Coney Island Boardwalk

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If you're looking for a full day beach experience without traveling far from the city, Coney Island is a great choice. From swimming to boardwalk games to a freak show for the older adventurers, plus some rickety rides, there's tons happening—and the boardwalk snacks are the best part! Don't eat them every day, but Nathan's Famous hotdogs are definitely worth trying at least once.

Written by

Molly Hurford


“I fell out of my f-ing boat in the f-ing middle of f-ing winter,” the not-a-day-under-80-year-old man next to me shouts at his group of friends, his Italian accent heavier than the cigar smoke billowing out of his mouth at the same time.

They laugh hoarsely as I nearly choke on my hot dog and surreptitiously try to wipe mustard off my chin and capture a picture of the cigar without drawing attention to myself.

Just another day on the Coney Island Boardwalk.

If you've finished up a run, or a ride, or a day at the amusement park and on the beach by yourself or with friends and family, the boardwalk is definitively the best place to grab a bite to eat in ultra-typical NYC-style.

The area is largely Italian and Russian in influence but the boardwalk is straight Americana—fried clams and fries, milkshakes and of course, hot dogs. Not just any hot dogs—Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs (of eating contest fame).

It’s unlikely you’ll find a healthy option on the menu but you won’t be disappointed enjoying a frankfurter and a beer while you watch the crowds pass by.

Strike up a conversation with the old guys sitting next to you, basking in their shirtless, hairy glory. They’ll tell you about the good old days, complain that kids sit on the beach instead of playing in the water, mutter about the damn Yankees and shake their heads about the new generation. They don’t care that you’re still wearing the spandex from your ride, though they might laugh behind your back about it.

The beauty of the boardwalk is that anything goes. As I’m enjoying my hot dog while sitting in a sports bra and shorts, I realize that unlike everywhere else in the city, I don’t stand out. If anything, my slightly ragged appearance fits right into the melee that is Coney Island.

The hot dog is gone in under 30 seconds when I realize how hungry I must have been. Luckily, my shady table is only a few feet from the counter, so I order another and contemplate if I have what it takes to compete professionally… in hot dog eating, not running. But by the end of the second dog, my stomach is feeling full and the Italian grandpas have headed home, leaving me feeling strangely lonely.

An ice cream solves the problem, eaten while wandering the amusement park before dumping the cone in the trash to be attacked by seagulls, as I lace back up my shoes to finish my run back down the beach. It was a good meal—and for under $10, I’m full, which is infrequent in the city.

If you’re looking for more authentic, real food and an indoor sit-down spot, just walk back a block or two and hit up one of the many Eastern European or Italian places where the pierogies and lasagna taste like your grandmother used to make. They won’t be as cyclist-friendly but in this area, people are less likely to judge you than they would be uptown.

It’s an indulgent spot, worth checking out.

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Coney Island Boardwalk

1129 Boardwalk
Brooklyn, NY, 11224
40.573208, -73.979644

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