Coney Island (1208 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn NY) offers a unique sense of Americana that has become harder and harder to find in modern times. Even if you’ve never been, you’ve almost definitely seen a Hollywood film scene that was shot in this historic, quirky part of southern Brooklyn — be it friends snacking on hot dogs at Nathan’s Famous stands, or lovers riding the iconic ferris Wonder Wheel. Just picturing it all, you can almost hear the sound of 1950s rock and roll in your head.
First and foremost, Coney Island is an unrefined resort and amusement park on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. It boasts three miles of beaches and a nostalgic boardwalk. In its heyday, it was in fact the largest amusement park in America. Now, following a solid beating from Hurricane Sandy, the community has banded together to help restore Coney Island’s glory.
“If Paris is France, then Coney Island, between June and September, is the world.” –George Tilyou, 1886
Throughout Coney Island there are more than 50 rides that cater to a wide range of tastes. Coney has circuses, bars, bumper cars, arcades, and lots of fun events for the young ‘uns. A revamped Luna Park is the most recent addition to the Coney lore, yet it operates the Cyclone, one of the most famous (and oldest) wooden roller coasters in the country, dating back to 1927.
Many visitors to Coney Island go for the food. Some even consider this small island of just more than 50,000 people to be the home of the American hot dog. The island has even become home to the annual Nathan Hot Dog Eating Contest. Believe it or not, the event has garnered serious attention over the last couple of decades, and even has a home on ESPN for live Independence Day broadcasts. Since you asked, some of the hot dog champions can chomp down more than 60 hot dogs in mere minutes.
After you’ve stuffed yourself silly with hot dogs, it’s time to take in a Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game, or maybe a walk through the New York Aquarium. Home to some 350 aquatic creatures, the aquarium is a chance to unwind and maybe even learn a little too. The aquarium was pretty beat up by Hurricane Sandy, so it’s only partially reopening in 2013, as crews work to restore it to its former self.
HOW TO GET TO CONEY ISLAND
If you are using Google Maps or a GPS, you can use the address 1208 Surf Avenue.
Take the D, Q N or F train to Stillwell Avenue. This takes about 45 – 60 minutes from midtown Manhattan.
B36 (Coney Island / Avenue U)
B68 (Brighton Beach / Windsor Terrace)
B74 (Sea Gate / Coney Island)
B82 (Gravesend / Starrett City)
By Express Bus from Manhattan:
Take the Belt Parkway to exit 6. Head south on Cropsey Avenue to West 17th Street.
While Coney Island has no hotels itself, it’s just a short drive to places like Best Western Bay Brooklyn or The Comfort Inn, both located on Emmons Avenue.