For the past twenty years, Lincoln City, Oregon, has played host to a magical treasure hunt. Each year, an army of “Float Fairies” hides thousands of beautiful, handcrafted glass floats along a seven-mile stretch of beach in this coastal town located just a couple of hours southwest of Portland. Find a float, and it’s yours to keep!
Finding a float is like finding the best sea glass marble ever…only better! Each numbered float is a unique work of art, reflecting the style of the glassblower.
The festival kicks into high gear in October, but there are special dates when extra glass floats are placed on the beach for lucky beachcombers to find. For example, in early February, there will be 300 antique Japanese floats hidden on Lincoln City beaches. During the week of Valentine’s Day, you can hunt for an extra 50 red, pink, and white floats. And, in late March and early April, there will be 300 extra floats for Spring Breakers to find.
If you don’t find a float, there’s plenty more to find in Lincoln City, including at the Lincoln City Glass Center, where you can learn to make your own glass float with a glass artist. You can schedule a half-hour class with a glassblower to “BYO” (blow your own) glass float, fluted bowl, paperweight, heart dish, or votive candle holder in your choice of colors and sizes. The Lincoln City Glass Center studio also offers glass-blowing demonstrations.
“Watching a centuries-old craft take place right before your eyes is really cool,” says Eric Johnson from the Lincoln City Visitor & Convention Bureau.
Prices run from $65 to make a small glass float to $185 to make a large fluted bowl. You must be age 8 or over and be taller than 46 inches to participate. Each person works with a glassblower to create their art glass piece. When completed, the glass is cooled overnight and is ready to take home the following day, or the studio can ship your item home for you.
While your glass masterpiece cools, head back to the beach for more beachcombing fun. Lincoln City beaches are known for agates, semi-transparent pieces of quartz, carnelian, chalcedony, and jasper that come loose from the headlands during storms and are left behind when the waves recede at low tide. You can also hunt for driftwood, including petrified wood, some with fossilized leaf impressions on them. Other fossils found in the area include 15- to 20-million-year-old fossilized shells of mollusks, whale bones, fish teeth, and turtle shells.
Tide pools in the area are home to colorful red and orange starfish, purple and green sea anemones, and rich, dark purple sea urchins. Tiny fish and hermit crabs live in the tide pools, and sea birds such as brown pelicans, seagulls, and common murres feed on the wildlife.
Gray whales can be spotted along the Oregon Coast year round and you can get a look at sea lions, seals, and otters as they play in the waves. Learn more about the local coastal life at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Hatfield Marine Science Center, and the Whale Sea Life & Shark Museum.
For more adventure, consider fat-tire biking on the beach. Bikes outfitted with four-inch-wide tires let you cruise over the sand along Lincoln City’s seven miles of beaches. Make a stop for some clam digging or crabbing to pick up the night’s meal, or check out the great restaurants in town.
No matter what your favorite beach activity is, you’ll find it here. And maybe you’ll even be lucky enough to bring home a beautiful glass float!
There are plenty of great places to eat, drink, and sleep well in Lincoln City.
• Kyllo’s www.kyllosseafoodandgrill.com
• Blackfish Café www.blackfishcafe.com
• The Bay House thebayhouse.org
• Rusty Truck Brewing www.rustytruckbrewing.com
• Wildflower Grill thewildflowergrill.com
• Chinook Winds Casino Resort www.chinookwindscasino.com
• Inn at Spanish Head www.spanishhead.com
• Salishan Resort www.salishan.com
• Looking Glass Inn www.lookingglass-inn.com
For more information on Lincoln City, Oregon, visit ExploreLincolnCity.com.
Photo credits: Cody Cha, Traceie Steggle Rabago, Jordan May, Iz Tuck Photography
Learn more about Glass Fishing Floats
- Riding the Waves: Glass Floats From Around the World
- American-Made Glass Floats
- Beachcomber Interview: Alan Rammer
- The Glass Floats
- Washington: All in a Day's Work: Japanese Glass Fishing Floats
- Boat & Float Day
- Beachcombing Adventures in Japan and the Pacific
- Japanese Fishing Float Factory Tour (video)
- Floats of the Pacific (video)
- Japanese Sea Glass (video)
- The Eclectic Beachcombing Collection of Tina Terry (video)
- The Mystery of Sea Glass Strength
- Beachcombers and Glass Float Expo
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2019 issue.