Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Coney Island, NY

  • Published 2022/03/04

From the moment you step off the subway, it’s clear why so many people love spending time in Coney Island: fun and excitement are a given.

Iconic attractions like Deno’s Wonder Wheel and Luna Park enjoy sterling reputations, but there’s far more to do on this New York beach than go-to rides.

You can also explore the diversity of Coney Island cuisine, where famous delicacies such as Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs or Williams Candy and other seaside snacks are equally popular with locals and tourists alike.

And with its lively boardwalk, fireworks display on the 4th of July, Coney Island Beach, and Dreamland amusement park, there’s never a dull moment in this seaside attraction.

Coney Island is not just a hotbed of delicious foods, roller coasters, and other enjoyable activities but also a haven for a number of calming ones as well.

This New York hotspot has a lot to offer holiday-makers, but you’ll find this list of 15 best things to do in Coney Island really helpful in getting you the most out of your trip.

Admire the Historical Artifacts of Coney Island History Project

Exterior of Coney Island History Project

wil540, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The not-for-profit organization Coney Island History Project was founded in 2004 to preserve the heritage of Coney Island.

It was Jerome Albert and Carol Hill who founded CIHP in honor of Astroland creator Dewey Albert.

The CIHP values the collection and preservation of artifacts, oral history interviews, written material, and imagery that demonstrates how this area shaped NYC culture.

Its exhibition center just sits beside Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.

The platform occupies an old arcade location, and it provides access to a variety of fun recreational activities, including educational exhibitions and events for all ages related to Coney Island’s history in vintage fashion.

Feel the Friday Night Fireworks Euphoria

People watching the Fireworks display

NYC Russ /

Starting June 23rd, every Friday night till August 25th, there’s a spectacular light show for you to enjoy at Coney Island.

So, if plans are made to hang out at Coney Island after dinner, make sure the night stays bright and exciting by watching the fireworks display.

People watching the colorful Fireworks

John Huntington /

The mesmerizing firework shows start at 9:30 pm, and there is no fee for admission.

You can just walk right up to any spot around the shoreline or along with the Ferris Wheel and enjoy them from there.

If you’re driving, it can take up to an hour or more to find street parking around this popular venue, so be sure to come here a bit early.

Colorful fireworks over Coney Island

Joseph Akbrud /

Get an Adrenaline Rush at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park

View of the ferris wheel of Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park

Massimo Salesi /

Deno’s WONDER WHEEL isn’t only the crown jewel on the boardwalk in Brooklyn, New York, but also a true world wonder that offers a breathtaking view of New York City and the Atlantic Ocean.

While the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company forged 100% Bethlehem steel right on Coney Island’s beach for its construction in 1920, it was Charles Hermann’s invention.

The Wonder Wheel is a super tall ride, standing at around 150 feet tall, weighs 200 tons, and has a total of 24 carriages, 16 of which are swinging while the rest are stationary.

Entrance of Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park

Leonard Zhukovsky /

When you step into Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, you will also be delighted to find that not only is it the AWEsome wonder wheel you’ve heard so much about but also its very own amusement park.

There are six rides for the adults: Deno’s Wonder Wheel, Bumper Cars, Spook-A-Rama, Stop the Zombies, Thunderbolt, and the PHOENIX Family Thrill Roller Coaster.

And there are 16 kiddie rides like Carousel, Sky Flyer, Rio Grande Train, Sea Serpent Roller Coaster, Speedway, and more.

So no matter what your age, there’s fun to be had for everyone.

View of the ferris wheel of Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Experience More Thrill at Luna Park

People strolling at Luna Park

Kamira /

Thrill racers with a competitive edge-of-the-seat appetite can have fun riding adrenaline-pumping steep coasters with hairpin twists at the Luna Park, directly beside the Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn.

If you are into fast-paced adrenaline rushes, you will certainly enjoy the Cyclone, an infamous fearsome rollercoaster machine.

