For some, glancing outside and seeing a robin pecking at the ground is the first sign of a northern Michigan spring. For others, the bright yellow daffodils poking their heads above the remaining glisten of snowfall signals warmer days ahead.

For me, it’s my first foray along Petoskey’s Little Traverse Bay in search of Petoskey stones. That’s when I know for sure that soon the days will be longer, warmer and filled with the sounds of laughter as the waves rush to shore.

Petoskey stones, Michigan’s state stone, are the fascinating stones that aren’t really a stone at all. Instead, these delightful little gems are actually fossilized coral left over from the glaciers that covered the Petoskey Area and surrounding region during the Devonian period. Their distinctive “eyes” make identifying them fairly easy, but when the stones, or Hexagonaria Percarinata, are wet is when it’s easiest. I suggest that if you can’t make it to the beach after or during a gentle rain, or when the morning dew still veils the stones, that you bring a spray bottle or cup of water to bring out the hexagon shape of each cell of the coral.

One of the best things about Petoskey stone hunting (other than it’s free) is that pretty much anyone can do it – and have fun! Show a small child what they’re looking for and odds are they will find one or two. Since they’re closer to the ground and likely see better, they may out-find the seasoned “hunter.” Tweens – that awful age when you wonder if a child will ever actually enjoy anything ever again – seem to revel in the challenge. And for the older crowd (anyone over 30, according to the tweens), finding Petoskey stones is simply a relaxing way to pass the day. Imagine that, an activity that a multi-generational group can all look forward to doing together. Hunt as a group or race to see who finds the treasure first. This is one of my favorite ways to spend the day when the grandkids come to visit; it’s one of their favorites, too.

Want to know more about Petoskey stones? Take a take a look here. Need some words of wisdom from a local Petoskey stone enthusiast? Check in with Nikki from the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce. And if you’re ready for a rockin’ good time, round up the family, head in our direction and look for the latest crop of stones that have hit the beach.

Spring is here and our lakefront communities of Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor and Boyne City have a room and a hunting spot waiting for you.


About the author

Diane Dakins is passionate about all of the communities that comprise the Petoskey Area of Michigan: Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor and Boyne City. As assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, she has “been there – seen that” when it comes to virtually every area attraction. She strives to create informative content that gives potential visitors the scoop on planning a northern Michigan vacation.