Summer is finally here, which means it’s time to soak up the sun while cruising around the city on a bike, my friends. Whether you have a fixie, a fancy road bike complete with one of those matching spandex outfits, or just a Citibike membership, now is the time to explore Brooklyn the way god (or whatever you believe in) intended: on two wheels. So buckle your helmet, put on your most comfortable pair of shorts (preferably padded!) and get ready to sweat — but not too much because there’s always a breeze when you’re riding a bike.
1. Prospect Park
There’s no better place to begin biking in Brooklyn than in its biggest park. Start by entering at spectacular Grand Army Plaza, then take it slow in the huge bike lane or join the spandex-clad mass of men whipping around the park in circles like they’re competing in the Tour de France. There are a few paths that’ll take you into the park, including two that cut right through the middle in case you want to explore, gaze at the lake, plop down for a picnic or just drink some water under the shade of a tree. It’s easy to tour landmarks like the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and the Prospect Park Zoo, to leave the park and check out the gorgeous neighborhoods that border it, or to visit the nearby Brooklyn Museum. If you want to treat yourself to a drink, exit at the south end of the park and bike a few blocks to Sycamore Bar + Flower Shop, a cozy bourbon bar that doubles as, well, a flower shop.
2. Kent Avenue Waterfront
If you want to see some stunning waterfront views, head down (or up!) the Kent Avenue bike path, which begins in South Williamsburg and goes all the way up through Greenpoint. Take a break along the way at the newly opened Domino Park or duck over to McCarren Park to people watch. Grab a drink at Greenpoint mainstay Ramona or head to the Brooklyn Barge for tacos and beers. If you’re feeling adventurous, keep going right over the Pulaski Bridge into Long Island City and catch a live comedy show at the Creek and the Cave.
3. Brooklyn Bridge Park
Speaking of waterfronts, south Brooklyn offers offers perhaps the most incredible views of lower Manhattan — and there’s a bike path from which you can take it all in. Start at beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park, where you can see both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges crossing into the city, then bike down through the park all the way to quiet Red Hook, a neighborhood that’s truly unlike any other in New York City. Lock up your bike and stroll around the cobblestone streets, get some grub at Hometown Barbecue, grab a drink at Sunny’s Bar, fill your backpack with groceries from Fairway, then make your way over to Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies to grab a treat to enjoy while you sit in the grass and take in one of the very best views of the Statue of Liberty.
4. The Rockaways
One of the most underrated benefits of living in New York City is how accessible it is to great beaches. My personal favorite is Fort Tilden which, while technically in Queens, also happens to provide a great excuse to bike all the way through Brooklyn. While it depends on your starting point, it’ll almost certainly be a long ride (it takes me about an hour and a half) but trust me — it’s worth it. If possible, I recommend taking Bedford Avenue all the way down to the waterfront. It’s the most foolproof and direct route and there’s a bike lane the entire way, plus you’ll get a great tour of beautiful neighborhoods like Ditmas Park. When you finally make it to the Rockaways, pick up something to eat at the boardwalk (I recommend the nachos from Comostamos — you earned them!) before collapsing onto the sand or wading into the ocean to cool off (then collapsing on the sand). Relax for a few hours, then hop back onto your bike and pedal home or, if your legs still feel like jelly, call an Uber and throw your bike in the back. There’s no shame in getting a ride — you already got plenty of exercise!
5. Coney Island
If you don’t want to go all the way out the Rockaways — or if you’re more interested in hot dogs and rollercoasters than surf and sand — Coney Island is easily accessible by bike as well. Make your way from your starting point to Ocean Parkway, where you can cruise down the separate bike lane through peaceful neighborhoods, taking the opportunity to relax before you join the lively chaos of the always crowded boardwalk.
6. The Williamsburg Bridge
There’s nothing quite like biking over the water from Brooklyn to Manhattan (or vice versa), and my favorite bridge to cross by far is the Williamsburg. The bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge is always flooded with pedestrians, and while the ride over the Manhattan Bridge is lovely, it’s not quite as spectacular as crossing the Williamsburg. Like the Manhattan, the Williamsburg has a separate bike lane. Unlike the Manhattan, which ends in a particularly bustling section of Chinatown, the Williamsburg lets you off on the Lower East Side, where you can ride up picturesque Clinton Street from Delancey. If you need a break after climbing that giant hill (the Williamsburg Bridge is steep), continue up Avenue B and find a bench in Tompkins Square Park, or grab an outdoor table at Maiden Lane so you can treat yourself to a glass of wine and a snack.
7. Spin Class at Crunch Fitness
If there’s one thing I love more than riding my bike around Brooklyn, it’s riding a stationary bike in a loud, dark room in Brooklyn. While many swear by SoulCycle, Flywheel or other $30 a class cycling gyms, I’m here to tell you they don’t hold a candle to the classes at Crunch, which happen to come unlimited with your membership (this isn’t sponsored, I swear!). That’s right — you can attend a spin class every day for a month and it would still cost less than three SoulCycle classes. It’s not just about the price, however. The instructors at Crunch (particularly in Brooklyn) are incredible and the equipment is top notch. I’m not religious, but I go to Nathalie G.’s spin class every Sunday like it’s church and it’s the highlight of my week. There are several Crunch locations in Brooklyn where you can ride your heart out any day, rain or shine, without even having to put on a helmet.