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When you first start looking for places to metal detect, you may wonder where the good places to go metal detecting might be.

Fortunately, there are a lot of good locations to metal detect – and contrary to popular belief it doesn’t mean you have to trek across the country just to be near an old civil war site or on the beach.

You might be surprised at just how many places can be near your house!

Note: When metal detecting, ALWAYS be sure to be a good metal detectorist and follow the basic etiquette rules! Be sure you ask for permission!

Fill all holes, dig plugs, and use common sense to not metal detect while there are a lot of people who might not be too keen to see you. If you’re new to metal detecting, make sure you take some time to check out the Code of Ethics. It’s important to all of us if we want to be able to enjoy this hobby!

You should always get permission before detecting and make sure to follow basic metal detecting safety precautions!

42 Top Locations to Metal Detect: Places to Go Metal Detecting

where to go metal detecting

#1. Your Backyard:

Okay, so maybe your own backyard doesn’t seem like the most exciting of places, but it is a great place to practice! You never know what might have been at your property before you lived there!

#2. In a Coin Garden:

A coin garden is your metal detecting playground, and it is a place where you set up known targets to get used to understanding your machine better.

While this is similar to metal detecting in your own back yard, it’s a little bit different because you’ll know exactly what kind of targets exist. This helps you learn how to fine tune your machine and identify what different targets sound like.

#3. Bleachers & Ball Fields:

This is a great way to discover coins of all types and lost jewelry, especially in the off season when the fields are not in use. 

When you are digging near bleachers or a ball field, you need to first make sure you have mastered the art of digging targets without damaging the turf.

The last thing you want is to be responsible for damaging a well-manicured field or someone getting injured by falling in a hole. You should be able to effectively dig targets with a simple ice pick or screwdriver.

#4. On the Shores of a Creek:

Make sure first your metal detector has a water proof coil – you do not want to risk damaging your machine if it gets wet!

Creeks are great places to look for all sorts of things. People often fish and play in creeks – and if there is ever a lot of rain you will find that all sorts of things will be unearthed from flooding.

See our post on metal detecting in creeks and rivers for more tips!

#5. School Sites:

Sites of old schools are always a good place to try looking – just make sure you have the property owner’s permission. It helps to do a little bit of history research before you go digging to have an idea for what types of things you may uncover.

If you’d like to metal detect at current schools, you will have to do this in summer months or off hours when schools are not in session – and make sure someone from the school has granted you permission in writing.

You may also wish to get in touch with schools to see if they would want to do a metal detecting fundraiser or start a club for students.

#6. Church Sites:

A church is another great place to consider – just make sure that you have permission and you aren’t metal detecting anywhere near the graveyards if the church has them. Nobody wants to be associated with grave robbing!

You could also consider doing this as a means to raise money for the church! If you are a member of a parish, you may even want to suggest metal detecting as a church fundraiser activity!

#7. Picnic Groves:

Picnic groves are another great place to look for coins and jewelry – you just might have to use a lot of discrimination so you aren’t constantly digging up bottle caps and can tabs. Sadly litter is common in these sites.

If you’re up for the challenge however and want to test your discrimination skills, a lot of great finds can be uncovered.

#8. Scout Camps

Many camps exist for both boy scouts and girl scouts. These are both very good locations, especially because they often are old sites with a lot of history.

To metal detect at these camps, it’s helpful to get in touch with the local chapters and scout leaders in the area. This is another great opportunity to reach out to offer a demonstration and activity to do with the kids.

#9. Old Homestead Sites

These definitely require a lot of research to find AND willingness from the property owner. Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as you might think! Often times you can find out the area’s history just by visiting a local library or connecting with a genealogy group.

Visiting the county’s real estate office can also be useful in some situations – if you want to research the history of a specific site, you will likely find plat maps and the locations of old buildings and houses.

#10. Network With Genealogy Clubs

Not all genealogists will want to work with you – but often times many people are curious to know if any artifacts might exist on their own property or family owned properties when they are researching their family history.

You likely won’t be able to keep most of these targets, but it’s a great way to practice, find willing & excited property owners AND make some new friends along the way!

#11. Ghost Towns

During the big oil booms and gold rushes, many small towns were built quickly – and vanished just as fast. If the site is marked as a historic landmark, you definitely cannot metal detect there – especially if they are funded as a non-profit historical site by the state.

However, believe it or not, a lot of these ghost towns are actually on private land. Many people own property where entire towns once flourished – or a subdivision housing plan may now even be built over where one once existed.

Do some research, and you’ll find it’s well worth it – there are a lot of great places like these out there.

#12. The Library

Libraries are always looking for fun activities and new types of things to offer. I’m pretty stoked that a local library near us even has a metal detector you can borrow with your library card!

Get in touch with the activities coordinator, and see if they would be interested in having a metal detecting demonstration or would want to explore offering a metal detector to borrow to their patrons.

This can be a great way to meet new people and open the door to private lands to metal detect! And of course, it never hurts to do some metal detecting at the library itself if they will allow it and you can demonstrate responsible digging practices!

