I love doing city bicycle tours all over the world. It’s a great way to see a city, keeps you “low to the ground”, yet it enables you to cover a lot of that ground and get a better sense of a city, seeing neighborhoods you might not on a standard bus tour.
Case in point, I recently took a new tour in Brooklyn (one of the hippest places I know and it also happens to be the hometown of both my parents) with Get Up and Ride.
As you may already know, there is so much more to New York City, than Manhattan. Brooklyn itself would be the United States’ fourth largest city IF it actually was its own city. It has 2.6 million people and dozens of unique neighborhoods to check out from hipster-central Williamsburg and waterfront Greenpoint to Dumbo and the classic brownstones of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill.
Better in Brooklyn!
Get Up and Ride is a boutique bike tour company based in Brooklyn. Tours are given by locals and explore authentic, off the beaten path spots. They keep the group sizes small and ride at a relaxed pace. Each rider gets a walkie-talkie and headset so they can hear the guide share local tidbits all along the say. This was a great idea as I learned a lot that I didn’t know and we didn’t have to necessarily stop each time to learn something (something I’ve done on all my other bike tours). At the same time, I think it can distract from really soaking in all the sights, sounds, smells and flavor of a neighborhood. So I also liked when our guide, Nick, didn’t talk the entire time and just let us absorb all around us.
All About the Neighborhoods
On our ride, we went through neighborhoods like Greenpoint with its Polish bakeries and the new Transmitter Park, which offers great views of Manhattan, and Williamsburg with its fascinating split of hipsters and models in the north and then ultra-orthodox Jews in the south. It just so happens that the day I rode was Yom Kippur, the holiest of Jewish holidays. Although I’m Jewish, I likely have more in common with a Lutheran than a Hasidic Jew. They can be a very extreme sect. I guess if I practiced, I’d have been fasting and atoning for my sins all day. But instead I took a bike ride in the sun and cleansed my soul.
In ‘hoods like Fort Green and Brooklyn Heights, we saw the beautiful brownstones of days gone by. These neighborhoods always give me a nostalgic feel, almost a glimpse into the past as they are often cobblestoned and timeless. Brooklyn Heights in particular, has more pre-Civil war buildings that anywhere else in U.S. It’s stunning.
Riding past the row of houses on Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights, everything looks quaint and charming. But when you take a close look at the red brick rowhouse at number 58; the windows are completely black. This actually isn’t a house at all, it’s a fake façade, behind which lies a hidden subway ventilator.
We also rode through the huge Brooklyn Navy Yard where today many TV and movie studios reside. Plus we got a special peek at one very special organic rooftop garden, the Brooklyn Grange, which supplies some local restaurants.
And finally, we cycled through trendy Dumbo and the new Brooklyn Bridge Park which spans 85 acres of the East River waterfront. It’s so great to see all these city waterfronts of former industry, now being turned into gorgeous, mixed-use public spaces. Love it.
- The Classic Tour – 4.5 hours of all of the best sights and historic commentary on eight Brooklyn neighborhoods, with stops for Best Pizza, rooftop farms, Brooklyn Roasting, oceanfront views, and a ferry ride. Something for everyone.
- The Brunch in Brooklyn Tour – 2.5 hours of Greenpoint and Williamsburg with coffee, pastries, chocolates, and breakfast tacos featured. Looks like I have to go back to do this one!
- Sunset Bike Ride and BBQ Dinner…and maybe this one too!
- Brooklyn Pulse Art and Culture Tour
All levels welcome
Cost: $59-125 depending on the tour
Disclosure: I was thrilled to be a guest of Get Up & Ride and as always, all opinions are my own.