All About Coney Island, Its Beaches And Amusement Parks
Coney Island is not necessarily to visit during a first stay in New York, but this peninsula southeast of Brooklyn is nevertheless a place to see at least once in your life!
You will be REALLY surprised by the atmosphere of the place… And this is all the more true if you are planning a stay in New York during the period from April to October, when the doors of the Luna Park are open!
The atmosphere that reigns on the spot is so exceptional that you will believe yourself in another place, and another time!
If you are tempted by the experience and want to discover a new side of New York and escape the frenzy of the city, I explain everything you need to know in this article. This will allow you to get a good overview of the activities to do in Coney Island. So you can quietly prepare your stay from home.
A Little History
Originally, Coney Island was an island populated by wild rabbits. In the 1940s and 1950s, many immigrants from Odessa, a city in Ukraine, settled there. After the Civil War, a railroad and streetcar line was built and Coney Island became a peninsula.
Many developments were made during the 20th century and made the beaches of Coney Island and its large entertainment area a real tourist site for the inhabitants of New York.
Although the place suffered a great lack of interest after the end of the Second World War, Russian immigrants brought it back to life. The opening of the field where the minor league baseball team, the Brooklyn Cyclones” plays and the construction of Luna Park had a lot to do with it.
Today, Coney Island has even become a mythical place that you have to visit at least once in your life.
If this is not your first trip to New York and you don’t know what to do in New York, discovering Coney Island is a very good idea!
When To Get To Coney Island?
The best way to get to Coney Island is to take the New York City Subway.
From Manhattan, it’s about an hour’s drive. You have two options:
- either you take the lines D, N, F or Q and you stop at the station “Coney Island – Stillwell Avenue”,
- or you take line B and get off at Brighton Beach” station.
The single ticket is $3, but if you plan to use the subway often, I recommend getting a MetroCard to get around NYC easily.
The fastest way is by taxi (a journey of about twenty minutes), but it is also the most expensive! You will have it for 80 € minimum. Unless you have decided to rent a car for the duration of your stay in New York!
You can also get to Coney Island by train. To do this, take lines Q or F. Allow about 50 minutes for the journey.
The last possibility is to take the bus. There are direct buses that depart from the station “5 Av/W 52 Street” and arrive at “Cropsey Av/Bay 49 Street” in approximately 45 minutes.
A single bus ticket also costs $3 (to be paid in coins!).
The advantage of the bus and the train is that you can take advantage of the trip to admire the various views of New York!
When To Go To Coney Island?
If you can, go to Coney Island between the months of April and October, when the Luna Park amusement park is open. But the peninsula is also to be discovered in winter! There are fewer people at this time of year, so it’s quieter and above all, it’s completely exotic and totally relaxing.
Note that if you don’t want to spend the day there, an afternoon will be enough to discover it. The top is especially to finish the evening at the amusement park: in the middle of all its rides illuminated by neon lights, it’s like being in a whole different world!
There are fewer people in Coney Island on weekdays than on weekends. As a result, if you are interested in a trip to Luna Park, you will benefit from a double advantage if you go there in the middle of the week: there will be fewer people in the park (therefore almost no queues for the attractions ), and the entrance ticket will be cheaper on weekdays than on weekends. Going there during the week will therefore be more interesting for you.
What To Do In Coney Island?
There are a multitude of things to see and do in Coney Island. Frankly, it’s one of the neighborhoods in New York that I appreciate the most for its surreal side! For example, did you know that there were beaches in New York? During my very first trip, I was completely unaware of it!
To Go To The Beach
Coney Island beach is one of the largest in New York (it is 6.5 km long!). New Yorkers love to spend their summer holidays there, when the heat becomes stifling in the city.
If you only came to Coney Island to get some fresh air, relax and walk along the water’s edge, I advise you to get off directly at the “Brighton Beach” underground station. You will then find yourself in the Russian district of New York, Little Russia” or Little Odessa ”. You can discover the atmosphere of the countries of Eastern Europe and taste some of their typical dishes. A real little change of scenery!
Then follow the longest landscaped boardwalk in the world, the Riegelmann Boardwalk. Along its 5 km you will find the sea on one side and multiple attractions, shops and restaurants on the other.
And at the end of the promenade, you will find the Luna Park”.
The beach is also bordered by basketball, handball and of course beach volleyball courts which are a delight for sports enthusiasts.
Take A Trip To The Aquarium
The New York Aquarium is located on Coney Island (there are no others: it’s the only aquarium in town) so if you came with children, it’s really a must visit!
