What do you think of when you think of summer: sea, sun, beach, boardwalk, hot dogs and ice cream?Basically, everything Coney Island has to offer, and why it is the top summer attraction in New York City.
If you are visiting New York City, absolutely consider visiting Coney Island (with kids)! Though it may require a subway to Brooklyn, getting to Coney Island is easy via public transportation and the memories will be worth it!
Here’s how to visit Coney Island with kids (on a budget). Plus what to do in Coney Island, things to see in Coney Island and tips for visiting Coney Island with little kids!
How to Visit Coney Island Amusement Park with Kids on a budget
If we’re referencing Coney Island as a destination for amusement rides in NYC, then know that Coney Island’s Luna Park opens in the beginning of April!
In honor of one of the greatest amusement parks, I’m sharing our fantastic visit for opening day. Because here’s my best tips for visiting Coney Island on a budget…go on opening day!
Luna Park most years offers Free Admission on Opening Day with a small donation to charity (per person)! This is most definitely the best way to visit Coney Island affordably!
If you miss opening day, then the best way to save money at Coney Island is by buying a wristband. This give you unlimited rides in a designated time period (2 hours, 4 hours, etc).
But there is so much more to Coney Island than just the amusement rides.
How to Get to Coney Island
Take the subway to Coney Island- Stillwell Ave station on the D F N Q; or West 8th NY Aquarium station on the N Q trains.
Don’t miss out on the best things to do in Coney Island, below!
The Best Things to Do in Coney Island
There are several attractions to visit in Coney Island. In addition to the Luna Park amusement park, there are actually several separate attractions not covered under the Luna Park tickets. These include Deno’s Wonder Wheel and the Coney Island Museum, amongst others.
1. Get dizzy at the Luna Park Amusement Park
Luna Park is the ultimate amusement park in Brooklyn! It might even be the best amusement park in New York City! There is just nothing quite like riding the infamous Cyclone, the dizzifying Tickler, and the classic amusement park rides, right on the beach!
2. Ride Deno’s Wonder Wheel
There are actually a few seperate purveyors of rides in Coney Island. The other famous attraction that you must not miss, is Deno’s Wonder Wheel! This is a classic ferris wheel ride, and boast a great view of southern Brooklyn from its beachside location!
Deno’s wonder wheel is appropriate for younger children as well, and they have a few extra rides in the same complex you can check out!
3. Check out the Coney Island Museum
The Coney Island Museum is run by Coney Island USA. It has some old school circus paraphanelia and memorobilia from Coney Island through the ages. They run weekly shows on the weekends that are super affordable.
This non profit organization, also runs the famous annual Mermaid Parade, down Surf Avenue, every June. It is the official kickoff for the summer season!
4. Watch a Baseball Game at MCU Park
MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team is on the far west side of Coney Island. You can grab inexpensive baseball tickets, making it a perfect family activity during the spring and summer baseball season!
5. Visit the New York Aquarium
The New York Aquarium is part of Wildlife Conservation Society in New York City which includes the Central Park Zoo, Bronx Zoo, Queens Zoo, and Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn!
This is a fabulous small aquarium located just off the Coney Island boardwalk. As a matter of fact you can enter from the boardwalk directly via a walkway (or enter via the parking lot from Surf Avenue). It is easily accessible via the subway across the street as well.
The aquarium entrance tickets includes the new shark tank exhibit and even free shows with the sea lions included in the price of admission. You can take your time walking around and discovering different types of fish and sea animals! During summers and weekends there is also a petting tank, where you can touch a starfish!
6. Swim at Coney Island Beach
Coney Island Beach is one of Brooklyn’s best beaches! It has a perpetually fun vibe where you can lounge by the ocean and play in the sand. Right behind you is everything you might need on a New York City adventure, including food, shopping, and amenities such as changing rooms and restrooms.
If you forget an umbrella, a towel, a hat or sunglasses…all those can be found between the subway and the beach! In typical New York fashion, everything is walking distance, but do note that the sidewalks get crowded in the summer!
7. Walk the Boardwalk and Eat a Hotdog
The Coney Island Boardwalk is actually considered a New York City park! What says summer more than a lazy walk on the boardwalk? Grabbing a hot dog and cotton candy! There is no shortage of fried food on the Coney Island boardwalk!
On a beautiful sunny day in New York City, nothing quite beats heading out of the urban jungle and down to the beach!
When you’ve worked up an appetite, don’t miss out on institutions such as Nathan’s hot dogs! Or grab a typical slice of New York Pizza.
Visiting Coney Island Luna Park with Little Kids
Because our kids are still young, we usually frequent the beach and boardwalk, and have been to the aquarium several times. So going to Luna Park was a huge treat!
The rides that are more appropriate for younger kids, are towards the beach side. That’s where we spent a majority of our time. In particular, there are several rides that are great for the 4-8 year old set, and a couple that are tame enough for two and three year olds with no height limit at all. (Although, I can’t say I would go out of my way to take a toddler there.)
That said, our older kids were just barely tall enough to ride the Tickler, and despite the long line, were insistent on going! In retrospect, I think it was too much for them, and they were pretty dizzy afterward. But it was such an amazing day!
Saving Money at an Amusement Park
Buying tickets on a budget
Overall, for younger kids, I would recommend buying just a few tickets for the rides they are able to go on. For older kids, a day pass is more likely a better deal.
The earlier in the day you get there, the less people will be around. I definitely suggest spending the first half of your day there, and then moving on to the beach or something else as it gets busy in the afternoon.
Save money on Food
Coney Island is known for hot dogs! There are several fast food dining spots along the boardwalk, but if your little one is more used to organic applesauce pouches and the like, then pack those with you! We pretty much always pack a picnic.
Save money on souvenirs
There are so many little plastic toys and stuffed animals the kids will ask for when you go to an amusement park! Save money by bringing some new toys with you (that you bought at a discount). Or even better, remind your kids that your focus is on enjoying the experience! It’s never to early to start the conversation on experiences vs. things.
Looking for more of the Best Things to Do in New York City with Kids? Look no further and click on the post for the ultimate guide to NYC with kids (written by a local)!
Summer is right around the corner and we can’t wait! How about you? Have you taken your kids to an amusement park? Do you love the thrill? Hate the crowds?
2 thoughts on “How to Visit Coney Island (with kids, of course) on a budget”
These rides are too short for the price. The pricing is so convoluted we didn’t even get on a ride and we were already dizzy. (too many ‘exceptions’ for the cost). The one ride worth the trip is the Cyclone. But that’s a splurge to be done only occasionally @ $10 pp. The rest of the rides just don’t make the grade for the cost. Bigger rides need to be added to the mix. The Tickler is a joke (meaning you feel robbed when it’s over). Not good. The same for The Steeplechase coaster and the blue and red coaster – pretty ordinary. The subway can give you a similar ride in places. The park also needs a really good Haunted House. Deno’s next door has one but it’s just okay. The Wonder Wheel cost us $10 ea. to go around at a snails pace twice. That’s all folks. Sorry, not worth it. The carnival idea that the park is modeled after can work but they need to put a lot more thought into the place cuz’ for what you get for the money just isn’t worth it. And with 2 kids it’s a small fortune. The place was cleaner on our last visit. That was nice to see. But theres so many ‘dead’ zones especially on the Avenue – owned by some bozo named Sitt. Brooklynites have another word for that crook. But I digress – build another coaster. A REAL coaster. Bring in some really creative, unusual thrill rides so it doesn’t come off quite so blah.
I agree it is very expensive for a family, hence my post on when you can visit when it is much more affordable.The amusement park is a once in a while activity and our (young) kids still enjoyed the rides.