Complete Guide to Glass Beach in Fort Bragg (2016 Update)

Sea glass on Glass Beach, Fort Bragg.

Glass Beach, Fort Bragg is world famous. It gets its name from the smooth, colorful glass pebbles that wash up onto the shore. This amazing man-made wonder - with a little help from Mother Nature - is believed to have the highest concentration of sea glass in the world.

Our complete guide to Glass Beach is full of tips and advice which will prepare you for your visit.

Happy sea glass hunting!​


History of Glass Beach

Fort Bragg began dumping everything into the ocean even whole cars, in 1906 after the Great San Francisco earthquake that devastated most of the bay area as well as destroying the center of town in Fort Bragg.

In 1906, there was a huge earthquake in San Francisco. Most of the Bay Area was devastated, including the center of town in Fort Bragg, Northern California.

Many homes and businesses were damaged beyond repair and had to be bulldozed. The rubble was quite literally dumped into the ocean at the end of Pine Street.

What they didn't realize at the time, of course, was that they were creating the most incredible glass beach for future generations to enjoy!

Sign at Glass Beach, Fort Bragg which tells the story of

One man's trash is another man's treasure
How much Sea Glass is left?

Glass Beach is literally covered in sea glass and more is washed up every single day.

The ocean constantly churns up treasure, especially during full and supermoons or after storms.

There is loads of sea glass at Site Two (the 'Middle Site').

I have also heard that Site One which is the Original Site is abundant in sea glass, however it is a little more tricky to access.

The tide was higher than normal when we visited, so we could not venture to the Original Site. There is some climbing involved or you can access it at low tide.

Can you collect the Sea Glass?

Plenty of visitors do pick up souvenirs of their visit as did I. As of the date of this article no laws have been passed. 

The intention is to preserve Glass Beach for future generations to enjoy but, of course, the sea glass will continue to be pounded by the surf and will eventually erode back into sand.

The city of Fort Bragg hopes that many more visitors will be able to enjoy the spectacular sights before that happens and we definitely recommend a visit. You'll love it!

Glass Beach covered in sea glass pebbles, washed up by the Pacific Ocean at Fort Bragg.

Glass Beach directions

Take Hwy 1 to Fort Bragg and look out for the Denny's Restaurant on the corner, as that is where you turn onto Elm Street. Continue towards the the ocean and park in the lot (which was free when we visited).

There is a wide path leading to the beach from the parking lot. Walk towards the ocean, turn south/left at the bluff's edge and you'll find a path down to the coves. There is a staircase down to the beach, which is Site Two or the 'Middle Site'. This cove is outside of the MacKerrney State Park boundary.

View of the ocean at Glass Beach, Fort Bragg from the top of the stairs.

Glass Beach Address: W Elm St and Glass Beach Dr, Fort Bragg, CA 95437

The closest airports are:

  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Oakland International Airport (OAK)
  • Sacramento International Airport (SMF)

The Mendocino Coast is about four hours drive north of San Francisco/Oakland or six hours if you take the Coast Highway. Fort Bragg is a shorter drive from Sacramento, but still three-and-a-half hours via I-5 N, CA-20 and US-101.


Sea Glass Museum

This is a small museum and gift shop which is open daily from 10am to 5pm.

It gives a great overview of the history of Glass Beach as well as displaying a big selection of sea glass. You can look at all the different colors of glass that have been washed up onto the beach and find out how they got there over the years.

We were in and out of the Glass Beach museum in about 45 minutes.

The museum is free, but they do ask for a donation.

Capt. Cass Forrington, the owner, is a retired merchant marine captain and has great knowledge and terrific stories. His museum has a lot of sea glass and other treasures he has found over the years. He also makes and sells his own sea glass earrings, necklaces and other jewelry.

We learned quite a bit about ecology and geology in this little museum. I would have to say it was time well spent.

How to get there: The museum is one mile south of the junction of Highways 1 and 20. This is just past the Botanical Gardens and roundabout, on the east side the highway.

From Glass Beach, go 3.2 miles south on Highway 1 and you will see the Sea Glass Museum on your left.

Sign outside the Sea Glass Museum, Fort Bragg, California

The International Sea Glass Museum is located at: 17801 North Highway 1, Fort Bragg, CA 95437

Phone number: 707-357-1585

Weather in Fort Bragg

The Mendocino Coast tends to be on the cool side.

The average daytime temperature is around 50 to 60 degrees pretty much year round, with an occasional storm in the winter.

The key to enjoying the Mendocino Coast is to dress in layers because the weather can change hourly.

The July high is around 64 degrees and in January the low is about 39.

On average, there are approximately 200 sunny days per year in Fort Bragg, California.

Pictures of Glass Beach

Unfortunately, it was raining quite heavily when we visited Fort Bragg in March 2016. However, the storm meant that much more sea glass ended up on the beach so we didn't mind at all!

The path to Glass Beach from the parking lot in Fort Bragg.
View of Glass Beach with warning sign to
Warning sign to
View of the stairs leading up from Glass Beach, Fort Bragg.
Woman hunting for rare colors of sea glass at Glass Beach, Fort Bragg.
Close up of green, olive, amber, brown and clear or white sea glass at Glass Beach.
Close up of green, olive, amber, brown and clear or white sea glass at Glass Beach.
Things to do in Mendocino County

The Mendocino Coast has so many things to do and points of interest:

  • Point Arena Light House
  • Point Cabrillo Light House
  • The Redwood Grove Forest
  • Chandelier Drive Thru Tree
  • Wineries

There is lots more to discover too, click here for some ideas!

Chandelier Tree, also known as
Jonna

Jonna

I have been gathering sea glass for many years. I can never resist a stroll along the beach and the opportunity to add some more beach treasure to my collection!

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