Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Coney Island

When I looked at my “New York City Summer Bucket List” last week, I realized I only had one more item to cross off: Coney Island. I’ve known about Coney Island since I was little, thanks to a chain of hot dog restaurants in Michigan by the same name, and always wanted to visit the amusement park and famous boardwalk.

I knew I couldn’t go to Coney Island alone. I’ve heard my fair share of stories about the “weirdos” and dirty ocean water. So when Jake came to visit me this past weekend, we packed up the sunscreen and took the long subway through Brooklyn to the park.

I imagined the amusement park to be a few little rides wedged between the road and the pier, but, like always, I underestimated the glory of NYC. The park actually had a few roller coasters, some thrill rides, and a giant Ferris wheel – a pretty nice assortment, although it definitely doesn’t compare to Cedar Point back home.

Jake and I paid $7 each to go on the “Wonder Wheel.” That thing is a danger zone! We were both terrified of the “swinging” carts that moved back and forth in the middle of the wheel. Watch this video to see what I mean:

Video from here

We were both clutching the handlebars really hard, which actually makes a funny mental image. Two twenty-year-olds scared of a Ferris wheel. At least we can laugh about it now.

The boardwalk was just as picturesque as I imagined and surprisingly not too crowded for a hot Friday afternoon. You can't see the Manhattan skyline from the pier, but the pretty view of Brooklyn and the amusement park is almost as nice. Jake and I didn't wander down to the beach but tons of people were laying out by the water. Although I would never swim in the ocean, the water looked way cleaner than my friends from work claimed.

My friends were also wrong about the notorious "weirdos" at Coney Island. Maybe I have the definition of "weirdo" wrong, but throughout the day I only saw a handful of people I'd fit under that category.

Of course we tried Nathan's Famous hot dogs, an iconic Coney Island treat. Jake got a chili dog, and I was bad and got an amazing chili cheese dog. Might as well enjoy the fattening foods of NYC while I can, right?

If you're in NYC for only a few days, I'd suggest sticking with the touristy stuff in Manhattan. If you're staying longer, Coney Island is a fun, family-friendly escape from the confining concrete and hustle of crowds.