Woke up on Saturday morning and needed a city fix. The sun was out, mid 80s in August– a perfect Long Island beach day. After some quick math: City + Beach = Coney Island. The drive was a quick 35 minutes from Garden City w/o traffic and plenty of parking at the NY Aquarium, which has made a nice recovery from Sandy. I hear it will be fully reopened and remodeled in 2016. You can see the Cyclone from the Aquarium parking lot, which sets a nice backdrop for the day.
After the Aquarium (no need for more than an hour there), you’re right in the middle of the boardwalk action. We caught an awesome sandcastle contest on the beach. My friend Kenny, who is also a fantastic photographer, captured the artists with his lens and gave us an insider’s view of Coney Island. The kids loved the rides at Luna Park (definitely get the 20 ticket pack for 2 kids) and of course we stopped at Nathan’s for hot dogs and lemonade. I wouldn’t wait in that line again, but I would hit the original Nathan’s next time. It’s a little bit more than a block off the beach. Yes, this is the site where Joey Chestnut ate 73 hot dogs on July 4th to roaring crowds.
An easy walk to the southern end of the boardwalk is a much less crowded scene and has a few cool things to offer: the impressively restored original carousel, the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball stadium, water fountains shooting out from underground (which attracted lots of kids) in addition to a few crazier rides. I may need a drink before I submit to those. The live bands and huge kites overhead made for a great beach scene.
You really can’t find this all of this at the Jersey Shore, the Hamptons or any other beach for that matter. It’s a one of a kind, quintessential NYC place with a quirky vibe. I highly recommend taking a day trip when you want that beachy/city kind of day, with a hot dog on the side.