Whenever we have a free weekend in the city, my husband and I enjoy taking the kids to other neighborhoods in Manhattan or to the outer boroughs to participate in all kinds of cultural events and view popular landmarks. The Bronx Zoo, Brooklyn Bridge, and Coney Island are only a few of the world-famous (and kid-friendly) attractions we are fortunate to have at our finger tips. For many New Yorkers, Coney Island is synonymous with unapologetic indulgences and an overcrowded boardwalk teeming with sleazy characters. In fact, many of my friends and neighbors steer clear of this tourist trap for this very reason. But not us! With a tight grip on our wallets and children securely strapped into their stroller, last weekend was the perfect Coney Island adventure, a trip we’ve been making every summer since even before the kids were born.
Coney Island is widely-recognized for its iconic boardwalk and rightfully so. Lined with food stands, beachside performers and surf shops, it’s the perfect respite from the stagnant city air. The opportunities for supreme people-watching are endless, as it attracts a diverse crowd of all ages. And let’s not forget about the greasy food – Coney Island is home of the original Nathan’s. Yes, please! After first making a pit-stop for hotdogs and fries, we pushed my daughter in her stroller along the boardwalk, keeping a close eye on my toddler who was carefully weaving in and out of beach-goers. He’s an avid explorer of new territories, but in these situations I’m not too proud to sport matching bracelets connected by a spiraled rope (most commonly referred to as a “leash”). There must be a very delicate balance between a toddler’s desire for independence and safety.
After meandering through crowds of people and stopping for cotton candy and ice cream cones, we made our way to Luna Park, an old-fashioned amusement park that most closely resembles a county fair. There we would spend the next 2 hours watching our toddler bask in the glory of this recreational utopia only before moving on to the aquarium, the only one of its kind in New York City. We cruised through the animal exhibits in record time thanks to my energetic toddler on a sugar high and arrived at the Aquatheater just in time for the sea lion show. It was difficult to determine which my raging threenager enjoyed more – the interactive sea lion performance or climbing up and down the steps 547 times during the show.
By the day’s end I was thoroughly drained and unsure of how I would make it to bedtime. But despite the all-encompassing exhaustion of motherhood, on this day (like many others) I had the opportunity to stop and soak in the world through the joyful eyes of my children, and for that I am grateful. It’s days like these when I really feel my cup runneth over.
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