Coney Island Offers Unique Character, Even in Winter

Coney Island’s ocean view, hot dogs, and deserted theme park rides offer a unique atmosphere in winter. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Coney Island’s ocean view, hot dogs, and deserted theme park rides offer a unique atmosphere in winter. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Coney Island is usually known for its beach and amusement park, but in the winter, it’s known for none of that. We decided to explore the neighborhood in the freezing weather to try out the off-season Coney Island experience. 

 As we exited the Q train at the Coney Island station, we saw the neighborhood’s main attraction through the subway windows: Luna Park’s series of rollercoasters. 

Luna Park’s color and shine distracts from the neighborhood’s grim and outdated reputation.

“I admit this is somewhat a shady neighborhood,” said Jenna, who works at Coney Island. “But it’s not that bad, honestly.” 

Coney Island’s boardwalk is parallel to the beach, which gives you enough space to look out into the sun and sky without touching the sand. Its wide path hosts stores, gift shops, and the opportunity to get a sniff of the gentle sea breeze. 

As we walked across the boardwalk, accompanied by the pink-tinted sky from the sunset, we saw a couple. 

“We’re from Australia on holiday,” said Monique, on a date with her boyfriend Ben. “We heard that Coney Island was a nice place to go to.” 

“It’s pretty, but not in this weather,” laughed Ben. 

Sadly, the Coney Island Art Walls, an outdoor graffiti art space, weren’t open when we visited. But we decided to grab some food at nearby Nathan’s Famous, the original restaurant where they hold the Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4. 

Nathan’s carries a big sign showing the numbers of days, hours, minutes, and seconds counting down to the 4th of July.

Sonya Thomas holds the female record of 45 hot dogs, and Joey Chestnut holds the male record of 74 hot dogs. Nathan’s Wall of Fame includes photos of ex-champions of the contest.

Their shrimp and chips ($9.29) were fried to golden deliciousness and their original hot dogs ($4.75) were juicy, with a nice outer crunch. The employees were  friendly. 

However, if you’re looking for a cheap place to eat, Nathan’s would probably not be first on your list. 

After eating, we decided to walk to the Par Auletta Steeplechase Pier, an amazing place to do some sightseeing near the ocean.

As we walked farther down the pier, the peaceful sound of waves got louder. As we traveled farther from shore, we saw people fishing. The fishermen were quiet as they concentrated on their rods.

There were many overweight pigeons on the pier, which was quite a refreshing, comedic site.

At the end of the pier, there is a higher platform to get more viewing leverage on the empty sea. You can see the whole beach from there. 

Surprisingly, tourists with luggage and cameras were there as well. They took many photos, posing near the view. In fact, a couple of tourists seemed as if they were replicating an actual photo shoot — it was quite amazing that they hadn’t all frozen to death yet.

“We’re here on vacation,” said Anne, a tourist from London. “The site’s amazing, but I think it’ll be even more amazing in the summer.” 

As we headed back to the boardwalk, we bumped into a Midwood student, Regina Ashurova ’21. Ashurova lives in Coney Island and was walking home from school.

“I’m out of rides on my metrocard, but I love walking through Coney, so it’s worth it,” said Ashurova. “I totally recommend coming here in the summer.”

FeaturesCasey Levinson