Digging for Diamonds
If you want to take a fun (and potentially profitable) vacation with your family, why not try digging for diamonds at the world's only diamond mine that is open to the public? People have been finding diamonds and other gem stones for over 100 years at Crater of Diamonds State Park, located in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. The park has a variety of fun things to do, including camping at their renovated camp sites, swimming at Diamond Springs Water Park, and yes, digging for diamonds in the park's 37 1/2 acre diamond field. It's tons of fun for adults and children alike, the park is pet friendly, and best of all if you find anything you get to keep it!
My husband and I went to the park 1/2 a dozen times in 2011 (no we haven't found anything yet) and had a load of fun every time. If digging for diamonds sounds like something you and your family might enjoy, read this article to get some first class tips and tricks that will help you make the most of your visit.
People find diamonds at the park everyday that range in size from 1 point to well over 1 carat. The day my husband and I were there 2 diamonds were found. One that was almost 2 carats and another that was 1/2 a carat. The most commonly found diamonds are white, yellow, and brown.
Some of the more famous diamonds found at the park are: The perfect 1.01 carat Strawn Wagner Diamond which is on permanent display in the park, the canary yellow 4.21 carat Okie Dokie Diamond, the colorless 8.8 carat Star of Shreveport, and the 4.25 carat Kahn Canary Diamond.
What to Take
You can search for diamonds two different ways. The first way is to surface search, which is basically walking up and down the field looking for shiny objects. Because the majority of the diamonds you will find are small, tweezers and a magnifying glass come in handy, as does a small bag or container to keep your "finds" in.
The second way to search is by digging holes and sifting the dirt you uncover either by dry sifting or wet sifting at one of the park's sifting stations. If you plan to search this way you need to include a shovel or a hand spade and a bucket in with the tools you bring. Sifting screens are available at the park for a small rental fee so you really don't need to bring your own. The park does charge a deposit but it is given back to you when you return their equipment.
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Planning ahead so you can dress for the weather is a must. If it's warm, shorts, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes will work nicely. If it's cold be sure to bring something to dry your hands with if you plan to wet sift because the water is really, really cold. If the weather has been rainy, be sure to wear rubber boots because the field gets tacky with mud. You need to be careful around the mud because on my latest trip I accidentally stepped into an innocent looking mud patch and instantly sank 3 feet! My husband was able to pull me out, but not my boots! They are still buried somewhere in the field.
Where to Stay
If you enjoy camping the park has newly renovated sites for rent. The sites have electric hook-ups and pads for you to put your tent on. RV's also fit nicely on the new pads.
If camping is not your cup of tea there are three motels in town to choose from: The Queen of Diamonds Inn, The Little Shamrock Motel, and the American Heritage Inn.
The Queen of Diamonds Inn is the newest of the motels. The rooms feature king and queen sized beds, refrigerators, and microwaves. There is an onsite pool and the motel is constructing a new putt putt golf course. If you want a snack there is a hotdog vendor in the parking lot. OH-the hotel is NOT pet friendly.
The Little Shamrock Motel is an American owned motel. The Shamrock is VERY dated and VERY old, but it's clean and the people are super friendly. The motel has an indoor pool, microwaves and refrigerators in each room, and offers a free breakfast. They are also pet friendly. If you are used to staying at a chain hotel-then don't stay here. But if you want to stay somewhere with clean facilities and great people you can't go wrong.
The American Heritage Inn is right down the street from the Shamrock and is just as dated. The motel has an outdoor swimming pool and is pet friendly. The room rates are very comparable to the Shamrock.
Where to Eat
You don't have many choices when it comes to eating in Murfreesboro. There is a Sonic drive thru and two sit down restaurants: Buddy's Ranch House Cafe and Los Agaves. Buddy's offers typical American food: burgers, hotdogs, baked potatoes, sandwiches, and chicken fried steak. The prices are actually comparable to Sonic.
Los Agaves specializes in Mexican food and I have to say it is the best that I have had in a long time. On my last visit I had the chicken enchiladas and they were absolutely fabulous as were the sopapillas that my husband and I shared for dessert. Their sweet tea was spot on- it was fresh and just sweet enough-not too sweet or sticky. The waiters were very friendly and the service was great. We will definitely eat here EVERY time we visit Murfreesboro.