Other extremely thrilling rides to try at Luna Park are Zenobio, Sling Shot, Thunderbolt, and Coney Island Raceway.

A thrilling ride at Luna Park

pio3 /

Aside from Soarin’ Eagle, other nice rides to try in its category include Eletro Spin, Endeavor, Clockworkz, Atlantic Aviator, Coney Clipper, Astro Tower, Steeplechase, The Tickler, Brooklyn Flyer, and Luna 360.

A ride like Windstarz is a favorite among kids who want to feel like they’re hanging gliding high above the boardwalk.

The Circus Coaster is for thrill-seekers of all ages, so it’s great for families wanting to experience some fun together.

At Luna Park, you’re sure to find something that appeals to everyone, from super thrilling roller coasters for adults to fun-filled carnival rides and carousel rides kids will love.

Rollercoaster at Luna Park

Eliyahu Yosef Parypa /

Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk

People sitting on the sands of Coney Island Beach

Paolo Bona /

Coney Island is great in the summertime, but unless you plan your visit ahead of time with the utmost care, you likely won’t have a schedule that can accommodate the demands of both beach-goers and amusement park fans.

The beaches of Coney Island are exquisite, with nearly three miles of sandy coasts ideal for sunbathing and swimming.

Far view of the people at Coney Island Beach

pio3 /

There are volleyball and handball courts, basketball hoops, as well as playgrounds and amusement rides dotting the boardwalk area.

The Coney Island beaches are buzzy during peak season, and vendors linger along with the narrow boardwalk space as local residents loll by on towels.

Coney Island may offer unique attractions like its various amusement parks, but if you don’t mind having neither ocean nor sand to sunbathe on and an unwieldy commute just for the chance to get here, then, by all means, go for it!

Aerial view of the Coney Island Beach

Keep Smiling Photography /

Go to Abe Stark Ice Skating Rink for a Fun Afternoon Gliding on Ice

Abe Stark Ice Skating Rink is an amazing skating rink in Coney Island.

Most of the ice time here is reserved for private and/or semi-private skating sessions with different hockey teams.

But every Saturday afternoon, there is some amazingly good ice time left open to the public.

Abe Stark’s Ice Rink might just be the best place to take your little ones for a day of afternoon fun gliding on ice.

Affordably priced hourly rates combined with lots of ice skating fun make it a great place to keep everyone entertained while avoiding the heat of Coney Island.

Treat Yourself to Coney Island Food Safari

People lined up in front of Nathan's

Colin Dewar /

Among the most notable things you can experience in Coney Island is eating some fantastic and delicious food.

Nathan’s Famous in Surf Avenue offers one-of-a-kind hot dogs and fries, plus burgers made from only the freshest ingredients, all for affordable prices.

The cute candy store Williams Candy sells the best sweet treats, from the mind-blowing banana pistachio ice cream to the children’s favorite gummy bears over chocolate syrup at reasonable prices.

Hotdog sandwich from Nathan's

danielcgold /

Alternatively, you can also try IT’SUGAR at Surf Avenue.

And if you’re looking for some nice tortas, quesadillas, and tacos, plus other traditional Mexican food, the simple fast-food style with a patio at Bowery Street called Doña Zita offers such food delights.

At Polar Bear Club Walk, you’ll find Got2 Hav’ems Frozen Delights, a special place to treat yourself to an ice-cold delicacy that offers a wide selection of different flavors and different forms.

Exterior of Williams Candy store

Leonard Zhukovsky /

At Stillwell Avenue, Wahlburgers offers a large selection of burgers and fries that are prepared in various ways and are sure to please just about anyone’s palate.

Paul’s Daughter specializes in seafood dishes, so if you’re feeling a little more adventurous with your taste buds, this is the place for you.

A beachfront bar born from the explosion of America’s prohibition era, Ruby’s Bar & Grill is a landmark with boardwalk wood floors and spaces reimagined to conjure nostalgia for the days of 1920s beer parlors serving up cocktails and American grub.

