Quick: what’s the first thing that you see when you think of California? Aside from the famous landmarks and the celebrity glamour that the state has to offer, it has a great variety of hidden treasures beyond its iconic Hollywood sign, but there’s no better way to see the sights than by bicycle. The Golden State offers many quick and easy ways to rent bikes, so read ahead for the best spots to visit on your own two (borrowed) wheels.
California is home to countless nature parks, but few have such a long history of preservation and expansion as Bidwell Park. Not only is this park one of the largest municipal parks in the United States, this gem in Chico, located at the northern end of the state, has no shortage of activities to partake in. The cycling trails vary from flat lands to hills to rough, challenging terrains. Find the path that best suits you!
Fun fact about the Silverado Trail: its location, Napa Valley, is home to the domestic wines that put California on the map as a global leader in the vintner industry. So believe us when we say that cycling along this pleasant, scenic route is truly a feast for the senses. And you’ll earn bonus karma points, because cycling and other environmentally friendly options are encouraged in the area; emissions from vehicles can create bad air for the growing grapes.
Golden Gate Bridge
Why be content with snapping a selfie in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco when you can cycle across its 4,200 foot-spanning glory? This iconic wonder is accessible to cyclists 24/7 at no cost. As it can get a bit chilly in the afternoon, be sure to bring a warm sweater to keep you cozy. Otherwise, ride on in the beautiful scenery beyond the bridge, day or night. (And feel free to take that selfie anyway; we’re not monsters.)
Downtown San Francisco
Coming down with some nature fatigue? Why not try a stab at the concrete jungle that is downtown San Francisco? The city is very popular with cyclists and has great options for those looking to rent a pair of wheels for the day. Explore the bike-friendly roads and enjoy San Francisco’s parks and other well-preserved and restored buildings. Choose a tour guided option and you can even hear about the history of San Francisco -- an ideal option for history nerds and cycling enthusiasts alike. After all, they don’t have one of the most bike-accessible roads in North America for nothing. Go see what a true bike-friendly city feels like (sorry, Torontonians!).
The beautiful and bustling Stearns Wharf of Santa Barbara is relatively free of tall buildings and hotels that could conceal the magnificent view of the wharf and shoreline itself, which makes it a prime location to cruise by bike. Its waterfront area has several preserved landmarks that you can visit, and countless seafood restaurants. Vehicle access is limited, so you’ll be king of the boardwalk on your own two wheels.
With its open-air, old-world charm, Venice in Los Angeles is truly a trip back to a carefree atmosphere. With loads of performers to see and places to stop by to shop and eat, there’s nothing like a bike ride along the boardwalk. And if you’re craving even more good times, ride over to nearby Santa Monica, where you can take in some city sights.
Ready to jump on your bike and start exploring the Golden State? Check out more of Visit California’s top outdoor adventures.