Featured in countless films, TV shows, and album covers, Coney Island is an international icon with countless options for entertainment. Whether you’re driving down from Manhattan or making it a landmark must-see on your trip, there is always something to do.
Beach and Boardwalk
In sunny summers, Coney Island beach is where you want to be. With almost three miles of beachfront, swimming in the Atlantic is a must. Lifeguards are present from Memorial Day through Labor Day and weekends until Halloween. The boardwalk offers plenty of recreational opportunities, with volleyball, handball and basketball courts. For kids, playgrounds abound.
For adults and kids alike, the amusement parks on the boardwalk offer the chance for everyone to feel like they’re young again. With over 50 rides and attractions, the amusement park is open between Easter and Halloween. The boardwalk itself, as well as attractions like the New York Aquarium, is open year-round.
When the park is open for the season, you can see fireworks at 9:30 p.m. every Friday. After a day of rides and sightseeing, finishing the evening with fireworks and Coney Island hot dogs makes for the quintessential American experience.
This minor league baseball team has won five division titles, and seven in franchise history. Named after the Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster at the local amusement park, the team is a must-see.
It’s always best to plan for their games in advance, as they often sell out the stadium when they play the Staten Island Yankees. Their rivalry, called the Battle of the Boroughs, stems from their parent teams — the Mets in Queens and the Yankees in the Bronx.
Keeping with the Coney Island tradition, a Hot Dog race occurs at every game, featuring hot dogs from Nathan’s Famous two blocks from MCU Park. The three main hot dogs, Ketchup, Mustard, and Relish, have their fan bases, and guests are encouraged to pick their favorite.
In 1916, Nathan Handwerker had no idea his nickel hot dog stand would become an international staple. With his wife’s hot dog recipe, the Jewish immigrants’ business flourished in the entertainment area.
Today, the original site remains, and 1,400 stores have bloomed around the world. But coming to the original location is a one-of-a-kind experience. The Coney Island Hot Dog namesake is open for business every day, year-round.
Those who can’t get enough of the Nathan’s Famous can participate in the annual Hot Dog Eating Contest on Independence Day. Since the 1970s, contestants have competed to try to eat as many hot dogs as possible within the 10-minute limit.
Coney Island Circus Sideshow
Sideshows by the Seashore is a national landmark that offers the last 10-in-1 continuous sideshow performance in the nation. Performers are at the top of their field, and the venue offers a Sideshow School for those looking to build their skills.
Since 1983, Sideshows by the Seashore has paid homage to founder PT Barnum and the Ringling Bros and is one of the most-sought-out events at Coney Island. Even if you’ve visited the Sideshow before, you’re in for a treat. The cast and dialogue change every year, offering a change in artistic direction.
As opposed to “freak shows” of the past, the Coney Island Circus Sideshow features the unique and the talented. Whether you’re interested in fire-eaters, contortionists, jugglers or snake charmers, there is something for everyone.
This tall, world-renowned Ferris wheel is 150 feet of fun. At Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park in Coney Island, this icon is unique in its structure. For the Wonder Wheel, not all of the passenger cars are attached directly to the wheel’s rim. Some slide on rails between the hub and rim as the wheel rotates, giving spectacular views of the boardwalk.
Completed in 1920, the Wheel was named a New York City landmark in 1989, and rightfully so. Over 35 millions rides have been given, and the 200-ton Wheel can fit 144 passengers at a time.
Try riding the Wheel a couple of times for the views, and make sure to request a sliding car to see more views of the beach and the Coney Island skyline.
Named an NYC landmark in 1988, this wooden roller coaster is also a member of the National Register of Historic Places. With a 2,640-foot track and a high point of 85 feet, the Cyclone offers vintage thrills. The first drop is at a 58.1-degree angle, and there are 11 more drops after that. The track also features six fan turns and tops out at 60 miles per hour.
While the ride is one minute and fifty seconds, it’s a ride you’ll want to go on again and again. Only one train of cars runs at a time, with each of the three cars able to fit eight people. This historic ride has been replicated in four different Six Flags parks and two different parks in Japan. But nothing compares to the thrills of the original.