Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist’s Guide to New York City’s Best Bike Paths
Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Ride the Hudson River Greenway
No bike tour of New York City is complete without a ride along the Hudson River Greenway. This pedestrian and bicycle path stretches from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan up to Inwood Hill Park at the northern end, offering cyclists miles of glorious river and city views.
The Greenway hugs Manhattan's west side, separated from traffic and running parallel to the Hudson River. Depending on where you start, it's about a 13 mile one-way ride from end to end. The path is mostly flat and paved, making it suitable for all levels of cyclists.
One of the best places to start is near the 9/11 Memorial. From there, head north up the West Side Highway bike path with the Freedom Tower gleaming on your right. The views of the Hudson are sublime, with Jersey City rising on the opposite bank.
As you pedal uptown, make sure to take in landmarks like the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and the cruise ship terminals. The path winds through Riverside Park, where you can take a break in the grass or stop at a cafe. Keep an eye out for monuments like Grant's Tomb along the way.
Further north, the path passes by Columbia University and the Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge. One highlight around the 90th Street area is Pier I Cafe, a floating restaurant with stellar views of the bridge. Stop for a burger and beer on their patio before continuing on.
Once you make it to Inwood Hill Park, take some time to explore the trails or just relax on the lawn. Then turn around and coast back downtown, completing the roundtrip journey.
The Hudson River Greenway is busier on weekends but worth braving any crowds. Going on a weekday or in the evening provides a more serene experience. Give yourself plenty of time so you can stop frequently and take in the scenery.
What else is in this post?
- Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Ride the Hudson River Greenway
- Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Cross the Brooklyn Bridge by Bike
- Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Pedal Through Central Park
- Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Cruise Along the East River Bikeway
- Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Take in the Sights on the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway
- Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Bike the Queensboro Bridge for Iconic NYC Views
- Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Explore Governors Island by Bicycle
- Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Pedal Past Street Art in Bushwick
Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Cross the Brooklyn Bridge by Bike
Crossing the iconic Brooklyn Bridge on two wheels offers intrepid cyclists picture-perfect views of downtown Manhattan. While challenging at times, a ride over this world-famous suspension bridge makes for an unforgettable New York experience.
The roughly 1.1 mile bike lane starts at Tillary Street and Cadman Plaza East in Brooklyn. After passing under the stone Gothic arches, you'll begin the gradual uphill climb. Take it slow, as the wooden planks can feel uneven. The first set of cables you pass under mark the entrance into the main suspended span, rising 130 feet above the East River.
Up ahead on your left, the distinct triangular bridge towers come into view. These 276-foot granite structures support the massive cables that you'll soon be cycling next to. The four main cables are made up of 5,296 parallel steel wires, anchored by steel eyebars. This innovative design was considered an engineering marvel when the bridge opened in 1883.
As you reach the midpoint of the bridge, stop and take in the panoramic views of Lower Manhattan on your right. One World Trade Center dominates the skyline from this vantage point. Turn around and you'll see a sweeping view of Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Manhattan Bridge, and even Lady Liberty far in the distance.
After snapping some photos, hop back on your bike and head uphill towards the end of the bridge. The Manhattan-bound side has wider bike lanes but more tourist foot traffic. Be alert as you pass walkers snapping selfies. The final descent towards City Hall offers a thrill.
Crossing this National Historic Landmark on two wheels provides amazing up-close perspectives of the bridge's construction. The looming towers, stretches of cable, and web of steel are sights best experienced from a bicycle seat. Just take it slow, watch for pedestrians, and stop frequently to soak in the views. Conquering the inclines at a leisurely pace allows you to marvel at this stunning feat of engineering.
- Start at Tillary St and Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn
- Stick to the designated bike lane marked by white lines
- Climb gradually as you pass under the Gothic arches
- Stop midway on the bridge for epic views of NYC landmarks
- Descend towards City Hall in Manhattan for a final thrill
Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Pedal Through Central Park
Gliding through Central Park on two wheels takes cyclists on a journey through the heart of Manhattan. This iconic urban oasis stretches over 800 acres, offering endless sights along its 6 miles of roads and paved pathways.
