By Mackenzie Hutson May 21, 2019
Whether you have been eyeing a mountain, cruiser, touring, or road bike, do not hesitate to make the leap. With California sunshine breaking through the clouds nearly year-round, there is hardly ever a bad time to take a scenic ride around some of the state’s best preserved landscapes. Head into The Bicycle Stand in Long Beach or the Beverly Hills Bike Shop, grab a bite and a bike from Oakland’s Luckyduck Bicycle Cafe, or stop by Edison Cycle Co. in San Diego to buy a new bicycle or to get your old one repaired before hitting these top cycling trails.
San Diego: Bayshore Bikeway
It doesn’t get much more beautiful than the Bayshore Bikeway: Palm trees line the path as the sun shines onto the calm ocean waves and the puffy clouds hang above the San Diego skyline. To embark on this ride, head across the bay to Coronado’s stunning Ferry Landing. The 24-mile trail leads you through Coronado, along Silver Strand State Beach and the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, through the Imperial Beach and Chula Vista communities, and into downtown San Diego—culminating in a perfect afternoon ride.
Los Angeles: Marvin Braude Trail
Commonly known as The Strand, the 20-mile Marvin Braude Trail is one of the most scenic paths in all of Los Angeles. Hop onto your bike at Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades, and prepare for the classic view of palm trees, crashing ocean waves, and watercolor sunsets. This trail will take you along the coastline, through Temescal Gateway Park, and down to the unparalleled Santa Monica—where the pier should not be missed. From there, the pathway winds through the quirky Venice Beach neighborhood, loops through the Marina Del Rey harbor, and borders the shores of Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo Beaches before reaching its final stop at Miramar Park in Torrance.
Santa Cruz: West Cliff Drive
This easy ride leads you to some of Santa Cruz’s most coveted destinations—and you don’t have to deal with the hassles of driving and finding parking. Slightly over three miles long, the trail is perfect for beginners or for experienced cyclists looking for a very relaxed ride; it is also a great journey, with a backdrop of turquoise waters that makes cycling a breeze. Begin the ride at the Santa Cruz Riverwalk, and head west along the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk until you hit the wharf. Take some time to enjoy the boating, fishing, and shopping destinations there before continuing on to the south side of West Cliff Drive, Lighthouse Field State Beach, and Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Admire the skills of the surfers at Steamer Lane, just outside the museum, then end the trip at Natural Bridges State Beach. The idyllic rock formations, coastline, and ocean are home to seabirds, crabs, whales, otters, and monarch butterflies (depending on the time of year).
Monterey: Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail
This waterfront pathway stretches 18 miles and touches many of Monterey’s most popular spots. Begin the ride in Castroville, a town known for its artichokes, and pedal through Fort Ord Dunes State Park, eucalyptus forests, Monterey State Beach, and Old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey—which is a great place to rest, grab a bite, wander around the multitude of shops, or climb in a kayak for a sea adventure. Afterward, jump back on your bike, and you will soon be able to watch the divers at San Carlos Beach before continuing on to Fisherman’s Shoreline Park and Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is one of the city’s top destinations and one of the world’s best aquariums. Complete with dozens of sharks, jellyfish, and other stunning sea creatures, this is a must-see destination along the Central Coast. Just outside is famed Cannery Row, filled with shops, eateries, and entertaining attractions. You can enjoy all that this area has to offer without having to deal with parking or traffic. Finish the ride at Lovers Point Park in Pacific Grove, and congratulate yourself for following the same route that the old Southern Pacific Railroad used to take.
San Francisco: Bike the Bridge
With so many iconic landmarks in San Francisco, it may be difficult to choose which ones to visit. Thankfully, taking the opportunity to see and travel across the Golden Gate Bridge is an easy choice, and you can do it by bike. After grabbing a bowl of clam chowder, playing some arcade games, and checking out the sea lions, hop on a bicycle and begin your ride at Fisherman’s Wharf. From there, the path will take you through the expansive Presidio park, across the remarkable Golden Gate Bridge, through the waterfront town of Sausalito, and end in the gorgeous Tiburon. Look across the San Francisco Bay to see the city skyline and feel the mist flow through your hair, then board the ferry to return to the majestic metropolis for your next adventure.