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Go underground to see the hidden side of Shenandoah, VA

SmarterTravel

When most people think of Shenandoah National Park, the first things that come to mind are probably splendid vistas, hiking trails, foliage galore, and wildlife. But just as many treasures lie underground, too. Consider spending a hot summer’s day in the cool subterranean playgrounds of Luray Caverns, about an hour and a half from Washington, D.C., in Luray, Virginia. You can find the caverns just 10 minutes from the entrance to Skyline Drive and the park.

The Luray Caverns are the largest in the Eastern United States, covering more than three acres. Tours feature “rooms” with ceilings as high as 10 stories; the one-of-a-kind “Stalacpipe” Organ, played live during each tour; and reflecting pools.

Tickets are $19 for adults and $9 for children, and include a one-hour guided tour and admission to the neighboring Car and Carriage Caravan Museum. Discounts are available for members of AAA and other associations; ask at the ticket office for the most up-to-date offers.

Nearby lodging is affordable, too. Two motels, Luray Caverns Motels East and West, each offer no-frills accommodations for under $100 per night. For a stay that’s a bit more upscale, consider the Caverns Country Club Resort, which sells lodging-and-golf packages from $240 per person for a two-night stay.

Luray isn’t the only place to find impressive caverns. To see the rest of Virginia underground, check the listings on the Virginia Tourism Corporation website.

Read more of the 50 Affordable Stateside Escapes.

Have a recommendation for the Shenandoah region, or another great getaway in Virginia? Post your comment below!

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