Candied nuts from Williams Candy

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Take a Walk in History, Love, and Family around Coney Island Lighthouse

View of the Coney Island Lighthouse

Evan El-Amin /

Located at the western end of Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, is the famous Coney Island Lighthouse, whose construction began in 1890.

The Coney Island Lighthouse has stood as a beacon of safety and watchful care over Coney Island for more than 125 years.

When the lighthouse was first built, it took four months to complete and cost a grand total of $18,000.

A house beside the Coney Island Lighthouse

Evan El-Amin /

This local landmark was constructed by Major D.P. Heap of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, who was later commissioned to create several other lights with the same design (as seen in Throgs Neck, for instance).

The Lighthouse was built between 1889-90 and was turned over to the government, with Thomas Higginbotham being its first keeper.

Far view of the Coney Island Lighthouse

Evan El-Amin /

See Coney Art Walls and Admire Artworks

Colorful Coney Art Wall

Elzbieta Sekowska /

Curated by Jeffrey Deitch and Joseph Sitt and presented by Thor Equities, Coney Art Walls serves as an outdoor museum of street art to provide an art experience that is accessible and free to the public.

Located just a short walk from the beach and boardwalk at 3050 Stillwell Ave., this one-of-a-kind public art museum also made room for entertainment with popular restaurants throughout New York City.

One of the colorful wall of Coney Art Walls

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Coney Art Walls showcased sixty-eight wall projects and murals created by the world’s foremost street and graffiti artists in 2015-2018.

This helped to shed light on the existence of emerging artists such as Shantell Martin, Timothy Curtis, and Lauren Halsey, who have become quite the inspiration to many enthusiasts.

The wonderful murals you’ll see here include “Assume Vivid Astro Focus,” “Daze,” “Kaves,” and many more from 2015-2018.

Coloful Coney art wall

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Witness the Wonders of Human Prowess Up Close at Coney Island Circus Sideshow

Name sign of Sideshows by the seashore

James Kirkikis /

Coney Island, New York, isn’t all about wild rides at the amusement park.

If you’re looking for something a bit more offbeat, check out Sideshows by the Seashore on the Boardwalk.

Coney Island Circus Sideshow celebrates the legacy of the American carnival freak show with performances of sideshow classics never seen before.

This Coney Island attraction preserves traditional sideshow performance and provides those enthralled with such acts the ability to witness the wonders of human prowess up close.

Exterior of the Sideshows by the seashore

David Shankbone, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Talents run right down the middle here, as sideshow performers with unique names like Donny Vomit and Scott “The Twisted Shockmeister” Baker give performances guaranteed to either delight or refuse you from ever eating seafood again.

You can buy popcorn and drinks outside and bring them inside, but you’re not allowed to take any pictures of the performers inside or record them in videos.

Included in admission are a fun-filled 10 performances and a cool, historical dog exhibit after the show for one low price.

Catch a Gig at Ford Amphitheater

Aerial view of the Ford Amphitheater

Felix Mizioznikov /

At Coney Island Boardwalk, you’ll also find the premier outdoor open-air Brooklyn entertainment venue known as Ford Amphitheater, which opened back in July 2016.

Featuring 5,000 seats, this covered multifaceted entertainment venue hosts a range of events spanning from live music and comedy to sporting events and family entertainment shows.

When catching a gig at the Amphi, you’ll have five options to quench your thirst and give your tastebuds a treat.

Name sign of Ford Amphitheater

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Just left of the Stage is the Bacardi Seaside Bar, and behind the stage is where you’ll find the Terrace Grill.

And if you’re feeling VIP, this club-like setting includes high swivel stools and sleek banquettes catering to those who appreciate upscale flavors.

Located throughout the amphitheater are Indoor Concessions/Beer Express, which offers bottles of water, soft drinks, snacks, and beer to purchase.

