As I have said before, Central Park is my favorite place in New York City. There is so much to see and it is beautiful all year around. It is such an oasis in this amazing concrete jungle I now call home. I spend a lot of time in the park running, picnicking, taking pictures, and attending events. However, it took me eleven years to go biking in Central Park.
You may be wondering why I haven’t biked before. Well, I am not that big of a biker, most times I prefer walking or running. I see a lot of people biking in the park and they go fast, and I was worried about how crowded it could be. Last but not least, I don’t own a bike.
Well, my friends at Central Park Sightseeing helped solve the biggest problem. They are Central Park bike shop where you can rent bicycles by the hour, day, etc. They also have helmets (only required if you are under 14), locks, maps, and baskets if you like. In addition to their Central Park bike rental services, Central Park Sightseeing does tours and rollerblade rentals too! They are also offering a discount code for our readers, so check out their website and use the code Tex50 to save 50%. They recommend booking 48 hours in advance and you will need either a valid ID or credit card for a deposit.
I decided I would give biking in Central Park a try and my friends Teju and Kerry came along for the ride. We wanted to get to the park early so that it wouldn’t be too crowded, so we got to Central Park Sightseeing a few minutes before it was supposed to open. People were already getting bikes. You could tell the operation was a finely tuned machine and they knew what they were doing. They got everyone on their way quickly.
We walked our bikes to the entrance of the park. Right away, we noticed the seats seemed to have extra cushioning which was nice. Our plan was to bike the six-mile loop that goes around Central Park. This road has marked bike and pedestrian lanes so it is great for running too. Doing this route is a great way to see the park, but if you wanted to see more or less, you can ask the folks at Central Park Sightseeing for advice creating your own self-guided bike tour.
None of us had been on a bike in years, but as they say, you never forget how to ride a bike. We entered the park at the intersection of 59th St. and 6th Avenue. Inside the park, 6th avenue turns into Center Street and feeds into the main loop, just keep right when you get to the next intersection. All bikes are supposed to go counter-clockwise around the park.
Those of you that have been in Central Park know it is pretty hilly. There were some pretty challenging uphills but it was nice that there were also some nice downhill sections that you could just coast and catch your breathe.
The first landmark that we passed was the Mall. This is one of the most iconic spots in Central Park, From the road, you can only really see the beginning of it, but at this point in the year it is just beautiful with the trees full of leaves. If you like, you could walk up the Mall and check out the Bethesda Fountain.
The next notable spot that we passed is the Loeb Boathouse. This is where you can rent rowboats and it is also a very nice restaurant. The Boathouse is a great place to have a fancy lunch and watch all the people rowing on the Lake, but we didn’t stop because we were in our workout clothes.
A little further up the road you will see the Metropolitan Museum of Art on your right and Cleopatra’s Needle on your left. Cleopatra’s Needle, also known as the Obelisk, is the oldest man-made structure in Central Park. It was actually commissioned in Egypt back in 1350 BC and then erected in 1881 in Central Park!
Once you get to 103rd street, there is a turnoff to the left if you want to make the loop 4 miles. After passing the 103rd St Transverse, you will hit what I call the Heartbreak (or Harlem) Hills. These are the toughest hills in the park. You go downhill first. As you go down you will see the Harlem Meer on your right. Then the long uphill starts. I have run these hills many times, and I will say that while biking them was not easy it was easier than running them.
The next landmark you pass is the Pool on your right. The Pool is one of the most beautiful spots in the northern end of the park that a lot of people don’t know about (for more hidden gems check out this post). Then, you will catch a glimpse of the tennis center on your left. You can also see the Reservoir, which is a great place to go running. A little further up the Lake will be on your left and you may be able to see some people rowing. As you continue biking, you pass by the Sheep Meadow, which is my favorite spot in Central Park.
We were having so much fun we decided to go for another loop. This time we took the turnoff for the 103nd St Transverse to make the loop a little shorter and avoid the really tough hills. We stopped off at Le Pain Quotidien by Sheep Meadow and got a bite to eat before returning our bikes. There is a nice outside seating area, and it’s casual enough that you don’t feel out of place in workout clothes.
Also, I should mention that we noticed an obvious police presence in Central Park. Occasionally, we saw police cars (which would patiently wait for you to move out of the way) and also police on horseback. I think they were mostly watching out to see if anyone was injured. So if you wanted to bike by yourself, you should feel comfortable.
I’m so glad I finally went biking in Central Park. It really was a lot of fun and great exercise too. I will definitely do it again. Who else is in? You can get a better idea of what it is like from my video. Have you gone biking in Central Park? I would love to hear about your experience and any tips.
Expert Tips for Your Central Park Bike Rental
- Use the code Tex50 to get 50% off your bike rental with Central Park Sightseeing.
- Take a break and refuel at Le Pain.
- For other tips on things to see in Central Park, check out my other posts – 5 Best Areas to Visit in Central Park and The Hidden Gems in The Northern End of Central Park.
Disclosure: No financial compensation was received, but the Central Park Sightseeing Bike Rentals & Tours did provide complimentary bike rentals. We do not receive a commission on any rentals from our readers. As always, opinions expressed here are my own.