In an effort to flatten the curve and keep public transport safe for essential workers, New Yorkers have been turning to self-powered transport. So although the cultural institutions and the events our city is famous for have been predominantly cancelled, rescheduled, or turned into virtual experiences for preventative safety measures in the wake of the pandemic, we can still take advantage of its plethora of lovely green spaces and ever-expanding bike routes (so far). Even with PAUSE measures in place, it is still important to get some good solo exercise. Get outdoors and journey to these open-air destinations. Of course, maintain proper social distancing and hygienic habits while on the road!
1. Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway
Photos courtesy Brooklyn Greenway Initiative
The 26 miles of protected and landscaped routes for pedestrians and cyclists on the Brooklyn Greenway will be fully completed in 2021, but 18 miles of the waterfront bikes lanes are open in Williamsburg, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Bay Ridge, Red Hook, and along the Belt Parkway.
The Bay Ridge section is notable for it’s sweeping views of the Verrazano; while along the Belt discover a protected, underutilized swath of Jamaica Bay beaches and coves. South Brooklyn is also home to Floyd Bennett Field. Part of the Gateway National Park, it boasts lots of wide open spaces and small hikes, such as the North Forty Natural Area. And currently on the calendar for May 31st is the Greenway Ride, a 26-mile ride that goes through all of the navigable parts of the Greenway (and the interior streets when need be) starting in Greenpoint and ending with a party at the new Shirley Chisholm State Park.
2. Randall’s Island
Reachable from three (!) of our five boroughs via walkable and bikeable bridges and connectors, Randall’s Island has no full-time residents or major businesses, no doubt lending to the aura of parklike tranquility. Once on the 480-acre island (learn more about its rich history here, hike or bike its eight miles of pathways, check out the extensive gardens and waterfront wetlands, or perform some bodyweight exercises on the multiple athletic fields. There are also some nice cherry blossoms to take in, but keep social distance from others!
Get to Randall’s Island from Manhattan on the Ward Island Bridge, from the Bronx via the Randall’s Island Connector in Port Morris, and from Queens via the Triboro Bridge.
3. Mosholu-Pelham Greenway in the Bronx
For a real workout, start at Van Cortlandt Park, and head south along the Mosholu Parkway bike path. Past the grounds of the New York Botanical Garden (currently closed) head due east along the East Coast Greenway. At the end of this approximately 12-mile journey, you’ll arrive at New York City’s largest park, Pelham Bay. Take in the quiet scenes, take a deep breath, and be thankful.
You can also check out historic finds in Pelham Bay, like the Bartow Pell Mansion Museum, notable sculptures, and the huge Orchard Beach. See more in our guide to Pelham Bay Park. Very soon, we will be doing a livestream tour of Pelham Bay Park for our Untapped New York Insiders, part of the virtual content they receive as members. Become a member to join in!
4. Hudson River Greenway
Manhattan’s west side is made up of a series of fabulous esplanades, especially beautiful for catching the sunset. From the George Washington Bridge to Battery Park is a nearly uninterrupted twelve miles. Check out the secrets of Hudson River Park to find some unique places to take in.
Dream of the tours we’ll be doing this summer of the Little Red Lighthouse, and if you’re feeling really punchy, round the southern tip for views of the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge, and head north along the East River Greenway.
5. Northern Central Park
The area of Central Park above Onassis Reservoir is often overlooked in favor of the Manhattan park’s touristy southern realm. Hit the open road and explore the environs of the North Meadow, the Ravine, and the Harlem Meer. This is also a great trek on foot. Before you go, check out the extensive renovation plans that are coming to this northern part of Central Park.
We know there are plenty of other places to bike in New York City, including Prospect Park, and more. Feel free to comment below to suggest additional locations for our readers to take in the great outdoors!
Next, check out the 12 largest parks in NYC, another great set of options for outdoor activity.