Occupying the southern tip of Brooklyn, New York, Coney Island is a historic district with an oceanfront boardwalk and plenty of family-friendly activities. For generations, this vibrant neighborhood has been a major hub for entertainment and recreation.
History & Attractions
Coney Island began attracting visitors in the 1800’s, because it became accessible to areas around New York on newly built roads, and yet it was still far enough away to offer a taste of a real vacation. The first hotels were built in the 1830’s, streetcars reached the area in the 1860’s and steamships began coming in the 1880’s.
It was at this same time that Coney Island began to develop its now iconic amusements. The first carousel opened in 1876, the first hot dog stand came in 1916.
In the 1920’s, the Rigelmann Boardwalk is one of the top attractions in Coney Island. Stretching 2.7 miles along the Atlantic Ocean, this wooden boardwalk is lined with shops, kiosks, amusement parks, recreational parks and high-rise residential properties.
The New York Aquarium is centrally located on this historic boardwalk that retains vintage charm. In business since the 1950’s, the aquarium is home to hundreds of aquatic species. Some of the themed exhibits include Sea Cliffs, Ocean Wonders: Sharks! and Sharks, Rays & Turtles. Additionally, the Aquatheater is an outdoor venue that hosts thrilling performances by sea lions. A beautiful coral reef with tropical fish is on display at the Conservation Hall.
Families looking for thrilling adventures in Coney Island should buy tickets to the Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. From the Dizzy Dragon and Mini Pirate Ship to the Wonder Wheel and Tilt-a-Whirl, the amusement park has more than a dozen fun rides.
Inspired by an original theme park that lined the boardwalk in the early 20th century, Luna Park includes more than 20 rides, such as the Cyclone, Thunderbolt and B&B Carousel. Additionally, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is perhaps the most notable annual event in this waterfront neighborhood.
During the summer season, the beach-going population in Coney Island surges to peak levels. Restrooms, lifeguard stations and other essential amenities are available on the popular urban beaches that span approximately 3 miles.
The Steeplechase Pier roughly marks the midpoint of the beaches along the boardwalk. Additionally, Manhattan Beach Park has a public beach and various recreational facilities, such as tennis courts and basketball courts. If you’re interested in minor league baseball, check out the Brooklyn Cyclones at the MCU Park that’s conveniently located on the north side of the boardwalk.
Coney Island & Hot Dogs
When you come to spend the day on Coney Island, you simply must have a hot dog. Coney Island is one of a few places that claims to have invented the modern version of hot dogs, back in 1870 when a German immigrant to named Charles Feltman began selling German sausages in fresh bread rolls right here on the island. Today, there are dozens of hot dog vendors all up and down the boardwalk. The most famous is the original Nathan’s hot dog stand, which was the beginning of a massive hot dog empire, and which still hosts the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest every year.
Location and Getting There
The Coney Island-Stillwell Station is the busiest public transportation hub in Coney Island. You may take the D, F, N and Q NYC Subway trains to this rail station, which is also served by several MTA bus routes. Additional subway stations are located on Ocean Parkway, Brighton Beach Avenue and near the New York Aquarium on West Eighth Street. Running through most of Brooklyn, the Belt Parkway provides direct access to this waterfront district.
Click to visit the Coney Island official website.
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