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Dahlonega's Public Square sports a rustic look. Old galleried buildings and stores have been turned into shops purveying gold-panning equipment, gold jewelry, mountain handicrafts, antiques, ice cream, and fudge. It's very touristy but preserves a quaint charm in spite of the hordes who sometimes descend on summer days, mostly families with lots of kids in tow.

Formerly the Lumpkin County Courthouse, the Dahlonega Courthouse Gold Museum, Public Square (tel. 706/864-2257), is in the center of the town square. Artifacts, coins, and tools from the nation's first major gold rush are shown, and a 27-minute film chronologically documents the feverish era. Besides being a gold miners' haven, this old museum is the state's third-oldest standing courthouse. It's also the second-most-visited Georgia historical site. The hours of operation are Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm, and Sunday 10am to 5pm. Admission is $4 for adults, $3.50 for seniors, $2.50 for children 6 to 17, and free for children 5 and under.

You can take a tour and pan for gold at Consolidated Gold Mines, 185 Consolidated Gold Mines Rd. (tel. 706/864-8473; www.consolidatedgoldmine.com). At the turn of the 20th century, it boasted the largest and most-advanced gold mine east of the Mississippi River, covering more than 7,000 acres, with some 200 tunnels. Tours into illuminated tunnels take about 40 minutes and are conducted by miners. Look for the 250-foot vertical shaft. The mine also offers a chance to pan for gold. It's open daily from 10am to 5pm. Admission is $13 for adults and $9 for children 4 to 14. Take Hwy. 400 North from Dahlonega to Hwy. 60, turn left, and follow the signs.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.