When I spent time living in New York in 2011 (read about my epic first night here), I always found myself taking the subway to Coney Island. I found it a great place to relax, walk around and get lost in the atmosphere. It’s my ‘happy place’ of my favourite city in the world (apart from Belfast, obviously) . Here’s some of my favourite things to do when spending time at Coney Island.
The Coney Island Cyclone is one of the most famous rollercoasters in the states. It is wooden, opened in 1927 and is still incredibly popular. I have been on it at least once every time I visited Coney Island and usually more than that. For a relatively easy ride, I would recommend sitting somewhere in the middle. If you feel slightly more adventurous, sit at the front and if you have a death wish, sit in the very back row. There are many occasions during the ride when your full body lifts from the seat. I highly recommend this option. It now costs $9 per ride (as opposed to $8 in my day) and it is worth every cent. It’s so good, I even bought the t-shirt!
It’s not easy to keep a relatively normal face on The Cyclone….
- The Brooklyn Cyclones
I went to New York being completely clueless about baseball. That all changed very quickly. I bought a ticket to see this minor league team play at MCU Park in Coney Island. I loved it from the offset. The atmosphere was fantastic with people of all ages joining in together and participating in games between innings. The team mascots are Sandy the Seagull and Pee-Wee, Sandy’s adopted son. Throughout the season, many special events are held, my favourite being ‘Christmas in July’. MC King Henry made a wonderful Santa Claus. I loved coming back to MCU park. I have fond memories of smuggling in fifty McNuggets, “running the bases ” after the game and it taught me all the words to the Star Spangled Banner. Tickets are usually priced $10-$17.
Sandy the Seagull and Sarah enjoying her freebie!
- Walk along the Boardwalk
Sometimes the simplest things are the best. I loved spending days and nights wandering aimlessly down the boardwalk. At night it was strangely serene, seeing the closed up amusement stands and empty arcades. During the day, it was very easy to get caught up along here with the hoards of people enjoying the same atmosphere, usually eating something from one of the local restaurants. One of the more well known is Nathan’s Famous HotDogs. It famously has a hot dog eating competition each 4th July on the boardwalk. It is not to be missed.
A very quiet Coney Island
- The Beach
If you are looking for a peaceful, quiet day at the beach close to New York, you probably shouldn’t go to Coney Island. Brighton Beach, Brooklyn and Midland Beach, Staten Island would be more suitable options. On a beautiful summer’s day, the beach at Coney Island is going to be incredibly busy. Personally, I loved this. It’s a people watcher’s paradise and for those who are sporty, it is possible to play beach volleyball in a special area.
Again, I enjoyed spending time on the beach at night. Sometimes, there was no one else around and you have a private beach – on Coney Island! It was fantastic to kick back on the lifeguard chair, munch on some popcorn and listen to the waves while having a giggle with the girls.
Ok, I’ve already mentioned a rollercoaster on this list but the Coney Island Cyclone is so brilliant that it needs a place of its own. The Luna Park has expanded since 2011, with the introduction of the Thunderbolt. One of my favourite rides at Luna is Steeplechase – a rollarcoaster in which you are positioned as if you are riding a horse. The Soarin’ Eagle was another ride I spent a lot of time on and I did feel like I was flying. Aside from the thrills, there’s plenty to do here for all the family. There are a lot of milder rides and many arcade amusements to choose from. On site, there are plenty of restaurants, including Nathans. I’ll be honest and admit I usually ate in McDonalds (free Wifi).
This is a small snapshot of how I spent my “downtime” when staying in New York. There are many other things to do at Coney . I hope to go back very soon to experience them.
Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue subway stop is on the D, F, N Q lines. It is approximately one hour from midtown Manhattan.
Have you ever been to Coney Island? What do you like most about it?