Travel a half-mile below ground and experience life as a coal miner -- for a few hours at least -- at the Tour-Ed Mine and Museum (748 Bull Creek Road, Tarentum, Pa.).
You'll make your way 160 feet below the Earth's surface alongside your tour guides, who happen to be real coal miners. That should put aside any heebie jeebies you may have about plunging into a dark chasm below earth. Right?
A coal car will take you the half-mile underground to start off your tour. Keep in mind you are underground, so even though it's 90 degrees outside, it will be around 55 degrees in the coal mine at all times. Bring a light jacket.
Tours run about 30 minutes, with live demos to showcase hand tools dating back to the 1800s, including the ol' donkey carts from back in the day. Then fast forward to the automated tools being used for today's coal mining.
After your tour, you can visit the very unique Tour-Ed Museum, which features authentic mining artifacts on display. Next door, the souvenir shop houses plenty of one-of-a-kind souvenirs like miners hats and pieces of coal to give to your friends for Christmas. (Sort of kidding. Sort of.)
You can also plan for a picnic after your tour. The on-site Ira Park
has 13 acres of land for you to relax on -- with coal car rides too!
Tickets are $10 per person, with a dollar off for kids. The mine is open every day except Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The last tour of the day leaves at 2:30 p.m.
The Tour-Ed Mine is just outside of Pittsburgh by the Pennsylvania Turnpike.