One of my favorite things to do with my family, especially on the weekends or during a school break is planning day trips to different locations around Georgia. The North Georgia Mountains are one of many families favorites past times. During the most recent school break we decided to visit the town of Dahlonega, Georgia. Located just an hour and 15 minutes north of the heart of Atlanta, there is plenty of fun things to do in this great little college town. Home of the newly renamed University of North Georgia, Lumpkin County is known as the Gold City. It was the site of the first major gold rush in the United States in 1828. So it’s no surprise that one of the best past times to take your family to is one of the gold mines. Stop by the visitors center in the square and grab the Gold Fever package that includes tickets to visit the Gold Museum in the middle of the Dahlonega Square. It also includes tickets to Crisson and Consolidated Gold Mines. Gold Panning and Geming was one of my favorite past times as a child growing up so I’ve been looking forward to doing it with my children as well. My daughter is 4 years old so it was the perfect time to try it out. We grabbed our bucket full of sand and went to town draining and straining it in the water. After we found LOTS of beautiful stones we got to do a little panning. I got the hang of it pretty quick and loved finding gold at the bottom of each of my pans. I loved it so much I think we plan on taking up the hobby around our area as a family. After panning we got to explore the mine at Consolidated Gold Mine. It was the highlight of our trip because everyone in our family thought it was the coolest, and not just because it was underground! Our guild was not only knowledgable but holds the world record for the fastest panning! We learned even more about all the different types of mining, gold and equipment used at the Gold Museum. The Gold Belt stretches down all the way through Paulding county so if you live in the Northern Parts in Atlanta there may be “gold in them there hills.” It’s fascinating to learn about the great history of Georgia. Trips like these are a great way to slip in the education of the area. I know it stuck with me growing up and I know it will be something my children remember as well. Dahlonega is also home to an interesting breed of animals. The Chestatee Wildlife Preserve features over 100 animals, with many different species and sits on over 20 acres of gently rolling farmland. The most unique thing you’ll find here though is the Zedonk! It’s a Zebra – Donkey mix. They also have a White Siberian Tiger encounter that they allow you to play and feed the babies. They will be doing this until October 2012. Kids love seeing and touching all the animals making this a must stop during your day trip to Dahlonega. If you’re looking for a more adult trip Dahlonega is also know as the heart of Georgia Wine Country with five vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms. Regardless there is plenty to do in this fantastic town. Grab a slice from Gustavo’s and simply walk around the square taking in all the shops. We even stopped in to a tasting room to try out some of the wines. Check out Dahlonega before you go! Visit http://dahlonega.org/ to see everything the town has to offer and the “rich” history of The Gold City.