OK, Smarties, I felt like I needed to redeem myself from last week’s post about our summer bucket list miss at Plaza Fiesta (well, it was a hit for the kids – miss for me). Have you been to Reed Gold Mine yet? I hadn’t been there since my fourth grade field trip (not gonna even attempt to count the years on that one), and my kids had yet to go with school. All new territory for us.
If this one isn’t on your summer bucket list, or just not on your radar, I suggest you get it there. I took just the three boys out last week, and let me just say – for the first time in a LONG time I was pleasantly surprised – it was cheap, easy, educational, and different. Love.
This is why Reed’s Gold Mine is a hit:
– It’s easy to get to. I didn’t have to get in a traffic jam on 85 or 77 – it’s right in Midland. It’s far enough to feel like a day-trip destination but not so far that you are exhausted just by the thought of getting there.
– It’s a national historic landmark right in our backyards. You don’t have to travel to DC, NYC, or out West to get a major history lesson – the first documented gold discovery in the UNITED STATES was right there in what’s now Reed Gold Mine. Amazing. Oh, and it was discovered by a 12-year-old boy – fascinating stuff for my boys.
– The tour is self-guided. This is key for touring with my kids – we just can’t sit through a big guided tour at this point. Their attention spans can’t handle it, and neither can mine. They provide a map with numbered sites to notice and a quick paragraph about each number. Easy peesy and super interesting.
– It’s cool. Literally. The underground tunnel is at least 15-20 degrees cooler than a thick summer July afternoon. Stay as long you want underground – or as long as you can stand. It’s actually quite spooky thinking of mining for gold. Eeeek. Glad I don’t have to send my boys under there to pay the bills.
– It’s cheap. I spent $6. Yes $6. The tour is free. Panning for gold is $3/piece (recommended for ages 8 and up). The little guys can just pan off your gold. And, the staff is SO helpful and friendly with helping newbies pan. I was at a loss for how to pan, but the staff made it fun.
– You might strike it rich. OK, we didn’t even get a fleck of gold but the possibility of hitting the jackpot was exciting enough for my kids. And with all the rain in the QC, odds are higher that you’ll find gold. Cheap thrills, peeps, cheap thrills.
– It’s simple. There’s no arcade, prizes, and barely any souvenirs, which means minimal meltdowns from kids with the gimmes.
We packed a lunch because there are picnic tables on the grounds, but it’s totally something you can do between meal times. Don’t expect to make it an all-day trip, but it’s certainly a half-day excursion. There’s just enough wilderness to make you feel like you got the kids away from it all, but not so much that you need hiking boots and a compass. (Speaking of shoes, definitely wear close-toed tennis shoes! It can get a bit muddy with all the rain.)
So, there’s my advice for the week – Reed Gold Mine – check it out. Oh, and if you strike it rich, can I take 10% since I suggested it? Hee hee. I would LOVE to hear your summer bucket list HITS – what places around town have surprised you with their ease, affordability, and coolness?