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Belly Up

July 5, 2012
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Get ship wrecked (and a tan) at The Sand Bar

Bartender Lindsey Hannan showcases four of The Sand Bar’s signature cocktails including the most popular among patrons, the Dragon (yellow) made with peach vodka, Malibu, Apple Pucker, pineapple and Sprite.

By Amber Williams

Wet or dry? At The Sand Bar, guests get to decide. The recent addition to Adventureland Bay caters to the needs of its guests whether they want to swim up to the poolside of the bar and wade on a tiled stool, or drip dry on a lawn chair, bellied-up on the patio side. The Sand Bar gives people “the best of both worlds,” according to Adventureland Park spokesperson Molly Vincent.

“We’ve been wanting to do more expansions and ‘test the waters,’ ” said Vincent, whose family built the park almost 40 years ago. “We built Komoko Kove to see how people would do with a swimsuit-featured attraction, and everybody seemed to love it. We hit capacity in 2010 (about 3,500 people) which included the pool with the swim-up Sand Bar, 13 water slides and Iowa’s longest lazy river, so we decided to expand again.”

Since 2010, the Adventureland Bay water park has grown to include Breaker Beach wave pool (500,000 gallons of coursing ebb and flow) and lockers and private cabanas available for rent — some of which include sofas and flat screen TVs.

“So Adventure Bay has actually been through three phases now,” Vincent said. “Now I feel we have everything a water park really requires.”

The Sand Bar is the only bar in the metro that features a hot, young wait staff — dressed like every day is a luau — and that’s overseen by tight, tan lifeguards rather than burly, tattooed bouncers.

“It’s a fun place to work,” says Lindsey Hannan, who has bartended at The Sand Bar since day one. “I don’t feel like I’m in Iowa working here.”

“It’s a whole new feel. It’s like you’re not in the city anymore; you’re in the tropics,” Vincent echoed. “It’s not just a bar. It’s an experience. It’s the closest you can get to a Caribbean vacation in Iowa.”

This summer, The Sand Bar has added top shelf liquors to enhance the cleverly-named tropical cocktails, including the Caribbean Cruiser, Breaker Beach, Lady Luck, the Tornado and the Dragon.

“The first year we opened, we didn’t have our frozen machines,” Hannan remembered. “We had to blend each drink by hand. It was crazy and messy.”

Messy isn’t much of a problem at The Sand Bar, though. Unlike traditional bars, this one prefers its patrons have no shirt and shoes, and spills are easily absorbed by the wet and wild environment. The prices aren’t bad either ranging anywhere from $5.50 (wells) to $8.50 (top shelf and doubles) and $4.50 for beer.

In fact, the only things you won’t find at The Sand Bar are straws for your drinks.

“They get clogged in the pool filter,” Hannan advised a guest.

“Most people are used to Adventure Land being for small kids, but actually, it’s for all ages,” and the drinks can travel with you throughout the park, reminded Vincent. CV


The Sand Bar

Adventureland Bay, Adventure Land

Interstate 80/Highway 65, exit 142A



Hours: Opens at 1O a.m. (check website for various closing times)

Happy Hour: Daily specials

Capacity: 6,000

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