At the very southern end of Brooklyn, New York City sits a dreamland known as Coney Island. In the 1830-40’s, it quickly became a vacation mecca for people on the East Coast, due to its location and its development of several resorts. But perhaps the most interesting part of Coney Island’s history deals with its involvement in the theme park industry.
Between 1880 and 1940, Coney Island was the largest amusement park area in the United States. It was home to three different amusement parks: Luna Park, Dreamland, and Steeplechase Park. These parks were sources of innovation to continually create new forms of entertainment using new technologies such as electric lights and roller coasters.
Today, Coney Island shares many similarities from its historical days. Between the rides and the beach, there is plenty at Coney Island to keep yourself entertained for the whole day.
Things to do on Coney Island
1.) Ride the Rides
The amusement park rides are some of the most iconic things to do on Coney Island. You can still find historical (yet updated) rides from the Island’s glory days, such as the Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone. The roller coaster pictured above is a throwback to the Steeplechase Park which was one of the original amusement parks on Coney Island. In addition to these historically based amusement rides, the newly re-opened Luna Park contains many other rides, games, and attractions!
2.) Down Some Dogs
Where better to scarf down some hotdogs than the original location of the Nathan’s Famous Hotdog? That’s right, Nathan’s originated on Coney Island in 1916 when you could get your dog for just 5 cents. While they now serve other delicious foods like cheesesteaks and fried fish, you can’t go wrong with a classic original hot dog. Yum!
3.) Soak Up The Sun
With a mere 40 minute train ride from the heart of Manhattan, you can find yourself at the shore of the Atlantic Ocean! Park yourself on the sandy beach and enjoy the salty sea air as you soak up the rays of the sun. And if the weather is warm enough, you can even wade into the ocean for a refreshing cool-off.
4.) Stroll the Boardwalk
The boardwalk in Coney Island is lined with shops, attractions, and many different dining options. Take some time to stroll the boardwalk and check out the Coney Island souvenirs, or just wander and see what you can find!
5.) Visit the Coney Island Museum
If you are interested in the history of Coney Island and want to see some awesome historical artifacts from the original amusement parks, the Coney Island Museum is the place to see. For just $5 you can peruse the collection and watch an informational video with footage from the Island’s early days. They’ve also got some great funhouse mirrors which can offer plenty of giggles.
6.) The New York Aquarium
Though I’m a big fan of aquariums, I unfortunately didn’t get to see this aquarium myself due to time constraints, but I’ve heard good things. The aquarium on Coney Island is a great place to escape in a hot or rainy day. They’ve got all sorts of aquatic friends like sharks, sea otters, walruses, and several different types of fish. There is even an outdoor Aquatheater where you can watch the sea lions.
7.) Sweeten the Day
After a hot summer day, nothing feels better than a cold gelati from Rita’s. The photographed gelati pictures a creamy vanilla custard swirled with a refreshing cherry Italian ice. There are several other flavor combinations to choose from, and you can opt to have just custard or just ice if that’s more your style.
Have you ever visited Coney Island? What was your favorite part?