The Great Lakes are the single largest freshwater system in the world. There are so many beaches to explore and enjoy in Michigan. While enjoying the views and soft, sandy beaches, you can search for sea glass. Sea glass is commonly found on Michigan beaches and is a wonderful souvenir to take home with you.
I am a huge fan of rockhounding and love collecting fossils, interesting rocks, and sea glass. There is nothing quite like relaxing on the Michigan shorelines and coming home with a pile of sea glass and Petoskey Stones!
- 1. Lighthouse Beach
- 2. Harrisville State Park Beach
- 3. Grand Haven Beaches
- 4. Mackinaw City Beach
- 5. Christmas Cove Beach
- 6. Silver Beach
- 7. Warren Dune State Park
- Is it Legal to Collect Sea Glass in Michigan?
- Tips For Finding Sea Glass
- Sea Glass History
- Do I Need Any Tools to Find Sea Glass?
- Why Are Some Beaches Better For Finding Sea Glass?
- Ideas For Using Sea Glass
- Michigan Beach Wanderings
1. Lighthouse Beach
Lighthouse Beach is in Port Huron, Michigan. It has amenities including bathrooms, playground, grills, picnic tables, exercise equipment, and a tool station with bike pump. This family friendly beach is a perfect location for finding sea glass. Keep in mind a beach pass is required on Lighthouse Beach from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Beach passes can be purchased at the parking booth.
Where to Search on Lighthouse Beach
When searching for sea glass, checking near the surf is a great starting point. Look for areas with pebbles and rocks, as sea glass can get caught up in the stones and remain stationary. The sea glass here is nice and smooth from being tossed in the current.
2. Harrisville State Park Beach
Harrisville State Park Beach is found along the picturesque sands of Lake Huron. This beach can be used year-round for day use or overnight camping. There are trails, swimming areas, lodging options, and a day use area. Memorial Day through Labor Day offers weekly nature-based programs for recreators to enjoy. Harrisville State Park opened in 19521 and is one of Michigan’s oldest state parks.
Where to Search on Harrisville State Park Beach
As with all beaches, check near the surf. Check after storms to find newly washed ashore glass. This area is known for Depression Era glass, including pale green, rose, and yellow. Glass from the 1800s has also been found on Harrisville State Park Beach. Check in the rocky and pebbly areas for these exquisite retro glass shards.
Insider Tip: If you find yourself in Holland, Michigan, check out Big Red in Holland State Park, one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country. This picturesque lighthouse sits on one of the most popular beaches in Ottawa County and is worth a tour!
3. Grand Haven Beaches
Grand Haven’s beaches lie near Grand Haven State Park. No fees or pass is required for this area. This beach is known for miles of soft sand and rolling sand dunes. Grand Haven is a beautiful and walkable area with plenty of amenities.
Where to Search on Grand Haven Beaches
Check along the surf, near pebbles and rocky areas, and near the boardwalk and lighthouses. After storms you will have a chance to find newly washed-up sea glass along Grand Haven Beaches. This area is popular with recreators and sea glass collectors, so be sure to show up early for the best chances to find glass.
4. Mackinaw City Beach
There are 2 beaches for this listing: Mackinaw City Beach #1 and Beach #2. The area is close to three Nationally recognized Historic sites, a family water park, and restaurants and shopping. Laser shows occur nightly on the beaches. Both beaches lie near where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron.
Where to Search on Mackinaw City Beaches
Because Lakes Michigan and Huron come together near Mackinaw City Beaches, there is a fantastic opportunity for sea glass to be washed ashore from various locations here. Sea glass is mostly found in on near the surf, and along areas with stones. Check these areas for the best chance to find sea glass.
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5. Christmas Cove Beach
Christmas Cove Beach in Northport is a small and quiet beach at the tip of Leelanau Peninsula in Grand Traverse Bay. The beach is beautiful, with clean sand and rocks. The parking lot is near the beach and a short walk. The area is about 200 feet of beach front along Lake Michigan. Amenities include picnic tables and the parking area.
Where to Search on Christmas Cove Beach
Christmas Cove Beach is a beautiful place to search for sea glass or rockhound. As always, check near and in the surf and in the rocks. Sea glass gets caught up in rocky areas. Check this area during sunrise or sunset, which allows you to see the shiny glass amongst the stones easier.
6. Silver Beach
Silver Beach is in the lovely town of St. Joseph, at the mouth of the St. Joseph river. Silver Beach has approximately 2,450 feet of lake front beach to explore. The area is clean and gives the public access to the South Pier. Improvements are constantly being made to Silver Beach to make it one of the best destinations in Southwest Michigan.
Where to Search on Silver Beach
Check near the surf and look for an area with rocks and pebbles. Spring, fall, and winter are the best times to search as the beach is less crowded. Search after a spring or summer storm, or after the snow melts to increase your chances of finding sea glass.
7. Warren Dune State Park
Warren Dune State Park is in Sawyer and is 1952 acres. The park is home to 3 miles of shoreline along beautiful Lake Michigan. The beach features 6 miles of hiking trails and 2 campgrounds. Sand dunes rise 260 feet above the lake giving spectacular views. The park also has interdunal wetlands.
