I like bikes. I remember the feeling of accomplishment when my dad let go of the bike and I was riding all by myself for the first time, but I think we forgot to discuss how to stop! Occasionally, my family would pack up our bikes and drive to a special bike path that was built into an old railway. We would ride for an hour or so and end up at a little old-fashioned ice cream parlor, where we would refuel with a cold treat before riding back to the start. I loved the feel of wind in my face, and when I dared, the freedom of riding with no hands!
I have always loved cities that provide some sort of trail system for walking, biking or skating, which are generally along waterfronts. Here are my favorites:
One of my favorite bike rides as an adult was in Portland, which is known to be bike-friendly and has one of the highest bike commuting rates. The majority of my ride was not on the Eastbank Esplanade along the Willamette River, but actually through Forest Park to St. John’s bridge and back along the east side of the river.
Austin has hike and bike trails along Town Lake, but the paths near Barton Springs can get pretty congested on weekends. I found the northeast side of the lake to be a faster trail for bikes. This ride took me to a New Belgium Brewery festival called Tour de Fat, which is all about “the positive societal offerings of the bicycle.” There were games, interactive art and many, many unique and interesting bicycles.
Yosemite National Park
Rent bikes at Curry Village or Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, grab a bike path map, and pack a picnic lunch for an enjoyable bike ride through the Yosemite Valley.
San Francisco, California
This bike ride started at the piers, rode along the harbor, crossed the Golden Gate bridge and ended in San Marino with lunch before a ferry ride back to San Francisco.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
This small island town near Cancun is less than 5 miles long and less than a ½ mile wide, so my bike ride spanned the entire island from the few touristy hotels on the north end to the Mayan temple on the southern tip.
My ride in Durango was a short one through town, but the city and surrounding area seemed to be popular for mountain biking. There is also the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic event in which riders get to race a train from Durango up the mountain to Silverton.
Research trails near your city, pack a picnic lunch, and head out for a family bike ride.
San Diego, California
Bring your own bike or rent one. Then start your ride near Seaport Village (note bicycling regulations along the boardwalk). Enjoy a coffee, sweet treat and shopping before or after your ride. Click here for a San Diego region bike map.
Option #1: Ride your bike along the harbor, past the airport, under Harbor Drive bridge and across the pedestrian bridge to Liberty Station, where there are a number of restaurants to dine for lunch.
Option #2: Ride your bike a short distance north to the Broadway Pier ferry landing or south to Embarcadero Marina Park South/Convention Center ferry landing. Buy a ticket and board the ferry to Coronado, where you can take a 7-mile trip around the entire “island” and enjoy lunch and shopping at the Old Ferry Landing Shopping Center before heading back on the ferry.
1. Discussion: Relive the experience at lunch or dinner by having each family member share their favorite part of the ride. If everyone has multiple favorites, keep going around the table until you have shared them all. Try not to repeat a part of the trip that someone else has already shared, so each person has to come up with something different!
2. Map your ride: Work together as a family to create a collage of the trip on a big piece of poster board. Start with a map of the area (harbor or Coronado) – print one from the Internet or grab one from a visitor center. Draw your route and add images from tourist brochures, photographs or family drawings that show things you saw on your ride. You can even add bicycle images with headshots of the family.
3. What if…bikes could make ice cream? As a kid I would flip my Big Wheel Trike upside down and pedal with my hands to “make” ice cream. Play the “What if” game by imagining different functions a bike could perform. Check out this website for some inspiration, but beware of the “Chick Bike” if you share the photos with your kids. Here is a website with photographs of bicycle-powered sculptures.