Curious what it's like inside "the underground"? The unique destination is a former sand mine and has 6 million square feet of enclosed underground, naturally climate-controlled space. Wear a sweater because it's in the upper 50s year-round. The cavern, with its 30-40-foot ceilings is a byproduct of a sand mining operation, and you can see the thick pillars that were cut out of the rock, forming an asymmetrical grid.
A barge ride takes visitors through the remarkable 150-acre underground lake. It can hold many people safely, but they try to limit the number of passengers to 30 so everyone has a good view. The barge tour lasts 30 minutes and is included in the admission price.
When it comes to digging for treasure at Crystal City Underground, your child can do a variety of things. The Mine Field is where kids can find an assortment of different rocks to fill their bags and play in the largest sand box for $10 (each child gets a hat and identification chart for the rock they discover). Or start digging in the Sluice Box, which for $20 includes everything in the mine field pack and an additional pre-made bag of different rocks to mine in the sluice box. This is a great activity for parties!
The admission cost may seem pricey at $20 for adults and $10 for kids 16 and under, but the unique experience is well worth it.
Also available are kayak and canoe tours of the cave. You can take a one-hour tour for $35 a person, which covers 50 acres of the lake, or the three-hour tour for $50 a person, which covers the entire lake. Call 636-208-5026 for reservations.
In the future, the facility plans to add more activities to make it an even bigger sports and recreation complex. The owners have future plans for adding more sports, like bowling, basketball and dance according to the facility's website. They do offer laser tag, but when we visited in early September, it was closed.
If you go to Crystal City Underground, make sure to wear your walking shoes (the floor is all sand). Flashlights are available to find your way through the dim cave, but it is recommended you bring your own. No outside food or drink is allowed. Refreshments, including chips, candy, soda, water, energy drinks, Gatorade, beer and mixed drinks, are sold on site.
Crystal City Underground is at 700 Crystal Ave., Crystal City, MO, 63019. Driving directions are available on the website. Call 636-931-2888. The facility is open Friday nights from 7 p.m. to midnight, Saturdays from 1 p.m. to midnight and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.