Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary, a USDA–approved big-cat rescue facility, plays motherly host to a roaring family composed of five tigers and a lone lioness with a sultry swagger. Adopting philanthropists can align with their striped or unstriped spirit animal, choosing from noble felines such as the elder Mohan—a white male tiger with blue eyes, a pink nose, and a natural screen presence—or Raja—the relentlessly caring mother of sisters Gracie and Thor.
Nestled in the majestic rolling hills of Ste. Genevieve County, Cave Vineyard spans 14 fertile acres of prime grape-growing property and an on-property natural cave. This serene subterranean den—outfitted with electric lights, cozy tables, and wine casks—envelops famished blanket brandishers in a unique saltpeter picnic area. Each basket is loaded with an elegant spread of bread or crackers ($3), cheese ($5), olives ($5), and two decadent chocolate truffles ($5). Starting in May, stalagmites drip with quarter notes from cave-dwelling live music every Saturday. Guests are welcome to enjoy their picnics indoor in the event of a rainstorm or grape-juice tidal wave.
Your one-night Vintner's Getaway package includes a tour of the Crown Valley Winery, wherein a friendly and knowledgeable tour guide will lead you through the behind-the-scenes areas of the 55-acre winery, taking you step by increasingly zigzagged step through the wine-making process. Along the way, you'll get an up-close look at the massive tanks, the wine-storing oak barrels, and the bottling line before sampling the creations in their final form. You'll also enjoy a separate tour of Crown Valley's champagne house, complete with tastings of its effervescent, fizzy-lifting drinks.
Originally built as a one-room house in 1816, the Morse Mill Hotel grew to 5,300 square feet under the watchful eye of engineer John Morse, a former Confederate officer and suspected warlock. In its present state, the hotel may house ghostly figures who once took up residence in one of its 33 rooms. Jesse James and company signed their marks in the guest register, and a famous female serial killer, Bertha Gifford, was kept in the hotel's employ; a nearby gravesite marks her resting place. A burial ground for Confederate soldiers, relics of Al Capone's old brothel, and a dungeon also add to the sinister air. An expert paranormal guide leads amateur ghost gumshoes through the 33-room, four-story Morse manse, providing advice on where to find the friendliest demons. If they dare, guests are encouraged to snap photos to document their occult encounters with phantoms, specters, or eerily expensive minibars.
Crystal City Underground isn't your ordinary cave. Not unless your cave has disc golf, live music, and laser tag. Carved out of a former sand mine located at the intersection of Plattin Creek and the Mississippi River, Crystal City is a six million square-foot, climate-controlled, subterranean space that plays host to a wide range of underground activities. That includes walking tours, treasure hunts, and sand volleyball games. In addition to hosting weekend music and laser tag, the cave also boasts screens for watching live sporting events, as well as a 150-acre lake that visitors can explore on a kayak, canoe, barge, pontoon, or friendly hippopotamus.
More than a century ago, the architects of The Lemp Brewery complex faced a problem: how should they keep their beer cold? Refrigerators weren't yet around, and it'd be too difficult to tow an iceberg down from the Arctic. Their solution: going 100 feet underground, where old caves were naturally cool... or so they thought. In fact, the chilly air here wasn't caused by lack of sunlight?it was the result of an ancient curse. Today, visitors can still tour the subterranean brewery, now appropriately known as the Abyss. It's hardly abandoned. Around every turn waits a new monster, none of whom are friendly enough to offer any complimentary growlers.
The Abyss is just one of Scarefest's three chilling destinations. Creepyworld houses 12 attractions, including a series of mazes filled with everything from burning cars to ravenous zombies. In another part of town, a haunted house known as The Darkness plunges visitors into a world of terror. In its two-decade history, the haunted house has even shown up on national TV, which is not too bad a gig for a place infested by deranged clowns.