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Indoor Beach at National Building Museum in D.C. Draws Thousands

Indoor Beach Offers Unique Way to Cool Off 1:42

You can spend a day at this beach without getting sand in your shoes — or even getting wet.

The stately National Building Museum in Washington has opened a 10,000-square-foot indoor beach this summer made entirely of recyclable plastic balls — almost a million of them.

“The little ones, the adults are going in and out. It’s fun. This is beautiful,” said Maureen Kendall, who was visiting from Boston on a recent day with her granddaughter, Kaylee Kendall-Beaden.

They were visiting a relative in Washington and heard about it on Snapchat.

“It’s nicer because my grandmother can bring her walker on here,” Kaylee said.

Image: The beach
Visitors enjoy "The Beach", an interactive architectural installation inside the National Building Museum in Washington, on July 17, 2015. The Beach, which spans the length of the museum's Great Hall, was created in partnership with Snarkitecture, and covers 10,000 square feet and includes an “ocean” of nearly one million recyclable translucent plastic balls. Andrew Harnik / AP

The installation opened July 4 in the museum’s Great Hall. Thousands of people have visited, including many who probably had never heard of the museum before, said Emma Filar, a spokeswoman.

An architecture firm called Snarkitecture built the indoor beach. Ben Porto, a senior associate at the firm, said that while Washington is a popular place to visit during the summer, it doesn’t have a shore.

And allowing people to interact with architecture, not just observe it, is important to the firm, he said: “It’s something we try to focus on and is accessible.”

RELATED: New 'Beach' Installed at National Building Museum

Jessica Mainhart, a mother of two, was visiting for the second time with her daughters. She said they plan to come again later.

“There's something about bubbles and balls and you smile," Mainhart said. "Everyone's smiling. It's a great time."

It’s always 70 degrees at the indoor beach — an improvement on Washington’s infamous, swamplike humidity.

Plus, Mainhart said, “it’s nice not having to worry about sharks.”

The indoor beach is open through Labor Day.