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New York City’s 5 Most Scenic Bike Lanes

New York is a beautiful city. Because of its undeniable role as a commercial capital, a breeding ground of arts and innovation, and a swirling 24-hour hodgepodge of global cultures, people often overlook it as a visually stunning place to visit. Home to some of the most famous landmarks in the world, thousands of acres of landscaped natural splendor, and a diverse array of architectural styles spanning centuries, this metropolis is truly a feast for the eyes.

The best part? So many of its most glorious sights are accessible by bike. It would be impossible to rank New York’s bike lanes based on accessibility to significant destinations, but based solely on sheer beauty, a few notable trails come to mind. Here are the five most scenic bike lanes in New York City.

Hudson River Greenway

The undisputed heavyweight champion of urban cycling, this 11-mile car-free bike route is the most heavily used bikeway in the country. Spanning the entire west side of Manhattan, it’s part of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway, which connects Maine to Florida. With views of the Hudson River and New Jersey skyline on one side, and some of Manhattan’s greatest hits on the other, this is the quintessential Big Apple bike path. Riders will pass the George Washington Bridge, Riverside Park, The 79th Street Boat Basin, The Intrepid, Hudson Yards, Chelsea Piers, Hudson River Park, and Battery Park. Throughout the ride, views of New York’s most famous landmarks seemingly never cease to emerge. 

Central Park

What more can be said about the iconic six-mile loop through the heart of America’s most-visited public green space? While pro level cyclists could complete this hypnotizing oval in under 20 minutes, one could spend a lifetime stopping at every nook and cranny along the way. The Literary Walk and Bethesda Terrace are spectacular for old-world formality. The Lake and Bow Bridge are ingrained into Hollywood history. Cleopatra’s needle is a real-life relic from ancient Egypt. While the park contains 24,000 trees and 815 varieties of plants, Shakespeare Garden and Conservatory Garden are best for flora-lovers. With a few exhilarating hills, the Central Park bike loop is sure to get the heart rate up and yearning for more.

Ocean Parkway

Typical New York iconography is a whirlwind of imposing skyscrapers, fluorescent lights, and honking yellow cabs. Ocean Parkway offers none of that. Instead, riders along this leafy five-mile thoroughfare from Prospect Park to Brighton Beach will enjoy a calm journey through some of South Brooklyn’s most revered neighborhoods: Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Midwood, Homecrest, Gravesend, and Coney Island. Often called America’s First Bike Lane, the grand cycling boulevard was completed in 1866, and modeled after Avenue de l’Impératrice in Paris and Unter der Linden in Berlin. Cyclists can expect a healthy dose of Maple, Oak, Elm, Sycamore, and Ginkgo trees, playing tables, benches, high-rises, row houses, and mansions. This is a side of Brooklyn tourists rarely see. 

Governors Island

There’s something magical about Governors Island. Rife with history as a home for Colonial governors and a crucial military base, the 172-acre hilly isle is only accessible by ferries from Manhattan and Brooklyn. Some visit it for cultural festivals like the Jazz Age Lawn Party and the New York City Poetry Festival. Some visit it for its astounding 141 varieties of domestic and imported trees which are easily seen from a smattering of free lawn chairs and hammocks. We visit it for the seven miles of car-free biking and its gorgeous coastal views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, New Jersey, and the Statue of Liberty.

Prospect Park 

Central Park may be instantly recognizable, but its designers believed their true masterpiece was just across the East River. With an abundance of rolling hills and panoramic vistas, Prospect Park’s 3.35-mile bike loop is a cyclist’s dream. Passing ornate arches, immaculate meadows, Brooklyn’s only lake, forest, and zoo, and with some of the best people watching on the planet, cycling in Prospect Park is a phenomenal local-centric alternative to the ever-popular Central Park loop. On Saturdays, feel free to sample homegrown flavors from Greenmarket Farmers Market on the loop’s northern end. On Sundays, get lost in eclectic Afro-Caribbean rhythms at the long-standing Drummer’s Grove on the southern end. 

If you are looking to rent a bike in New York City, Unlimited Biking has got you covered! Unlimited Biking offers numerous rental options that accommodate your plan for the day in the city! Rent a bike from one of their 2 locations and get to exploring!

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