Straight from the outer boroughs
by Jerry Del Priore
|The Coney Island Boardwalk--by Bob Jagendorf via Flickr|
What would a summer be like without visiting Coney Island a few times? If you ask me, not much fun at all. Living in New York City, you probably made it a point to spend some time along the historic seaside area during past summers. But, after Hurricane Sandy slammed Coney Island, many wondered if it would ever be the same. Much to the delight of New Yorkers and tourists alike, it seems as if you can’t keep a good thing down. Great efforts have been made to help restore the neighborhood and its numerous attractions to prominence, and just in the nick of time.
Here’s a list of fun-filled places to visit in Coney Island this summer.
Coney Island Beach (Corbin Pl. to W. 37 St.)
When temperatures start to push the mercury upward, Coney Island Beach provides the perfect escape from the steamy concrete jungle. Whether you’re soaking up the sun, taking a dip in the ocean, grabbing a drink on the boardwalk, or enjoying a game of beach volleyball, the nearly three-mile sandy refuge offers a little bit of something for beachgoers.
While Hurricane Sandy hit the beach with destructive force, it reopened on Saturday, May 25 — thanks to the combined tireless efforts of NYC Parks and Recreation staff, federal, state and municipal agencies, and countless volunteers.
|A crowded Coney Island Beach on a hot summer day--by Wheany via Flickr|
Luna Park (834 Surf Avenue)
Opened in 2010 on the site of the old Astroland, Luna Park is the new theme park in Coney Island featuring rides, games and the world-famous Cyclone roller coaster. Start off the adrenaline rush with the Brooklyn Flyer, a high-altitude, high-speed ride that spins you nearly 100 feet off the ground.
Step up your gravity defying experience as the Sling Shot Ride rockets you 150 feet into the air at 90 mph, only to have gravity force you into a frightful plummet while performing crazy upside down twists.
Coney Island's newest ride, Water Mania, is a take on other teacup-type of rides, but instead of manually spinning your cart, it’s done for you, leaving you free to blast other riders with your water cannon.
|Ride the Cyclone when you visit Coney Island--by nitdoggx via Flickr|
For children, there are plenty of kid-friendly rides and attractions, and all at affordable prices. But, your day wouldn’t be complete without riding the Cyclone. The iconic wooden coaster began operation on June 26, 1927, and has been thrilling riders ever since. The first time I rode it, I felt some sort of rite of passage as a Brooklynite. The fact that it continues to receive preservation efforts in order to stay operational speaks volumes to its popularity and worth to Brooklyn and NYC as a whole. The Cyclone is up and running, as Hurricane Sandy spared the soon-to-be 86-year-old landmark. Each ride is $9 per person.
B & B Carousell @ Steeplechase Plaza (the former Steeplechase Amusement Park, between W. 16th and W. 19th streets)
After an eight-year restoration period, the historic B & B Carousell has been returned to its former magnificence. Enclosed in a beautiful glass pavilion for protection from the harsh elements, the 94-year-old merry-go-round is located at the foot of the Parachute Jump, behind MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones.
|The B&B Carousell has been restored and reopened--photo via brooklyndaily.com|
Brooklyn Nets Boutique Shop by Adidas (3015 Stillwell Ave. at Bowery Street)
If you possess a black belt in the shopping arts and are a Brooklyn Nets fan, then you’re in luck. The Nets Shop by Adidas — a 1,100-square-foot boutique — opened this month and will feature all the hottest Nets-themed summer gear.
The shop will be open through October from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
Brooklyn Cyclones (Single-A affiliate of the New York Mets) – 1904 Surf Avenue
To me, when Cyclones baseball kicks off in Coney Island in mid-June, the summer really begins. I love baseball, and in my opinion, there’s no better place to see a game during the summertime than at MCU Park. The hot dogs, the crack of the bat and the smell of the grass and ocean, all in an affordable, fan-friendly, family atmosphere, makes for a great time. Did I mention the great promotional giveaways? On certain nights, you’ll score a cool bobblehead, jersey, tee-shirt or lunchbox.
Opened in June 2001, MCU Park, which sustained serious damage due to Hurricane Sandy, has received a facelift. Renovations have been completed on the front office, locker rooms, ticket office, catering areas and dugouts, while a completely remodeled team store will be unveiled closer to opening day.
|The Brooklyn Cyclones in action--by LarimdaMe via Flickr|
But, the biggest change has been made to the playing surface. LandTek, a leader in the sports facility design and construction industry, recently completed installation of the FieldTurf, a synthetic grass system at MCU Park. The field is made of specifically designed turf with the exception of the pitcher’s mound and home plate area, which is still comprised of traditional clay and dirt.
The NY Aquarium (Surf Avenue at W 8th St)
As many institutions in the Big Apple felt the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, so did the New York Aquarium. Closed for months, it partially reopened this past Saturday, right on time for the Memorial Day Weekend.
|The NY Aquarium is a must-see for adults and children alike--photo by Julie Larsen-Maher @ WCS via NY Aquariam|
Sprawled out across 14 acres by the sea in Coney Island, the aquatic wonderland is home to the only major Aquarium in NYC. Cute penguins, harbor seals, California sea lions, sea otters, and walruses (oh, my), all vying for your attention, rest on a 300-foot-long piece of land. In addition, there are more than 300 wonderful marine species sure to amaze and astound.
Open May 25-September 2: 10am-6pm daily; Ages 3 and up: $9.95. Admission on summer Fridays from 4pm-6pm is a pay-what-you-wish donation. Every dollar you give supports its work in caring for animals here in New York and around the world. Recommended donation is $5 per person.
|Take advantage of all the attractions in Coney Island this summer--credit|