Looking to do something active so you can enjoy the sunny day outside but also relax and chill? That's generally what I aim to accomplish during any free time I have.
Yesterday a friend and I decided to bike alongside the Hudson River near the West Side Highway and then have brunch at La Marina , which is a beautiful restaurant near Inwood and sits right on the river.
I rented a bike from Bike and Roll NYC. There are multiple locations and biking in the streets of Manhattan is NOT for the faint of heart. So I decided to rent from the West 70th Street Riverside Park location. From here to La Marina, it is about 7.4 miles one way, so almost 15 miles roundtrip. Seemed like a great way to be active and enjoy the river views.
So if you ever decide to rent from this location too, here are a few tips:
- Don't trust Google maps to get you there. The bike rental place is not really on West 70th street and Riverside Boulevard (but it's very close). It's inside Riverside Park. To get there, take the 1 train to 72nd Street. Then walk towards 69th Street and Riverside Boulevard. From there, you'll see a long ramp down into the park by the water. Follow this ramp and then walk along the bike lane towards the rest rooms and behind/past the cafe (basically you want to walk north and end up between 70th and 71st street). Bike and Roll is located right next to the basketball courts, like a minute walk past the bathrooms (which were pretty clean for a public NYC bathroom!). You can also call them for directions if you get lost.
- It's better to make a bike reservation online. Why? Because apparently they don't really check them! So if you rented online for one hour you can just ride however long you want, as long as you return it to the same location. All they ask for is the rental email confirmation number. But at the desk they don't check your type of reservation. I only know this because I asked a lot of questions (I rented for 4 hours, which was $39) and they said don't worry about it if I go over my time (which I did). A whole day rental is $44. I took the bike at 1 pm and got back at 5:30 pm (mainly because I was so tired so I biked slow).
- Eat a little something and don't workout before doing this activity. I made this mistake and was sooo tired. It was fun but I had been doing lunges and cardio earlier in the day so my muscles were already exhausted. If you don't bike often, this is a great workout so start by feeling rested!! And bring water with you!
- The bike trail up to La Marina is pretty straightforward. You just follow the bike lane to Inwood and you pass the George Washington Bridge along the way. However, it's really steep uphill around the bridge. Just get off your bike and walk it up. Some of the trail is a mix of uphill and downhill, but it's mostly flat. Like I said, it's a great workout and you are reward with nice views of the Hudson. When you reach Dyckman Street (you'll know, you will go down a few bike ramps back down to the street after riding along the West Side Highway), you'll see the restaurant right on the left, and you can lock up your bike at the bike station near the car parking valet.
- Wear a cap and sunglasses if it's sunny! And also don't bring a lot. The bike rental has a small pouch to store personal terms but not much (enough for phone, wallet, water bottle though). They also give you a bike lock and key and poncho if they think it will rain. You can request a helmet if you want it.
- The bike trail, when I went, was very safe, and not crowded at all. I hardly heard anyone dinging their bell. Everyone is pretty respectful (stay to the right!). Saw a mix of joggers and people just walking along as well.
Anyway, it was a nice breezy ride and I was definitely starving by the time we reached La Marina. It took us about 45 minutes to an hour to ride there from West 70th. Mostly because I was slow and tired! But getting there was worth it. I felt like I was in another world. Maybe because it's not the height of summer yet, but on Saturday at 2pm it was not crowded at all and the place was beautiful and relaxing.
For my reward of thigh burning, I had the La Marina burger and two Blue Point oysters which were huge. My burger was satisfying, well done with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cheese on a fresh bun. Came with fries. An 18% gratuity is automatically added to the bill here. Service was not exactly on point but they were friendly. Just had to flag the staff down sometimes to refill water.
Overall I would recommend this if you have an afternoon where you want to explore a different part of the city, try a different place for food, and be rewarded with nice relaxing views. And burn lots of calories! I was exhausted at the end of the day. Note the bike rental closes by 7 pm so you will want to get back before then. Or if you're really ambitious, rent a bike further away like in Battery Park or from Central Park! I thought the West 70th location was just far enough. Also, I didn't do this but maybe bring a blanket to lay out on the grass on if you want to take a rest along the bike ride.