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Family Life in New York City – Family Days: A Kid’s Guide to Coney Island

Posted Monday, June 16th, 2008 at 3:25 pm by Stephanie in Family Bees. More in 11224

mermaid parade

Summer is officially here—well as of June 20th—and that means it’s time for fun and festivities at Coney Island. Sure, it’s open year-round, but there’s just something about the boardwalk and the beach on a June afternoon that beats eating a hot dog on a windy fall day. And this weekend is the Mermaid Parade, my favorite thing about Coney Island besides Nathan’s and the hot dog eating contest each fourth of July. Here’s a list of kid-tastic events, places, and general mayhem.

The Mermaid Parade
1000 Surf Ave.
It’s not all boobies and painted ladies although there are a number of those as well. Kids perform in the parade, dance in the parade, sing in the parade. It’s all about kids. And it’s free. It doesn’t get any better than that. It’s best to get there early and bring a lawn chair, unless you want to stand the entire time. Actually, you don’t because I did that last year and I got a major farmer’s tan and my feet were tired 90 minutes in. And I’m probably going to sound like your mother-in-law when I say this, but bring sunscreen and water. You’ll thank me later, when you see people shelling out $3 for a 24-ounce bottle.

New York Aquarium
Surf Avenue & West 8th Street
I haven’t been to the aquarium yet (I plan to go on one of my upcoming Summer Fridays), but my co-worker went yesterday for the one-year birthday celebration of the baby walrus. She was amazed at the fact that the mommy and daddy of the walrus were 2400 and 2700 pounds, respectively, and that she was the only person there over the age of 6. Public Service Announcement: The aquariums aren’t the best date spot. This weekend the aquarium will host it’s very own mermaid parade event featuring face-painting, games, and arts and crafts. FYI: My co-worker also mentioned that a number of kids were climbing the life-size replicas of animals and falling down and hurting themselves. So, lovely parents, keep an eye out on your kids and bring some band-aids just in case.

Coney Island Museum
Why should you go to the museum? It’s the cheapest museum admission you’ll ever pay in any of the five boroughs. Only 99 cents will get you an earful and eyeful of Coney Island history. This weekend’s lecture is a no-go because of the parade, but any other weekend is a definite. The place is definitely for the kids; it’s the home to numerous birthday parties, graduation parties, and other specialty events. And it’s a lot cheaper than renting out the police museum.

Astroland
Yep, Astroland is back in business and there are plenty of rides for children of all ages, including the 81-year-old Cyclone, which may be too scary for elementary school kids, but they’ll probably beg you for at least one ride anyway. I know I did when I was a kid and I doubt it’s changed much. Plus, you can get the “I Survived the Coney Island Cyclone.” Seriously, everyone has a collection of screen tees they never wear in public. It’s good to start the collection now.

Totonno’s
1524 Neptune Ave.
The lines at Nathan’s will run at least 50 deep and snake down Surf Avenue and onto Stillwell. I know because I stood in line last year, not knowing about Totonno’s. It’s sure to be a family-pleaser because every child loves pizza. And the fact that you can only buy it by the pie? Even better. And the fact that the place is open until the dough runs out? Even better, still. I’ve never been to the spin-offs in the city, but word on the street is that they’re all mediocre in comparison. And life is just too short for mediocre food.

 
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