5 scenic bicycle rides in California

Cycle Through California

See California's beauty from your bike. Get out of the car, enjoy the fresh air and take a ride through some of the Golden State's most scenic areas.

Bike ride across Golden Gate Bridge

California offers many gorgeous drives, but riding a bike can be the best way to see some areas that you might miss in a car. These five scenic bike rides are for cyclists of all levels and will take you along beautiful coastlines and gorgeous landscapes.

Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito

If you've always wanted to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, now's your chance. What better way to enjoy the ocean breeze than from your bike? With views of the Bay and Alcatraz Island, enjoy the ride from San Francisco into Marin County's Sausalito, a quaint seaside town at the north end of the bridge. Once there, park your bike and dine at any of the shore's many seafood restaurants or wander down the main street full of shops. If you decide you're not up for the ride back over the bridge, hop on the ferry and cruise back to San Francisco instead. Bike rentals are available near Fisherman's Wharf.

See more of San Francisco's hot spots >>

North Shore, Lake Tahoe

There are plenty of options for biking near and around Lake Tahoe, but the bike path on the northwest side of the lake from Tahoe City down to Meeks Bay will keep you at the water's edge. Start at the Truckee River Dam and head south, where you'll find picnic spots on the lake, campgrounds and beaches. (And if you're in the mood for a little gambling, head across the state line to the other side of Lake Tahoe and you're in Nevada!) Bike rentals are available at several locations around the lake.

Cabrillo Beachway, Santa Barbara

A huge bicycle community, Santa Barbara has no shortage of rides to choose from. But to get a real feel for this city's laid-back, coastal vibe, take advantage of Cabrillo Beachway, the pedestrian and bike path along the shore. This route also takes you through historic downtown Santa Barbara and onto Stearn's Wharf, the oldest operating wharf on the west coast. At just under five miles, this easy ride is perfect for the whole family. Bike rentals are available.

Have a day of fun in Santa Barbara >>

American River Parkway, Sacramento

At 30 miles the American River Parkway Trail from Old Sacramento to Folsom is longer than others, but it's an easy ride on a paved surface, perfect for kids and adults. The trail, which is shared with hikers and horseback riders, takes you through several parks as you bike along the American River. To finish the route at Folsom Lake, you will face a few hills, but the ride back is downhill!

Silverado Trail, Napa Valley

Combine two fun activities: cycling and wine tasting! Avoid the crowded highway and all the cars by riding on Silverado Trail, which takes you through countless vineyards in the beautiful Napa Valley. Pack a picnic lunch and stop for some wining and dining along the way at one of the several wineries. For bike rentals and route information, head to Calistoga to start your day.

Take a tour of Napa Valley's sparkling wines >>

More on cycling

Why parents should wear helmets
Tips to cycle smart
Cycling: A beginner's guide


Recommended for you


Comments on "5 scenic bicycle rides in California"

Hannah September 11, 2012 | 8:15 PM

What a fun trip! The hubs and I are thinking of driving cross country and up through California. I would LOVE to rent bikes for a few days and bike across. We'll need the exercise from being in the car so much anyways.

Katie July 22, 2012 | 11:38 AM

I absolutely love California and think it'd be a great experience to bike ride across the golden gate bridge. I wonder how "in shape" one must be to bike across, though! My husband and I are looking to go to San Francisco and Napa Valley, so this will definitely be something we will look into.

Lisa July 18, 2012 | 11:23 AM

I can attest to the fact that California’s beautiful natural scenery is best experienced on two wheels. I grew up in Sacramento and have ridden along the American River Parkway countless times, and I have also tackled the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito journey. These rides are a good way to clear you head and commune with your physical environment – not to mention being good exercise. With bike trails like these, it is no wonder that Californians are some of the healthiest and happiest people on the planet!

+ Add Comment

(required - not published)