Planning a trip that the entire family will enjoy can be hard, especially when you have kids.
Panning for gold is a unique and exciting activity that can be enjoyed by families with children of all ages. It’s an opportunity to experience a bit of history, learn how to find gold, and maybe even come home with a few extra dollars in your pocket.
But with so many places offering gold panning experiences, it can be hard to find the perfect place that is both family-friendly, historically rich, and entertaining. That’s why we’ve done the research for you and put together this list of the best places for families to take their kids to pan for gold to get them out in nature and doing something unique and fun.
These locations offer a memorable and educational experience, where families can spend time together, learn about finding gold, and have fun in the great outdoors!
The Crisson Goldmine – Dahlonega, Georgia
The Crisson Gold Mine has a rich history dating back to 1847 when gold was first discovered at the site. The mine has been run by the Crisson family for four generations and was the first mining operation in Dahlonega to open its doors to the public in 1969. This historic mine has twenty-two different gold-bearing veins of quartz in the open pit and is still in operation to this day, although commercially operated for the last time in 1982.
What makes Dahlonega gold unique is its purity – they say it’s 98.7% pure, that’s 23 karat gold. Some of the gold on the Georgia State Capitol Dome came from here.
The Crisson Gold Mine offers visitors a chance to learn the exciting art of gold panning with expert instructors on hand to help find the shiny stuff. The mine features several exhibits, including a 130-year-old stampmill that is still used to crush the gold-bearing quartz mined on-site.
For those who are more serious about mining, the Crisson Gold Mine offers the use of a Gold Cube to run the crushed ore through.
Families can spend as much time as they’d like trying their hand at finding gold. And anything you find, you get to keep!
With its rich history and knowledgeable guides on-site, the Crisson Gold Mine is a must-visit for any family looking for a fun and educational experience.
Columbia State Historic Park and Matelot Gulch Mining Co. – Columbia, California
Step back in time with your family and visit Columbia State Historic Park, where the Gold Rush era comes to life!
This preserved town in Tuolumne County will transport you back in time with costumed guides living and working in Gold Rush era shops and trades.
Take a ride on an old-fashioned stagecoach (pets welcome!), grab a cold sarsaparilla soda in a western-style saloon, or watch the heat in a blacksmith’s forge. The town is free of cars, with the sound of horse hooves and the rustling of Wells Fargo coaches filling the air.
A unique highlight of the park is the Matelot Gulch Mining Co. located on mina street, where visitors can try their hand at gold panning and discover what life was like during the Gold Rush. For a fee, families can pan for gold and keep what they find! The experience is perfect for families, as children of all ages can participate.
And if you get a taste of gold fever you can take those skills out into the creeks and streams around Tuolumne County, where one man recently found a MONSTER 18-oz nugget!
Free historical tours of the park depart from the museum on weekends, and Gold Rush Days are held on the second Saturday of each month, featuring hands-on crafts, special tours, and a chance for kids to try gold-panning.
Learn to pan gold at home with our 2 Gram bag of Eroica Paydirt!
Buy real gold paydirt from the Bering Sea and prospect at home!
We know where it’s from, because we sucked it up the nozzle ourselves.
For a less crowded experience, visit during the week, especially in the early mornings. Check the park’s events page for holiday celebrations, music performances, art shows, and other exciting events throughout the year!
Lomax Gulch – Breckenridge, Colorado
Breckenridge, Colorado is a charming mountain town with a rich history dating back to the gold rush of the 1860s. One of the many historic sites in the area is Lomax Placer Mine, where visitors can still pan for gold to this day.
At Lomax Gulch, a friendly guide will take you back in time to the days of the gold rush. They’ll teach you how to pan for gold the old-fashioned way, just like the miners did over 150 years ago.
Your guide will show you the ins and outs of gold panning and teach you how to distinguish “fool’s gold” from the real thing.
Once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s time to hit the creek and try your hand at finding gold in the wild. Who knows, you might even strike gold! Everyone receives a complimentary vial to collect their treasure. Just remember to come prepared, as the stream water is always cold, even on warm summer days.
While finding gold is a challenge (AKA a taste of real prospecting), the experience is sure to be memorable for the whole family. Kids will love being surrounded by a real 1860s gold mining camp and learning about the history of the area with the excitement of panning for their own treasure. And with a complimentary vial to collect their finds, they’ll have a reminder to show off to friends of their adventure long after you’ve returned home.
