Do you prefer urban vacations but have a passion for biking? Well, here is a way you can see some great destinations on bike, without even leaving the city. Check out Sunset’s Top City Bike Rides:
1. ALBUQUERQUE, NM
PASEO DEL BOSQUE TRAIL
The city’s crown jewel, the Paseo del Bosque Trail is a shady 16-mile paved corridor that follows the languid Rio Grande west of downtown. Joggers, riders, and in-line skaters flock to the path, while coyotes, roadrunners, and migrating ducks head straight for the river. Don’t pass up a visit along the way to the Rio Grande Botanical Garden, a 20-acre desert oasis that includes a butterfly pavilion and is bordered by the world’s largest cottonwood gallery.
Where to eat: Dish up with great breakfast burritos, creatively made salads, and sandwiches at the Rio Grande Botanical Garden’s Shark Reef Cafe ( $; 2601 Central Ave NW; 505/848-7182).
Learn more: www.nmts.org/rides/riversideTrail.htm or 505/768-2680
-Ted Alan Stedman
2. BOULDER, CO
BOULDER CREEK PATH
With mountain scenery, city flavor, and a resplendent riverside pathway to see it all, nothing says “Boulder” better than the 7-mile Boulder Creek Path. From the flatlands near Valmont Reservoir, the path gently climbs 600 feet total while paralleling Boulder Creek and plumbing the town’s core. Ride beneath bridges and along gardens and public art displays until the pavement enters the chiseled Boulder Canyon, where low gears help you climb the remaining unpaved section that tops out at the Fourmile Canyon intersection.
Where to eat: From Fourmile Canyon, coast back to town and nosh on a light-but-filling Armenian Maza appetizer plate at Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse ($; 1770 13th St; 303/442-4993).
Learn more: www.bouldercolorado.gov or 303/441-3266.
3. DENVER, CO
CHERRY CREEK TRAIL
Plying the city’s best neighborhoods while following a rippling waterway, the 12-mile Cherry Creek Trail is the city’s own Tour de Denver. Beginning at Confluence Park ― a kayaker’s playground ― the paved sub-street-level trail scoots past still-trendy LoDo and Capital Hill, past the exclusive Denver Country Club and tony Cherry Creek Shopping Center, before its eventual rendezvous with Cherry Creek Reservoir. Sop and play along the way ― creekside pullouts are everywhere ― and soak up the majestic city skyline view beneath the towering Rockies.
Where to eat: For extra energy, you can’t beat the gourmet burgers at Cherry Cricket ($; 2641 E. Second Ave.; 303/322-7666).
Learn more: www.denvergov.org/bicycle%5fprogram/ or 720/865-2453.
4. LOS ANGELES, CA
SOUTH BAY BICYCLE TRAIL
It’s the big kahuna of beachfront paths: Stretching 23 paved miles from Pacific Palisades almost to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the trail is a fossil fuel-free way to explore the best of Southern California. The route traverses the full range of beach life, from the eccentric funk of the Venice Boardwalk to the hard-bodied, hard-hitting world of South Bay beach volleyball courts. And for a serious weekend workout, get out early and finish by 11 ― after that, stretches of trail can bog down as surely as a So Cal freeway.
Where to eat: Stop along the way for the signature dish at the Caribbean shack Cha Cha Chicken Gourmet to Go ($; 1906 Ocean Ave; Santa Monica; 310/581-1684).
Learn more: www.coastalconservancy.ca.gov/Wheel/lapage/2_smb/bike.html or 626/458-3940.
5. PORTLAND, OR
WILLAMETTE RIVER LOOP
Bike-friendly Portland’s most scenic ride by far is the 10.4-mile loop up and down the Willamette River right in the center of town. Head north on the Eastbank Esplanade, cross the river on the Steel Bridge, and go south through Waterfront Park. Recross the river on the Hawthorne Bridge for a 3-mile loop, or continue south past RiverPlace Marina, following Moody Avenue through the construction in the South Waterfront District. Continue south to the Sellwood Bridge, and to complete the loop, head north through Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.