#13. Campgrounds

Most state park campgrounds have rules for where you can metal detect and what types of tools are allowed. For example, where I live, it is necessary to register at the park office and you can only bring an ice pick for digging targets and usually you can only metal detect at your own campsite.

Campgrounds however are a really great place to find all sorts of things – especially coins! Just be prepared for needing to do a bit of discrimination – bottle caps, aluminum can tabs, and even metal parts off of trailers can all be present in these sites.

#14. The Great Lakes

I am fortunate enough to live within driving distance of Lake Erie – and this actually was my very first metal detecting site to try. These lakes are full of all types of interesting history, from shipwrecks to booming vacation spots.

Most of the state parks along the Great Lakes are very friendly towards detecting, as long as you stay out of active swimming areas or visit during the off-season. You should also make sure you have a good sand scoop!

#15. Bars, Saloons and Taverns:

This again will require getting an owner’s permission, but is a great way to find all sorts of different things from the past, especially if it is a place full of history.

You never know what you might find in these places, but coins are very common.

#16. Amusement Parks

There are a LOT of abandoned amusement parks, and while getting the property owner’s permission may be tricky, it can be well worth it.

These places always had a lot of coins and even jewelry lost – especially near rides like rollercoasters or other types of places where people might have things fall out of their pockets.

#17. Fairground Sites

Fairground sites are another great option to consider, because these often are not in use year-round,  and there’s a lot of potential for similar finds for what you might find at amusement parks.

Most fairground sites are owned by the local township/borough or the county, so this may help you in finding how to seek permission.

#18. Fishing Spots

A lot of areas have well-known fishing spots that have been a place where people have gone fishing for centuries. While you will definitely stumble across a few old hooks and some trash, you also may find a lot of great things in these areas.

When going to these places, try to do so in the off-season or at a time when there are not many people there – you do not want to make someone who is fishing angry!

#19. Parking Lots

All sorts of things are lost in parking lots daily – I’ve been grocery shopping and found some interesting things right in plain site!

#20. Sidewalks

If you live in a city, don’t let that discourage you from metal detecting around where you live on the sidewalks! While some cities may require a permit, many do not.

Practice basic common sense – don’t block the sidewalk or do this during night or in times where there is a lot of heavy pedestrian traffic. Also have a good idea where utility lines may run underground – you don’t want to detect near water or gas lines!

metal detecting locations

#21. Old Garbage Sites

Many people often dumped their garbage in fields decades ago. While you may not find a lot of great things here, you can often uncover a lot of neat historic artifacts, like old bottles and jars.

You may also stumble across some valuable scrap metal finds, like copper, silver or brass. Most of these places can be found near old farms or in areas not too far from a small town.

#22. Old Outhouse Sites

Outhouses were surprising a common place where people would hide their valuables. While it may not sound like a lot of fun as a place to dig, typically after decades there is really no visible sign of the outhouse ever existing – but many metal discoveries can be found.

#23. Garages & Carports

Most cars were made of metal, and a lot of people would work on their cars outside of the garage or underneath a carport. Yes, you may find a lot of junk targets like bolts and nails – but you also may discover some coins that fell out of the mechanic’s pocket or even some old tools and keys.

#24. Old Gas Stations

Many gas stations have closed up for good – and these can often be a very good source for finding things where people may have hung out or dropped loose change.

Always make sure you have the property owner’s permission AND be sure to make sure there are no hazards such as buried tanks you should be aware of.

#25. Abandoned General Stores

Similar to gas stations, many small general stores existed in a lot of different areas. These sites can be useful to uncover old coins, like Mercury dimes and wheat pennies.

Most of these stores have long been abandoned, especially as they struggled to compete with the larger chain stores that started to boom in the 1990’s.

#26. Old Saw Mills & Grist Mills

Getting permission to metal detect at an old mill site isn’t always easy, but it can be worthwhile if you do succeed in getting permission. Often times these saw mills had camps for the workers to stay at.

While you likely won’t find a lot of coins and jewelry at these sites, they can be a great place to discover old relics, tools, horseshoes and other artifacts from years gone by.

#27. Flea Market & Open Market Sites

These are a great place to look, because many times flea market vendors may lose items – and a lot of people while shopping may drop coins or other items.

A lot of flea markets also have their own website, making it very easy to find out how to contact the owners. These are great places to scout in the off-season and during weekdays when the markets are typically closed.

#28. Hiking Trails

While a lot of hiking trails are in state and national parks that may have laws not permitting metal detecting, you can often find hiking trails even on private land or in local community parks.

These trails can be a decent source for all types of surprises – especially when you consider things like historical robberies and treasure caches.

#29. Old Garden Sites

A lot of people would bury their valuables where they used to have a garden. This was a common practice especially after the Great Depression Era, because many people no longer trusted the banks.

However, a lot of these people also did not tell anyone in the family where these spots might have been where they buried their valuables! Look for places that are sunny and relatively flat that are near old homesites or outbuildings – these can sometimes be a surprising place to find treasure!

#30. Scenic Overlooks

There are a lot of great spots that are scenic overlooks that have beautiful views and rest areas for travelers. I would generally avoid the ones that are state or federally owned, but you may be surprised how many of these exist along the side of the road on private land in rural mountain areas.

