Three Great NYC Bike Rides

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.

  1. Dee says...

    I would never recommend a bike ride through Brooklyn Bridge. It’s super congested with pedestrians that don’t respect the bike lane, but then again it’s so crowded it’s hard to blame them.

    I would detour through Manhattan Bridge, has it’s own bike lane and overall less crowded.

  2. Hell yeah, nothing like eating 1400 calories of pasta and chicken, browsing fatpeoplehate to inflate my body dismorphia and then working out for 2 Wouldn’t be a Saturday without

  3. Natalie says...

    Do you have any recommendation on renting bike in the city or Brooklyn? Thanks for the great article!

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  6. Looking forward to exploring these rides in the evening, with lights of course… A safe ride thru the city. Thanks so much for the great blog posts.

  7. I am SO glad I found this article for three reasons: 1. I just brought a cute teal cruiser bike with me to the NYC and haven’t seen anyone else with a cruiser bike until I saw a photo of yours! Relief! 2. I definitely have the same nervousness you said, so this post gave me the confidence boost I need to use my bike more often. 3. I love the routes you gave… I’ve done the Central Park loop and now I want to try the Hudson River Greenway thanks to your post!!! xx Raychel

  8. I too would love to know where those flats came from. Im looking for new summer shoes!

  9. I can’t wait to bike in NYC and your other suggestion of sailing in the East or Hudson Rivers this summer. (ps – in #2, you mention MoMA, but that’s on 53rd at 5/6. I think you mean the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park).

  10. thank you for this amazing post, I’ll save it for my next trip to NY!
    Like others I’d really love if you give us some tips on the brown leather flats you were wearing in the last pic!!

  11. I’ll definitely be coming back to these suggested routes on my next trip to NYC. Thanks for these!!

  12. I live in a small town in Germany where everyone rides to work, to the supermarket, to take kids to school… I’ve been living here for two and a half years now and I’m still scared of riding here!!! I can’t imagine how it would be in a city like New York!!! Anyway, those routes look awesome! They make me want to buy a bike and take it to NY with me!



  13. Three things

    1. Great post. I’m bookmarking for future NYC trips.
    2. I lived in Paris for a year and only saw 3 people wearing helmets the whole time. The whole world manages to not wear helmets but some dude decides to start a campaign in the 80’s about helmet safety and the whole country has to conform or they get a lecture.
    3. Occasionally, because of my lack of planning or forgetfulness I find I need to purchase a bottle of water. I like Poland Spring.

  14. Joanna,

    Thanks for the fun bike routes you wrote about today – I can’t wait to try them out in the coming year when I move to New York for college! I have so much fun reading your NYC guides, and stockpiling tips for what to visit.

    I am sad to say, though, that I was disappointed in your chosen sponsor for this post, a bottled water company (and, having read the comments and learning that the parent company was Nestle, even more so). I am very aware that this blog is your way of supporting your family, and thus necessitates having sponsored posts to make that idea possible. However, I wish that the values you portray about your lifestyle would compliment the ones offered in your sponsored posts. Just last summer you wrote about how much you liked your BKR water bottle, because it was sustainable and environmentally friendly, yet today you are advertising single-use bottles detrimental to the environment? That just doesn’t make sense to me.

    I have been reading your blog for at least three years now, and was initially drawn to it because of your honesty and straight-forward, casual writing style, not to mention the wonderful fashion, photography, travel, and lifestyle ideas you wrote about. I still love the majority of your content, but I just can’t get behind supporting brands that aren’t good – and are contradictory to what you’ve said previously.

    I apologize for my bluntness, but I’ve been feeling this way for a while. I know that I’m just one reader from across the country, but I hope that you will value my feedback nonetheless.

  15. Seems like a perfect way to spend a summer day in New York City :)

  16. i wondering visit NYC someday :)

  17. I live in Cobble Hill and one of my fav bike rides in Brooklyn that we do over and over again is down Columbia St south of Atlantic Ave (stop at Alma for awesome views of the city and upscale mexican food), swing over to Van Brunt and then to Inlay St to Conover St towards Fairway where you’ll pass the Brooklyn Cruise terminal and lots of quiet, industrial goodness. Stop by Cacao Prieto for craft chocolate and the little charming outpost of Steve’s Key Lime Pie, then to Fairway’s outdoor patio for boat watching (a big hit with our 2 y.o.). If we’re feeling adventurous we’ll ride over to Ikea and hang out around their awesome waterfront area, then head back up Van Brunt St and wonder why we ate a key lime pie when we could have gotten a brownie at Baked. The streets are quiet on the weekends and great for a safe bike ride with the little one.

