Originally called the Bat Cave, this cavern near Atlanta is open

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Caverns of the Southeast

You’ll find plenty to do both above and underground at these sites just a few hours away

As temperatures fall, many people are dreaming of beach vacations. But if you looking for an adventure that doesn’t require sunscreen, head underground.

Just three hours from Atlanta, Cathedral Caverns State Park in Alabama has resumed tours of its caverns. The best part? It’s about 60 degrees there all year round.

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Originally called the Bat Cave, the cavern’s 126-foot-wide and 25-foot-high entrance is large enough for Batman to get any of his vehicles in.

But it was Jacob Gurley, not Bruce Wayne, who renamed it and opened Cathedral Caverns to the public in the 1950s. The state of Alabama bought the caverns in 1987 and opened them as a state park in the summer of 2000.

“Inside the cavern are some of the most beautiful formations Mother Nature has ever created,” according to the park’s website. Those include “Goliath,” one of the largest stalagmites in the world measuring 45 feet tall and 243 feet in circumference. You also will see: a “caveman” perched atop a flowstone wall, a “frozen” waterfall, a large stalagmite forest and a most improbable stone formation — a stalagmite that is 27 feet tall and 3 inches wide.

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The frozen waterfall at Cathedral Caverns

The frozen waterfall at Cathedral Caverns
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The frozen waterfall at Cathedral Caverns

The park itself is 493 acres with marked hiking trails if you prefer to walk above ground. And when you want to stay put for a while, try your hand at gemstone mining. You buy a bag or bucket of mining dirt containing either rough cut gemstones or fossils, then you sift it through running water in custom-made flumes. You can identify your finds using the gemstone identification display.

For cave tour dates, times and prices, click here.

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If one cavern isn’t enough for you, drive from Cathedral Caverns State Park to DeSoto Caverns in Childersburg, Alabama.

"Besides our unique onyx filled caverns, we are offering a look into our past by featuring the early Alabama craft of blacksmithing," its website states.

Demonstrations are scheduled throughout the day, along with street performers and other entertainment.

For dates, times and prices, click here.

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