Where to eat: At RiverPlace Marina, you can grab an espresso, a glass of wine, or a burger with a view.
Learn more: www.gettingaroundportland.org or 503/823-7083.
6. SALT LAKE CITY, UT
JORDAN RIVER PARKWAY TRAIL
When the Parkway is completed, riders will roll 50 paved miles between Provo’s Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake. Why wait, though, when some of the best scenic stretches are already finished? The 8.5-mile section just west of downtown Salt Lake City has an urban skyline but is wonderfully rural, meandering along the river, sweeping through nine city parks and stately Rose Park Golf course, near wetlands teeming with birds.
Where to eat: Replenish carbs with a margherita pizza at Squatters Pub Brewery ($; 147 W. Broadway; 801/363-2739).
Learn more: www.parks-recreation.org/parks/html/jordan.html or 801/468-2299.
7. SAN FRANCISCO, CA
BIKE THE GOLDEN GATE
An absolute classic ― easy, breezy, and with some of the most breathtaking views of the city you’ll find anywhere. Start along Marina Green at the intersection of Marina Boulevard and Webster Street. Heading west on the paved trail towards the bridge, you’ll pass the city’s swankiest yacht clubs and lots of kite-flyers. At Crissy Field, where the whole city gathers on fog-free days to wade in the bay and walk their dogs, transfer over to gravel paths and continue west. Follow signs up the hill to the bridge, and, as you cross on the bridge’s western side, take in views of the Farallon Islands and the Marin Headlands. For an only-in-SF ending to the day, continue down to Sausalito and catch a ferry back to the city.
Where to eat: Grab delicious vegetarian chili and sandwiches from Greens to Go ($; Building A, Fort Mason Center; 415/771-6222).
Learn more: www.blazingsaddles.com/rides.html or 415/202-8888.
8. SAN JOSE AREA, CA
LOS GATOS CREEK TRAIL
By far the prettiest way to travel from San Jose to Los Gatos is along the Los Gatos Creek Trail. The paved route’s 8.5 miles are mostly flat and screened from the South Bay’s busy roads by eucalyptus, willows, and the gentle mumurings of the creek. Stop the meander for a picnic, to feed the ducks, or for a paddleboat ride at Vasona Lake County Park.
Where to eat: Hit downtown Los Gatos for a tasty lunch ? you’ll find fellow bikers fueling up on smoothies and sandwiches at Blendz ($; 81 W. Main St; 408/399-1570).
Learn more: www.sccgov.org/portal/site/parks or 408/356-2729.
9. SEATTLE, WA
The paved and mostly level 14.2-mile trail starts in Ballard, winds east through fun, funky Fremont, curves north along the shores of Lake Washington (see views of downtown) and ends in Kenmore. Hook up with the Sammamish River Trail at the end, and you can ride all the way to the wineries around Woodinville. There’s parking at several spots, including Gas Works Park, Matthews Beach Park, and Tracy Owen Station. This year, you’ll need to detour around construction at the Fremont Bridge.
Learn more: www.metrokc.gov/bike
10. TEMPE, AZ
RIO SALADO PATHS
Expect plenty of pedaling adventures on Tempe’s 165-mile bikeway system, but the most revealing routes for urban explorations are the downtown Rio Salado Paths parading past Tempe’s centerpiece attractions. Flanked by the iconic Arizona State University and Sun Devil Stadium, the 5 miles of paved, landscaped pathways wind along Tempe Town Lake, past Tempe Beach Park and imaginative public art displays, like the murmuring water of the Marina Water Muse.
Where to eat: Take the cue from fellow cyclists and head to the lively Mill Avenue District to enjoy stuffed fire-roasted poblano chiles at House of Tricks ($$$; 114 E. Seventh St; 480/968-1114).
Learn more: www.tempe.gov/bikeprogram or 480/350-8810.
For more exciting destinations to explore by bike, contact our travel specialists! We are here to help you get out there!