The enticements start early, and continue throughout the first part of your trip on old Route 66.
Visit Meramec Caverns, proclaims a barnside advert. Billboards along the road take up the cry: Hideout of Jesse James. Open All Year! Cool 60 Degrees Year Round! This Exit — Stanton, MO!
You gotta love the sheer repetitiveness of the Meramec folks, but you might forgive a cynical tourist for expecting the reality to be less-than-whelming.
Wrong. Don’t be put off by the fake gold-mining sluice, zipline (over a parking lot — yawn), and run-of-the-mill gift shop. Head straight for the guided tour, and prepare to be amazed. The cave is the real deal, and it’s worth every penny.
As a bonus, if you’re lucky, you’ll get Lee as your tour guide. Funny, knowledgeable, and passionate about the cave, he’ll keep you entertained even while he’s explaining the minutiae of speleology. Plus he rocks the light show (take the tour, you’ll see).