An Art-Packed Bike Trip to Long Island City
Wards Island Bridge as seen from Wards Island. Huff and puff your way up the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge The Robert F. Kennedy Bridge is admittedly unscenic when compared to the now-defunct Hell Gate Bridge right beside it. It is also the most challenging part of the trip. The ramp up to the bridge is a good five-minute uphill ride (enough to induce red-faced panting from me), and it’s a bit noisy, though the path is safe and separated from all car traffic. Technically, you are required to walk your bike on all parts of the bridge, though this seems to be a widely disregarded rule. But your struggle will be rewarded—after the uphill climb, it’s a leisurely stroll or roll down on the other side.
Hell Gate Bridge.Absorb some art at Socrates Sculpture Park Your first stop in Long Island City, Queens, is Socrates Sculpture Park, open every day from 10 a.m. to sunset. The sculptural works on view change regularly, there’s free yoga and tai chi every weekend, and it offers a beautiful view of Manhattan. If you want a break from the sun, skip this park and head to the Noguchi Museum just across the road (admission is $10). You’ll find a sculpture collection inside, as well as a sculpture garden in the courtyard and a cute café.
A sculpture at the Noguchi museum.Treat yourself to street food at the LIC Flea You’ve probably worked up an appetite by now with all this physical activity and appreciation of culture, so cruise down the Vernon Boulevard bike path to the food tents at the Long Island City Flea. Vendors there offer the cross-cultural foods that are the hallmark of so many Brooklyn outdoor events, such as burgers, dumplings, empanadas, salads, and lemonades. If you’re in the mood to shop, there’s also antiques, artwork, clothing, and knickknacks aplenty on sale, with what seems to me like better prices than flea markets you’ll find in the “hipper” borough to the south.
Eclectic food options at the Long Island City Flea. Photo courtesy of the Long Island City Flea. Relax with scenic views in Hunter’s Point South Park After the LIC Flea, head south along the water or bike paths to one of the city’s newest parks, an industrial site turned landscaping beauty called Hunter’s Point South Park. Built last year, the park is one of the upshots of the gentrification of Long Island City, with sleek landscaping, weirdly fancy public bathrooms, and a beautiful view of the city (as the stunning photos on the architects’ website show). A wide, smooth path leads across the park’s sprawling lawns toward piers packed with park benches from the future, perfectly designed for an intrepid cyclist to take a well-deserved break.
A view of Long Island City from Hunter's Point South Park. Choose your own bike adventure From here, you have a few options to finish out your day:
- If you haven’t had enough culture, head to MoMA PS1, a few minutes’ ride northeast. It’s a must-see, $5-admission museum housing MoMA’s contemporary collection. (Note, though, that on Saturdays until September 6, the museum closes its galleries and instead hosts concerts in its courtyard that cost $20.)
- Ride over the Pulaski Bridge to Williamsburg’s many restaurants and bars (don’t drink and ride—remember bikes are allowed on the MTA).
- Head home, knowing you’ve made the most of one of our last summer days this year.
Kasia Mychajlowycz is a freelance writer living in New York City, where she moved after finishing her master's degree in 2012 in her hometown, Toronto. Kasia writes about tiny apartments, ballerinas on Instagram, the black market for gas after Hurricane Sandy and everything in between. You can find her loud mouth on Twitter and read other work at her website.