Coney Island has a long history in Brooklyn and while it wasn't always a summer haven for locals, it has grown into an iconic New York destination. From boardwalk beaches to classic Coney Island roller coasters, there's nothing not to love about this offset region of one of New York's most eclectic boroughs. Many might know it thanks to the annual Hot Dog Eating Competition at Nathan's but this expanse of beach, sunlight, and food vendors has so much more to offer visitors.
The boardwalk offers a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city without feeling too isolated, and still having thriving energy of its own. Its distance from the nearest subway station - roughly 10 minutes if you're walking - also makes it a convenient and easy stop. If Brooklyn is on your list of summer destinations, Coney Island is a must - and trust us, there's more than just hot dogs to be had there.
Stroll Along The Boardwalk
The boardwalk is the most iconic part of Coney Island (aside from its beachside amusement park). It's practically a rite of passage to walk it and for newcomers, there's no better way to people-watch and take in the atmosphere surrounding them.
From there, it's practically a necessity to head down to the beach - if only to spend a little while in the sun and watch the surfers catch some waves. The boardwalk is also a great place to indulge in carnival-style games, grab some quick vendor eats, or pop a squat on a bench and hang out.
Head To Luna Park
This funky, retro-style park is yet another staple of Coney Island. With iconic rides such as Power Surge, Soarin' Eagle, and Thunder Bolt, it's a thrilling experience just waiting to happen. Forget about keeping a schedule and waste some time on the rides here - it'll be worth the walk.
This is also where visitors can find The Cyclone, which is the park's only wooden roller coaster and reaches speeds of up to 60 MPH. Not your style? Take things slow and jump on the Wonder Wheel in Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park for some expansive views of the island.
Stop By The New York Aquarium
The New York Aquarium takes up 14 acres in total and is also the oldest aquarium in the city, featuring displays that range from touch tanks to live demonstrations.
There, visitors will have the chance to learn about sea lions, penguins, seals, otters, and other marine life. Various exhibits take visitors through exotic marine worlds and introduce them to species that wouldn't otherwise be seen in New York, let alone in North America.
There's A Fireworks Show Every Week
This is best for those who aren't driving to Coney Island as parking can be a bit of a pain. If you've taken the subway in, every Friday night there's a display of fireworks between West 10th and West 15th Streets, from 9 PM to 10 PM after dark.
These fireworks shows are separate from special occasions such as holidays and can be seen pretty easily if you can find a spot to camp out around those blocks.
Get Lunch From Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs
Of course, no trip to Coney Island is complete without a stop at Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs. Just as walking the boardwalk is a rite of passage, eating a hot dog from the best chain around is, too.
Order it how you like but make sure to get a combo with a side of crinkle-cut fries. There's nothing better than eating one of these while enjoying the lively atmosphere of one of the city's most beloved beaches.
Or Swing By Totonno's For Pizza
If hot dogs aren't your thing then Totonno's is a great alternative. Everyone loves pizza and while it's an iconic part of New York City culture, Totonno's is an iconic part of Brooklyn culture and is often hailed as the best pizza place in the state.
What makes this restaurant so fantastic is the fact that every ingredient is imported from Italy, adding an unbelievable level of authenticity to each pie. It's truly an incredible food experience and anyone who's had it will tell you that's it's a euphoric experience.
Get Tickets To A Cyclones Game
The Brooklyn Cyclones are the single-A minor league of the New York Mets so attending one of their games is pretty exciting, and the stadium itself is pretty scenic.
With views of both the Atlantic and amusement parks in the distance, it doesn't get much better than this - except that it does, since the price of admission, as well as the food and beverages in the stadium, are all super affordable.