A Photography Tour of Coney Island USA

Coney Island is a photographer’s dream come true. A quirky oasis of colours and interesting personalities combined with a rich history. I knew as soon as I had made plans to visit New York, that Coney Island needed to be part of my itinerary. So when I found out that Local Expeditions are offering photography tours of Coney Island run by a local photographer, I just had to sign up!

Local Expeditions are an up and coming tour guide company based in New York City that provide community driven adventures. Instead of taking you on a walking tour to the typical tourist attractions, Local Expeditions offer a glimpse into what life as a local in NYC is like. I always think that meeting locals helps to understand aspects of a culture that a guide book could not convey. So naturally I couldn’t wait to see what it was like to be shown around Coney Island by a local.

The Guide

Christine Callahan is a native New Yorker, artist and photographer.  Her expressive photography has been exhibited in galleries around the globe and she now teaches photography at the International Center of Photography, as well as giving online courses for the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Christine uses her local knowledge and eye for photography to show visitors around Coney Island and helps them capture the spirit of the place from a local’s point of view.

The Tour

The two hour tour starts at Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog, a legendary establishment that has been on the island since 1916 serving hot dogs and other beach side favourites to locals and tourists. Of course I couldn’t resist sampling one of those famous hot dogs before the tour started. Let me tell you it was a fantastic start to an afternoon in Coney Island. If one hot dog doesn’t quite cut things for you, maybe check out their annual hot dog eating competition.

Coney Art Walls

The first stop of our tour was also my favourite part of Coney Island, the Coney Art Walls: an outdoor museum of street art in the heart of the amusement park. The collection features pieces by local painters and leading artists from the street art scene. The Coney Art Walls were the ideal spot to start playing around with some camera settings. While we were getting some tips from our guide, we were lucky enough to observe some of the artists making the finishing touches to their masterpieces. I could have stayed hours watching the artists finishing their work and getting lost in each and every one of the walls.

Coney Art Walls Ronald McDonald

Coney Art Walls Mister Cartoon
Coney Art Walls Instagram

Coney Art Walls Artist

Luna Park 

While I’m not the biggest fan of amusement parks, this one is a treat. The vibrant colours and iconic attractions make the Luna Park a perfect photo opportunity. In fact some of those attractions have been there since the 1920s and are now official landmarks of the city. The opening of Luna Park in 1903 came at a time where the island was symbol for a new era of amusement parks and provided a welcome break from the everyday for the city folks. Unfortunately most of the original park burned down and it had to close in 1946. Just six years ago in 2010 the new Luna Park opened marking a new era of fun in the sun for New Yorkers and tourists. The photography tour is not just passive though. Christine will gladly accompany you on a thrilling ride of the original wooden roller coaster. That is, if you have the guts. At this point I would love to tell you all about how awesome the ride was, but I chickened out.

Coney Island Amusement Park

Coney Island Luna Park

Cyclone Luna Park

Luna Park Coney Island

The Boardwalk & Pier of Coney Island

After so many colourful impressions it was time for a real Coney Island ice cream. Now that is something I won’t say no to. My flavour of choice was pistachio. Thankfully the ice cream had the same colour as my skirt, because the day of the tour was a real scorcher causing my ice cream to melt faster than my flip flops.

The final stop of the tour is the boardwalk and pier of the island. The boardwalk is so much more than just a path between the spinning attractions and the beach. It’s a prime people watching spot. A place where you can capture kids laughing and running around, spot cool dudes showing off the artwork on their bodies and see teenagers practicing their skate boarding skills.

Once you enter the fishing pier it gets even more interesting. It doesn’t only offer spectacular views of the Coney Island skyline dotted by colourful attractions but you can also watch the locals fish for seafood and crabs.

Coney Island Skyline

Coney Island Beach

The time of the tour flew by and being shown around Coney Island by local photographer Christine was the way to go. The tour was the perfect mix of local knowledge, photography tips and some great locations. There is so much of this iconic place that I would have missed without Christine’s guidance.

