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Kid-friendly bike trails in NYC for a fun family outing

Explore the city and burn some energy on these kid-friendly bike trails in NYC

Written by
Oliver Strand
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NYC offers plenty of opportunities for kids to get outside and stretch their legs. From amazing playgrounds to hiking trails for the whole family, the things to do outside with kids in NYC are endless. For those who like zipping around on two wheels, these kid-friendly bike trails in NYC are perfect for a family outing that lets you see the sights and burn some energy.

While there are some amazing bike paths around the city offering unmatched adventure and scenery, they may be a little difficult (like the steep Brooklyn Bridge bike trail) or overrun with speedy cyclists (Prospect Park) — not the best choice for the kiddos. But these kid-friendly bike paths, from the Bronx to Battery Park City, are well-maintained and comfortable for all ages and all levels of cycling ability.

After a day of biking around the city with the kids, there’s no shortage of options to reward a hard day of play. Stop by a top ice cream shop or a fun, kid-friendly restaurant that the whole family will enjoy.

Kid friendly bike trails in NYC

One of the greatest urban parks anywhere in the world, Governor's Island is 172 acres of bucolic landscapes with a whopping 7 miles of car-free bike paths. Getting there is a commitment, but the payoff is well worth it: Bring your own bikes on the ferry, or rent one on the island (there are even three CitiBike docks), and enjoy what is surely the best family-friendly biking in NYC! Visit the Hammock Grove, check out the longest slide in New York, catch a free concert or simply explore one of the best public spaces in the city.

The Rockaway Beach Boardwalk got a much-needed restoration after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area, and now the waterfront has one of the best family-friendly bike paths in NYC. The waterfront bike path shares the boardwalk with pedestrians, which means two things. One, you need to be mindful of foot traffic. Two, cyclists can't get too speedy, making this perfect for young bikers. The path is basically flat and goes for miles, from Beach 19 to Beach 126, with tons of water fountains, bathrooms and concessions on the way. Oh yeah: There's a beach, too. If you want to make this even more of an adventure, you can get to the Rockaways on the bike-friendly NYC Ferry!

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Straight talk: Central Park can be a nightmare for cycling families thanks to the biking bros shooting by at 35 mph and shouting "move to the side!" So here's the plan—ignore the loops and head up to the North Meadow, where cyclists and pedestrians share the paths at 96th St, W 106th-108th St, and E 102nd St. It's a mellower scene, with interesting terrain and almost no tourists. The 102nd St Crossing is also family-friendly, and always free of crowds. 

Pelham Bay Park is New York's largest city park: Three Central Parks could fit inside this 2772-acre greenspace! Once you pick your jaw up off the floor, make plans to take advantage of the more than 5 miles of bike paths that lead from the urban bustle of the Bronx to the sandy shore of Orchard Beach.

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Now that this 205-acre greenspace on the Bronx waterfront is getting a much-needed overhaul, it's on its way to becoming one of the city's great parks. The mostly flat landscape hugs the shoreline where the Bronx River empties into the East River, and the network of kid-friendly bike paths have water views of the city skyline.

The Erie Basin Park that surrounds the Ikea in Red Hook is a quiet and pleasant greenspace with a dedicated bike path that's perfect for the youngsters. It links up with the Columbia St Esplanade, a long peninsula that's part protected bike path, part working waterfront, and that culminates in a knockout view of New York Harbor with Lady Liberty in the distance.

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Officially, Roosevelt Island is a part of Manhattan, and even though it has the best views of Midtown this side of a postcard this slender island is really a world unto itself. If you decide to bike around this lightly-trafficked island, make the Four Freedoms Park your destination: Take in the East River tugboat traffic and the sweeping view of the Queensboro Bridge, and pay homage to Franklin D. Roosevelt's hope that everybody should have freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

Staten Island's answer to Central Park and Prospect Park, Silver Lake Park is a 209-acre park with a stately lake at its heart. A one-mile-long bike path runs along one side of the lake, and there are other places to pedal for tinier cyclists. Eventually, the North Shore Waterfront Esplanade Park will be upgraded, giving Staten Island the harbor-view bike lanes it deserves. Until then, enjoy the charms of Silver Lake Park.

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Don't bother with the bike path along West St—that's for speedsters and commuters. Instead, go along the Battery Park City waterfront on a path shared with pedestrians—the view is better, and the foot traffic calms things. Start at Pier A at Battery Park, then head up along the South Cove and the North Cove, before cutting around to the back of Stuyvesant High School. You'll find breezy air, tastefully landscaped parkland, places to stop and snack, plus plenty of water fountains and bathrooms.

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