  18. girlfriend, you are too beloved, wear a helmet!:)

  19. Hi!

    I have a strange question to ask… The tan, basket weave flats you’re wearing in the last photo, where are they from?! I saw them in one of your posts last year and spent all summer looking for flats like that and have been on the hunt again this year. You would not believe the amount of time I’ve spent looking for shoes like that…

  20. All these ideas are awesome! Wish I wass in NYC right now! XO

  21. You’re so lucky to live in such a vibrant place with loads to do an beautiful views!

  22. Citi Bikes = awesome!

    One tip on my end- take the Manhattan Bridge instead of the Brooklyn Bridge. Manhattan has a dedicated bike path while you end up dodging tourists on foot on the BKB.

  23. We rent a bike on our first visit to NYC with my husband (boyfriend at that time!) and we really enjoyed it a lot!

  24. Joanna, your shoes in the bottom photo are amazing. I need a pair to complete my summer wardrobe!

    Biking this way looks like a wonderful thing to put on a weekend to-do list. I actually live quite a ways away in West Virginia, but our state is also perfect for these sorts of rides. Only, you might get quite a bit more nature and less people. I need a new bike so my little one and I can hit the road!

  25. This looks amazing- I’d LOVE to do the central park loop. If I ever get back to NYC, I will DEFINITELY be doing this!! xx

  26. I see how you eloquently snuck ‘bucolic’ in there! Nice one – in reference to a post a while ago about increasing ones vocab…
    I for one have learnt a new word – and a lovely one at that. Thank Joanna :)

  27. I love the photos! I lived in SF and have never thought of NYC as a biking city. Nice to see this.

    *People need to relax about the sponsorship. You’ve explained before the need to make a living from this blog. Seriously people, if you don’t like bottled water don’t buy it. I don’t – but, I don’t get all huffy when I see an ad for it. That’s all this was, an ad. She didn’t prominently feature the product in her photos or write about it at length. It seems like all of her sponsored posts lately draw flak from someone. Do you think she should spend all of her time working on this blog for free? Would you be wiling to pay handsomely for a subscription in order to read her blog? No? Then cut it out.

    • I don’t think it is the sponsorship per se that is bothersome to some readers, rather it is the choice of this specific sponsor. Poland Spring/Nestle (and bottled water in general) is an odd choice given Joanna’s many previous mentions of a pursuit of a “healthy, all natural” lifestyle. Sponsors like, Honest, Pinhole Press, etc. seem much more congruent with the typical content of this blog. This sponsor doesn’t quite fit as well (kinda like that Best Buy post from last year), no matter how lovely the post/ad might be. And, sure, a dollar is a dollar: I’d just like to think this blog is established enough to be a bit more discriminating in deciding whence those dollars come.

  28. helmet! helmet! helmet! perhaps dorky, but so important…especially since you’re pregnant dear!

  29. Boston has the Hubway system (, which just started a few years ago. There are stations all over the city; you just swipe your card and go. Then you return your bike to any Hubway station and you’re all set. The bike elitists look at you a bit funny when you’re cruising on your Hubway, but you’re generally having too much fun to care.

  30. This is so great! I’ve always been afraid to ride a bike in the city but there are some Citi bikes near me so I feel like I should give it try!

  31. the internet needs to chill

  32. I have actually done the first bike ride route you suggested, but walked it! My feet were killing me after, however my friends and I grabbed shake shack in Brooklyn then ate it under the bridge in the park – so worth it!

  33. Oh, and Citi Bikes only go as far north in Manhattan as 60th Street. Guessing I won’t be trying them anytime soon…but I love my Globe commuter (aluminum so it does not rust like a Linus) so that’s ok, I guess.

