If you want to a healthy balance of learning, exercise, and fun, Franklin, North Carolina has the perfect combination for you. Known as the “Gem Capital of the World”, this mountain community has a long history of visitors. The town has welcomed numerous miners since its origination, boasting a vast treasure trove of gems and minerals for the taking. But gems are only a part of this town’s charm. Let us help you plan your trip to this wonderful mountain town with our pick of the best things to do in Franklin, North Carolina.
Mine for Gems in Franklin
If you are visiting the “Gem Capital of the World”, mining for gems is a must. Note that most mines are seasonal, opening from spring through autumn, so plan your trip accordingly. Here are the top gem mines to visit while you are in Franklin, NC.
- Old Cardinal Gem Mine. This mine helps teach beginners the process of mining. You will learn how to use the equipment, as well as identify the “diamond in the rough”.
- Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine. This mine offers covered flumes so you can mine for gems in all types of weather. Found a piece you think has value? Their expert staff can help you authenticate it and cut it for the jewelry of your choosing!
- Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine. Work to find some of the world’s most rare gems right here in North Carolina. Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine is the perfect place to find and authenticate amazing stones such as amethyst, rubies, sapphires, and endless others. Please note this a cash-only facility.
Tour Museums in Franklin
If you enjoy history or want to add an educational portion of your trip for the whole family, visit one of the many museums in Franklin, NC. Here are a few we recommend you make time for.
- Down Memory Lane Toy Museum. Take your family back in time to their very own childhood. This museum showcases famous and antique toys from decades ago up to the present day. See the sparkle in their eyes that has never left as they spin stories of games and play from their childhood that you will remember for years to come.
- Macon County Historical Society & Museum. Learn the history of Macon County at this one of a kind museum. Listen to passionate staff, give you a detailed account of how a county in the mountains of North Carolina became famous for gems necessary for the creation of computer chips the world over.
- Scottish Tartans Museum. This museum serves to preserve the Scottish-American heritage. They do this by educating and providing the public with information on proper Scottish Tartan attire, patterns, and history. Learn about the long history of Celtic tradition in North Carolina and their interactions with the Cherokee people. Find gifts for your friends and family, and most importantly, see if your heritage lends to a particular tartan clan through your surname right on their website.
- Franklin Gem & Mineral Museum. View some of the gems unique to Macon County as well as other more rare minerals and stones. Learn the qualities of different stones and find a little of the gold lust that drove settlers from all over the country to call the area home. Maybe you’ll strike it rich too!
Outdoor Activities in Franklin, NC
Fall for the waterfalls in Franklin, North Carolina. Surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains, you will find picturesque scenes of nature that work to calm your mind. Find relaxation at a few of our favorite waterfalls this area has to offer.
- Cullasaja Falls. Visit this 250-foot waterfall and stand in awe of the sheer power of this waterfall. A short half-mile hike through rather steep, unadulterated terrain is necessary but worth it.
- Dry Falls. If you aren’t looking to rough it, this stroll down a paved walkway will lead you to the 75-foot waterfall sure to refresh your—mind and spirit.
- Bridal Veil Fall. If you want to avoid a walk this iconic fall can be seen by pulling off the road. Watch water flow down the mountain’s rock face, or visit during the winter months to see the water take form as it froze.
- Toxaway Falls. Don’t have the time to stop, drive-by on U.S. 64 East and look out at Toxaway falls from your own car. However, once you see it, you are going to want to get a close up look at it while you are here in Franklin.
A mere 30 minutes from Cullowhee, this mountain town is a must for any Western North Carolina resident or visitor. Check back for more posts and fall in love with Western North Carolina.