Monday, August 23, 2021

Travel: Things to do in Coney Island that are family friendly.

  At the very start of the Summer I put together a seasonal bucket list (link) like I do every single season.  While we didn't get to knock off very many things from my list, I'm happy to say that we crossed off #4 with a trip to Coney Island in Brooklyn, NY!

I grew up listening to my family's favorite stories about their frequent visits to Coney Island.  Both of my parents are from Brooklyn, so as you can imagine, there are quite a few tales to tell.  My favorite one, though, is about my dad.  At four years old, my father hopped the fence at the penguin exhibit and was found sitting on a rock with all of the penguins waddling around him.  He may or may not have but probably did get in big trouble for that one, but it was totally worth the story!

Wanting to make stories of my own, I begged my family to humor me and play tourist during a day trip to Coney Island.  After much persuading, they finally agreed and I got to FINALLY visit the famous tourist destination!

unique itinerary ideas for a family vacation to new york city

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Things to do in Coney Island as a family.

Where is the best place to stay?

There are many places to stay in the area, but the Best Western Brooklyn-Coney Island Inn (link) is the only one right in the heart of the action!  As a double bonus and exceptionally rare for the city, it comes with free ONSITE parking.

things to do in coney island

The New York Aquarium

Our first stop on our day trip to Coney Island was to the New York Aquarium.  You can either access the aquarium through a paid parking lot or through a separate side entrance on the boardwalk.  Since we knew that parking in the area isn't the simplest task, we opted to start our day here.  For $40, we were able to leave our car in the lot and not have to spend hours hunting and fighting for a parking space.

Without going into too much detail because this place deserves a post of its own, we had a great time exploring the fishy exhibits.  We all had our own favorite moments at the aquarium, but the top ranking ones include the shark exhibit, the penguins, the sea lion show, and the absolutely terrifying spider crab!  An unexpected perk of visiting the New York Aquarium was the overlook.  A short walk up a ramp gave us a spectacular view of Riegelmann Boardwalk and Brighton Beach.  The very first picture is a small snapshot of the gigantic view.

Fun Fact:  The New York Aquarium is the oldest aquarium in the US that has been in continuous operation!

nathans in coney island and free amusement park to enter

Where to stop and eat lunch?

Nathan's, of course!  While I'm not a huge fan as in totally despise of hot dogs, this establishment is over 100 years old and a part of our history.  After acting like a total tourist and making my family take numerous pictures in front of the fast food restaurant, I ate my burger on the boardwalk.

Note:  This is no longer an indoor dining establishment.  There are a few picnic tables to eat on, but be prepared to wait for a seat or to eat your meal standing up.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park

Alright, first, let's address the elephant on the blog post.  Is that a thing?  We did not visit the famous Luna Park.  Why?  Well, for several reasons but the main reason being the price.  They charge $65 per person to enter if going on the rides.  They charge $15 per person to enter just to walk around.  We were a party of 7 and felt that these prices were astronomical.

Instead, we visited Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.  This establishment is over 100 years old and is the home of the famous Coney Island Wonder Wheel.  While we didn't ride the Ferris Wheel, we did have a blast!  We had the option of paying per ride and for less than $75, both of my young kids got to enjoy many of the age appropriate rides.  Which, by the way, they had PLENTY of.

Riegelmann Boardwalk

The famous Coney Island boardwalk is 2.7 miles long.  It runs between a long list of establishments and the beautiful Brighton Beach.  If the scenery wasn't enough for you, there are plenty of other things to see including the unique street performances.  Above you'll find a picture of my favorite one.  This talented man played the guitar, sang cover songs, and showed off his beautiful parrots that acted as background screeches singers.

You'll also find several public restrooms that were really gross, street vendors that sell everything from sliced mango to roasted nuts, and cute shops that sell souvenirs and beach gear.  Of all the things, what shocked me the most, was what was in the ocean water.  I'm used to sail boats and fishing charters, but this bay was full of gigantic ocean liners, cruise ships, and cargo boats carrying heavy duty freight.  It was something I've never seen before.

the best ice cream in coney island

Coney's Cone Handmade Italian Gelato

Sunday was a brutally HOT day on Long Island and felt especially warm during all of our outdoor adventures.  We knew that we'd have to end the day with some ice cream.  We ended up at the famous Coney's Cones located on the boardwalk.  Their homemade gelato was absolutely AMAZING.  So good that the word amazing doesn't do it justice!  It made for the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Have you ever been to Coney Island?


  1. I’ve only been to NYC and Brooklyn. It was fun to see and hear about Coney Island from you. Sounds like a lot of fun, but a really long day. My kids will ONLY eat Nathan’s. I don’t eat burgers or hot dogs anymore, but I do admit that Nathan’s do taste great. I think it’s garlic that makes them so good?

    And yeah, the size of those cruise liners and freighters is unimaginable till you see them. They freak me out!

    What flavors of gelato did you all get? It’s such a treat for me, as not that many places around here have it.

    1. It was so much fun! I can't believe we didn't go sooner, but my family was so not into it. My uncle and dad complained about our plans for weeks. LOL Although, once we got there, they totally humored me.

      I never eat hot dogs and rarely eat a hamburger so I may not know what I'm talking about, but it really was delicious!

      I got a chocolate malted b/c it was just too hot to even lick an ice cream cone. LOL My kids got chocolate cones though. My aunt has celiacs disease so she has to be on a gluten free diet with no exceptions. I was shocked to hear that the gelato had gluten in it! That may explain why it tasted so good...

  2. It was really so fun for you! We (as family) have been to Bristol (RI) and went to Boston and visited Boston Aquarium but Unfortunatelly we didn't see the wheals show because of the rainy weather.

    1. We are going to Boston in a few weeks. We're going to skip the aquarium since we went here, but if we get bored we may visit it.

  3. Sounds like you had fun there, and sounds like Blogger finished having jolly fun with you LOL

    1. I'm dying to know what got me flagged. I mean, do you see anything bad there? Maybe they interpreted "Coney's Cones" to mean something else? LOL

    2. They do look like two boobies now that you mention it LOL

  4. We loved our day spent in Coney Island. The girls rode all of the rides and Jason and I enjoyed gelato while they were doing their own thing since we don't do rides ourselves anymore. Looks like everyone had a great time, despite the heat!

    1. Yes, we had the best time! Did your kids go to Deno's or Luna Park? I would imagine Luna Park since it's more for the older kids. Deno's was like stepping into a time machine. Everything was so old and retro. It was worth walking through even if you didn't go on any of the actual rides.

  5. I've never been but would like to visit one day


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