Just be sure to do some research and get permission! {Can you sense that getting permission is a common theme here?!}

#31. Lover’s Lanes {The “Hot Spot” in Town}

A lot of areas have secluded places that are well known for couples to go and romance one another. These “make-out spots” may have people there – so take that into consideration for deciding what times to go. I would recommend a weekday morning, as these spots generally are not as active. 🙂

You can find quite a lot of good things lost in moments of passion. You might discover anything from coins and jewelry to even old relics, especially if the spot has been in use for a very long time by people in the area.

#32. Old Motels and Hotels

These are another great source of old coins, relics, and jewelry. A lot of old hotels and motels have closed up for business, and you can find all sorts of interesting history associated with the property.

#33. Moonshine & Bootlegging Routes

During the Prohibition Era, a lot of interesting things took place to make moonshine and to transport alcohol without anyone finding out. Doing a little research of what happened during the Prohibition in your state and learning about common practices can give you all sorts of ideas for places to scout for metal detecting locations.

#34. Waterfalls

Waterfalls are interesting areas to check out for multiple reasons. First of all, it’s quite likely that things that may have been lost upstream may find their way to these spots.

Secondly, waterfalls are often in scenic areas that attract people. They also have existed for a very long time – so even if the waterfall is on private land or not actively used by the public, that doesn’t necessarily mean it never has been frequented!

Be sure when metal detecting near a waterfall to follow basic safety precautions – you do not want to accidentally fall in unprepared!

#35. Neighboring Lands of Historic Markers

Often times where there is historical sites you cannot metal detect on the historic site itself. However, often times where there is a historic site nearby you will find a lot of other things on neighboring areas.

For example, it’s not uncommon for there to be privately owned land where military troops may have camped near a fort or other encampment spot.

#36. Old Barns & Chicken Coops

Barns and old barn sites can be a great place to find all sorts of relics and old tools. You may even discover a hidden cache in these spots, because many farmers would put their valuables in places thieves would not likely venture, such as the inside of a chicken coop.

#37. Roadside Fruit & Vegetable Stands

These aren’t always places you’ll find huge caches of treasure, but you may stumble across some nice coins! Many times travelers and locals will stop by these road side stands and you never know what they might drop out of their pockets.

#38. College Campuses & Fraternity/Sorority Sites

College students are great for losing things. I remember when I was in college my roommates were ALWAYS losing everything from their keys to bracelets to rings.

If you can get permission from the school, you may want to look around areas students would convene, such as the cafeteria, library, or meeting spots. You may even be able to set up a metal detecting club at the school for students.

If there is a college near you where you cannot get permission, you may want to also check out neighboring party sites, such as old frat houses and sorority houses.

#39. Saltwater Beaches

Most saltwater and ocean side beaches are great places to go metal detecting, and even if they are heavily detected areas can still sometimes yield a lot of great finds.

From the East Coast to the West Coast, you’re sure to find some great opportunities for finding treasures in the sand. Just be sure to check the laws for the state you plan to visit to make sure you don’t go anywhere you shouldn’t.

See our 23 tips for metal detecting at the beach!

#40. Boardwalks

If you are metal detecting at a beach, it may be a good idea to check underneath and around the boardwalks. A lot of people can drop things that will easily slip through the slats.

#41. Playgrounds

A playground can be another great source for finding coins and jewelry. Most of the finds at playgrounds will not be very deep down, and can easily be recovered using just a screw driver or ice pick – many may even be in plain sight!

Be sure to check the park rules before you go!

#42. Hunting Camps and Lodges

Old hunting camps and lodges can be another great source for finding all sorts of things. Many times these places are on privately owned land, so it is easier to obtain permission on these sites than government-owned property.


Does the Idea of Getting Permission Scare You?

In most of these cases, it’s necessary to get permission from the property owner. However, there are some very great places that don’t require any special permit or even knocking on doors.

See Places to Metal Detect WITHOUT Permission Here for some ideas for where you can legally metal detect without asking owners for permission.

There are all sorts of great places to go metal detecting, and you are sure to find some inspiration to find your next location for metal detecting here!

While you may not always discover treasure, it’s always the thrill of the hunt and trying new things that makes it fun and exciting!


Do you have a favorite place to metal detect? Where do you like to go metal detecting? Any locations we may not have listed here? Tell us your ideas and experiences in the comments section below!

4 Comments

  1. I recommend in area of bus stops. As an old bus driver, I heard the words, “I must have lost my bus fare” or ” dropped my house keys”, nearly every day. Even where schoolchildren wait for the bus, God knows how many times I lost my lunch money as a kid.

    1. That is such a great idea, thank you for sharing that Fallujah! I might have to even go check by my parent’s house where I caught the bus as a kid.

  2. I enjoyed this article very much. And, as I am brand new at metal detecting I will take all the advice I can get. I am also a resident of PA but live in the Southcentral part of the state. If you know of any clubs that are close to the York area I would be much obliged.
    Best wishes and success.

    1. Hi Patrick,
      There are many clubs locally but they can be difficult to find. I’m not sure in York, but there are several groups on Facebook or Meetup that can help you find some fantastic people to connect with!

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