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Winter Day Trip To Coney Island, New York, with Kids

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Coney Island
Coney Island

Have you ever thought about going to Coney Island with your kids? As a military family, we get to experience a lot of unique opportunities. This time it was day trip to explore Coney Island, New York and all it has to offer in the winter time.

We often hear about day trips in the summer because the weather is lovely but don’t let that stop you from enjoying a winter day trip! Day trips are a fantastic way to expose your children to traveling but in small controlled trips (you know, before that big vacation you’ve always dreamed of).

Why a day trip?

We had an unexpected extra long weekend. The kids were off school for a holiday and my husband luckily also had the holiday off (yay for not being on-call!). I had searched around trying to find an AirBnB or VRBO that we could escape to for the weekend but trying to find housing for 6 of us (2 adults & 4 kids) and our dog last minute ( also, hello inflation, it was NOT going to be cheap). Therefore, instead of sinking a ton of money into housing on a potentially a rainy weekend, we opted for a day trip.

We love day trips with the kids because that means at the end of the day everyone gets to sleep in their own beds and relax. On our latest day trip we ventured off to Coney Island to explore for the first time. We were a little apprehensive about a day trip to Coney Island in the off season but it was a huge hit.

“Your kids will remember the adventures you went on, not the stuff you bought them. Kids outgrow stuff, they never outgrow adventures.”


Where to go?

When you’re taking a day trip, the sky is the limit on choosing where to explore! I narrowed down our search to options that were within a hour drive, and had a potential indoor option (just incase we got the rain they were predicting). After searching and making a list of places we could go for the day, I finally chose Coney Island, New York.

When I first started researching Coney Island, I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t even sure if it would be a great place for our whole crew of kids (a lot of New York attractions are more geared for adults) but it turned out better than I could’ve imagined.

Coney Island

If you’re like me and have only heard of Coney Island in songs (thank you, Taylor Swift) or from word of mouth of friends, let me tell you a little bit about it. Coney Island is part of New York City, it is located in borough of Brooklyn. In the summer time Coney Island is packed full with tourist enjoying the amusement park rides, boardwalk, restaurants, and shops.

In the winter, Coney Island becomes a tranquil little escape from the hustle and bustle of the big apple. The tourist are fewer and you are left with locals that are out enjoying the calm before the tourist rush starts back in spring. During the winter, the many attractions that pull tourist in are closed (such as the amusement park). Don’t write it off your list though, just because things are closed, there is still plenty to do and see in the winter.

Our Day at Coney Island

If your family is anything like mine, everyone must be rested and have a full stomach before adventures begin. This means I let everyone sleep in to make sure they were rested before we drove down to Coney Island for the day. Once we loaded all four kids into the van and started driving we played a guessing game with the kids as to where we could be going. The guesses were great and semi (maybe?) close to where we were going (they said into the city), but none of them guessed we’d be going to the aquarium and beach!

We’ve Arrived But First…

Once we arrived to Coney Island, we parked at the New York Aquarium, and then decided to grab a bite to eat before we started any activities. We picked a local Italian spot (because we know the kids will always eat pizza) across the street called Surf City Pizzeria and we loved the atmosphere & the delicious food. You can park on the street (if you can find a parking spot) but it was easier for us to go ahead and park in the Aquariums paid lot (you can park for 3 hours for $18).

The aquarium does require advance tickets, so while we were waiting on our food I went ahead and reserved our tickets and time frame to enter the building.

Surf City Pizzeria, Coney Island

Things to Know About the Aquarium

In the off season (Nov 6 – March 31) the aquarium is open daily from 10am to 4:30pm but the last entry is at 3:30pm. Tickets are $29.95 for adults (13 & over), $27.95 for seniors, $25.95 for 3-12 year olds, and free for children under 2. For my fellow military families, the aquarium offers 50% off tickets for active duty members and up to 3 guest with the code (MILITARYNYA). You must have your military ID to present with a valid ID upon entry.

If you’re headed to the aquarium in the winter like we did, parking was available at their location and we had no problems. However, be aware that it does fill up in the summer. In addition, tickets can sell out quickly during summer time so make sure you reserve your tickets before you go. If you are traveling with a stroller, they are permitted but there are designated self-park stroller areas for certain exhibits. Their website also says no wagons inside the aquarium. I normally try to use my Bob Double Stroller or my Wonderfold Wagon for outings with the kids. However, this is a smaller area and it would’ve been hard to navigate with a stroller. So if you’re debating a stroller and can do without, I suggest leaving the stroller at home.

The New York Aquarium.

Once we had finished lunch we walked back across the street to the New York Aquarium. The tickets I had reserved on-line were in my email. We got to the door inside for them to scan my tickets andddd it wouldn’t load. The lovely lady at the door told me the wifi doesn’t work inside the aquarium. I went back outside to load the QR code with our tickets while my husband waited at the entrance inside with the kids.

Once inside we were able to explore all the different areas of the aquarium. There were indoor and outdoor exhibits. We started indoors and worked our way outside since it was colder (and snowing). Some of the big highlights were:

  • The shark exhibit (indoors),
  • The seal cliffs (which had seals and penguins (outdoors)),
  • The spineless (my toddler really enjoyed watching the jelly fish (indoors)) and
  • The PlayQuarium (indoors)
    • The PlayQuarium did have their touch pool closed but the kids loved the indoor playground. We probably spent more time at the PlayQuarium than any other exhibit.

Once you are outside at the aquarium you can exit directly to the boardwalk which is what we did.

Coney Island Boardwalk

Our last stop at Coney Island was the Boardwalk. As soon as our kids saw the sand our kids were running down the boardwalk to reach it. It was nice visiting in the winter because the kids could run around without us being worried about too many people around. Upon reaching the sand my three year old laid down and started making sand angels. Don’t ask me where she has seen this but she thought it was fantastic. I mean just picture a three year old bundled up with snow gear making sand angels.

We walked the waterline and let the kids pick up sea shells as we went. The amusement park rides were sitting quietly since they were closed. It was such a unique experience to be on the boardwalk and enjoying it without all the tourist. Before we left the kids made sure to ask if we could come back in the summer time when the ferris wheel was open. You better believe it is on our summer bucket list as well!

Would I Recommend Coney Island in the Winter?

I can’t recommend Coney Island enough for a family day trip if you’re visiting New York City. It’s great for all ages and has a lot of things to see. We only saw a small portion of what it offers but loved our day there. If you’re visiting New York City in the winter make sure you stop by Coney Island to enjoy a chilly stroll on the beach and if you’re lucky you may even get to experience snow on the beach.

A blissful winter day at Coney Island

If you’re looking for some summer recommendations check out 11 Tips for an Amazing Day at the Zoo with Kids (2023).


  1. I love this!! Don’t overthink, go from the heart and it will never disappoint. Keep on posting please.

  2. I love that you included so many details about the aquarium. This is a great resource for anyone wanting to visit!

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