The National Building Museum is a cool hidden gem in Washington DC. It is only 4 blocks from the Mall, tucked in over by Chinatown, but not always on the usual tourist path. The building is beautiful, the exhibits are always interesting, and change on a regular basis plus there are great hands on activities for kids. These things alone make the Building Museum a must do for locals and tourists anytime of year, but each summer the museum takes things up a notch by installing a summer themed exhibit in the main hall.
The beach is a 10,000 square foot “ocean” filled with nearly one million translucent balls – so basically a giant ball pit. Visitors can sit on the 50′ wide shoreline or dangle their feet off the pier into the water.
You can wade in slowly from the shore or just jump right in. At its deepest it is 3 feet and there is a small island in the middle. I experienced a slight panic when I first jumped in and found myself sinking with every movement. Wading around is definitely a little challenging and a helping hand is sometimes needed, but the mood at the BEACH is light and fun and people were always willing to lend a hand if needed.
For planning purposes:
- take the metro – parking can be tricky and expensive – just hop off at Judiciary square.
- tickets to the BEACH are on a first come first serve basis. From the time we walked in to the museum it took about 45 minutes to get in to the actual beach area. I have heard of others waiting for a couple hours.
- weekdays are obviously the best time to go, but if you can’t get there during the week get there early on the weekend. They open at 10am Monday thru Saturday and at 11am on Sunday
- there is a concession stand, run by Union Kitchen, that serves, delicious but not necessarily typical snacks.
- tickets are $16 for adults and $13 for kids
- be sure to check out their website for more information – The BEACH
If you are a local, or planning on being in the DC area, add this to your summer bucket list. You won’t have to empty sand from your shoes before getting in the car and it is sure to bring a smile to your face.
The exhibit is only open until September 7, so don’t procrastinate!