I’ll admit it. This cheapskate wants to strike it rich. Or if not that, at least find something shiny and sparkly. There are several places near Charlotte, NC where you can pan for gold or gems without spending a lot.
Visiting Reed Gold mine is free. The mine tour is very cool. Panning for gold costs $2. Let me just say that we did find some of the sparkly stuff when we visited. It wasn’t enough to retire on but it looks pretty in a little bottle. Historical note in case you didn’t know this: Reed Gold Mine was the site of the first documented gold find in the United States. Take that, California!
Mine for gems at Dan Nicholas Park in Salisbury. A bucket costs $7, but you will definitely end up with a lot of colorful gems. And Dan Nicholas Park qualifies as a cheapskate paradise anyway because of what else it has to offer: Carousel rides for $1, an adorable train ride through the woods for $1, a nature center, mini-golf for $2, and more. Do all the above for a discounted $8.
If it’s emeralds you’re after, make your way to Hiddenite Emerald Mine. A bucket at the sluice table is $5, but if the weather is warm, add $3 to that ticket and spend the day creeking. You may not strike it rich but you’ll definitely find some gems, and you’ll go home tired and happy.