Riding a bicycle allows you to feel more connected to the city you're riding in. You simply see the world differently from behind the handlebars. To inpsire your bike wanderlust, we rounded up our top places on where to explore by bicycle this summer and we're starting with our own backyard.
Amongs the Bay Area's scenic landscape and unparalled charm is an abundance of amazing bikes paths and trails wherever your happen to be. Whether you're an avid cyclist or a weekend warrior, there's a ride for everyone regardless of age or experience level.
Forget the spandex, these are our top five bike rides in the Bay Area, and you can enjoy them in just a couple of hours as you wind through some of the most gorgeous and varied terrains in North America.
Golden Gate Park via "the Wiggle"
Lovingly dubbed the "The Wiggle," Route 30 takes you through the panhandle from downtown in style. Start at duboce Ave, following the indicated bike lane. Many sections of this route are protected from traffice, but be aware that it's a super popular route — you’ll likely have plenty of two-wheeled company.
This path is great for beginners and even better for those hoping to get some miles in on vacation or off-hours. And did we mention it ends at Golden Gate Park? How many bike paths can lay claim to that? With waterfalls, gardens, bison, and lakes, It almost feels like you're in another world.
Running north-south along the Pacific Coast of San Francisco lies the Great Highway. This is perfect if you’re looking for a fun, smooth ride that’s not strenuous. Think an interstate for bikes, but with better scenery. It’s everyone’s version of paradise — cruising along on your bike with the open waters of the Pacific at your side. Sit up and enjoy the ride on this one.
Fort Funston is a great place to take a load off and soak up some sun on a fog-free day while the hang-gliders drift overhead. Hit up the Great Highway on a weekend to avoid cars (they’re only allowed Monday through Friday).
Hawk HILL via GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
Forget a postcard — see the city in full resolution from the most iconic overlook in the Bay Area. Hawk Hill is across the Golden Gate Bridge and gives you a fantastic workout with a commensurate payoff.
Of course, you have to be okay dodging tourists on the bridge. But once you’re free of the melée, you’ll take Conzelman Road to a couple of thousand feet above the water. From here, you can watch the fog roll over the Golden Gate Bridge like a lovely funeral procession and make sense of this beautiful, hectic, totally improbable mass of humanity and innovation. Then you can descend down to the waterfront town of Sausalito and then take the ferry back.
If you’re looking for a great route through the Mission and SoMa districts, look no further than taking Folsom and Howard Street. In a short time you’ll be halfway across town and enjoying waterfront views, coffee culture, and the spirit the city has to offer.
Why? Because not only is it a super-passable route in a city where super-passable routes are made of gold, but it takes you from the Mission to the Embarcadero waterfront and even gives you a great return route. Both Folsom and Howard are one-way streets; Folsom heads north (Mission to SoMa), and Howard heads back south (SoMa to Mission). And as any city bicyclist knows, there’s nothing better than a one-way street.
For some seriously invigorating scenery and a good deal of conditioning for your heart and legs, head to the East Bay and start up Butters Drive. This gains you elevation while keeping the passing cars to a minimum. Once you’re up high, you have the pick of the litter: head to Joaquin Miller Park, the Three Bears, or any of the other treasures awaiting you at these heights. Take Skyline Road to Redwood Road, then get to the top via Pinehurst for a foolproof ticket to beautiful vistas.
Just remember: San Francisco has hills, but these are mountains. The huffing and puffing you pull off on the ascent will be well worth it when you’re gazing out over the blue waters of San Francisco Bay with the city in the background. This ride will definitely leave your legs sore for a day or two.