I loved gem mining as a kid, and I can't imagine not loving it now. There are several places that aren't too far from Murphy, most are around the Franklin Area with the exception of the Salty Dog, which is in Murphy.
As seen on the Travel Channel, this mine is located in Franklin about an hour from Murphy. 385 Sheffield Farms Rd. ~ Franklin, NC 28734 ~ 828.369.8383 ..Sheffield Mine is one of the oldest Ruby Mines still in operation in the Cowee Valley. This mine was once owned by Tiffany's.
Ask around!! There are only two (2) gemstone localities in the entire world capable of producing the WORLD FAMOUS and WORLD CLASS “ investors” or “collectors” grade “Pigeon Blood” colored rubies. #1) The Country of Burma, and #2) The Cowee Valley gemstone locality of Western North Carolina, situated near the Town of Franklin, NC.
828-494-9521 -Great mine for kids and the reviews are high. This Gem Mining is located in part of an RV park in Murphy and while I haven't been there it's my sence that the buckets are "seeded" and this is mostly affordable fun for the kids. Reading the reviews it looks like everyone gets something.
Gem Mining Map and a complete list of all the mines in the area. As I said, most of the mines are near Franklin but it's only about an hour away and the drive over to Franklin is SPECTACULAR!