Ten years ago, when I got my first bike in New York City, I was definitely nervous to ride it around town. Would I spend the whole time dodging cabs and pedestrians? But I was surprised to discovered beautiful routes that feel breezy and bucolic—where you can soar over bridges, pedal under magnolia trees or visit a little red lighthouse. Here’s a guide to three amazing rides, sponsored by Poland Spring


1. Across the Brooklyn Bridge, from Manhattan to Dumbo. Ride across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Dumbo. Hang out in Brooklyn Bridge Park, where you can ride the carousel and skip rocks in the river. On Sundays in the summer, have lunch at the fantastic food fair Schmorgasburg (I’d recommend the chicken caesar burger). On warm evenings, bring blanket and watch outdoor movies like Vertigo and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Here’s a map of a sample ride.

2. Central Park Loop. The 6.1-mile loop through Central Park is gorgeous, treelined and often free of cars. You’ll hear musicians strumming guitars in the grass, ride under the magnolia trees, wave to the horse-drawn carriages and pass sparkling lakes, the Museum of Modern Art and the Central Park carousel. Tip: After working up an appetite, head to the nearby Levain Bakery for a thick, gooey chocolate chip cookie (“the most divine,” according to the New York Times) or head up to the Met roof garden overlooking the park. Here’s a map of the loop.

3. The Hudson River Greenway. You can ride this waterfront path all the way from Battery Park to the Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge. There are lovely stops along the way: Battery Park City downtown has views of the Statue of Liberty and sailboats on the Hudson River; and you can stop for burgers and milkshakes at Shake Shack. Uptown, you can stop to read the paper or enjoy a picnic in Riverside Park overlooking the water (keep an eye out for a funny green parrot, who hangs out there with his owners and will sweetly ask, “You want some breakfast?”). In a few places—downtown, midtown and uptown—you can cool off with free kayaking. Here’s a map of the entire waterfront bike path around Manhattan. Our favorite 12-mile ride goes from Battery Park up to the George Washington Bridge and is almost completely flat, but you can create your own ride by starting and stopping wherever you’d like—it’s all beautiful!

Happy riding! Where do you like biking in New York City? I’d love to hear your tips, especially about Brooklyn…And has anyone tried the new Citi Bikes?

P.S. Bike rush hour and the complete Cup of Jo Guide to NYC.

(Top and bottom photos of me by Shannen Norman for Cup of Jo. Central Park photo via Gothamist. Hudson River Greenway photo by Biking in Manhattan. Brooklyn Bridge nighttime photo by Hither & Thither. Little Red Lighthouse photo by the Bridge and Tunnel Club. Met rooftop photo by the Met. Photos of the green parrot and me on the Brooklyn Bridge by Alex)
This post is brought to you by Poland Spring® 100% Natural Spring Water. Thank you so much for supporting the sponsors that make Cup of Jo possible.