Brooklyn’s iconic playground charms sun-soakers with a colorful boardwalk, classic Americana relics, carnival cuisine and beach fireworks every Friday.
Young or old, every member of the family can have a blast at Luna Park (1000 Surf Ave., at W. 10th St., 718.373.5862). History buffs relish the Cyclone, a swirling wooden coaster from 1927, while thrill-seekers should make a point to hop on the Thunderbolt, a brand-new, 125-foot-tall steel coaster that jolts to 65 mph. The park also offers calmer rides for youngsters and keeps lines moving quickly, so guests spend their time playing—not waiting around.
CUPS AND CONES
Nearly every vendor on the boardwalk touts frozen treats, but save your money and head to Coney’s Cones (1023 Boardwalk West, btw W. 10th & W. 12th sts.) for homemade ice cream, made in small batches on-site. Chill out with flavors like Bipolar Bear (mint, Oreos and white chocolate), Coney’s Crunch (pineapple, coconut and walnuts) and Dulce de Leche, or dig into ice-cream cookie sandwiches.
Visitors to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park (3059 Denos Vourderis Pl., at W. 12th St., 718.372.2592) can see the entire stretch of boardwalk and beach from 150 feet in the air on the namesake attraction, which is a historic landmark. The 94-year-old Wonder Wheel is one of just a few eccentric Ferris wheels (which feature passenger cars that are not fixed directly to the rim of the ride) in the world.
It may sell millions of beefy hot dogs annually, but Nathan’s Famous (1310 Surf Ave., at Stillwell Ave., 718.333.2202) has rather humble roots. Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker started in 1916 with a single stand in Coney Island before expanding worldwide. Frankfurter fans can still savor the famed dogs, along with crispy chicken and cheese fries, at the original joint.
SEAS SANS SCUBA
The New York Aquarium (602 Surf Ave., at W. 8th St., 718.265.3474) may be undergoing a face-lift (a new exhibition space is set to open in 2016), but the oldest continually operated aquarium in America is still worth a visit, having made a splash earlier this summer with a seal pup, only the second born there since 1999. Visitors can also see many other sea species, including living coral, black-footed penguins, rambunctious sea otters and tropical fish. Don’t miss the sea lions perform at the Aquatheater (daily, times posted at entrance), as the blubbery creatures show off their ability to respond to commands on cue.