The 10 Best U.S. Cities to Visit for Bicyclists
If you love to explore a new city on two wheels, check out these bike-friendly destinations.
Getting out and exploring new places provides a wonderful new perspective on the world we live in. And for many of us, one of the best ways to do that is with the wind in our hair on a bicycle. Luckily, there are many great cities across the country that not only welcome bicyclists, but they also have many options for exploring on two wheels. Read on to discover the best U.S. cities for biking.
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The Best U.S. Cities for Cyclists
1. Spartanburg, South Carolina
Earning a national designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, Spartanburg invites visitors to hop on their bicycles and travel around town. They can start with the Mary Black Foundation Rail Trail, a 1.9-mile rail-to-trail path just minutes from downtown Spartanburg. Along the way, you can check out the dog park or take a break at such restaurants as Flock Shop and Fretwell. For a more natural setting, head to Duncan Park, which features approximately six miles of a mountain bike trail system that will get your blood flowing. Other options include the Mary H. Wright Greenway and the Vic Bailey Subaru Bike Park.
2. Gulf Shores, Alabama
While many visitors come to this coastal town for the beach, it's also ideal for cyclists. One of the best places to start is Gulf State Park. The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is a paved trail system covering more than 25 miles throughout the park. You can even use the park's free bike share program and rent a bike for three hours at one of the park's bike stations using the Bloom Bike Share App. Beyond the park, bike lanes run alongside Gulf Shores Parkway, the city's main thoroughfare. In addition, you can hit the paved trail along Fort Morgan Road that stretches for more than five miles.
3. Niagara Falls, New York
While the falls are certainly the star attraction, Niagara Falls has much more to offer than just rushing waters—especially for cyclists. At Niagara Falls State Park, riders can explore the area, including Goat Island and Terrapin Point. You can also take the bike path in the park's new Gorgeview recreation area, which connects to bike trails in both Whirlpool State Park and Devil's Hole State Park. From May to October, you can even take the Discover Niagara Shuttle, which has a bike rack, to reach sites along the "Falls to Fort" route. If you don't want to bring your own bike, you can rent one from such rental services as Reddy Bikeshare.
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4. Santa Rosa, California
North of San Francisco, Santa Rosa maintains an extensive system of trails for bicyclists of all skill levels and interests. For example, the Creek Trail System offers three types of bikeway paths that explore the city's urban roots as well as the natural countryside. Along the way, riders can take in a variety of public art such as mosaics, statues, and murals. For those interested in longer excursions, you can hope on the 36.2-mile "Back in the Saddle" ride or the 75.7-mile Santa Rosa Napa Circle ride.
5. Boise, Idaho
The capital city of Idaho, Boise takes great pride in its reputation as a top destination for quality cycling. A great starting point is the Boise River Greenbelt, a 25-mile paved trail that offers scenic views of the Boise River. Along the pathway, riders can access parks and foothills trails or take a break at a local winery, brewery, or cidery. Riders can expand their journey by hitting a 20- to 30-mile loop following Hill, Cartwright, and Dry Creek roads. If you're up for a challenge, Bogus Basin Road features a 16-mile, 4,000-foot elevation climb to Bogus Basin Recreation Area.
6. Grand Forks, North Dakota
Visitors to Grand Forks and its twin city, East Grand Forks, will find plenty to entertain them along The Greenway. Covering 2,200 acres, the Greenway features a variety of trails that weave together to provide bicyclists a wealth of opportunities. These range from short loops to longer rides that traverse the entire recreational area. Beyond the Greenway, paved bike trails run throughout the city so you can check out its many restaurants, shops, and attractions. Another option is the 10-mile North Star Trail that runs through Turtle River State Park.
7. Columbus, Ohio
Also named a "Bicycle Friendly Community" by the League of American Bicyclists, Columbus features more than 20 parks with more than 200 miles of trails as part of the Columbus Metro Parks. For example, at Quarry Trails Metro Park, riders can travel the single-track mountain bike trail through the quarry. For a more sedated ride, hit the Olentangy and Scioto trails, which showcase views of the downtown skyline and The Ohio State University campus. If you don't want to bring your own bike, you can rent one from one of the many CoGo Bike Share stations around the city.
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8. Washington, D.C.
With all there is to see and do in our nation's capital, it's not surprising Washington, D.C. offers many ways to explore the city by bike. To start, the National Mall features wide promenades so bicyclists can travel to see the city's many monuments and memorials. For a more natural setting, hit the C&O Canal Towpath, which starts in Georgetown and runs 184.5 miles to Cumberland, Maryland. You don't have to go the entire distance to enjoy this dirt and stone trail along the C&O Canal. In Rock Creek Park, you can explore the park along the 7-mile biking loop that includes steep descents and sharp turns.
9. Austin, Texas
Austin welcomes bicyclists to hit the trails in and around this Texas city. They can start with the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail and Boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake, where they'll find 10 miles of trails. Another great choice is the Veloway, a 3-mile biking and skating trail that takes riders through more than 100 acres of parkland with meadows and woods. For a more challenging ride, hit the Barton Creek Greenbelt, which has 7.8 miles of natural surface biking trails. In addition, you can embark on a bike tour of the city with such vendors as Mike's Bikes and Tours and Austin Bike Tours and Rentals.
10. Seattle, Washington
Checking out the Emerald City couldn't be easier for cyclists thanks to the many trails available at Seattle's parks and beyond. For instance, the 20-mile Burke-Gilman Trail showcases many panoramic views along Lake Union and Lake Washington as it travels from Golden Gardens Park in Ballard to the Seattle suburb of Kenmore. At Lincoln Park, you can ride along the 3.9 miles of bike trails that include paved trails and forested trails. And at Seward Park, you can explore 300 acres of forest land as you ride along the biking path.