-through cave discovered in 1862 and located at 4872 North Farm Road 125 in Springfield. It was used as a speakeasy during Prohibition, then as a live country music venue in the 1950’s and 60’s. Currently, the privately owned attraction hosts over 140,000 visitors each year for an hour long tour of the cave. For more information on tours, visit
Location: 4872 N Farm Rd 125
8. Meramec Caverns, Sullivan
Meramec Caverns, a major Missouri tourist attraction since 1933, offers guided tours along well-lighted walkways. They take over an hour and cover about 1.25 miles. It is a historic Route 66 destination and is located right off Interstate 44 at exit 230.
Besides the caverns themselves, on-site facilities include a gift shop, a sluice, picnic areas, and a candy store, as well as Meramec Caverns Restaurant, Meramec Caverns Motel, Meramec Caverns Campground, Cavern Canoe and Raft Rentals, Jesse James Wax Museum, and Caveman Zipline. They are open all year round, only closing on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Address: 1135 Hwy W
9. Bridal Cave, Camdenton
Even if you don’t want to live in a cave, how amazing would it be to get married in one? Bridal Cave, named after a Native American Legend, Bridal Cave has been hosting the site for weddings since 1949, one year after the cave opened to the public. Since then, over 3,000 weddings have taken place in this cave.
Those weren’t the first weddings in the cave, however. Legend says that in the early 1800s, Osage Native Americans held their wedding ceremonies there. The stalactite decorated Bridal Chapel is available by reservation. For more information, visit
Location: 526 Bridal Cave Road
10. Marvel Cave, Branson
Marvel Cave is a National Natural Landmark and is located just west of Branson on top of Roark Mountain in Stone County. The Marvel Cave was first discovered by the Osage Tribe and is one of the largest in North America. The Osage Indians believed it was the “devil’s den” after a bear and a boy fell into the cave.
Facebook/ Marvel Cave
Later, in 1869, miners from St. Louis mined it for bat guano, used to make gunpowder, until the guano was gone. In 1894 it was purchasd by William Henry Lynch and turned into a tourist attraction. The entrance room is one of the largest in North America. When Silver Dollar City was opened in 1960, it was built around the entrance to the cave, and to this day, cave tours are included with admission to Silver Dollar City.
They also offer a 90-minute lantern tour for an extra fee featuring guides dressed in period costume who share stories and historical facts. The tour begins 90 minutes prior to the park closing from March through October and at 5:00 p.m. in November and December. Reservations are required.