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The Best Bike Trails for Kids Around NYC

The Best Bike Trails for Kids Around NYC

Here are the best places to ride bikes with kids in NYC, Long Island, Westchester, and Rockland.


Approximately an eon ago, I learned to ride a bike in the driveway of my family’s ranch-style house in Western Massachusetts. My son, a native New Yorker and apartment-dweller, will be learning to ride this spring in a much different environment. Below is a list of the best spots to ride bikes with kids in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester, Rockland, and Long Island. It’s where we’ll be spinning our wheels this year.

Where to Ride Bikes with Kids in Manhattan

Central Park

Generations of New York kids have mastered bike riding on Central Park’s paths. The city’s most famous park has several car-free loops, some of which take you past iconic sights like the Reservoir and Cleopatra’s Needle. Just remember that riding your bike on a pedestrian path below 95th Street is a no-no. Note too that routes are shared with skaters, walkers, runners, and horse carriages, so always be aware of where you’re riding and who you’re riding near, especially when riding with little ones.

Hudson Valley Greenway Trail

With the completion of the Empire State Trail in late 2020, it’s now possible to ride your bike—or stroll, skip, walk, wheel, skate, or jog—from the southern tip of Manhattan up to Buffalo or Vermont. All told, the Y-shaped trail is 750 miles of car-free perfection—the longest multi-use trail in the US. The off-the-road portion of the Hudson Valley Greenway Trail (the Y’s skinny base) runs 12½ miles up the west side of Manhattan along the Hudson River, from the Battery into Inwood Hill, where it meets the road and takes you into the Bronx and beyond.

Governors Island

The fun of Governors Island starts with the short ferry through New York Harbor to the island itself. Once there, you’ll find 7 miles of biking, every inch of which is car-free. Citi Bike maintains three docks on the island, or you can rent bikes and accessories—including scooters as well as balance, multi-rider surrey, and tag-along bikes—from Blazing Saddles. When (or if) you get tired of riding, head down the longest slide in the city (57 feet!). Though it’s currently closed for the season, Governors Island plans to reopen this spring (details haven’t been announced yet.)

Highbridge Park

Washington Heights’ Highbridge Park boasts the best mountain biking in Manhattan. Mountain biking? In Manhattan? Yes, and yes. The trails, which crisscross Fort George Hill, range from less difficult to expert level, so double-check the map (and be realistic about the skills of your young rider). Keep your eyes peeled for the white-footed mouse, which has evolved into a species that’s genetically distinct from other NYC mice.

Hudson River Park

Running 4 miles up Manhattan from Tribeca to Hell’s Kitchen, Hudson River Park has a dedicated, much-loved bike lane. In fact, this bike path is thought to be among the busiest in the US, so beginners might want to tool around one of the park’s piers rather than joining the cycling fray. It has lots of playgrounds, food stands, and public bathrooms too.

Where to Ride Bikes with Kids in Brooklyn

Shore Parkway Greenway 

This scenic trail offers stunning waterfront views from start to finish. Running parallel to the Belt Parkway, the family-friendly, 5-mile trail offers views of Coney Island, Fort Hamilton, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, Fort Wadsworth, the Statue of Liberty, and One World Trade Center. 

Jamaica Bay Greenway

Ambitious riders can bike a complete circle around the 18-mile loop that makes up the Jamaica Bay trail alongside the Gateway National Recreation Area. Families looking to stop for a waterfront picnic will love this trail, which passes through the beachy areas of south Queens. The greenway begins at the entrance to Marine Park, Brooklyn and runs through Canarsie Park & Pier, Fresh Creek Park, Spring Creek Park, over the Addabbo Bridge, past the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, and down to the Rockaways boardwalk. 

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Brooklyn Bridge Park

This trail runs adjacent to the East River between Pier 1 south and Pier 6 (cycling is only permitted on designated bike paths). Riders will enjoy spectacular waterside views of the Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn Bridge, and more. Be sure to stop for a whirl on Jane’s Carousel or to grab lunch at the many delicious eateries in the area.

Ocean Parkway

In 1894, city officials divided Ocean Parkway’s pedestrian path into two, thereby forming the first dedicated bike path in the U.S. Although the park still stretches about 5 miles across Brooklyn, from Prospect Park to Coney Island, its surroundings look a little different than they did when Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed it. The wide, paved path’s proximity to subways and bus routes makes it easy to hop-on, hop-off.

Where to Ride Bikes with Kids in Queens

Astoria Park

Astoria Park makes for a perfect summer outing. You can work up a sweat biking around its 1.2-mile loop, which takes you along the East River and beneath not one but two bridges (Robert F. Kennedy [aka the Triborough] and Hell Gate), and then hop in the city's oldest and largest pool (subject to any Covid-related restrictions, of course). The paved trail can be a bit narrow and a bit steep in some spots, making it best for an older kid or more experienced rider.

Where to Ride Bikes with Kids on Long Island

Ocean Parkway Coastal Greenway

Not to be confused with the one in Brooklyn, Long Island’s Ocean Parkway connects Tobay Beach to Captree State Park. The 14-mile shared use, paved path has gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline, diverse native plants, and beach access—indeed, it allows for riding along the entirety of Jones Beach Barrier Island. Tons of bike parking as well, in case you want to go frolic in the surf.

Where to Ride Bikes with Kids in Westchester & Rockland Counties

Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge Path

The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge—and its biking and pedestrian path—spans Rockland and Westchester counties, high above the Hudson River. It’s 3.6 miles one way, but six overlooks give you the chance to catch your breath and marvel at the beauty of New York state. Follow the bridge’s Twitter account for updates and info about occasional weather-related closures. You can stick your bikes in the trunk of your car and park in a lot, or extend your bike route via the Esposito Trail (Rockland Landing) or the Old Croton Aqueduct and Empire State Trails (Westchester Landing).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Bronx River Pathway

The Bronx River Pathway parallels the Bronx River, and has three paved sections of varying lengths, from a mile-long loop to a 5-mile stretch. Starting in May and running through October, the county generally prohibits car traffic as part of its Bicycle Sundays program (check the Westchester Parks Foundation’s website for details). The broad paved path makes it a great choice for families of varying degrees of bike-riding experience.  

 

Looking to rent a bike? Here's where to rent bicycles in NYC.

Citi Bike

Thousands of bikes are currently available for New Yorkers to rent at hundreds of stations through this program, which is expected to continue to expand its New York City locations.

Bike Rent NYC 

Bike rentals in Central Park, Riverside Park, East River Park and Highbridge Park. Offers a variety of conventional bikes, as well as kids bikes, tandem bikes, and child seats.

Wheel Fun 

Rentals of bikes are available at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, Marine Park and Bensonhurst Park in Brooklyn, and at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk on Staten Island.

 

RELATED: How to Buy the Right Kids Bike 

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