Neighborhood to explore: Coney Island on a Budget
Coney Island is one of those magical New York landmarks that you’ve just gotta experience as a tourist. If you’ve never been, prepare to have your mind blown with the authentic carnival rides, creepy sideshow, and familiar boardwalk culinary standbys. A perfect day trip for a first date, an out-of-town sibling, or a group of your closest fun-loving ladies.
We suggest making it a day trip, as there’s way too much to see if you try to cram it all into a few hours. As with any tourist destination, Coney Island can get downright pricey if you’re not sure where to go, what to eat, and what to see. Luckily, the Brooklyn Bitches are here to tell you how to enjoy Coney Island on a budget. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
It’s hard to tell when Coney Island will officially begin going through the motions to be ‘Disney-fied”, so round up your friends, pile onto the subway, and make your way to New York City’s own little Wonderland just as fast as you possibly can.
EAT/DRINK: Although traditionally we are the Bitches to eschew all forms of legit dining when it comes to being at our favorite amusement park, heading straight for the soft pretzels and soft serve ice cream, Coney Island boasts several culinary treats that should be tried if possible.
1. Alex Deli and Grocery (1418 Mermaid Ave) is located just a few blocks away from the glitz and sparkle of the amusement park, and it offers some of the best Mexican food we’ve had in ages. Corn-husk-wrapped tamales ($1), rich chocolaty mole, and spicy salsa verde are so wallet friendly-, you’ll still have dollars to spring for a soft serve cone on the way back to the subway. Open daily 7a-7p.
2. No trip to Coney Island would be complete without a stop at Nathan’s Famous (1310 Surf Ave and Stillwell Ave). Get your $3 hot dog fix, load it with sauerkraut, and skip the fountain soda in lieu of a gigantic sugary lemonade ($3). You’ll be ready to take on all the carnival games that offer gigantic pink puppy prizes.
3. Coney island Tacos (Stillwell Ave and Boardwalk) is a grill on wheels serving up onion rings, ribs, and tostadas ($3). A fresh taco is filled with pork/chicken/beef and a healthy dollop of black beans, avocado, lettuce, and cheese, providing the fortification for an afternoon of sunbathing or spinning on the Wonder Wheel.
1. The beach. As a fellow beach girl who often misses the roar of the ocean and the feeling of sand in my bed, this is the biggest draw of the entire journey. Whether it’s the dead of winter or the most scorching summer afternoon, the beach is worth the subway trip. Drag a folding chair onto the sand and wear your cutest retro-inspired bathing suit to soak it all in.
2. The only aquarium in New York City, the New York Aquarium is located at Surf Ave and W 8th Street. 14 acres of aquatic animals and exhibits also offer a touch pool, daily public penguin feedings, the sea lion show, and the strange world of Alien Stingers. $13 for adults (but Pay What You Wish Fridays at the Aquarium are the way to go!). Open year-round, 10a-4:30p daily.
3. The Twelfth Street Amusements opened for the season this week, and this hub of rides and amusements host a nonstop dance party, an array of carnival-friendly confections, and games that surely set you up to lose your hard-earned cash.
1. Go to the circus sideshow show. Sideshows by the Seashore is the last place in he US where you can experience an authentic ten-in-one circus sideshow. Current sideshow cast members include Donny Vomit, Serpentina, Heather Holliday, the Twisted Shockmeister, Black Scorpion, and Krissy Kocktail, with upcoming performances from Jackie the Human Tripod, Mat Fraser, Indestructible Indio, and the Lizardman. $7.50 for admission. If you’re one who likes to make plans waaay ahead of time, the Coney island mermaid parade is a New York tradition that simply cannot be missed.
2. Round up your lady friends and have a photo shoot in front of the Wonder Wheel, from the beach. It’s something to appease the hipster part of you that feels so cool to be part of such an NYC landmark.
3. Lace up your skates at Lola Staar’s Dreamland Roller Rink (3052 W 21st St), located in the landmark Child’s Building on the Boardwalk, and prepare to skate off the fried Oreos you just inhaled. . Admission is $12 per person. Whether you’re a certified skate princess or a newbie who’ll need to cling to the railing, everyone is welcome at Lola’s.
1. Ride the actual rides. The wonder wheel and the cyclone have been luring visitors for rides for ages, but sometimes the Brooklyn Bitches (and their wallets) have to turn up their nose at such luxuries. If you’re planning to do it up, be sure to get on the Cyclone ($8), the Wonder Wheel ($6), and the Eldorado Bumper Cars and Arcade ($3).
SPEND: (not including $2.25 metrocard) $15-20 (if you visit on Friday)