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Spring has officially arrived in New York, and for some of us, that means ditching the indoor spin bike and heading outside. Cycling is a great way to not only get some exercise and much-needed fresh air but also to explore the city, which is emerging from its winter slumber.
Whether it’s your first time visiting or you’ve been to New York countless times before, cycling is a great way to see an undiscovered side of the city. Explore a corner of Manhattan you’ve never seen before, or venture into a new borough; break a sweat or take it easy; return to a favorite route or blaze a new trail: These are five of the best cycling routes in Manhattan.
On a balmy spring day, there are few better ways to enjoy the greenery of Manhattan than with a brisk 6.2-mile bike ride around Central Park. This loop follows the main roadway of Central Park, and though you’ll be sharing with pedestrians, joggers, and squirrels, this is one of the few areas of the city that’s (mostly) car-free.
This Citi Bike-recommended route takes you from the High Line elevated park—which now begins in the Hudson Yards neighborhood of New York City on the far west side—to the Williamsburg Bridge, in the Lower East Side. Frustratingly, bicycles are not allowed on the High Line itself, but you can walk along the path from Hudson Yards, to Chelsea, to the Meatpacking District before getting on your bike and heading East. This 16-mile route is all about visiting different New York neighborhoods, so when the High Line terminates at 14th Street, pick up designated bike lanes and cycle southeast through Greenwich Village, the West Village, past Washington Square Park, and into the East Village. Continue on until you find yourself in the Lower East Side. If that was just your idea of a warm-up, you can continue over the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn.
There are few bike routes in the city as scenic as the Hudson River Greenway, which is all about the view of the Hudson River and New Jersey. This 11- to 13-mile route originates in The Battery, a 25-acre public park on the southernmost tip of Manhattan and passes the World Trade Center, the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, and the cherry tree-filled Riverside Park. You’ll see the historic Little Red Lighthouse and the piers along the Hudson.
Cyclists starting their tour of New York City in The Battery may choose to head east instead, following the East River Greenway north toward 125th Street in Harlem. Just note that many cyclists choose to stay below 34th Street, as there’s a lengthy gap in the greenway known for especially bad traffic. If you decide to tackle the entire stretch, you’re looking at a ride just shy of 10 miles. You’ll enjoy views of some of the most iconic bridges in the city and pass through many parks. Just be extra cautious on this route.
For a real change of scenery, head to Roosevelt Island, which has a lovely 4-mile bike path that passes a number of 19th-century landmarks. There’s a tram that will take you to Roosevelt Island, but serious cyclists may prefer to bike over the Queensboro Bridge and then cross the Roosevelt Island Bridge in Queens. From Midtown Manhattan, that could add another 5 miles to your cycling excursion — but biking on both bridges can be tricky, so this add-on is not for novices cyclists.
There’s so much more to explore in New York City. Check out our NYC Travel Guide for recommendations on where to eat and what to do here in New York.