Magical might not be the first word that comes to mind when considering Coney Island, but when you think about it, it’s pretty incredible that you can reach a seaside vacation destination for less than $3. Decades have passed since Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe frequented Coney Island, but the seaside outpost is still well worth a visit. Food, beer, baseball, and ancient theme park rides; what more could you want from a summer day in Brooklyn? Coney Island might feel like a world away, but it’s accessible via the D, F, N, and Q lines.
The last century-and-a-half have seen more than one rise and fall of Coney Island. Throughout the course of a day you can see it all: a 19th-century beach resort, a pre-World-War-II amusement park, the seedy mid-century town, and the current community on the up-and-up post-Sandy.
Photo Courtesy: iStock
Built in the summer of 1927, the Cyclone has been saved from destruction once, changed ownership a few times, and seen refurbishment efforts by a multiple parties. Through all of this, the longstanding attraction still draws crowds. If you wait until dusk to hop on the ride, you can catch a glimpse of lit-up Luna Park from the top and take in the whole scene.
Photo Courtesy: johnnyprimecc
Better to ride the Cyclone before you eat dinner. You'll want your friends with you when you head to Totonno's — the retro pizzeria serves only whole, coal-oven pies, cooked to order. Get a margherita and a white pie, and chow down while gawking at the newspaper clippings on the walls. Make sure to bring cash — old-school Totonno’s doesn’t take cards.
Margherita pizza, pizza bianca, pizza with mushrooms and sausage
Photo Courtesy: Coney Island Beer
You can find Coney Island’s Mermaid Pilsner on tap and in bodegas across the boroughs, but many of the more creative flavors are only available at the brewery. Try a flight of whatever seasonal options are available (e.g. Hard Ginger Ale in the summer or fall’s Freaktoberfest pumpkin ale). Or, make your trip coincide with one of the Beer Freak Shows that take place every Saturday. Remember your favorite beer — you can revisit it with a pint purchased inside the park.
Super Freak, Kettle Corn Cream Ale, Mermaid Pilsner, Last Stop, DHH Mermaid
Photo Courtesy: @originalnathans
When you step off the train, you’ll want to head towards the ocean and up Ruby Jacob’s Walk to Nathan’s Famous. Have a hot dog or two at the original location; the same one where Joey Chestnut scarfs down dozens every Fourth of July. Over 100-years-old, this Nathan’s Famous location is one of the oldest structures in the area. Grab their original beef hot dogs and some chili-cheese fries to go for a picnic down by the water. Depending on the season and day, the public beach can range from packed to barren.
All-beef hot dogs, chili cheese fries, fried frog legs, old-fashioned lemonade
Don't even think about squirting ketchup on that wiener.
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