Last week my family and I went for a day out at the shore in Coney Island and Brighton Beach. A long time favorite haunt of ours, I was eager for a dose of this very Southern part of Brooklyn. These coastal towns may have a kitsch way about them, but they are some of the most uniquely fun parts of the five boroughs.
After enduring a bit of traffic to get there, we finally found ourselves on Surf Avenue, in the heart of it all.
Our first stop: Luna Park (Surf Ave at W 10 St; 718-373-5862, lunaparknyc.com. $35 for four hours of unlimited rides on weekends), where there are over 20 rides for all ages and all thrill levels. Just off the boardwalk sits this throw back to good times long gone. The project opened on May 29, 2010, attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors, bringing a world-class amusement destination back to Brooklyn. In the few short years that have followed, Luna Park has continued to grow in stature as a popular NYC tourist attraction, home to dozens of rides ranging from thrilling to mild, as well as numerous games, eateries and retail kiosks.
Now that my kids are ages 10 and 12, they’ve upgraded to the more thrilling rides like the Thunderbolt roller coaster, the Brooklyn Barge, the Seaside Swing and the world’s first people-steered amusement park ride, the WindstarZ. New rides include the 90 mile-per-hour Sling Shot, that goes 150 feet into the sky, or the Power Surge, which spins riders in all directions. For a quieter ride, they have the famous B&B Carousel, as well as the extreme thrill ride, the famous Cyclone. My kids were ecstatic after a few hours of rides, and very, very hungry. We had a stop upon arrival at Nathan’s Famous, but it was time to eat dinner.
The walk between Coney Island and Brighton Beach (“Little Odessa”) is about a mile, but the people watching is so brilliant, as are views of the Atlantic Ocean, that it’s hard to complain. Of course, my kids found a way to, but it didn’t get us down. Brighton Beach offers kids many opportunities to play: volleyball nets, room for soccer, people-watching, reading and tanning.
Brighton Beach has a large community of Jewish immigrants who left the Former Soviet Union since 1970. Some non-Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, such as Azerbaijanis, Armenians and Georgians, have also settled in Brighton Beach and the surrounding neighborhoods. Walking through the area, it’s clear that Brighton Beach is a destination for all: Brooklyn families, Brooklyn teens, seniors, toddlers, tourists, and New Yorkers alike.
Hungry and tired, we stopped at Tatiana Grill, a Russian restaurant right on the boardwalk. We sat at a table facing the sea and spent two hours drinking Russian beer and eating specialties from herring to borsht to hachapuri to caviar to Russian stew. The experience was epic and memorable and my 1o year old son’s favorite meal in a long. long time.
Content and happy, with full bellies, we headed home, determined to return.
Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to Luna Park for my family, but all opinions are my own.