Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, New Mexico
Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, New Mexico by Wing-Chi Poon (CC BY-SA)

21 Free and Cheap Underground Spaces to Explore

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Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, New Mexico
Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, New Mexico by Wing-Chi Poon (CC BY-SA)

Life Below Ground

Some of the coolest spots you’ve never heard of may lie right beneath your feet. From one-of-a-kind caves to commuter walkways to “underground cities” from the early 1900s, there are many places to find adventure below ground. Some of these are free to explore, while other sites collect an entrance fee. Have you been to one of these fascinating subterranean spaces? Please share your experience in the comments.


Related: Offbeat Attractions in All 50 States

20160210 13 Chicago Pedway
20160210 13 Chicago Pedway by David Wilson (CC BY)

Chicago Pedway

Chicago can swing between oppressively hot and brutally cold, but the city’s underground Pedway takes the pain out of the weather for pedestrians. About 5 miles of hallways connect buildings and train stations in a 40-plus-block area of the central business district. It’s free to walk through. 


Related: 12 Free or Cheap Things You Must Do in Chicago

Underground Atlanta
Sean Pavone/shutterstock

Underground Atlanta

Atlanta boasts its own “city beneath the streets” in the Five Points neighborhood. Stretching over the equivalent of six city blocks, the area encompasses three underground levels filled with shopping, restaurants, and entertainment. There’s even an Art Walk showcasing six artist galleries and weekly immersive art activations.


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Underground Seattle
Underground Seattle by Eric Fidler (CC BY-NC)

Seattle Underground

The Great Seattle Fire destroyed 31 downtown blocks of walkways and basements in the mid-19th century. After the streets were elevated, the network of abandoned underground spaces became a historic attraction. Touring the area costs $22, but Google reviews give the tour — especially the entertaining guides — high marks. 

Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul, Minnesota
©TripAdvisor

Wabasha Street Caves

St. Paul, Minnesota

These sandstone caves, carved out during the mid-1800s, are accessible from downtown St. Paul. Once upon a time, they were the scene of mobster meet-ups and housed speakeasies, but these days, the caves are the setting for tours and select nights of live, big-band music. The caves can be toured for $11.

Cumberland Caverns, McMinnville, Tennessee
Amanda J./Yelp

Cumberland Caverns

McMinnville, Tennessee

With 32 miles of caves and underground passageways, this national natural landmark is one of the longest caves in America. Besides being a site for tours and exploration, the caves are also the venue for Bluegrass Underground, a musical performance broadcast regularly on PBS. Tours are separated into three different categories, sorted by difficulty, and prices vary between the options. For the "easy" tour, visitors ages 13 and up can expect to pay $27 for the experience. 

Buffalo Bayou Cistern, Houston
Thuy P./Yelp

Buffalo Bayou Cistern

Houston

A drinking-water reservoir built in 1926 for the city of Houston, this underground marvel has been repurposed as a public space that will house temporary art installations. Tour prices start at $8 for adults. Children under 9 are not allowed, and advance reservations are required.  


Related: Free Walking Tours From Across the U.S.

Mammoth Cave National Park
zrfphoto/istockphoto

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

This national park in central Kentucky is the longest known cave system in the world. To date, 400 miles of the caves have been explored. Prices vary depending on the tour but are as low as $8 for adults.


Related: Surprising Facts About America's National Parks

Ape Cave Lava Tube, Mount St. Helens, Washington
Ly V./Yelp

Ape Cave Lava Tube

Mount St. Helens, Washington

Ape Cave Lava Tube, located on the south side of Mount St. Helens, is the longest continuous lava tube in the continental United States. It’s also a popular hiking destination. The cave is free to visit, but daily parking costs $5.

Underground tunnels in Port Angeles, Washington
©TripAdvisor

Port Angeles Underground

Port Angeles, Washington

Downtown Port Angeles had a problem with constant flooding and high tides in the early 1900s. The streets were raised in 1914, leaving a network of underground tunnels that visitors can explore. Tours cost $15 for adults, and less for seniors, students, and children.

