Temperatures are slowly rising. You may feel a strong, persistent itch to go out and ride. Diagnosis? Spring fever! But there's no need to do the same old 9W route or book a fancy trip out of town to get your cycling fix. Dust off your sense of adventure and navigate a leg of the Harbor Ring Route next weekend. The Harbor Ring is a 50-mile route with 28 miles of bike lanes that circumnavigate New York Harbor, connecting Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne. No matter how far you ride the Ring, you're bound to find the biggest, smallest, oldest, grandest and most unique gems — all in your own backyard.
Featured image: the Red Hook, Brookyn waterfront via Wikimedia Commons.
Oldest bar on Staten Island
Liedy's Shore Inn will turn 109 this year, making it the oldest watering hole on Staten Island, and rivaling several time-tested institutions in other boroughs. Those looking for a nostalgic dose of authentic Americana will find themselves in the right place. Drink prices hover around what they were 20 years ago, so it's a good deal to boot.
Liedy's Shore Inn is on 748 Richmond Terrace in Staten Island, NY, between Lafayette and Clinton Streets.
Most picturesque pier
The Louis J. Valentino Jr. Park and Pier — also known as Pier 39 and the Coffey Street Pier — has amazing views of the harbor and skyline. During the summer, there's complimentary kayaking from the Red Hook Boaters (first-come, first-served) and free outdoor movies from Red Hook Flicks. The park is named after a firefighter and NYC Parks lifeguard who lost his life while responding to a three-alarm fire. Don't forget to check out Red Hook's amazing industrial buildings and incredibly unique mix of architecture on your ride there.
The Louis J. Valentino Jr. Park is on the Red Hook waterfront between Coffey and Van Dyke Streets. Image c/o Red Hook Boaters.
Most impressive beer selection
Besides being a stone's throw away from the waterfront, the Zeppelin Hall Restaurant and Biergarten boasts 144 draft lines of European beers and American craft brews. Indoor and outdoor seating is available, and the establishmen serves both traditional German and American eats -- including worthy vegetarian options --making it a delicious and affordable must-visit.
The Zeppelin Hall Restaurant and Biergarten is on 88 Liberty View Dr and Regent St in Jersey City, NJ, near the Jersey Avenue Hudson-Bergen Light Rail stop.
OK, so a huge non-functional clock might not seem like a big deal. But stay with me for a moment. The Colgate Clock was built in 1924, when the Colgate-Palmolive Company still resided in Jersey City. Back in its 1957 heyday, it was the largest timepiece in the world and thousands of downtown and New Jersey commuters would rely on it during the daily rush. Aside from the history, though, the view from the site is incredible: facing the Hudson, you can take in the NYC skyline, the Statue of Liberty, passing ships and ferries, and even the flashy real estate developoments of Jersey City.
The Colgate Clock is just off Essex Street along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway in Jersey City, near the Essex Hudson-Bergen Light Rail stop.
Image c/o Sam Slaton.
Most anachronistic art gallery
Alice Austen was America's first predominant female photographer who produced an impressive body of work in her lifetime. Her photojournalistic style captured street life, waterfront recreation and the residents and neighborhoods of New York City. Austen's Staten Island home, Clear Comfort, is a national landmark. A portion of the house is preserved to represent Austen's furnishings and lifestyle at the turn of the twentieth century. And, there's a room dedicated to showcasing her magnificent photography. Other rooms have been renovated as modern gallery space, hosting work from local artists as well as traveling shows. The grounds extend to the waterfront, and from there you can take in breathtaking views of the Verrazano Bridge, Bay Ridge and the harbor.
The Alice Austen House and Museum is located at 2 Hylan Boulevard at Edgewater Street. There is a suggested donation of $3 for entry.
Longest suspension bridge in the U.S.
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is the "missing link" in a continuous Harbor Ring Route. The bridge's 225-foot-high, 4,246-foot-long span is the largest in America, and turns 50 years old in November 2014. Cyclists and pedestrians are only permitted to cross it during the Five Boro Bike Tour and the NYC Marathon; the rest of the year, this heavily tolled bridge is open to motor vehicles only, though it was determined in 1997 to be able to feasibly accommodate a path for riders and walkers and was initially planned with one in mind.
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connects Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, to Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island. Image c/o Meredith Sladek.
Since 2011, the Harbor Ring Committee has been advocating for the installation of a path and the MTA has taken meaningful steps to make this a reality. The pathways would be the keystone of the Harbor Ring route and would have tremendous benefit to the region. Help us make it a reality here.
To learn more about the Harbor Ring, visit HarborRing.org.