This guide was updated in June 2024.

Since at least the mid-1800s, Coney Island has been a popular summertime destination for visitors from all over New York City and the world who are eager for a day of sun and sea air, recreation and relaxation, thrills and amusements, wild characters and people watching, and plenty of food and drink.        

Buy a limited-edition "Reach the Beach by Subway" T-shirt here!

These days, Coney Island — at least the roughly half-mile stretch between the New York Aquarium and Maimonides Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones — is going through a development boom, but there are still plenty of beloved classics to behold. In fact, several of the boardwalk's most popular attractions, including the Wonder Wheel, the Cyclone, and Nathan's Famous, have all been around for close to 100 years or more.      

(Scott Lynch)

Here's a quick overview of all the best things to see, eat, and do this summer.       

Luna Park and the Cyclone 

Luna Park (Scott Lynch)
New coaster at Luna Park, Tony's Express
New coaster at Luna Park, Tony's Express (Scott Lynch)
Terrifying ropes course Sky Trail coming soon to Luna Park
Terrifying ropes course Sky Trail coming soon to Luna Park (Scott Lynch)
Bumper cars (Scott Lynch)
The legendary Cyclone
The legendary Cyclone (Scott Lynch)
(Scott Lynch)
Electro Spin at Luna Park
Electro Spin at Luna Park (Scott Lynch)
You will get wet on Luna Park's new flume ride
Luna Park's new flume ride (Scott Lynch)
Dress accordingly (Scott Lynch)

The landmark Coney Island Cyclone is up and running for its 97th year on the corner of Surfwell Avenue and West 10th Street, and the old wooden roller coaster is as rickety-sounding and shriek-worthy as ever. A bucket list ride if there ever was one! 

Luna Park, which operates the Cyclone, has been on expansion tear of late. This season's new addition is the Electric Eden Raceway, which the park bills as the city's "first sustainably powered go-kart attraction." It joins the three rides that opened last year. There's Tony's Express, a family-friendly ride (but still designated as "high thrill") that pays homage to America's first roller coaster, the Switchback Railway. Leti's Treasure is a long, winding log flume ride that reaches speeds up to 30 mph and guarantees that you'll get soaked on that final plunge. And there's Sky Chaser, a crazy-looking ropes course that you have to navigate while dangling 50 feet above the boardwalk. 

There are about 20 other rides at Luna Park too, for thrill seekers of all ages and degrees of courage. You can stay for hours with an unlimited-ride timed wristband, or just go for the pay-per-ride option. And if you don't like waiting on line, now is the time to go.  

Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park 

The Phoenix, a new roller coaster at Deno's Wonder Wheel
The Phoenix, a new roller coaster at Deno's Wonder Wheel (Scott Lynch)
Boo! (Scott Lynch)
The Wonder Wheel! (Scott Lynch)
(Scott Lynch)

The 150-foot ferris wheel that gives this park its name was built in 1920, and once you get up top, it still offers magnificent views of the beach, the boardwalk, and all the way back to the Manhattan skyline. Another NYC bucket list experience for sure. 

Deno's newest attraction is the Phoenix, a leg-dangler roller coaster that zips you around below the Wonder Wheel. And don't miss the ridiculous-but-fun Spook-A-Rama haunted house. Deno's offers both a discounted ticket book and a pay-per-ride option.    

Classic Coney Beach Eats and Drinks   

Nathan's (Scott Lynch)
Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs (Scott Lynch)

You can't spend the day (or night) at Coney without stopping by Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, which has been a presence here since 1916. These are especially good and snappy when the line isn't too long, giving the frankfurters time to get at least a little charred. And though mustard and sauerkraut remains the ideal toppings combo, the chili-cheese dog hits the spot as well. 

There are at least two Nathan's stands open during the summer: a newer one right on the boardwalk, and the original on the corner of Stillwell and Surf Avenues. The menu these days is probably much longer than it needs to be, with burgers, chicken tenders, and "seafood specialties," but stick with the dogs (and maybe a side of crinkle cut fries), and you should be happy. Totonno's is the other most famous restaurant out here. This family-owned spot on Neptune Avenue, a few blocks inland from the beach, has probably been on every "best pizza" list since it first opened in 1921.    

Gargiulo's (Scott Lynch)
There's kind of a Shining vibe to Gargiulo's (Scott Lynch)

Another old-school option just off the boardwalk, albeit one with white tablecloths and a dress code, is Gargiulo's, a fancy-ish red sauce Italian restaurant that's been serving pasta, parmigiana, and seafood on West 15th Street since 1907. Weddings and events seem to drive much of the business here these days, but step into the dining room for a look at what Coney Island must have felt like in (one of its many) heydays.  

