Freaks, Frog Legs & Killer Beer: Our Coney Island Adventure

Achievement: #39. Coney Island

This achievement almost didn’t happen. We had been planning to go to Coney on the hottest day of the week we were in New York (it was that West Coast mentality of, ‘it’s too hot in the Valley, let’s go to Santa Monica where it’s only 98 degrees and will feel so cool’), but as that was a weekday in the last week of the off-season, nothing we really wanted to see was open yet. So, at the very last minute, around 6pm on our final night in New York, we decided to give it a go and hopped a train for the very, very long ride to Coney Island.

(This blog is going to be extremely picture-heavy, so I will warn you that right now.)

Coney Island is one of the weirdest places I’ve ever been. It reminded me of something that was once great, and now falling into serious disrepair, but unlike the old, abandoned amusement parks that fascinate and creep me out so much, Coney Island just kind of made me feel sad and dirty. Let me explain.

We stepped off the train, all excited to see this place we’d heard so much about, and we realized that about a third of it is entirely boarded up. Like, sad, trashy boarded-up, like Wildwood, New Jersey in the off season. And there are no bathrooms. And no semi-clean restaurants or bars or anything that would have a functioning bathroom. The whole time we were there, you had this feeling that this could be an awesome place if they had the money and the resources to make it work (just like the feeling that Revere Beach could be the fantastic amusement park it was at the turn of the century if some really wealthy person just took an interest in it).

Coney Island
But, we were there, and we were going to make the best of it, so we hit up the Freak Bar for some drinks. And then things started getting fun.

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Michael tried one of the Coney Island beers, the Human Blockhead, which is 10% alcohol. It was, how can I put it, a charming kick in the ass.

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No really, he loved it. And I tried it, and it really wasn’t that bad, even though I’m not a beer person.

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I, since I am not a beer person, had a wine cooler. My absolute favorite wine cooler is Bartles & Jaymes Exotic Berry, although I will settle for the Seagrams verison of the same. However, the Freak Bar had neither of these, but the delightful bartender was kind enough to supply me with a strawberry margarita wine cooler, and he did not make fun of me one bit, so that instantly won him points.

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(It is really not that serious, I promise, just that Michael insisted I pretend that I loved my wine cooler as much as he loved his beer!)

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After our drinks, it was time to catch the Freak Show! And man oh man, was it worth the entire trip down to Coney Island. Such good showmanship (and if anyone wants to explain to me why Donny Vomit is so strangely attractive, I’ll surely listen – Michael agrees ;), and very fascinating stuff. I was sold. It was as entertaining as Geek Love had me believe all these years (you get a bonus point if you get that reference!).

Coney Island
And of course the next logical thing to do after seeing the Freak Show is eat. And you can’t go to Coney Island and not have Nathan’s. My husband figured that you can’t go to Nathan’s and not have frog legs. I would beg to differ on that point, but boy was he excited to make his frog legs dance around the plate!

Coney Island
I opted for something much more normal and got a kraut dog. It is rather disturbing to see the number of calories in your kraut dog posted on the sign above the counter.

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Here it is, in all its majesty: Nathan’s Hot Dogs. The original. Yummmmm!

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Doesn’t this all make you want a hot dog real bad??

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And what’s the only carnie food I like better than hot dogs? FUNNEL CAKES!!! Holy cow was this funnel cake delicious, and it was even better because we got to eat it in front of the famous Wonder Wheel. That is just one of those life experiences you have to have!

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And there is the Wonder Wheel, big and beautiful over the amusement park. I will say this though – rides were expensive (like $5-6 per person per ride), so we did not actually ride anything while there.

Coney Island
Another famous Coney ride that we observed from a distance was the Cyclone. These are just the sorts of things you see in movies, and to see them in person is really cool.

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Another shot of Nathan’s, with the bustling crowd in front.

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And finally, us in front of the Wonder Wheel.

It was a long trip down and a long trip back, but all in all, we were really glad to have made it. Maybe someday we will return for a longer visit, but at least we can say we have experienced some of the sights and flavors of a national treasure. šŸ™‚

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