****UPDATE: In 2019, we learned that this awesome indoor beach has closed for good!**
It’s January, and the temperatures in our part of Indiana are hovering near -6. I think it’s safe to say that most of us in the landlocked Midwest are dreaming of beaches and sunshine!
While I can’t deliver on the sunshine and warm weather, I can point you to sand, sand toys, and indoor beach volleyball. Covington, Indiana (for local readers, that’s just 51 miles from Terre Haute) is the home to one of the only indoor beaches in the United States!
A few weeks ago, the girls and I spent a morning playing in the sand as the guests of Darcey at Inspired by Nature. The girls loved playing in a giant, climate-controlled sandbox filled with their favorite sand toys.
While you might expect the building that houses an indoor sand bar to stand out, this Indiana novelty is hidden behind a normal storefront in a row of shops in the Covington city center. I never would have guessed that such a building would be capable of holding so much sand.
Once inside, you’ll find a beach-themed shop (with coffee, tea, beach souvenirs, and essential oil products), a cozy viewing area with tables and chairs, free WIFI, and a sand bar that’s wide enough for a regulation-size volleyball net.
We played soccer, hunted for seashells, and held a hermit crab. (Don’t worry–the crab doesn’t roam free in the sand. He and his friends have their own little tank. This place is authentic, but not that authentic.)
Here are a few tips we learned from our trip to Indiana’s indoor beach:
Inspired by Nature is less than ten minutes from the famous Beef House. My suggestion: play at the beach and then eat a lunch of yeast rolls and strawberry jam. (Did you recognize it in the above picture?)
It never hurts to call in advance to be sure Inspired by Nature Beach is open. I heard one story from a reader who said she made the trek to Covington only to discover that the beach was unexpectedly closed.
Kids can wear swim suits or street clothes, although the sand might be too chilly for suits in winter. The owner’s advice is that the fewer pockets you have the less sand you’ll take home.
No shoes allowed. You can wear socks or go barefoot.
The standard price is currently $7 for everyone who plays in the sand. Families with kids under five can save money by going during the “Lil Diggers Play Date” on Wednesday from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
No food, drink, gum, or bandaids allowed in the sand.
No water means it’s hard to build sand castles.
Toys (slide, digger, balls, buckets, shovels) are provided.
Find a shell–keep the shell. Find the shark tooth–keep the shark tooth.
Outside food and drink are allowed in the lounge area.
You can get a stamp for re-entry and take break for a meal, or a few local restaurants deliver.
All in, it was a great family road trip for my little beach bunnies!