Doña Zita (Scott Lynch)
Chorizo cemita from Doña Zita
Chorizo cemita from Doña Zita (Scott Lynch)

The hidden gem here, however, is Doña Zita, a 19-year-old taco stand tucked in the alley behind the rides among those independently operated sucker games and drink stands that will remind people of a certain age of Coney's not-so-golden era. This place, though, is fantastic, with a full menu of tacos, quesadillas, flautas, and cemitas — monster sandwiches stuffed with your choice of chorizo, carne enchilada, or breaded chicken filets. Everything's fresh, so get it piled high with all the extras, including some excellent oaxaca cheese. There's seating, too.           

The one and only Ruby's (Scott Lynch)

The most iconic spot to enjoy a drink on the boardwalk while basking in the sun (or inside hiding from the sun) is at the family owned and operated Ruby's Bar & Grill, which has been slaking the thirst of beachgoers since 1972 (and before that, as the Hebrew National Deli and Bar, which opened in 1934). This is the best beach dive bar in town. 

Freak Bar
Freak Bar (Scott Lynch)
Sideshows By the Seashore
Sideshows By the Seashore (Scott Lynch)

Not quite as historic but maybe equally iconic (and definitely more punk rock) is the legendary Freak Bar, situated next to the grand Sideshow by the Seashore burlesque and oddity palace and serving beer and wine in a room exploding with gloriously kitschy chaos. The Freak Bar was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012; we are grateful that Dick Zigun, the self-proclaimed "Permanently Unelected Mayor of Coney Island," brought it back to life.          

Coney Island Brewery (Scott Lynch)
Coney Island Brewery (Scott Lynch)

For something more mainstream, the newish Coney Island Brewing Co. flagship over by Maimonides Park has a huge outdoor patio, at least a dozen locally-made beers on tap (which you can check out in flights of four), and a menu of bar-food favorites like burgers, wings, and nachos. 

The Brooklyn Cyclones at Maimonides Park 

Not a bad ballpark view (Scott Lynch)
Let's Go Cyclones! (Scott Lynch)
Let's Go Cyclones! (Scott Lynch)

Minor league baseball is wild, with non-stop fan appreciation stunts and entertainment, great seats, music blasting, and all the usual ballpark comforts like beer and hot dogs. The Cyclones, who are the High-A affiliate of the New York Mets, will be playing ball through Labor Day weekend, so there's plenty of time to grab tickets for one of the Everyone Runs the Bases nights, or '70s Night, or Pride Night, or Star Wars Night, or the highly popular Seinfeld Night, featuring an Elaine Benes dance contest between innings. Nice view, too.     

The New York Aquarium 

The Aquarium (Scott Lynch)
(Scott Lynch)

You forget how expansive and cool the New York Aquarium is until you go again after a long time. And yeah, this place is huge! And fun! There are more than 500 species of marine wildlife here, spread out over 14 acres, and the crowd-pleasing Sharks! exhibition stars nearly 20 different types of sharks and rays. Plus there's the whole sea lion show in the Aquatheater and the trippy Spineless room with all the moon jellies and zombie worms. 

Special Events 

Mermaid Parade (Scott Lynch)
Mermaid Parade (Scott Lynch)
Mermaid Parade (Scott Lynch)
Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest revelers (Scott Lynch)
Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest (Scott Lynch)
Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest (Scott Lynch)

Every day is a bit of spectacle at Coney Island, but a couple of summertime events deserve special consideration. The raucous, glorious Mermaid Parade will be held this year on Saturday, June 22nd, and is certain to attract thousands of people dressed as creatures of the sea and many tens of thousands more cheering them on from the sidelines. Less whimsical is the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4th, which, if you can get close enough to see the eaters, is impressively disgusting.            


Coney Island - Stillwell Avenue station (Scott Lynch)
Coney Island - Stillwell Avenue station (Scott Lynch)
Coney Island - Stillwell Avenue station
(Scott Lynch)
Reach the Beach by subway (Transit Museum)

All the fun is so easy to get to with the MTA. Four subway lines (the D, F, N and Q trains) all wind up at the Coney Island - Stillwell Avenue station, letting you off just steps from the boardwalk and the beach.



5 minute walk to most attractions at Coney Island

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