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5 Reasons We Love Coney Island

5 Reasons We Love Coney Island

Despite the extreme heat, my family spent yesterday afternoon at Coney Island, what I like to call our annual pilgrimage there. There are amusement parks closer to our home and easier to get to--as well as beaches and boardwalks--but we love heading to the edge of Brooklyn for a day of fun.

For me, there’s a sense of history at Coney Island, like we are going back in time to old Brooklyn, a place that, despite its changes over the years, still feels like it is part of a bygone era. I went on school and family trips there, and my parents went on at least one date at Coney Island. It's a place where the digital revolution hasn’t altered the way we have fun, where the Cyclone roller coaster at Luna Park or the giant ferris wheel at Deno's Wonder Wheel remain as fun as they were while remaining just as they were. Where a contest to see who can down the most hotdogs in a sickeningly short time is national news. 

For my kids, of course, it’s not about history or nostalgia. In late winter every year, they start asking when we’re going to go to Coney Island, looking forward to the rides, the treats, the beach, the experience of it all.

Here are five reasons to love Coney Island and to take a visit, or several, there this summer:

1) The amazing variety of things to do: Between the beach, the boardwalk, the New York Aquarium, and the several amusement parks--as well as the Brooklyn Cyclones minor-league baseball park--there is no shortage of activities, no matter what your interests are.

Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island

2) The range of ages it appeals to: With so much to do, Coney Island’s attractions appeal to people at virtually any age: families, of course, whether their kids are young or teen-aged, couples on dates, and seniors.

Related: Find the best amusement parks near you.

3) The wide variety of moods it caters to: What kind of day are you looking for? Coney Island’s activities span the range of intensities and emotions. Looking to stay mellow? Try the giant Ferris wheel, Dino’s Wonder Wheel, or hit the aquarium. Seeking thrills? There are several roller coasters and even wilder rides that that. Haunted houses offer frights, the Boardwalk offers performers a chance to belt-out Karaoke. And so on...

Coney Island from the air

4) The extraordinary diversity of people you meet there: The New York metro area, is of course, home to people of virtually all nationalities, ethnicities, religions, and races, but how often do we encounter each other at the same place, engaging in the same activities. Watching the crowds yesterday, I was struck by the sheer variety of people we saw: Immigrants speaking so many different languages, families of every race, Orthodox Jews and observant Muslims all covered up despite the heat, beachgoers (and others) barely covered at all.

Related: Best beaches in the New York City Area

5) Budget: The costs can add up, quickly, between parking lots, rides, food, and more. But for the disciplined, there is at least the possibility of a low-cost or even free day. The beach and boardwalk are there for all of us, free of charge. And at the amusement parks, you pay per ride, rather than via entrance fee, so you can limit the expenditures.

Coney Island Beach

Every year's visit is a little different for us, as our kids' interests and abilities evolve. This year, our oldest started feeling like some of our usual rides were too babyish, so next year we'll be more adventurous. Our middle one was finally able to embrace the experience wholeheartedly and is already planning our next visit. And our baby? She wasn't quite ready for the rides yesterday, but next year I am sure we'll be snapping pictures of her on the boats and motorcyles as well.

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Michael Kress

Author: Michael Kress is the former editorial director of NYMetroParents. He is the former executive editor of Parents.com, the website for Parents magazine, and was previously the VP of Editorial at Beliefnet.com. He is the father of three girls and lives in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. See More

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