Kids love frolicking in the sea (as do we), but unfortunately, the beach is a few hours away from the concrete jungle of D.C. Lucky for us, the National Building Museum has created an ocean city in the middle of the nation’s capital. No worries if your little ones can’t quite handle jumping over waves because this ocean doesn’t require the use of a flotation device. Appropriately called the BEACH, this summer paradise features almost one million plastic balls and 50 feet of “shoreline”. Sun worshipers can lounge by the “water’s edge,” grab food from the snack bar, and even play beach games. Got your attention? Then read on for deets on the district’s latest attraction.

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10,000 Square Feet
No, that wasn’t a typo. The BEACH covers 10,000 square feet so you can rest easy knowing your little one won’t be body surfing over other swimmers or blocking anyone’s rays when reading by the edge of the water. Covering most of the Great Hall, the BEACH uses building materials such as scaffolding, wooden panels, and perforated mesh to create the ocean ambience we all know and love. Everything is clad in stark white, and features a mirrored wall to create an infinite reflected expanse.

Hungry Swimmers
Forget the traditional snow cones and cotton candy often found at the shore. No outside food is allowed, but rumbling tummies are placated by goodies from Union Kitchen, the DC-based food incubator featuring more than 50 foodie groups including pizza, pickles, cupcakes, and more.

Playtime
While little ones can “swim” till their heart’s content, kids (and grownups!) will be able to lounge under umbrellas, snooze in beach chairs and (or) play a variety of beach games (think: paddleball, Frisbee, and volleyball). For those of you who absolutely can’t have a beach day without a boardwalk or a pier, fear not – families can dangle their legs off the BEACH’s pier while daydreaming.

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The Best Part
No sunscreen! Since this “ocean” adventure fits neatly into the National Building Museum, there’s no sunscreen to apply, hats to wear, or sand to wash out of places we didn’t even know existed. So leave the giant beach bag and plastic toys at home, and get ready to jump in!

The National Building Museum
401 F St., NW (Judiciary Square)
Cost: $16/adults; $13/kids
Online: nbm.org/exhibitions-collections/exhibitions/the-beach.html

Have you been to this beach yet? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

—Hilary Riedemann

Photo: National Building Museum via Facebook