The perfect Brooklyn ride
Pedal from Red Hook to Manhattan Beach, with two bridges along the way.
Wed Apr 30 2008
Mileage: About 27 miles
Time: Three to four hours
Highlights: Prospect Park’s Grand Army Plaza, Ditmas Park, Manhattan Beach
A Getting there from Manhattan: Do it right—take the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s teeming with sightseers, but it sets the mood. If you don’t have the moxie to fight your way through more cameras than there were on Broome Street the day Heath Ledger died, maybe you don’t have what it takes to ride through Brooklyn.
B Head to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Skipping the Promenade is like skipping the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, or like passing a Starbucks without using the bathroom. You can’t ride your bike on the Promenade, but you can admire the skyline, wave at BQE traffic and make out in public.
C Red Hook. To some, it’s that place that’s been “the next big thing” for the past eight years and where they got really drunk that one time, but the fact is, it’s among the best places in Brooklyn to visit by bike. Valentino Pier has the finest view of New York Harbor in the city. Stop for some coffee either at Fairway’s outdoor café or at Baked on Van Brunt Street.
D Ride straight up Union Street to Park Slope; you know you’re in the Slope when you’re dodging more Maclaren strollers than cars. Union Street puts you right in Prospect Park.
E Forget Coney Island: You’ve been there anyway, and you pretended to like it even though it only depressed you. Instead, head through Ditmas Park on Ditmas Avenue (which has some of the most beautiful Victorian homes in Brooklyn), pick up Bedford Avenue and take that to Sheepshead Bay. Then hit Manhattan Beach. Unlike Coney Island, this is a beach you’ll actually want to spend a couple of hours on.
F Time to start heading home. Go back to Prospect Park, take Vanderbilt Avenue through Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, skirt the Brooklyn Navy Yards and finish up in Williamsburg. By this time you’ll be ready for a drink and some people-watching. Once you’ve had your fill of both, take the Williamsburg Bridge back to Manhattan. While you’re on it, remember the Brooklyn Bridge and savor the juxtaposition.
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