Howes Cave, New York
Howe Caverns was discovered by its landowner/farmer back in 1842. This venerable commercial cave has been the mainstream underground destination for tourists in the region ever since.
For us, though, Howe Caverns has always been the preppy fraternity when compared to the Animal House down the road -- Secret Caverns. Secret Caverns' creative billboards and trippy tours were, of course, no match for the marketing prowess of Howe, but we always thought Secret had the heart.
Times have changed, and the two caves were reported to have buried the hatchet.
We always recommend area visitors check out BOTH caves. Howe offers a brisk elevator ride, walking tour and underground boat ride. The main lodge building contains a museum about the cave and the business. They've conducted over 600 weddings in the cave's Wedding Chapel!
The cave was sold in 2007. In 2013, Howe Caverns was touting zip lines, a rock wall, and other outdoor fare. A giant transparent plastic H2OGo Ball was sitting at the bottom of the slope below the lodge. Inside, at the start of the cave tour, an animatronic Lester Howe describes his original discovery in 1842.
Howe Caverns also features the Cave House Museum, an 1872 hotel made of limestone exhibiting a collection of mining, geology, and cave history artifacts.