Emerald Village Mining
331 McKinney Mine Road, Spruce Pine. 828-765-6463. www.emeraldvillage.com.
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
Activities: While at Emerald Village, guests can take a self-guided underground mine tour, take a nighttime black light tour, pan for gold at the Blue Ridge Gold Mine, hunt for gemstones and dig for emeralds at the Crabtree Emerald Mine. Visitors can also enjoy the Discovery Mill, a 13-level building with shops, exhibits and a deli. Discovery Mill attractions include a model railroad, a mineral display, a gem collection, native wildlife exhibits and an antique music museum.
Cost: Self-guided tour: Adults $6; senior citizens 60-plus $5.50; students through high school $5; and pre-school students are free. The Gemstone Mine: Adults' gem buckets $10 and up. Nighttime black light tour: Adults $15; seniors and students $10; and pre-school students are free. Dig your own at the Crabtree Emerald Mine: $20 per person ages 12 and older. Tools are available for rent for $20 per day. Gold panning at the Blue Ridge Gold Mine: Starts at $10 and goes up to $500.
Target Audience: All ages.
Directions from uptown: From South Church Street, turn right to merge onto I-277 S. Continue onto U.S.-74 W. Turn left onto the I-485 Inner N ramp. Take exit 10B to merge onto I-85 S toward Gastonia/Spartanburg. Take exit 17 for U.S.-321 S/U.S.-321 N toward Gastonia/Lincolnton. Keep left at the fork, follow signs for U.S.-321 N. Turn left at U.S.-321 N/North Chester Street. Continue to follow U.S.-321 N. Take exit 43B for I-40 W toward Asheville. Continue toward I-40 W and merge onto I-40 W. Take exit 86 for N.C. 226 toward Marlon/Shelby. Turn right at N.C. 226 N. Continue onto U.S.-221 N. Turn left at N.C. 226 N. Take the first right to stay on N.C. 226 N. Turn left at N.C. 226 Alternate S. Turn left to stay on N.C. 226 Alternate S. Turn right at Chestnut Grove Church Road. Continue onto Chestnut Grove Road. Turn left at McKinney Mine Road. Take the second right to stay on McKinney Mine Road. Destination will be on the right.
Distance from Charlotte : About 2 hours and 15 minutes.