Travel & Places United States

Gold Panning in Dahlonega, Georgia

"Thar's gold in them thar hills!" was the rallying cry in the Georgia Gold Rush of the 19th century. Dahlonega, GA is the focal point of gold mining, both current and historical. All over town you'll see restaurants, small stores, and festivals that have small panning areas. Three permanent locations offer intriguing, hands-on gold mining experiences for you and your kids.

Consolidated Gold Mine is the best place to take a tour.

It takes a little less than an hour to tour the underground mine, complete with old rail tracks, bats, and the famous "Glory Hole" (pictured above). It's fascinating to learn from the very knowledgeable tour guides how gold was extracted 150 years ago. The tour is pretty dark, and you'll go up and down some rickety steps, so children three and under are not encouraged to go. You definitely wouldn't want to have a child in arms on the tour.

After the tour, you should have the chance to pan for gold and take a look at the gift store.

Tours run from 10:00-5:00 p.m in the summer and 10:00-4:00 in the winter. The temperature is cool year-round. Adult admission is $13, and children ages 4-14 pay $9.00.

Crisson Gold Mineis an open pit gold mine, as opposed to an underground one. They still have a lot of antique equipment, some of which is still in use. Crisson has a bigger focus on panning than touring, another contrast with Consolidated.

After a demonstration, you can pan for gold and gemstones in their large panning room.

On our visit, we found some gold flakes, but the gemstone panning is the big pay-off for kids. It's easier to do, and they'll go home with a small baggie of colorful gems. Serious gold panners go to Crisson, but it's fun for everyone.

Crisson is open seven days a week, from 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM. The cost is $9.50 per person, which includes one pan of gold ore, a 2-gallon bucket of gemstones and sand, and a wagon ride.

Dahlonega Gold Museum gives a little more in-depth knowledge of the nation's first gold rush, with gold nuggets, gold coins, equipment, and interactive exhibits on display. It costs $3.50 - $5.00 and is open Monday-Saturday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM and Sunday, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM.

Dahlonega is a charming historical town with lots to do besides gold mining. The gold museum is located in the quaint downtown square, which is home to shops and restaurants. Step back in time with a visit to the Dahlonega General Store: your children are sure to find some treasures they won't be able to live without! Connie's on the Dahlonega Square is a good place to take kids for lunch, with a soda shop atmosphere and ice cream for dessert. You'll find the typical fast-food restaurants on your way in and out of town as well.

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