For newbies, start at the park’s southeast corner and take East Drive north towards Grand Army Plaza. You’ll pedal past landmarks like the marble Angel of the Waters fountain and the ornate Bethesda Terrace. The car-free loop heads counterclockwise, so stick to the right side.
Around 72nd Street, you’ll hit the park’s busiest bike route – West Drive. White lines separate cyclists from runners and walkers. As you head south, make sure to stop at Literary Walk to see statues of famous writers. Further along at the Delacorte Theater, world-class Shakespeare plays are performed in the summer months.
No visit to Central Park is complete without seeing the Lake. It's one of the park’s most beloved landscapes, surrounded by willow trees and spanned by the iconic Bow Bridge. Stop on Gapstow Bridge for the picture-perfect view, with the Plaza Hotel and skyscrapers towering in the background.
Nearby is Strawberry Fields, a living memorial to John Lennon. The iconic “Imagine” mosaic is constantly covered in flowers and memorials left by fans. On weekends, musicians gather here to play Beatles songs.
Further south, pedal through the lush Sheep Meadow, where New Yorkers sunbathe and picnic on warm days. You’ll pass Tavern on the Green, the fancy restaurant with patio seating perfect for people watching.
Swing back east to check out one of the most famous Central Park sights – Bethesda Fountain. Featured in countless movies, the majestic centerpiece is topped by a winged angel. It’s especially stunning at night when lit up.
End your park tour by exiting where East Drive meets Grand Army Plaza, marked by the gilded Sherman Monument. From start to finish, Central Park’s scenery captivates at every turn, leaving all who pedal through with smiles on their faces.
Riding through Central Park both orientates visitors to NYC and transports them worlds away from the hustle of Manhattan. The diversity of landscapes – from tranquil ponds to open green spaces – unfolds in a way you can only experience on two wheels.
Whether you want to cruise past famous landmarks or get lost in the forested North Woods, the park's roads and paths accommodate all riding abilities. Pack a picnic or dine al fresco after burning calories pedaling between attractions.
Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Cruise Along the East River Bikeway
Pedaling along the East River Bikeway allows cyclists to take in views of some of New York's most famous bridges and cityscapes. This scenic path stretches over 14 miles, starting at the South Street Seaport and running north up past the United Nations.
One major highlight along the way is the view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Instead of crossing the iconic span, you’ll pedal right underneath it. The perspective of looking up at the towering stone arches and suspension cables from below makes for an awesome photo op. Stop right before heading under the bridge to capture the full scope of this National Historic Landmark from the bike path.
Continuing north, you’ll take in more amazing sights as you cruise along the waterfront. Bike past the Lower East Side's tenement buildings and get a closeup view of the Manhattan Bridge’s steel blue archways. In the distance you can spot the Empire State Building poking through.
Further up is one of the bikeway's most popular stretches – the FDR Boardwalk. Here the path weaves through a small park space, with wooden decking and benches facing the river. It’s an ideal spot to stop and rest while gazing at the water. Look across to Brooklyn to see the historic Domino Sugar Factory building.
After passing a baseball field, you’ll roll through the Lower East Side's Stuyvesant Cove Park. Make sure to get off your bike and explore the habitats along the ecology trail. You'll spot native plants, birds and insects while learning about this urban ecosystem.
As you bike farther north, the iconic 59th Street Bridge comes into view. Admire the steel cantilever structure’s neo-Gothic arches rising above Roosevelt Island. It’s an architectural sight to behold.
The path eventually takes you right past the United Nations headquarters. Glimpse the famous General Assembly building and towering Secretariat through fences as you cruise by. Flags from all the member countries line the promenade, making for a colorful sight.
End your journey through Lower Manhattan at Carl Schurz Park, home to Gracie Mansion – the mayor’s residence. Relax on the waterfront grass or take in skyline views from the promenade before heading back downtown.
The East River Bikeway reveals a constantly changing urban landscape along the waterfront. Spotting landmarks near and far gives you a new appreciation for NYC’s architecture and history. And the riverside breeze feels refreshing after biking for miles.
While some stretches farther north can be sparse, the variety of sights in Lower Manhattan make the extra mileage worthwhile. Go on a weekday to avoid crowds. Give yourself plenty of time so you can stop and snap photos. And be sure to walk your bike along any particularly crowded sections.
Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Take in the Sights on the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway
Gliding along the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway opens up a window to the city's past, present and future. This scenic bike route hugs the west side of the island, running from Inwood Hill Park down to Battery Park. Pedaling the nearly 30 miles of car-free paths and protected bike lanes allows cyclists to soak in NYC history while admiring stunning views.
One major highlight is biking through Hudson River Park, full of attractions like Pier 45's basketball courts, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, and the restored historic piers. Make sure to stop at Pier 54, where the RMS Carpathia arrived after rescuing Titanic survivors. Grab an espresso at the Pier 25 cafe, housed in an old railroad barge terminal.
Further south at Pier 25, climb on the newly opened Little Island. This visionary park built atop concrete tulips lets you meander above the Hudson on winding pathways. Ascend and descend small grassy hills while enjoying river breezes and a serene escape from the city.
Afterwards, continue down past the striking modern architecture of the Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District. Pedal through Chelsea Piers, home to batting cages, rock climbing walls, and indoor ice rinks. Then cruise through the West Village past quaint restaurants with outdoor seating. Jane Jacobs Lawn at the start of the High Line is a nice spot to stop and watch skateboarders.
One early American history highlight is biking past the Eerie Canal Museum. Located in an 1850s warehouse, it celebrates NYC's rise as America's busiest port. Further down are two Civil War forts that protected the city from Confederate forces. Both Castle Clinton and Fort Gansevoort offer prime viewpoints to snap pics of passing boats and Lady Liberty.
As you approach the World Trade Center, you'll bike directly alongside the 9/11 Memorial. Seeing the twin reflecting pools and waterfalls rush by is a touching tribute to those lost. Pedal past the soaring new skyscrapers around Battery Park City showcasing NYC's resilience and strength.
End your journey in Battery Park itself, filled with monuments like The Sphere sculpture damaged on 9/11. Stretch your legs on the lush lawn and take in the mighty Statue of Liberty before looping back uptown.
What makes the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway special are the layers of history embedded in the surroundings. Every pier passed tells a story, from arrival point for immigrants to center of commerce and industry. Tracing the edge of Manhattan gives you a newfound appreciation for the kaleidoscope of neighborhoods and cultures fused into one great city.
Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Bike the Queensboro Bridge for Iconic NYC Views
Spanning the East River to connect Manhattan and Queens, the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge provides cyclists with a thrilling ride and panoramic views of New York City. Built in 1909, this cantilever bridge was the longest of its kind in the world at the time. Biking its elevated promenade treats riders to sights of landmarks near and far.
Approaching from Manhattan, cyclists can access the north outer roadway from 60th Street and 1st Ave. Stick to the designated bike and pedestrian lane marked in green. As you start pedaling uphill, look back at Roosevelt Island and the tramway ferrying commuters across the river.
The gradual incline takes you high above the water, sailing alongside vehicles on the lower roadway. But unlike cars, bikes can stop anytime to take in the scenery. Around halfway across, dismount and walk your bike to the side for a stunning photo opp. Position yourself in front of a bridge tower to capture the Empire State Building flanked by the Upper East Side's highrises.
Back on your bike, continue crossing above the swirling river waters as boats and ferries traverse below. Looking straight ahead, the Citigroup Building's slanted roof comes into view, followed by the Chrysler Building's sleek art deco spire.
These midtown icons look impressive, but the real treasure is the view behind you. Turn around to soak in a panorama of Manhattan's legendary skyline, with icons like the Flatiron and MetLife buildings. Let your eyes wander south all the way to the Freedom Tower.
After the final ascent, coast down towards Queens and make a right onto Vernon Blvd. Look left to spot a black and white Pepsi-Cola sign perched along the riverfront, an iconic NYC relic. A bit further, the shiny globes of the Unisphere sculpture loom large, symbols of the 1964 World's Fair grounds.
Turn right on Queens Plaza South to loop back towards the bridge. You'll be rewarded with head-on views of Manhattan's towering skyscrapers, with planes from LaGuardia Airport flying right past them. Glimpse Long Island City's new highrises before approaching the bridge again.
Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Explore Governors Island by Bicycle
Rolling around Governors Island on two wheels offers cyclists an unexpected escape from the hustle of NYC. Just an 800-yard ferry ride from the tip of Manhattan transports you to a tranquil 172-acre oasis filled with village charm. From its historic forts to hammocks swaying between trees, Governors Island feels worlds apart from the big city.
Pedaling the island’s smoothly paved paths reveals its rich history as a strategic military site and former Coast Guard base. Start your ride at the Ferry Landing, where you can rent bikes right on arrival. Then head right towards Fort Jay, one of the oldest forts in America. Its courtyard surrounded by sandstone walls makes a cool spot to explore before hitting the roads again.
Further west, Fort Jay leads into the sprawling open space of Nolan Park. Rows of stately former military homes now house art galleries and cultural institutions. It’s pleasant to pedal past the verdant lawns and vine-covered brick facades.
For panoramic views of New York Harbor, make your way to the highest point – Fort Totten. Positioned on a bluff, the fort's cannons once protected the island from invasion. Gaze at the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge in the distance while appreciating this easily overlooked history.
After snapping photos, coast your bike downhill towards the Southern end of the island. Here you’ll find Hammock Grove, one of Governors Island’s most chill attractions. String up your own hammock between trees or claim a swinging bench. Swaying in the breeze while looking out at the water is the ideal way to press pause on city life.
No cycling trip here is complete without riding over to Picnic Point. This designated picnic spot lives up to its name, with tables overlooking the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan's skyline. Unpack a bike basket feast and Instagram the iconic view before pedaling on.
Further north, bike through the Urban Farm where New Yorkers grow tomatoes, carrots, peas and more. Kids will enjoy seeing chickens, beehives and learning about compost from the onsite Earth Matter educators. Free samples of seasonal produce often await cyclists rolling by.
Of course if you get tired, simply park your bike anywhere and keep exploring Governors Island on foot. Walk through historic Colonels Row lined with charming porches. Catch art exhibits inside centuries-old ammunition warehouses. Or dip your toes in the water at one of the island's peaceful beaches.
Pedal Through the Big Apple: An Avid Cyclist's Guide to New York City's Best Bike Paths - Pedal Past Street Art in Bushwick
No cycling tour through New York captures the city's dynamic art scene quite like a ride through street art haven Bushwick. This Brooklyn neighborhood boasts entire blocks covered in colorful murals, making it a paradise for urban art lovers. Gliding past these larger-than-life masterpieces offers a thrilling and inspiring experience.
Famed artists like DALeast, Beau Stanton and Pixel Pancho all have stunning, multi-story murals displayed across Bushwick. Their surreal works depicting otherworldly creatures and nature scenes stand out in striking contrast to the urban backdrop. Many of the murals contain hidden details that only become apparent when viewed up close while cycling by.
What makes Bushwick's street art special is both the sheer density and jaw-dropping size of many pieces. Entire building facades are transformed into vibrant canvases, depicting everything from fantastical landscapes to social justice imagery. No two blocks look the same. One mural may display a blue leopard with a third eye. Turn the corner and be face-to-face with a five story portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Unlike stuffy art museums, Bushwick's outdoor gallery can be appreciated from a bicycle seat rolling down the street. The murals become part of the neighborhood itself. Locals and tourists alike enjoy the constantly evolving open air exhibit.
Part of the allure is appreciating both the stunning artwork and the urban environment it's grounded in. Many murals incorporate the old factories, warehouses and apartment buildings they cover. The juxtaposition of an elegant naked winged angel against worn red brick is striking.
Visiting Bushwick to marvel at its larger-than-life street art feels like discovering a hidden gem. The neighborhood's creative spirit comes alive in these colorful tributes to imagination. No matter someone's personal taste in art, the sheer ambition and talent on display is undeniable.
Cycling from mural to mural with no strict agenda enhances the experience. Stop and admire the technical skills or expressive designs as long as desired. Capture that perfect Instagram bicycle selfie in front of a towering art deco woman. Notice small details like hidden creatures, textures and messages as you pedal past vibrant alleys.