APEX, N.C. (WNCN) – A day in the Raleigh suburb of Apex offers hidden gems around every corner. Whether it’s a tour of downtown, a farmers market full of local produce, or a literal gem mine, there’s something for everyone.

I started the day at the Apex farmer’s market, where local vendors were happy to chat with guests about the latest products. It’s best to start the day early. The market opens at 9 a.m. By noon, most of the best pickings were already gone. 

“We come to the Apex farmers market just about every week. We get up around 6:30 in the morning, getting the rest of the vegetables picked. We’re here at the market by about 7:30,” said Marrie Johnson from Ray of Joy Farm.

From speaking with Johnson, I found my next spot of the day: Blue Diamond Gemstone Panning. This interactive space is welcome to all ages to pan for local minerals like a real prospector. David Szen was a first-time miner, and his daughter, Olivia, had him panning like a pro in no time.

“Getting to come in here is almost like being back in history. You don’t expect to find this in your backyard. But, a lot of this stuff we actually like to get from around North Carolina, the mountains and everything,” said the site manager. Along with the main attraction, Blue Diamond Gemstone Panning offers man-made caves, goats, and a party space.

Apex visitors can end their day at Southern Peak Brewery, just a five-minute drive from downtown. Here, the brewery offers a selection of beers that have won awards at the U.S. Beer Open Championship. Despite the national recognition, the brewery aims to stay local. 

“We aren’t super keen on being the biggest brewery. We don’t want to be the next Sierra Nevada. Kind of, seeing the same people each and every day and growing those relationships is something we strive for,” said Johnny Bisi, a bartender and marketing manager at Southern Peak Brewery.