The annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade arrives this weekend in all its sequined, fish-tailed glory, and while we highly recommend attending the one-of-a-kind spectacle, it’s far from the only reason to head south. The iconic attraction (at the end of the D, F, N and Q lines) is as weird and wonderful as ever, and we firmly believe every New Yorker needs to experience it. Here’s everything you need for the ultimate summer day out.
How to Have the Best Day Ever in Coney Island
Feast On Legendary Pizza At Totonno’s
One of the city’s best pizzerias just happens to be three blocks from the beach. The 97-year-old institution—still run by the same family—turns out some of the most gorgeously charred thin-crust pies from its coal oven (we highly suggest adding garlic to whatever you order). Be prepared for a wait and no-fuss service… but it’s all in the name of top-notch pizza.
1524 Neptune Ave., Brooklyn; totonnosconeyisland.com
Ride Some Rides (duh)
Even if you’re not really a carnival person, going to Coney Island and not checking out the rides is like going to Katz’s and ordering a salad. The Cyclone, while slightly terrifying, is a must (hey, if Beyoncé did it…) and the Wonder Wheel has the power to make even the most cynical New Yorker feel like a gleeful 8-year-old. (The Parachute Jump, aka the “Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn,” is no longer in operation, but it makes for some pretty stunning Instagram ops.)
Soak Up Some Culture At The Coney Art Walls
You might not expect to see serious art a stone’s throw from cotton-candy vendors and bumper cars, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at this outdoor museum, which houses some three dozen murals by local and international artists. The pieces range from cheeky to political to psychedelic—and yes, any one of them would make a great selfie backdrop.
3050 Stillwell Ave., Brooklyn; coneyartwalls.com
Stroll The Boardwalk
Oh right, there’s a beach here too! Along with lifeguards, volleyball courts and public restrooms, you’ll find a three-mile-long boardwalk packed with dozens of places to grab a hot dog (including, yes, Nathan’s) or a comically large beverage. We, for one, always make a pit stop for Milano cookie gelato at Coney’s Cones.
Boardwalk between W. 37th St. and Corbin Place, Brooklyn; nycgovparks.org
Grab A Pint At Coney Island Brewery
You’ve probably spotted this local brand’s beers at bars all over town, but its seaside brewery is well worth a visit. Sample the uber-drinkable offerings like Watermelon Wheat and Cinnamon Toast Kölsch, relax on the spacious patio or stop by for special events like Yoga & Beer or Puppies & Pints (where you can meet local rescues up for adoption).
1904 Surf Ave., Brooklyn; coneyislandbeer.com
See A Real Live Circus Sideshow
Yes, in 2018 you can still see “freaks, wonders and human curiosities” at the one and only Sideshows by the Seashore. Think sword swallowers, contortionists, snake charmers, pyromancers and plenty of other surprises. In the same building, the Coney Island Museum houses relics (vintage fun-house mirrors!) from the attraction’s past.
1208 Surf Ave., Brooklyn; coneyisland.com
Cheer On The Brooklyn Cyclones
Sure, Yankees games are fun, but do they have $10 bleacher seats? Or an all-you-can-drink ticket option that includes a hot dog and a snack? Or fireworks after practically every other game? No joke, this might be one of our favorite low-key ways to spend a night out in Brooklyn.
1904 Surf Ave., Brooklyn; brooklyncyclones.com