Riding bicycles in the Golden State is a truly unique experience. California offers many of the best cycling roads on the continent, temperate weather makes cruising pleasant year-round, and stunning scenery abounds. So, whether you’ve been eyeing a mountain, cruiser, touring, or road bike, now’s the time to make the leap. California’s natural beauty and mild climate will surround you as you rush down the bike path, swishing past fields of wildflowers, looming trees, and sparkling shores.
If it’s been awhile since your last bike ride, head over to Beverly Hills Bike Shop, grab a bike (and a bite to eat) 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. Then, you’ll be ready to hit the best bike trails in the state.
The Best Bike Trail in The Bay Area: Crossing The Golden Gate Bridge
Distance: 15.5 miles
With so many iconic landmarks in San Francisco, it may be difficult to choose which ones to visit first, but the opportunity to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge can’t be missed. After savoring clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, playing some arcade games, and checking out the sea lions at Pier 39, hop on your bicycle and begin one of the best bike rides in the Bay Area at Fisherman’s Wharf.
From there, the path will take you through the sprawling Presidio park, past the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge, across the spectacular expanse, through the waterfront town of Sausalito, and end in 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 San Francisco adventure.
An Epic Santa Cruz Bike Path: West Cliff Drive
Distance: 3 miles
This easy ride leads you to some of Santa Cruz’s most coveted destinations—and you won’t have to deal with the hassle of finding parking. As one of the best paved bike trails on the Central Coast, West Cliff Drive offers something for everyone; the panoramic vistas appeal to beginners and experienced cyclists alike.
To begin, ride a bike from the Santa Cruz Riverwalk to the wharf, pedaling alongside the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Take some time to enjoy the boating, fishing, and shopping destinations before continuing on toward Lighthouse Field State Beach and the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum on the southern edge of West Cliff Drive.
Admire the skills of the surfers at Steamer Lane, just outside the museum, and 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).
The Ultimate Monterey Bike Trail: Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail
Distance: 18 miles
Of all the California bike rides, the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail might be our favorite one, because this waterfront pathway touches many of Monterey’s most popular places.
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. Once you’ve arrived, rest, get lunch, wander around the boutiques, and climb in a kayak for a sea adventure to take advantage of this beloved destination.
Afterward, jump back on your bike to continue the journey. Before you know it, you’ll be able to watch the divers at San Carlos Beach, visit Fisherman’s Shoreline Park, and see the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Complete with dozens of sharks, jellyfish, and other captivating sea creatures, it’s one of the world’s best aquariums and a must-see spot along the Central Coast. Just outside is the famed Cannery Row, filled with shops, eateries, and entertaining attractions. 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.
The Best Los Angeles Bike Ride: Marvin Braude Bike Trail
Distance: 20 miles
Commonly known as “The Strand”, the Marvin Braude Trail is one of the most scenic bike routes in Los Angeles. Hop on 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 SoCal’s endless shoreline, through Temescal Gateway Park, and down to the unparalleled Santa Monica. Take a break from the bike ride to visit the famous Santa Monica Pier and ride the Ferris wheel at Pacific Park. 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.
A Swoon-Worthy Bike Ride in San Diego: The Bayshore Bikeway
Distance: 24 miles
While it’s hard to go wrong with San Diego’s bike paths, 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, making it feel like summertime year-round.
To embark on this journey, head across the bay to Coronado’s stunning Ferry Landing. The meandering 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.
With so many bike paths to explore throughout the state, your weekends just got busier. Let us know your favorite place to ride a bike in the comments below.
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