Side exterior of Ford Amphitheater

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Watch a Baseball Game at Maimonides Park

Entrance of Maimonides Park

Ameer Mussard-Afcari /

Formerly known as KeySpan Park and MCU Park, Maimonides Park is home to High-A East’s New York Mets-affiliated Brooklyn Cyclones.

Just follow the path along Riegelmann Boardwalk in Coney Island to find this minor league baseball stadium.

Seats and people playing baseball at Maimonides Park

Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York from United States of America, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The New York University Violets baseball team has played here since 2015 and the New York Cosmos soccer team of the North American Soccer League has also played their home games here since 2017 while the Rugby United New York of Major League Rugby began playing here in 2019.

Before the team even came together, Maimonides Park was founded with a designated capacity of 7,500 fans, whereas the Cyclones, however, sell up to an additional 2,500 standing room tickets per game day.

You’ll find a large concourse with individual concession buildings here and some nice overhanging fluorescent lamps that adds to the carnival-like atmosphere of the ballpark.

Visit Coney Island Museum

Colorful art of Coney Island Museum

Leonard Zhukovsky /

The Coney Island Museum is the neighborhood’s one-stop shop for all your Coney Island history needs.

The Coney Island Museum features the world’s largest collection of architectural elements, pictures, paintings, vintage signs, ephemera, items, and documents relating to the famous American seaside amusement park in New York.s

The museum’s archives are a collection of primary research materials donated from private collectors and past exhibitors.

The museum is also proud to offer an education program that provides local schools with course resources and related programming.

Additionally, the museum hosts various special exhibitions and programs every year to introduce new perspectives on Coney Island history.

Join the Coney Island Mermaid Parade

People holding the tarp for Mermaid parade

lev radin /

The Mermaid Parade is one of the most successful events that has been run by the not-for-profit arts organization, which was founded at 1208 Surf Ave.

The parade is the biggest and longest-running art parade in the country and takes place every year during June.

A festival of myths and folk stories surrounding the seaside, it showcases over 3,000 individual artists from all over the five boroughs who present incredible art and show their entrepreneurial spirit.

People wearing seahorse costumes for Coney Island Mermaid Parade /

It showcases performers’ arts in an exhilarating atmosphere to welcome crowds of sea fans to Brooklyn’s mile-long sandy playground.

The pageant at Coney Island has evolved from a traditional procession into an event that enlists the best performers on the series.

The mermaid parade attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators and allies across continents each summer.

Women dressed up as mermaids for Coney Island Mermaid Parade /

Get a Little Tipsy at Coney Island Brewery

Exterior of the Coney Island Brewery

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Coney Island is not just a neighborhood; it’s a place that represents the ideal of American freedom.

It’s here that anyone can come and be part of a community built on the undying value of fun and laughter.

Originally founded in 2007, Coney Island Brewery has crafted beers that symbolize the spirit of their neighborhood to share with all types of people who are looking for a good time.

Since its inception, they have been brewing delicious beer enjoyed by millions of fans across the nation.

A glass of beer from Coney Island Brewery

Heather Shimmin /

Once, they were able to overcome a major hurdle when Hurricane Sandy caused widespread damage to the original brewery.

However, thanks to their commitment to the Coney Island neighborhood and its spirit of survival, a new location opened in 2015 at 1904 Surf Avenue, exactly where their first small-but-mighty brewery used to be.

The dedication that went into crafting these beers and rebuilding the company after a devastating natural disaster is something that should always be remembered!

Exterior of the Coney Island Brewery

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Final Thoughts

When the sweltering summer heat gets to be a bit much, there’s one place that packs as much punch as New York City itself – Coney Island!

Whether you’re looking for some fireworks right on the beach or a relaxing trip down to the sun-kissed shoreline, you’ll find what you need at this New York gem.

You don’t have to go very far (or brave too many crowds!) to get your taste of offshore fun.

With its thrills and beaches, Coney Island truly bustles year-round.

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