Visit California To Experience One Of The Most Unique Beaches In America

Less than four hours from San Francisco is a place that's perfect for a cozy seaside vacation: Fort Bragg. Located in Mendocino County, the city began in 1857 as a military post named after Captain Braxton Bragg, who served in the Mexican-American War. By the late 19th century, Fort Bragg was a prosperous lumber town. Nowadays, Fort Bragg is known for its striking beaches that are should be on your California bucket list. This includes Glass Beach. Glass Beach is technically in MacKerricher State Park but is a short distance from the park's main facilities. 

In fact, there is a stunning coastal trail that takes visitors to and from MacKerricher State Park and Glass Beach. But what's so special about Glass Beach? It's all in the name. Glass Beach's shores are littered with sea glass, making it a one-of-a-kind coastal destination. It's a favorite among photographers and beachcombers, who will find sea glass in various shades, including blue, lavender, and pink. 

This, however, is not a natural phenomenon. Sea glass is formed when the ocean tumbles glass into smooth rocks, and there's a peculiar reason why Glass Beach has so much of it in the first place.

How Glass Beach came to be

Glass Beach's colorful sea glass is made from trash. Yes, you read that right. When the notorious 1906 San Francisco earthquake hit the city, its effects were felt throughout Northern California, including Fort Bragg. What is now Glass Beach was used as one of three dump sites to remove the wreckage caused by the earthquake and the city's trash. 

The dumping continued for decades, polluting the ecosystem. However, 1967 was the beginning of the end of Glass Beach as a dump. The site was eventually cleaned up and incorporated into MacKerricher State Park. 

With that said, the sea glass at the beach was created from this trash, including tail lights, beer bottles, soda bottles, and more. Visitors are encouraged to dig for the sea glass but are prohibited from taking it home. Many people ignore this rule, though, which is why the amount of sea glass has decreased over the years.

Exploring tide pools and hiking are other activities that can be enjoyed at Glass Beach. Due to its rugged coast, swimming is not recommended. Dogs are allowed on a leash, and free parking is available for visitors. 

Want to see more? The International Sea Glass Museum is only five minutes away and has expansive sea glass exhibits. Admission is free.