Santa Monica is ideal for a two-wheeled adventure. Whether you're looking for a leisurely beach path, a scenic road ride, or an epic patch of singletrack, the diverse trails, roads, and mountains here deliver a ride you won't soon forget.
Miles of bike lanes along city streets add to the ease of biking in Santa Monica. Get a Santa Monica bike map here.
One of the most scenic biking paths in Santa Monica is along the 22-mile-long Marvin Braude beach trail from Will Rogers State Beach on the north to the southernmost point at Torrance County Beach. In between, you'll pedal through Venice Beach and Marina del Rey to the south. You can get a map of The Strand bike path map here.
Known to locals as "The Strand," the Marvin Braude trail has the distinction of being the world's longest ocean-front bike path. It's relatively flat so that kids can do it, too. You can get a map of the best easy Santa Monica bike rides here.
We take this road from our home in Santa Monica's southern end when going to the Santa Monica Pier or the Promenade. Because it's well-marked as a bike path, only rarely do we encounter pedestrians. (But that's what the bike bell is for, or so my son tells me.)
Along the way, on the trail southbound, you can also check out some of the places where The Doors vocalist Jim Morrison stayed and played in Santa Monica and Venice. You can get the Jim Morrison bike tour details here.
Off-road bike trails abound in and around Santa Monica. The Santa Monica Mountains rise nearly 2,000 feet just north of town, creating an ideal playground for fat tire fans. Riding options abound off Westridge Fire Road, a wide dirt path that links singletrack trails along a ridgeline flanked by a 20,000-acre forest known as "The Big Wild."
Atop San Vicente Mountain, a former cold war-era military lookout, provides sweeping views of downtown Los Angeles. You can get more Santa Monica biking trail information here.
Main Street is tailor-made for townie riders with multiple bike paths and an abundance of bike parking. Just two blocks from the Pacific Ocean, Main Street runs parallel to the coastline and stretches for nearly a mile with block after block of laid-back restaurants, chic boutiques, trendy coffee shops, and more.
Independent retailers and small, local shops anchor the tree-lined blocks between Pico Boulevard to the north and Venice to the south.
On Sundays, families and locals flock to Heritage Square on Main Street for the farmer's market from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Here you'll find live music, free bike valets, and some of the region's freshest fruits and vegetables.
There are three additional bike corrals on Main Street, which makes parking convenient and safe for riders. The two corrals have seven racks with room for 14 bikes, and the one on the west has four frames with space for eight bikes.
With the recent addition of green bike lanes on Main Street, Ocean Park Boulevard, Broadway, and Second Street, these streets are among the best and safest routes for riding around Santa Monica.
This curvy sliver of asphalt bordering the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area is a favorite out-and-back training ride for cyclists.
At five miles long and rising a heart-thumping 1,000 feet into the hills, Mandeville Canyon Road is thought to be the longest dead-end, paved road in Los Angeles.
Serious off-road cycling doesn't get much better than this.
The road's gentle grade (no more than 5 percent) and light traffic make it suitable for all skill levels. Up for a challenge? Local racers have been known to sprint up the canyon in less than 18 minutes.
Stretching from Ocean Avenue to Wilshire, there's a lively mix of homes, shops, and restaurants along San Vicente Boulevard to keep the ride exciting. You can pedal from one end to the other in a dedicated bike lane that dips into downtown via Ocean Avenue on the western end.
The loop around the Brentwood Country Club, near Wilshire Boulevard, is a warm-up for many cyclists who ride in groups, especially on weekends.
No wheels? No problem! Bicycles are ubiquitous here, and there are plenty of places to rent bikes for a day or just a few hours.
1555 Second Street, Santa Monica; (310) 656-8500.
The Santa Monica Bike Center is operated by Bike and Park Santa Monica, a company whose mission is to inspire biking in Santa Monica to benefit people's health, spirit, and the planet. Rental includes a helmet, bike lock, and riding map.
The center also offers bike tours, including a street art tour of Venice Beach, a ride through Santa Monica's sweet shops, and an urban farming tour.
2400 Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica; (310) 939-0000.
Perry's has nine Santa Monica bike rental locations and has the largest fleet in California. Choose from one-, two-, three-hour, all-day, or multi-day rentals beginning at $10 per hour.
They'll even supply tag-alongs for kids. For example, the company's Legends Historic Bike Tour ($45 adults, $25 kids under 12) explores Santa Monica and Venice, where surfing, skateboarding, and beach volleyball originated.
2501 Broadway, Santa Monica; (310) 829-1836.
Helen's rents performance road bikes and mountain bikes for one, two, or seven days (though not hourly), starting at $65 per day.
Need a riding partner? Helen's offers coed rides for intermediate to advanced cyclists the first Saturday of every month; a women-only group rides the third Saturday of every month; a beginner ride the first and third Sunday each month, and other regular local rides.
You can also hire a guide from Helen's to lead you on a private tour through the mountains.
2400 Main Street, Santa Monica; (310) 581-8014.
Bike Attack is flush with rental options for biking Santa Monica, from beach cruisers to Bianchi and KHS road bikes and KHS 29er mountain bikes outfitted with Shimano components.
A second location also rents a regularly updated selection of electric bikes for up to a full day of pedal-assisted cruising.