Every mountain county has significant deposits of gems and minerals, and at the Smoky Mountain Gold and Ruby Mine, on the Qualla Boundary, you can search for gems such as aquamarines. Children love panning precisely because it can be wet and messy. Here they're guaranteed a find. Gem ore can be purchased, too: gold ore costs $5 per bag. COST: $4-$10, depending on the gems. OPEN: Mar.-Nov., daily 10-6.