  34. I commute by bike from 140th Street and Broadway to 66th, Lincoln Center. I sometimes take the Greenway, but honestly, I hate that it rides right along the highway, and it is so narrow, and often crowded. I normally ride along Riverside Drive to 116th Street where I enter Riverside Park and take the bike path through the park until 72nd Street. Many people do not know that there is a bike path through Riverside Park, but there it is, lovely and green and quiet, going through beautiful gardens. Major plus is no huge hill to climb on the way home! Just one brief hill, and you’re done!

  35. It’s usually kind of crowded but biking Governor’s Island and then having a picnic is one of my favorite summer treats!

  36. Joanna–
    I’ve been a LONG time reader and lover of your blog, but I have to say–I’m totally dismayed by the Poland Spring sponsorship. Poland Spring–and its parent corporation, Nestle–has attempted to change the way we think about water, turning what needs to be a human right into a commodity to be bought and sold. Not to mention that a lot of bottled water is simply tap water taken from communities, put into a bottle a sold back to you, but without the thorough regulation and disclosure required of public water systems. There’s a lot more on this here: but as someone who I imagine is an environmentalist and concerned with developing communities around the world, I definitely encourage you to rethink the Poland Spring sponsorship in the future!

    • Respectfully, I have to say that I agree with Juliana.

    • This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. Last time we came to New York, we cycled right down the Huson River from Hell’s Kitchen, up the East side and then across into Central Park, where we did the loop.It was fantastic! Something I’ve been meaning to do for years. Next time I can try one of your other bike rides – thanks!

  38. Joanna, thanks so much for the Shake Shack shout-out! Biking in the city’s awesome, and we love how close to the river our Battery Park City Shack is. Hope our team sees you and your fam again soon!

    -Brandy, Shake Shack

  39. So fun. We have public bikes in Denver as well — we love the B-cycles!!

  40. I’ve never even been to New York, but when I go, I definitely want to rent a bike for a day! Thanks for sharing!

  41. Thanks, Joanna! I’m moving to NYC in a week for the whole summer and was wondering how safe it would be to ride a bike in the city. You’ve eased some of my worries.

    PS: In reference to some of the comments above: “HATERS GONNA HATE”

  42. Thanks for sharing this! I love biking, but have always been skeptical about biking in the city. I’m moving to NYC in a few months, so I’m saving all these little tips & suggestions :)

  43. There is also a documentary called ‘Flow: For Love of Water’ that is very informative…

  44. Please wear a helmet!

    Poland Spring bottled water? No way!

  45. I love your blue/ chambray shorts where are they from? :)

  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

  47. A great ride in Brooklyn is from the Williamsburg Bridge riding north along the water on the greenway into Greenpoint and back. There are lovely stops along the way, plus a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline the whole way. I actually bought my bike in Cobble Hill and rode the ferry from Brooklyn Bridge Park to Williamsburg, and then did this ride- the whole thing was fun! Plus on Saturdays Smorgasburg is in Williamsburg and you’ll ride right by.

  48. Reading your blog makes me sooo antsy to come and visit NYC someday soon!!! I have only ever visited in the winter, but I think summer/fall would be a blast :)

  49. Very disappointed to see a bottled water company such as poland springs sponsoring this post.

  50. Would love if you did a blog post on wearing helmets and how to buy a fashionable one that will keep you safe. Also, can you share a few tips on how to style your hair while wearing a helmet? Like when you’re biking to meet friends or a date for a drink or dinner?

  51. @Maryann, due to bike theft (boo), Jonna has had a number of bikes. The Black Linus is the Dutchi model (I just ordered one last week in 3-speed, also black) and the cream mixte is a Public bike (M3 or M8?), which was stolen, I think, not long ago. They are both gorgeous bikes! I’ve heard mixed reviews of the Linus saddles. The Mixte saddle on the Linus is more “road-ish” and doesn’t have springs. Many people trade up to Brooks (but lock it to the frame if you do – they are easy fodder with quick release or an Allen wrench).

    Is the Linus the latest bike, Joanna? Would love a review.

    Yay for bikes! I live in St. Louis, MO and I’m a little nervous about commuting to work, but I intend to try, and to try to replace short car errands with short bike errands. Cheers and happy riding!