You will find the aquarium on the promenade. You will be able :
- observe more than 8,000 marine specimens: fish of course, but also sea otters, octopuses, turtles, rays, penguins or even sharks;
- watch shows with sea lions at the Aquatheater ;
- see 3D video projections.
Here are the entry prices:
Adult (13 years and over)
Child (3 – 12 years old)
Senior (65 years and over)
Children (under 2 years old)
Impossible to go to Coney Island without having a bite to eat! For me, the essential address here is “Nathan’s Famous”, to taste “the best hot dogs in the world” This is the most famous hot dog stand in the area, and especially the oldest. Address: 1310 Surf Avenue.
It was on Coney Island that the first Nathan opened its doors in 1916. Nathan and Ida Handwerker had no idea that their frankfurter business was going to become a veritable institution in the United States!
Every July 4 (US Independence Day), Nathan’s Famous hosts the biggest hot dog eater contest. Go attend if you are there!
You also have to go eat an ice cream at Coney’s Cones, but beware: you will have a hard time choosing among all these delicious homemade ice creams!
And if you’re hungry, don’t miss the burgers at Paul’s Daughter and the pizzas at Totonno’s. Unless you prefer the chicken from the Wildwood Rotisserie / Famous Rotisserie And Grill ”
And of course, no trip to Coney Island without a seafood meal! For example, go to “Pete’s Clam Stop”, a restaurant famous for its clam chowder.
Children will prefer to stop in front of the front of “Williams Candy Shop”, a universe filled with candies, marshmallows and cotton candy.
The area is also full of bars where you can drink a good cold beer!
Have Fun At Luna Park
Built in 1903, Luna Park is one of the oldest amusement parks in the country. This mythical and slightly kitsch park is really a great playground and relaxation area. And while there are several parks on Coney Island, Luna Park is THE reason many New Yorkers travel to the peninsula.
Closed in 1944, it reopened its doors in 2010 to the delight of young and old alike.
Since then, it is possible to go there from the Easter holidays, until October:
- every day of the week from June to August, and
- only on weekends from April to May and from September to October.
Generally, the hours are as follows: from 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. or midnight; but these times can change, often due to the weather. You can check the timetables directly on the official website.
The park has around thirty attractions: rides, roller coasters, games, an arcade and go-karts. However, the most popular are the big wheel ” Wonder Wheel ” present since 1920 (45 meters high), and the roller coaster ” Cyclone ” – including the enormous big 8 in wood and metal open since 1927, the ” Cyclone Roller Coaster was classified as a site of national interest.
Luna Park attractions are classified into various categories:
- extreme thrill : extreme sensations,
- high thrill : high thrill,
- moderate thrill : medium thrill,
- mild thrill : mild thrill.
Admission is free, but you will need to exchange your dollars for ” Luna credits ” to be able to do the attractions and ride the rides. 1 credit = $1. Each attraction costs a certain number of credits.
You can also buy various types of pass:
Entitles you to 100 credits + 40 additional credits
4-hour access to unlimited attractions, including the famous Cyclone
Tourist pass ” Explorer Pass “
Gives you access to all attractions for one day.
The pass will also give you access to other activities in the city
Note that you will also find restaurants and food stalls in the park, and that a fireworks display is set off every Friday evening around 9:30 p.m.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Luna Park was closed for the 2020 season, but has since reopened.
Take A Tour Of The Other Amusement Parks
You can also go have fun at Deno’s Wonder Well Amusement Park. This park is right next to Luna Park and some even consider it to be part of it. Address: 3059 W 12th St.
It offers more than a dozen attractions and rides: a Ferris wheel, the ” Cyclone Roller Coaster ” roller coaster, bumper cars and even a haunted house
The park is open from noon to midnight:
- weekends only in April, May, September and October,
- all week from June until Labor Day.
Free entry. You can buy tickets individually or in bulk.
|dollars||Number of credits obtained|
The adult price for attractions varies (between 8 and 10 credits), but each attraction costs 5 credits for children.
Other Activities To Do In Coney Island
If you’re in Coney Island in the summer, enjoy the live music that takes place in the amphitheater (a semi-open space that sits on the boardwalk). Note that shows are held there throughout the year.
The Parade of the Mermaids” (the Coney Island Mermaid Parade ) is also an event not to be missed! Since 1983, it has marked the beginning of summer: thousands of people dress up as mermaids and parade on foot, on floats or in cars. At the end of the festivities, a king and a queen are elected.
If you want to learn more about the history of Coney Island, take the time to visit its museum! You can also find many souvenirs to bring back from your trip.
There is also an (open-air) Street Art museum on the island: the Coney Art Walls. It is open every day from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.