Miss the ocean? Head to a wave pool in Silver Spring. I’m not kidding! You’ll find the Coastline Wave Pool behind a grouping of trees outside the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) headquarters at 1301 East-West Highway. You’ll hear it before seeing it as waves crash against the granite. This hidden gem is a must-see for anyone who loves the relaxing sounds of the ocean. Bonus: you won’t have to wipe any sand off your legs and feet after your visit!
The wave pool in Silver Spring mimics the Atlantic Ocean’s tide in real time using live data transmitted from the Atlantic Ocean. Created in 1993 by Jim Sanborn, it gathers live data from a sensor in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, almost 500 miles away. The pool’s waves decrease and increase in size depending on the time of day.
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The Coastline Wave Pool runs during weekdays from late April to October. It’s turned off and emptied every winter.
Street parking is usually available along East-West Highway near NOAA’s headquarters. Make a day trip from your visit by checking out other nearby attractions.
Walk two buildings north to the Gateway to NOAA exhibit, where you can learn about the NOAA’s history, how they track the planet, and the difference between climate and weather. The free, interactive exhibit is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Then, walk one block to Acorn Urban Park. It’s a small well-shaded park with a deep history. The spring that inspired the name “Silver Spring” is in the park! You can’t miss the 1850-acorn-shaped gazebo, a perfect place for a photo op with friends or family. You’ll also find murals depicting the area’s history.
Next, walk to Kaldi’s Social House, an Ethiopian cafe. A full breakfast and lunch menu that includes sweet corn waffles, pumpkin pie-stuffed French toast, and Cuban chicken flatbread, don’t sleep on their coffee menu. Grab a latte and juice for the children and sit on their outdoor patio.
After catching your breath at Kaldi’s Social House, walk to the Brigadier General Charles E. McGee Library, an extensive public library that opens daily at 10 a.m. If you have kids along, you won’t want to miss the children’s section. Discover play areas tucked among the bookshelves, including a kid-sized bus. (Pro dad tip: plan your visit to include storytime.)
After exploring Silver Spring, return to the Coastline Wave Pool for a final dose of relaxation. Close your eyes and imagine you’re at the beach listening to the crashing waves. If you wait long enough, you’ll forget you’re in downtown Silver Spring.
Lead Photo: Austin Graff
About the Author
Austin Graff is an explorer, writer and founder of Curiosity & Connection, a social media and travel consultancy. He’s currently a contributing writer with The Washington Post, By The Way’s D.C. local guide and one of the co-leaders of IGDC, D.C.’s first Instagram community. Austin lives in Southeast D.C. with his wife, daughter and housemate.