  52. Thanks for sharing this! I will tuck this post away for my next trip…hopefully next year sometime!

  53. Definitely great places.
    I whish I could ride bike in NY.

  54. I tried out the citi bike system yesterday, in brooklyn. It was marvelous. I am so excited about the possibilities!! We used the system in Paris (on vacation) and just loved it.

    Do wear a helmet though.

  55. I am terrified of riding my bike in any city, but now that I am moving to a less-hilly part, I think I will be brave and give it a go, staying on the bike lanes for sure though. Hungarian drivers can be crazy.
    By the way, I also love your shoes in the last picture. Where are they from?

  56. Please wear a helmet!! I had a bike Vs Car crash a couple years back and the only thing that saved me was my helmet!! Rides look lovely though! x

    • I agree, I grew up in Europe. However, in Europe there are often a designated lane for bikes and drivers are generally more conscious about bikers. I didn’t wear a helmet in Europe, but now I do here.

  57. What shoes are you wearing in the bottom photo? I love them!

  58. Lay off with the helmets – people ride all over Europe without helmets and it is shown to be equally safe.

    • Wrong ! Check the statistics on bicycle deaths in NYC…
      Something like 90% of the fatalities were not wearing a helmet… It’s sort of like wearing a seatbelt… slightly restrictive, but definitely much safer….

  59. These rides are gorgeous and I love that you are your family are so passionate about such a healthy, fun, ecologically sound activity, which is why it makes me so sad that this post is sponsored by a bottled-water company. Not only are plastic bottles wreaking havoc on our planet, but the companies who keep producing these bottles are buying up our precious water resources and packaging them up and selling it back to us. And we let them. As these companies buy up more and more of our water, there will be less and less available straight from our tap. Water will become as rare as the oil we fight wars about.

    I love your blog so much, Joanna, and I know you try to be environmentally-friendly with all the products you use so as to protect you and your sweet Toby. That’s why I hope you take this to heart and think more carefully about your sponsors the next time. We should all be supporting companies that do good for our fragile planet, not companies who destroy it.

    • wholeheartedly agree- glad someone else brought this up!

  60. Can’t wait to try these routes out :) Saw a TON of people on Citi Bikes yesterday. I think full-year members were the only ones allowed on the bikes and then everyone can jump on next weekend. Rich Sommer (Harry Crane from Mad Men) flew by us on a bright blue Citi Bike right by Union Square! So cool :)

  61. Great post! Hate to be the person who side-steps the content to ask about the clothes…but where are the cute brown leather flats from?!

  62. Great to know, putting this info in my back pocket for my next trip back east.

  63. I have the same bike! (the Linus Mixte) I’m curious about the saddle on the cream-colored mixte (third photo down). Do you like it? I’m on a perpetual hunt for a comfy saddle. My husband calls me Goldilocks. I have yet to find a good one!

    Those three rides look so fun- would love to explore NYC on bike. Thanks for sharing.

    • Oops! Replied at the end instead of to you, but see comments about bikes/saddles, below. Cheers!

    • Thanks for the info, Rebecca! So sad to hear re: bike thefts, though. That stinks!
      I did trade up my Linus saddle to a Brooks saddle, but really did not like the brooks saddle. So the hunt continues…:)

  64. I hope you just took your helmet off for the photos!!

  65. you bike by the met (not MoMA) in central park

  66. Can’t wait to try these bike rides out as a new New Yorker. :) Great way to explore the city!

  67. Do you think these bike rides are appropriate for 8 yr old and 11 yr olds? Did you notice if the rental shops have youth sized bikes?

  68. Do you think these bike rides are appropriate for 8 yr old and 11 yr olds? Did you notice if the rental shops have youth sized bikes?

  69. just saw in the NYT”s yesterday that the bike sharing is starting this summer…Now wear a helmet girl!

  70. Have never tried the first two but have done the hudson river park greenway, well not the whole way but pretty far up.
    I’d love to do the brooklyn bridge. Now that NYC is getting those bikes on streets all over the city that you rent (my bike has been stolen 3 times) I will definitely be doing that this summer.
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    xo Quinn

    Quinn Cooper Style