Summer in the city can be stifling, with its sticky-hot subway cars and the odor of leftovers slowly broiling behind every restaurant. For those of us who don’t have a Hamptons-home perched on a sandy stretch of beachfront, it can be hard to slip away from the city for the ultimate, sink-your-toes-in-the-sand summer escape.
That is, until the pop-up beach became a thing.
In Philadelphia this year, Spruce Street Harbor Park appeared on Penn’s Landing. The urban oasis, made possible by 475 tons of sand, waterfront hammocks, and transplanted beach grasses, is the latest iteration of the interim-beach trend. After sunning in colorful Adirondack chairs, or playing classic arcade games in shipping containers, visitors can dine at the temporary floating restaurant or cozy up to a fire pit until the beach washes away on August 31.
The phenomenon began in 2006, when France first carted a staggering 5,000 tons of sand into the City of Light. Now known as the annual Paris Plages, this string of temporary beaches flanking the Seine (complete with chaise lounges, sailboats, and public activities such as beach volleyball and a zipline) gives Parisians a fun, free place to play during the balmy summer days.
The appeal of these inner-city oases is obvious, and plenty of other countries have taken note. You can listen to live music on the straw hut-dotted ribbon of sand along Brussels’ Place Sainctelette, and in Rome, imported Italian sand and synthetic grass give the ancient streets a tropical touch. Germany plays host to more than 30 beaches in the summertime.
Melanie Lieberman is the Editorial Projects Assistant and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites.