Now, according to my boyfriend, Coney Island in New York is famous for its role in the movie ‘The Warriors’. Me? It’s the setting of the childhood home of Sandra Bullock’s character in the classic film ‘Two Weeks Notice.’ For whatever reason you’ve heard of the location, we found ourselves turning to each other during a bright sunny day in Manhattan this April and deciding it was the perfect place to go.
A pleasant enough hour’s subway ride through Brooklyn, this resort on the Atlantic Ocean offers respite from the city heat and pounding the pavements. In fact, Coney Island turned out to be everything I hoped and more: a boardwalk teaming with people, cheery music being played over loudspeakers, fast food joints offering hot dogs and cold beer – it is the typical American beach resort you always imagined. There are even the old school amusement rides: the Cyclone roller coaster, the Wonder Wheel – the sort childhood memories are made of.
The wide sandy beach was very welcoming, with a pier which made the perfect spot to take in the views back over the seafront.
A particular highlight of our trip was a visit to the original Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. Celebrating 100 years, the original restaurant opened in 1916 is one of the first sights as you step out of the subway. If you really like your hot dogs, then try your hand at their International Hot Dog eating championship which takes place each July. Contestants must try to eat as many as they can in 10 minutes, with the current record standing at an impressive, if slightly horrifying, 73!
Coney Island is also home to the Brooklyn Cyclones at MCU Park, the Mets’ minor league team. Situated right on the waterfront, the atmosphere must be amazing when there is a game on.
Just down the road, at the Stilwell Avenue subway station, you can find the New York Aquarium. Home to California sea lions, sand tiger sharks, harbour seals and pacific walruses amongst others, it’s a brilliant destination to visit with children, or those with an interest in marine life.
Meanwhile, for a different cultural experience, head to Brighton Beach. This area is called “Little Odessa” becauseof its predominantly Russian inhabitants. If you want to try some authentic Soviet cuisine, fromblintzes to borscht you will find something to delight your taste buds. I’ve heard very good things about Skovorodka – it’s even bring your own on vodka!
Now remember – Coney Island is very much a seasonal attraction, with the rides open usually at weekends from Easter through to Halloween, and then all week long from Memorial Day (late May) to Labor Day (early September). Make sure to plan your visit accordingly. By train, take the D, Q, N or F train to Stillwell Avenue. This takes about 45 – 60 minutes from midtown Manhattan.
I loved Coney Island: it has that kitsch appeal, a flashback to beachfront destinations of old and the ideal escape when the concrete jungle of Manhattan all gets too much. It’s definitely on my list for next time I go back to New York.