My family visited us for a few days last week, which gave me an excuse to plan out all sorts of cool itineraries around the glorious tourist mecca that Washington DC becomes in the summer. We ticked off a bunch of well known sites and museums, but had the most fun at the Beach. (Typical, I know).
What’s isn’t so typical is that the beach was inside, with A/C and all. In fact, it’s an actual installation, in one of DC’s most beautiful museums. The inside of the Building Museum’s iconic big hall with towering Corinthian columns rising four stories high is now filled with beach goers, reclining on loungers, sipping on some refreshments, and once in a while doing the cannonball into a pit filled with nearly 1,000,000 translucent balls.
The BEACH is a brainchild of Brooklyn-based experimental-architecture firm Snarkitecture and it.is.awesome. Hours of entertainment can be had in the pit, which at times can feel bottomless as it sucks you in. Full grown adults can – and will – sink, struggle, and laugh deliriously while trying to stand up.
Although staff are present to make sure no one gets hurt, we were pleasantly surprised by the lack of admonishing not to run, jump, or whatever else. Play is encouraged, cannonballs allowed, and swimming props – including swimming tubes – occasionally make their way through the crowd.
My favorite bit though was seeing this mass of adults have so much unbridled fun, that I don’t think is even rivaled by places like Disney or Water World. It must be the setting — this is a museum after all — and who runs around squealing in a museum? The unexpectedness of it all — an ocean of balls, with a shoreline and reclining beach chairs with umbrellas in this beautiful hall — has a way of catching you off guard in the most pleasant way.
To Visit the BEACH
The BEACH is open for the rest of the summer through Labor Day, it should be on your list if you are in town.
The Beach is housed at the National Building Museum over in Washington DC’s Chinatown / Penn Quarter area. The address is: 401 F St NW.
Tickets are $16 for adults, $13 for students.
The Beach hours are 10:00 am to 5 pm, except of Wednesdays, when the Museum hosts “Late Night” party, which features performers and cocktails.
We would strongly suggest going right before 10 am, or closer to the end of the day — the admission lines can get long. Another tip is if you go with a friend, split up and have one person stand in line to get the tickets, and another in line for the actual admission to the BEACH.
Many thanks to the National Building Museum for providing press passes for myself and Sergey. We had a blast, and per usual, you get our honest opinions, no matter the implication.