The whole family will enjoy this unique activity, with prices starting at $10 per child and $20 per person. It’s a great opportunity for families to bond over an exciting and educational experience. Open from June to September, Lomax Gulch is the perfect summer activity for families with kids of all ages.
Phoenix Gold Mine – Idaho Springs, Colorado
The Phoenix Gold Mine in Idaho Springs, Colorado is a must-visit for families who are looking for a unique gold rush-inspired experience. Located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, this gold mine offers visitors the chance to step back in time and experience the excitement of prospecting for gold like the original miners did in the 1880s.
At the Phoenix Gold Mine, visitors will get to pan for gold and keep what they find, making this a great opportunity to bring home a golden piece of history. The mine offers both indoor and outdoor panning experiences, so visitors can choose the one that best suits their interests and comfort level.
The indoor panning experience is perfect for families with young children. Meanwhile, the outdoor panning experience offers a chance to get up close and personal with the streams and creeks, just like the original gold miners did during the gold rush.
The mine is open seven days a week and offers tours throughout the day. Prices start at $12 per adult and $6 per child, and the tours last about 1.5 hours. The tours are guided by knowledgeable and experienced guides who will share the history of the gold rush and the methods used during that time.
In addition to panning for gold, visitors will also get to explore the mine’s museum, which is filled with fascinating artifacts and exhibits that highlight the history of the gold rush and the mining industry.
So if you’re looking for a fun and exciting family adventure, be sure to check out the Phoenix Gold Mine in Idaho Springs, Colorado. With its unique combination of gold panning, museum exhibits, and historical information, it’s an experience your family will love.
Big Thunder Gold Mine – Keystone, South Dakota
Big Thunder Gold Mine in Keystone, South Dakota is a can’t-miss family adventure in the Black Hills. This unique attraction lets you step back in time and experience the thrill of the Black Hills Gold Rush. With a wide variety of activities, there’s something to keep everyone entertained.
The discovery of gold in French Creek near present-day Custer, South Dakota during Colonel George Custer’s 1874 expedition spread quickly and led to the Black Hills Gold Rush. By 1876, the area was home to approximately 10,000 people where gold is still mined today.
Discover the rich history of gold mining in the Black Hills with a guided tour of their historic mine, or put your skills to the test by panning for gold with their on-site sluices.
The guided tour of their historic mine provides a comprehensive and immersive experience, allowing visitors of all ages and abilities to join in on the fun. The Big Thunder Gold mine is the safest and most accessible gold mine still standing in the region from the late 1800s.
Buy gold from your favorite (obviously) Bering Sea Gold cast member!
Buy real gold straight from the Bering Sea via the Eroica’s sluice box.
We know where it’s from, because we sucked it up the nozzle ourselves.
For a truly authentic gold panning experience they offer a half-day Claim Panning Adventure, where you’ll pan for gold in the same creeks the miners did during the Black Hills Gold Rush using the same tools they did back in the 1890s.
You and your family will learn from the experienced panning professionals there and get to keep whatever treasures you find in the mineral-rich waters of the Black Hills. These adventures fill up fast, so be sure to book in advance to guarantee your spot.
For those who want to try gold panning on their own, they have the On-Site Gold Panning that all the other places on our list offer as well. Their panning guides will provide complementary lessons to teach you the techniques used by the pros. Your family can find gold, pyrite, and other precious metals to take home for the kids to show off from their trip to the Black Hills.
Big Thunder Gold Mine is open 7 days a week, rain or shine, and offers Claim Panning Adventures for $29.99 per person for a 4-hour half-day, and On-Site Gold Panning starting at $10 per pan.
These are only a few of the best places that are not only fun but also sneak in a bit of history education that the whole family will enjoy. We’ll be regularly updating this page, so bookmark it and check back often.
Whether it’s for a stop during your vacation or you want to take your kids on a gold adventure holiday these gold mining experiences come with not just lasting memories but also some shiny g to show off. Who knows, you might just be giving the next Todd Hoffman or Emily Riedel their first taste of gold fever.
Now that you know where you can take the kids to spark their inner gold prospector, get them their own gold panning kit and supplies!
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