Explore Coney Island: A Comprehensive Visitor’s Guide

Coney Island, located along the southern shore of Brooklyn, is a quintessential NYC summer destination. With its beaches, dining, and exciting amusement parks, it’s a beloved spot for fun by the sea.

There are so many great things to do in Coney Island, from checking out the famed attractions, to walking along the boardwalk and devouring classic boardwalk snacks.

Read along as we delve into “The People’s Playground,” and share our recommendations for the best thing to see, eat, drink, and do!

An aerial view of a theme park
There’s lots of fun to be had at Coney Island! Photo credit: Jeffrey Blum

Brief history of Coney Island

Coney Island, located in Brooklyn, New York, has a rich history as a popular seaside resort dating back to the late 19th century.

It became a hub for amusement parks, boardwalks, and recreational activities, attracting millions of visitors. Iconic attractions like the Cyclone roller coaster and the Wonder Wheel were built in the early 20th century, solidifying its status as an amusement destination.

For over a century it was the nation’s top summer retreat, often drawing over a million revelers a day.

Now, after decades of decline, Coney Island has had a resurgence, making it once again a great destination for sun, surf, and old-fashioned fun.

People watlking on a crowded boardwalk
Boardwalk strolling is always a good time. Photo credit: Thomas Loizeau

Getting to Coney Island

Coney Island is situated in Brooklyn, nestled right at the southwestern tip along the Atlantic Ocean.

If you’re already staying in central New York City, getting to Coney Island is pretty easy via  subway, bus, or car. Traveling from Manhattan to Coney Island can take 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how you’re getting there.

  • Subway: From Manhattan The D, F, N, and Q subway lines all lead here (get off at the Stillwell Ave./Coney Island Station). If coming from outside of Manhattan, the easiest thing to do is first head to Penn Station and then switch to one of these subway lines.
  • Bus: Take Brooklyn bus lines B36 (Coney Island/Avenue U), B68 (Brighton Beach/Windsor Terrace), B74 (Sea Gate/Coney Island), and B82 (Gravesend/Starrett City). Check the MTA’s website for details or possible service interruptions.
  • Car: If driving, expect the journey to take around 30 minutes (or more) depending on traffic.
empty subway car
The subway is a great way to get around, and it’s not too hard to figure out, either! Photo credit: Nelson Ndongala

The best things to do at Coney Island

Here, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re coming for the beaches, the attractions, the food, or all three, everyone’s bound to have a great time at “The People’s Playground.”


Coney Island has some of New York City’s best beaches which span almost 3 miles and are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Locals and visitors enjoy soaking up the sun, taking a dip, leisurely walks by the shore and boardwalk, maybe even a game of beach volleyball, and of course, savoring classic boardwalk treats.

In New York, the majority of public beaches, including many along the Atlantic Ocean, are free and open to the public. These beaches, plus Jones Beach, and Rockaway Beach don’t typically charge any fees, except for specific rentals like beach chairs and lockers.

This is different in comparison to neighboring states like New Jersey that often charge a daily fee for the use of their beaches

Insider’s Tip: The beach is wheelchair accessible at West 33 Street, Stillwell Avenue, West 5th Street, Brighton 2nd Street, and Brighton 6th Street.

beach with people and seagulls
Nothing better than a beach day, and some boardwalk food! Photo credit: Brian Kyed


  • Luna Park: Covering most of the amusement area, Luna Park offers 28 rides that range from extreme thrills to kid-friendly fun. The star attraction is the famed Cyclone roller coaster, around since 1927. Luna Park also features traditional carnival games and snacks. For information about pricing and opening times, check out their website.
  • Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement: This park features the landmark Wonder Wheel ride. If you’re in Coney Island, a visit to the Wonder Wheel is a must! For information about pricing and opening times, check out their website.
  • New York Aquarium: NYC’s only aquarium with more than 300 marine species, including mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles. For information about pricing and opening times, check out their website.
  • El Dorado Bumper Cars and Arcade: A fixture on Surf Avenue featuring old-school bumper cars, a thumping sound system, and a large arcade of new and traditional games. Learn more.
  • Coney Island Museum: Run by Coney Island USA, an organization dedicated to preserving the area’s distinctive culture. The small museum displays historic memorabilia and special exhibits. For information about pricing and opening times, check out their website.
A ferris wheel lit up
The Wonder Wheel is one of the most iconic attractions in Coney Island. Photo credit: Stllr Photo


  • Brooklyn Cyclones baseball games: Home to the stadium for the minor-league Brooklyn Cyclones. Check their website for a schedule of games and tickets.
  • Fireworks on the beach: Fireworks are a classic summer tradition in Brooklyn. Check online for the schedule and other important information.
  • The Mermaid Parade: This parade of quirky mermaids and sea creatures, floats and performers is one of a kind. The annual summer celebration takes place during June. For more information about the parade (including how to participate), see the website.
  • Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest: Every summer, Nathan’s hosts this world-famous contest in which participants compete to consume the most hot dogs within 10 minutes. Not for the faint of heart (or weak of stomach). For more info, check online.
  • Coney Island Film Festival: Screening films from Brooklyn, the U.S., and all over the world. For all of the up-to-date info, check out their website.
baseball game
MCU Park offers a great, family-friendly atmosphere. Photo credit: Gene Han

Where to eat in Coney Island

No trip is complete without indulging in the best Coney Island food like seafood, pizza, cold beer, ice cream, candy confections, funnel cakes, and, of course, hot dogs.

Wrap up a perfect day by hitting up some of the classic boardwalk food stalls, or settle in for something a little less casual these popular places:

sign advertising food
Nathan’s Famous is one of the most iconic spots to grab a bite. Photo credit: Michael Chiara

Update Notice: This post was updated on October 25, 2023.

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About the author

Fiona's an Irish travel writer who has made New York City her home for the past 10 years. While she frequently returns to Dublin, she's captivated by the vibrant food, diverse people, and rich culture of NYC. Fiona's passion for travel extends beyond NYC and her homeland—she frequently explores new destinations, documenting her adventures and sharing her lively stories.

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