Coney Island Photo Tour

My friend Anne (who took the title image of this post), guide Christine and Stephanie (left to right)

Thanks to Local Expeditions for inviting me to join the Coney Island Photography Tour. As always, all opinion are my own.

Have you ever been on a photography tour? Is it something that you would consider doing? Let me know in the comments below.

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Coney Island Photography Tour


  1. I love your photos, I have fond memories of the time my family went to Coney Island 🙂

    • globalbrunch Says: August 1, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      Thanks for the feedback. Glad you like the pictures 🙂 How old were you when you went? It must be even more fun when you’re a kid.

  2. Oh my goodness, what an amazing experience! Your photos are just stunning…

  3. Some great snaps here, you’ve got a great eye for a shot not to mention some really awesome tips

    • globalbrunch Says: August 1, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      Thank you so much for your positive feedback! It’s nice to hear that others enjoy my photography 🙂

  4. I’m KICKING myself that I live in NYC and have YET to visit Coney Island. Your post has given me the kick in the pants that I really need! I’ll get there soon thanks to your awesome shots!!

  5. Thank you for the virtual tour! We hope to visit Coney Island someday and are trying to go for the famous hot dog eating competition. You got some great photography tips because the photos are stunning.

  6. I have had Brighton Beach and Coney Island on my list for a long time. Thanks for the great take on Coney Island, your super photos, and comments. Loved this post.

  7. Woooah those murals are so amazing, I love the Ronald McDonald mutation one. Coney Island looks like such an interesting place, as a Brit I’ve never been there but I definitely like to; its so colourful!

  8. I’ve been to NY so many times and never gone to Coney Island – you’re right, it’s ideal for photography. I’d love to go, eat a hot dog and explore. I’ve never done a photography tour, though. I’d love it.

  9. Oh wow the colours are awesome in these photos. Love the art

  10. Ive never been on a photography tour ,but it is right up my alley! once the kids are a bit older i would love to do something like this (without them hahah)

  11. I love that there’s a photo tour offered there! The art walls would have been my favourite part, I love local artists.

  12. Coney Island has always been one of the places I wanted to visit while growing up. You just brought back a lot of memories. I have not thought about it in ages.

  13. I love New York, but I have never visited Coney Island. As a lover of street art, this photographhy tour is the right thing for me! Thanks for this post! 😉

  14. don’t feel too bad that you chickened out on the roller coaster. I did go on it (once!) and the rickety wooden thing was terrifying. I was convinced the entire time that this run would be the moment it chose to collapse 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the tour!

  15. This is great! Looks like such a fun place to spend the day and get out of the city- and who doesn’t love an amusement park?!

  16. Walking tours are awesome, a great way to get to know an area of a city. We absolutely love them especially when there are lots of photo ops. In the last 10 days we have done wlking tours in both Brussels and Lille.
    Coney Island looks like a great place to get a few good photos, we will have to do this tour wehn we visit New York.

  17. Katie Hammomds Says: August 7, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    What an amazing experience to have the opportunity to do that and explore all the different cultures in one place. The way you described the photographic tips , there are so much detail in them and the coney art walls look spot on. It looks like an interesting place to go and explore all these outstanding views on NYC, because you will get to know the history and the description of it all.

  18. I’ve always wanted to visit Coney Island! It looks like such an adorable spot, and I love the art walls. Definitely sounds like a perfect spot for a photo tour. Always fun to connect with locals as well, especially talented photographers like this! What a fun day!

  19. I love the Ronald mural. Looks like a spectacular street art tour!

  20. Hiya! Loving the blog, and esp. the Coney Island blog! It’s on my must-do list 😉 I enjoyed it so much that I nominated you for a ‘One Lovely Blog Award’ http://www.hannahhendersontravel.com/one-lovely-blog-award/
    I look forward to reading more in the future.

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