Descend to inside the mountain

Linville Caverns

19929 U.S. 221 North, Marion. 800-419-0540.

Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Activities: Visitors can explore North Carolina's only commercial caverns, discovered in 1822 by two fishermen. Linville Caverns was opened for public touring in 1937. There have been many upgrades to the pathways and lighting system to create a safe touring experience. Guests will take a 30- to 40-minute tour, where they will learn the history of the caverns and how they formed, as well as about plant and wild life. Dress appropriately because the caverns are often damp and the average temperature is 52 degrees.

Cost: Adults, $7; seniors (62+) $5.50; children ages 5-12, $5; children under 5 are admitted free with the purchase of an adult or senior admission.

Target Audience: All ages.

Directions from uptown: From South Church Street, turn right to merge onto I-277 S. Continue onto U.S.-74 W. Turn left onto the Interstate 485 Inner N ramp. Take exit 10B to merge onto I-85 S toward Gastonia/Spartanburg. Take exit 17 for U.S.-321 S./U.S.-321 N toward Gastonia/Lincolnton. Keep left at the fork, follow signs for U.S.-321 N. Turn left at U.S.-321 N/North Chester Street. Continue to follow U.S.-321 N. Take exit 43B for I-40 W toward Asheville. Continue toward I-40 W and merge onto I-40 W. Take exit 86 for N.C. 226 toward Marlon/Shelby. Turn right at N.C. 226 N. Continue onto U.S.-221 N. Destination will be on the left.

Distance from Charlotte: About 2 hours.