How do beach lovers get their fix when in New York City? Coney Island, of course.

On our recent day trip from Manhattan, we found that Coney Island was an awesome place for little kids. They can burn off steam on the beach and playgrounds and ride a ton of kid-friendly rides.

Our first stop was the beach, where we dipped our toes in the Atlantic. There’s a 2 1/2-mile long beach with two playgrounds and a palm tree that squirts water for kids to run through. We’ve been to a lot of beaches, and this was the first water feature I’ve seen right on the sand. Pretty cool!

A look down the beach

One of the playgrounds

Palm tree splash area

A day trip to Coney Island with kids isn’t complete without lunch at Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. The original location is right by the subway station, where you can see the hot-dog eating contest countdown. We ate at the Nathan’s on the boardwalk, with a patio area for people-watching. I have to say, the Nathan’s hot dogs I’ve had in California just don’t do the Coney Island ones justice.

Best hot dog I had in New York. (And I had quite a few.)

View of the boardwalk. East Coast beach style is definitely more covered up than West Coast style.

The highlight of our daughter’s trip though, was Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. When we asked later, she said going on the kiddie rides at Coney Island was her favorite part of our whole New York experience. Many of the rides were for preschoolers and older, but parents can accompany younger kids on some of the tamer ones. Deno’s Wonder Wheel, one of only two ferris wheels where the gondolas swing back and forth while going around, was a bit scary for our almost 4-year-old.

The tunnel to Deno’s Wonder Wheel

We had a plane to catch that day, so we didn’t see all of Coney Island. There’s another amusement park with more kiddie rides and adult roller coasters, as well as the New York Aquarium and MCU Park, where the Brooklyn Cyclones play.

If you’re looking for a way to justify your trip to New York with kids, check out Mommy Poppins’ 100 Things to Do in NYC with Kids Before They Grow Up.