Niagara Cave, Harmony, Minnesota
Niagara Cave, Harmony, Minnesota by Tisius Syracuse (CC BY-SA)

Niagara Cave

Harmony, Minnesota

Niagara Cave is a geological wonder. Along the route of the 1-mile tour, visitors pass an underground waterfall, view ancient fossils and passageways created by an underground stream, and stop at a chapel where scores of couples have married. Admission is $20 for adults and $12 for children ages 3 to 12.

and here's a look at the old first floor, which is now the basement.
and here's a look at the old first floor, which is now the basement. by Tess Dixon (CC BY-NC-ND)

Old Sacramento Underground

Sacramento, California

The city of Sacramento is yet another community lifted above floodwaters during the latter half of the 19th century, leaving behind underground spaces. Adults can tour the historical remnants with a guide for $22 ($15 for kids).  

Havre Beneath the Streets, Havre, Montana
©TripAdvisor

Havre Beneath the Streets

Havre, Montana

Fire destroyed the business district of Havre in 1904. While the town rebuilt, business owners moved underground, creating a city beneath the streets. Visitors can tour spaces once used as saloons, markets, and even a bordello. Adults pay $17; tours cost less for seniors and children.

Underground Eureka, Eureka, Arkansas
©TripAdvisor

Underground Eureka Springs

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Underground Eureka is the result of road improvements to the downtown area that required businesses to create new entrances on their second floors. The original entrances were walled off, leading to a series of basement passageways. A tour is required for viewing, and adult tickets cost $17.50; children under 12 enter free.


Related: Small Towns Known for Being LGBTQ-Friendly

Moaning Cavern, Vallecito, California
Crista F./Yelp

Moaning Cavern

Vallecito, California

Moaning Cavern is so deep that the entire Statue of Liberty could stand inside. While visitors can rappel into the cave, the cheapest (and least daring) option is a family-friendly walking tour, priced at $22 for adults and $16 for children ages 3 to 11.

Indianapolis City Market Catacombs
Lisa H./Yelp

Indianapolis City Market Catacombs

Indianapolis City Market sits atop a hidden network of brick catacombs. The space was originally part of Tomlinson Hall, a large building that seated 3,500 people until it burned down in 1958. The basement of arches was left behind, and now visitors ages 12 and up can tour the space for $12. The fee for 6- to 11-year-olds is $6.

SubTropolis, Kansas City, Missouri
©TripAdvisor

SubTropolis

Kansas City, Missouri
SubTropolis is a giant underground business complex built in an excavated mine with limestone walls. About 1,000 people toil here every day in enterprises ranging from specialty food packaging to cloud computing to storage for postage stamps.

Ellinwood Tunnels, Ellinwood, Kansas
Karima F./Yelp

Ellinwood Underground

Ellinwood, Kansas
The city of Ellinwood features a well-preserved underground space from the 1800s that once housed saloons, a barbershop, and a bathhouse — basically everything a cowboy would need. Visitors can still see some of the original items, such as the barbershop’s wallpaper and flooring. Tours are $6 for adults.

Ice Cave, Grants, New Mexico
Karen L./Yelp

Ice Cave

Grants, New Mexico

Visit the Ice Cave to see natural layers of crystal-clear ice that accumulate year-round in a collapsed lava tube. General admission for a guided tour is $12 for adults and $6 for kids. Visitors may want to bring a jacket; the ambient temperature in the one-room cave is below freezing. 

Mystery Hole Ansted, WV
Mystery Hole Ansted, WV by James McCauley (CC BY)

The Mystery Hole

Ansted, West Virginia

If you want to try defying gravity, look no further than the Mystery Hole. The tourist trap is a series of underground rooms with walls and floors built on various angles to make visitors feel like there's something wonky with the gravity. Adults pay $10 for guided tours ($8 for ages 3 to 11) and no infants are allowed.


Related: Weird Tourist Attractions Across America

Florida Caverns State Park
Florida Caverns State Park by Steven Martin (CC BY-NC-ND)

Florida Caverns State Park

Marianna, Florida

Stalactites and stalagmites abound in the depths of Florida Caverns. Visitors can explore the limestone underground cave system that is amplified with a new LED lighting system for a truly colorful experience. Tours cost $10.75 for ages 13 and up; $5 for ages 3 to 12.

Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, New Mexico
Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, New Mexico by Wing-Chi Poon (CC BY-SA)

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad, New Mexico

As far as underground caverns go, the Carlsbad Caverns are a must-see — and visitors only have to pay $15 to tour them. Located in Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico, the caverns are in the Carlsbad Caverns National Park, which is home to more than 100 limestone caves that are known as some of the most incredible, beautiful environments in the country.