Where to Search in Warren Dune State Park
I know this sounds redundant but check along the surf and in any areas with rocks. Sea glass of all colors has been found in Warren Dune State Park. Check after storms and during the off-season for the best chance to find sea glass.
Is it Legal to Collect Sea Glass in Michigan?
Yes, it is perfectly legal to collect sea glass in Michigan. There are no laws stating that collecting sea glass on beaches is forbidden or regulated. When hunting for sea glass, make sure you are not encroaching on any private property or federal property.
There should be signs posted when entering these areas so keep an eye out. Also be aware of areas with sand dunes. Dunes are typically protected environments, so you should keep off them unless otherwise stated.
While searching for sea glass, be sure to look for Petoskey stones. These are unique to the Great Lakes region and are a blast to find! Be aware, DNR allows the removal of up to 25 pounds of stones per year, and any large Petoskey Stones at or over 25 pounds can be confiscated. Learn more here: https://www.michigan.org/article/trip-idea/where-find-petoskey-stones-michigan
Insider Tip: When searching for Petoskey Stones, check out Bayfront Park in Petoskey, Michigan. Near Mackinac Island, Petoskey is a beautiful town to explore and enjoy. You may even leave with some sea glass or your own Petoskey Stone!
Tips For Finding Sea Glass
Check in areas that are less populated. Popular spots are usually scoured by more people, so less sea glass is left for you to find. Michigan’s beaches are popular with rockhounds, so sea glass is a hot commodity. Sea glass can be found year-round in Michigan.
The best time to search the beaches is spring and fall. The shorelines are often dramatically reshaped by storms. This helps wash up more sea glass. Some people search every inch of the beach, while others stay in one spot and dig through the rocks.
Both methods yield results. Morning and evening are the best times of day to search. The light is lower in the sky providing a stark contrast between the rocks and sea glass.
Low tide is also a wonderful time to search for sea glass. More of the beach is exposed during low tide so it opens new areas for you to search. Check tide charts to know when the lowest tide will be.
Sea Glass History
Sea glass is simply broken glass shards that have been smoothed by years of tumbling and churning against rocks and sand in fresh or salt water. These often have a frosted look. For decades glass was deposited in the Great lakes from factories, littering, and shipwrecks. The tides in the lakes act like a giant rock tumbler eventually smoothing the rough edges of the glass.
Sea glass comes in a variety of colors. The color depends on the source. Much of the sea glass in Michigan comes from bottles and jars. The most found colors are white, brown, and light blue. Rarer colors include green, dark blue, purple, and red.
The glass found along the Great Lakes is technically beach glass, as it is from a freshwater source. Sea glass typically comes from the ocean. However, some use these terms interchangeably. Beach glass is typically more polished looking than sea glass.
Sea glass is frosted from salt and other chemicals found in sea water. Beach glass is clearer and shinier since it forms in freshwater with less salt content.
To learn more about Michigan sea glass, click here: https://www.michiganbeachtowns.com/blog/collecting-beach-glass/
Do I Need Any Tools to Find Sea Glass?
No! Sea glass is a treasure that requires little in the way of extra tools. You just need your eyes and hands. Maybe a pouch to carry your glass. If you plan to dig through rocky areas to uncover buried sea glass, you may want to bring along a hand trowel to move the rocks out of the way easier.
If you intend to hunt before dawn or after dusk, you may want a flashlight to help illuminate any sea glass in the area.
Some sea glass hunters will use a cat litter scoop to filter out any sand while leaving sea glass and stones in the scoop. A metal detecting scoop will also work for this if the pieces of sea glass are large enough not to fall out of the holes.
Why Are Some Beaches Better For Finding Sea Glass?
Beaches with rocky or pebbly areas catch more sea glass than smoother, sandy beaches. The sea glass washes ashore and gets caught up in the rocks, trapping it for someone to find. If the beach is strictly sand with no pebbles or rocks, the sea glass does not have much to hold on to.
Thus, it will wash back out into the water. You may still find some sea glass on sandy beaches, especially following a storm. Storms wash more water and more debris up onto the shore.
Ideas For Using Sea Glass
Sea glass can be used in countless ways. You can display them as they are, in a glass jar, vase, or bowl. You can use them as a bottom for fish tanks, candles, or decorative table trays. You can glue them on the outside of a glass or plastic dish to make a unique glass container.
You can make pictures with sea glass, like a mosaic, with a frame to display your finds. Sea glass uses are endless in decorating!
If you are looking for more uses for your sea glass, click here: https://www.beachcombingmagazine.com/blogs/news/6-ways-to-use-sea-glass
Michigan Beach Wanderings
Michigan is a beautiful place to search for sea glass (or beach glass, if you want to be technical). Michigan has the second longest shoreline after Alaska, at 3,288 miles. Most, if not all the beaches in Michigan have a chance of producing sea glass.
Be sure you search near the surf and in any areas with rocks or pebbles. After storms is the best time to search the beaches as new materials have been brought ashore from the increased tidal activity.
Search beaches near sunrise or sunset for sea glass. The light being lower in the sky helps show the contrast between stones and glass. Check beaches that are less populated for a greater chance of finding sea glass. Populated beaches may hold less sea glass since more people means more collecting sea glass. Spring, fall, and winter are the best times to find sea glass. The beaches are quieter, and storms are more frequent.
David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.