Building Memories in Coney Island, NY
Lazy mornings, if ignored, can lead to lazy afternoons until they become days, causing, without notice the complete extinction of a day once fully planned with activities. This was the danger we faced this morning. And though there is nothing wrong with lazy mornings, afternoons, or days, it is very rare that the ones feeling “lazy” are my children, thus forcing the laziness right out of me, in exchange for my sanity and avoidance of the complete collapse of our small NYC apartment from all the running around and crazy boy energy being contained there.
By the time we headed out on our chosen adventure, it was almost 2:00 PM. Dangerous time zone during which to venture anywhere with toddlers who refuse to nap, but off we went. The sun was bright, and the breeze a bit chillier than it should be for early June. We made our way to Brooklyn across the Belt Parkway, past the incredibly proud, incredibly beautiful sights of the Verrazano Bridge. This is a B/Q train commute, but I was happy we opted to take the car because the day was really worth taking in above ground.
We arrived to Coney Island just as the little ones were starting to get restless (this is also where the NY Aquarium is located). My 3.5 year old especially, after having seen a commercial for a kids’ amusement park, was eager to get on some rides. Little did he know that the destination his parents had chosen wasn’t the one he had seen on t.v.
Coney Island is a place full of memories for me. I remember coming here often as a child, and on dates or with friends as a young woman. It’s one of those places that you can go to and really revel in the cheesy-ness of it all, because therein lies the innocence that most New Yorkers had when they first visited the area. So as we walked in to purchase tickets I couldn’t help but feel like I was passing on the New York tradition onto my boys, and really no matter how many times I comes here, I always feels this way.
I wasn’t sure what it was, if it was too early in the season, if it was the chill in the air, or the fact that it was later in the day, but the park wasn’t very crowded at all which was a nice surprise because it meant that my boys, especially the little ones who have yet to master the art of waiting, were able to get on rides quickly (note that as a tip of when best to go to avoid lines).
The park grounds is divided into two areas. Astroland which was the amusement park for many years is now closed. In its place is Deno’s Wonder Wheel which is located on the right side, closest to the historic ferris wheel. Though we started on some of the rides located on the left side of the park, the ones on the right side of the park are far better rides (and newer) for the little ones. They didn’t care though, it seemed that pretty much anything they rode they absolutely loved.
After a few rides my husband and I were able to convince the boys to head over to the boardwalk. The Coney Island boardwalk is where the heart of Coney Island is. It’s where you go to people watch, grab something to eat or snack on, and walk around. It was busy and loud from the sounds of the vendors, arcades, and music being played all around. The boys happily ate their corn dogs and funnel cakes as they watched all the action around them.
Afterwards we headed onto the beach. The sand, clean and uncrowded, was soft and cool to the touch. People happily played volleyball, while the muscle heads worked out by the free weight area, and the children played in the small monkey bar and slide play area. At one point, the 3.5 year old asked to go closer to the water with his father. I’m not clear on the details of what happened, but when they got back the child was completely wet, and the father’s sneakers were drenched as well.
‘He said he just wanted to step in,” said his dad, “but next thing I knew, he was running full speed ahead into the water!”
Yup, that sounds like him. That kid loves the beach, no matter what the temperature of the water!
After changing the boys into clean/dry clothes, we laid out our blankets and the little ones set out to play while we laid in the sun and enjoyed the cool breeze coming from the ocean.
Once the kids started showing signs of being ready to go, we packed up our things and headed back to the boardwalk. However, before we could leave, we took part on the boardwalk tradition of dancing to the music provided by the Coney Island Dancers. The fun was so contagious that even my 11 year old joined in the fun, dancing with me to the tunes of “Funky Town”.
You can’t leave without riding the Cyclone. Well, honestly, there are two things one should always do when in Coney Island (when dietary and physical restrictions don’t apply) and that is to 1) eat hot dogs at Nathan’s and ride the Cyclone.
On our way back home the little ones fell asleep, I drove while my husband rested, and my 11 year old, in love with his parents at this point, couldn’t stop thanking us for such a wonderful day. Another happy memory successfully passed on, I thought to myelf as I smiled listening to the click of my camera while the 11 year old, completely happy and inspired, tried to capture every inch of our way home. Here are a few of his photos.
Note: Best to take plenty of cash, though ATMs are available throughout, you may get hit with high transaction fees. Also, remember that the rides located on the right side of the park are newer, and in general, nicer. Rides range between one to two tickets per person. Most rides have a 36″ height requirement unless accompanied by a responsible person. Also check out the Coney Island site for upcoming events, such as the incredibly popular Mermaid Parade takes place in the early summer.
Coney Island is my most favorite place in the city to take the kids. It is so under rated. Glad you did a post about it… and great photos
I loved this post too! LOL. The first paragraph is so well written.. I can't wait for your to do a book!