Things to Do at Coney Island, NY

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Fun fact: In the 1960s, Coney Island would draw 1000s of people to its beaches daily during the summer. New York’s most famous beach has gone through many decades of visitors, but retro Coney Island and modern-day Coney Island are really not all that different, as much of the fun happening then is still there now. We recently took a day trip to this little slice of carnival heaven in Brooklyn and had to share our favorite picks. Read on for how to plan the perfect day trip to Coney Island.

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Things to Do

Ride The Cyclone

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If you’re going to pick one ride to do, and one ride alone — it’s the Cyclone. This bad boy is a rollercoaster that debuted in 1927. It has 2,640 feet of the track featuring 12 drops and 27 elevation changes, as well as an 85-foot, 60-degree plunge at speeds of 60 mph. It’s a classic ride that any rollercoaster-lover *must* say they’ve ridden. HG Tip: This is highly recommended to do early in the day before lunch/a visit to the brewery. We think you know why…

Have a Spiked Root Beer at Coney Island Brewery

Coney Island Brewery is known for its unique labeling and delicious brews at its namesake. Don’t have time to swing by? You can enjoy a brew at one of the many restaurants that carry the beer in the area. It’s definitely a walk from Luna Park/the carnival area or a quick Uber, FYI. HG Tip: Try the Watermelon Wheat — a deliciously refreshing summer treat.

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Visit the Coney Island Museum and Gift Shop

For history buffs (and a whimsical hour out of your day), head to the Coney Island Museum and gift shop. It’s a mere $5 donation to head upstairs to a four-room museum where you’ll get a taste of what life was like when Coney Island first became popular as well as learning of some famous visitors to the area. It’s a can’t miss!

Attend a Freak Show (The Original)

Inside the Coney Island Museum/Gift Shop, there’s a “freak show” featuring swords and daggers and other unknowns bound to surprise you.

Eat a Hot Dog at The Original Nathan’s

That chain you’ve seen around the world? Well, it started in Coney Island. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t try a hot dog at the OG — or at least take a picture in front of it. There’s a beer garden, and they also have a hot dog eating contest that happens once a year, on Independence Day.

Sightsee While on Deno’s Wonder Wheel

Take a ride on one of the most famous Ferris wheels in the United States — Deno’s Wonder Wheel. The landmark was invented by Charles Hermann and built in the early 1920s. It has 24 cars — 16 are swinging cars (so if you get seasick, take note) and 8 are stationary {for a more pleasant ride}. It’s an $8 well-spent, even if just for the views.

Play Arcade Games + Bumper Cars at El Dorado

Old school bumper cars, arcade games, and tickets up the wazoo: It’s like you’re back in elementary school. Take a trip down memory lane as many of the coveted games of your childhood are present at this old-school arcade (but OMG, who knew that an eraser was worth 40 game tickets? Back in the day, it was like 5, not 40!)

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People Watch on the Riegelmann Boardwalk

If you think NYC has characters, Coney Island adds to it a beach backdrop — where everyone lets it all hang out, relaxed, and enjoying some fun in the sun. As photographer Aaron Rose told the Daily News, Coney Island is a “sea of humanity coming together from so many parts of the world to worship the sun and sea.” But don’t take our/his word for it. You need to see it for yourself.

Eat Some Candy at William’s Candy Shop

Beloved by the locals and tourists alike, this is the ONLY place in Coney Island to buy caramel apples and cotton candy if we’re being honest. It’s a bit run down but has that old-school charm that is what Coney Island dreams are made of. Grab a marshmallow stick (or two) for the road, call your Uber, and head back to NJ after a day well spent.


Written by:

Jen is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of both The Montclair Girl and The Hoboken Girl. Before her media career started at Conde Nast and then full-time at HG + MG, she worked as a public school educator in the Bloomfield Public Schools for 5 years. Jen started the sites to discover the amazing things happening in the North Jersey area and to highlight local businesses. When not shopping small or eating her way through North Jersey, she can usually be found walking her two pups, watching Bravo TV, and ordering takeout with her husband, an Essex County native.