This post courtesy of Explore Brooklyn, an all-inclusive guide to the businesses, neighborhoods, and attractions that make Brooklyn great.
Coney Island has been Brooklyn’s playground since it was built in the late 1800s. It’s also the ideal destination for a day trip. Now that the rides are open for the season, this is the perfect time of year to explore — before the sun gets too hot or the crowds too big.
Wonder Wheel photo courtesy of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park via Flickr.
The starting point: Coney Island is the last stop on the D/F/N/Q line, and is about a 30-minute subway trip from downtown Brooklyn. The walk begins at the Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue station. Walk one block down Stillwell to Surf Avenue, and you’re in the heart of Coney. One block east on Surf Avenue is Luna Park, the famous amusement park. Luna Park features rides, roller coasters, games, and the world-famous Cyclone. The historic roller coaster was built in 1927 and still thrills riders today.
Right near The Cyclone sits the New York Aquarium, a busy destination for families even as they undergo a huge renovation which will be bringing the neighborhood a brand-new shark exhibit. Luna Park’s neighbor, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, is home to 21 rides including Deno’s Wonder Wheel, an official NYC landmark built in 1920.
The Cyclone | shani heckman via Flickr
From Luna Park or the Aquarium, walk out on the boardwalk and down to the ocean. The waterfront is packed during hot summer days, but if you stake out a place early you can get some sun.
Fun in the sun at Coney Island Beach | Matt Kane via Flickr
Hungry yet? Head back to Surf Avenue, where Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs sits on the corner of Stillwell Avenue. It isn’t a trip to Coney without a hot dog and some crinkle fries! (Little known fact: the Nathan’s menu also includes frog’s legs.) If you’re still hungry, head two blocks north on West 16th Street to Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitano, which serves an amazing pie with no-frills service.
Nathan’s | drpavloff via Flickr
One block away from Nathan’s Famous, also on Surf Avenue, is the Coney Island Museum. The museum offers freaky, fun history of the neighborhood in a landmarked building.
Speaking of landmarks, make sure you get a close-up look at the Parachute Jump, Coney’s famously defunct amusement ride. It is adjacent to the boardwalk, between West 16th and West 19th Streets. The bright-red Parachute Jump was built for the 1939 World’s Fair and closed for good in 1964. The city landmarked the structure in 1977, calling it “Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower.”
A busy Coney Island | drpavloff via Flickr
The ending point: You haven’t travelled very far to see all the amusements, eat the food, and learn a little history. The best way to head back into Brooklyn or Manhattan is at the Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue subway train, on Stillwell Avenue off Surf Avenue.