Beach towns and bikes are a match made in heaven.
That’s largely because coastal cities and towns tend to practice a slower way of life. Quaint downtowns and pleasant weather encourage vacationers and residents alike to leave the car at home (or at the hotel) and enjoy a leisurely bike ride through town or along the beach. When you’ve pedaled to your heart’s content, catch some rays seaside or savor an ice cream cone in town.
The opportunity to ditch the daily grind helps explain why nearly a quarter of Americans hope to vacation oceanside each year. If you count yourself among the millions of Americans who live or play at the beach—and among the more than a hundred million Americans who hop on a bicycle at least once a year—then it’s high time you checked out these 11 bikeable coastal towns and cities. Not only do they offer a slower way of life and spectacular seaside views, but they also enable visitors to enjoy these perks from the seat of a bicycle.
Corpus Christi, TX
Corpus Christi boasts some of the best beaches in the country thanks to its stellar location on a bay in the Gulf of Mexico. Its sandy beaches are protected by two islands, so you can enjoy peaceful visits to the seashore pretty much year-round. The 11-mile Shoreline Boulevard/Ocean Drive is a biker’s paradise: It features a dedicated bike lane for nearly its entire length, which enables bikers to take in sweeping beach views while traveling past some of the most sought-after destinations in Corpus Christi, including the U.S.S. Lexington museum and a host of waterfront parks.
Hilton Head, SC
Hilton Head Island boasts 12 miles of hard-packed beach, and visitors are invited to bike on any or all of them. (If you want to preserve your bicycle, it’s best to go at low tide to avoid biking in saltwater.) If biking on the beach sounds a bit too strenuous, don’t fret. There are multi-use pathways all over the island (including the popular Sea Pines Plantation), and the town’s capital improvement plans include the creation of even more bike-friendly infrastructure in the future. Hilton Head also goes wild for National Bike Month, with bike rides and related events taking place across the island.
Huntington Beach, CA
Huntington Beach has long earned acclaim as Surf City USA, but one of these days it may end up rebranding as Bike City USA. The city is lined with bike trails, one of the most popular of which is the (aptly named) Huntington Beach Bicycle Trail. The 20-mile roundtrip ride extends from Sunset Beach to Newport Beach, so wear plenty of sunscreen and pack a swimsuit. If a 20-mile bike ride sounds a bit too ambitious for your liking, there are plenty of shorter coastal paths to be found throughout the town.
Long Beach, CA
Long Beach is a veritable biker’s paradise thanks to miles upon miles of protected bike lanes, including some that make it feasible for bikers to tackle what used to be seriously harrowing roads. Citizen advocacy has inspired a Bicycle Master Plan that aims to make biking more accessible to communities across the city, so Long Beach is only expected to become more bike-friendly in coming years. In the meantime, don’t miss out on the Shoreline Pedestrian Bike Path—a paved route that spans 4.5 picturesque miles of the Long Beach coast.
It might be surprising to see one of the world’s most car-obsessed cities on this list, but Hollywood is known for staying ahead of the curve—so it’s only fitting that the city is gradually earning a reputation as a leader in the bike-friendly trend. Protected bike lanes are cropping up all across LA, and elected officials are increasingly pledging their commitment to bike-friendly initiatives. One of the more recent projects to break ground connects the University of Southern California with a variety of parks and museums as well as downtown LA. Riders can also take their pick of relatively flat coastal rides or major climbs in LA’s mountain canyons. Read our coffee tour of LA here.
Miami may be known more for its nightclubs and beachgoers than for its grassroots activism, but it actually boasts one of the largest monthly Critical Mass bicycle rides of any U.S. city. These events draw thousands of riders on the last Friday of every month, but you don’t have to restrict your biking to that single day. Bike-friendly infrastructure abounds throughout the city, from South Beach to Virginia Key Park—so you can enjoy a ride through one of America’s most iconic coastal cities any day of the week. Read our bike tour of Miami Beach here.
Myrtle Beach, SC
Come for the beaches, stay for the biking. Myrtle Beach boasts a plethora of seaside bike trails, all of which promise gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean and other natural scenery. You’ll need to stay for a week or more in order to hit all of the region’s most popular bike trails, which include the 12-mile Waccamaw Neck Bikeway, the 26-mile trail in Huntington Beach State Park, a quick two-mile jaunt through the Market Common shopping district, the scenic Conway Riverwalk, and portions of the epic 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway, which spans from Canada to Key West.
Outer Banks, NC
Iconic coastal views await any biker willing to brave the wind of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The Outer Banks extend for 105 miles, and bikers can ride every one of them. In the process, they’ll enjoy views of salt marshes, gorgeous beaches, rolling farmlands, wildlife preserves, and plenty of historic lighthouses. The Outer Banks are lined with multi-use bike paths, dedicated bike lanes, and wide shoulders, so you can choose your own adventure depending on your comfort level. And because the terrain remains flat pretty much everywhere, you can savor the views without breaking too much of a sweat.
Palm Beach, FL
Palm Beach County is home to an impressive array of parks, and the vast majority of them promise paved pedestrian pathways perfect for a scenic bike ride. If you’d prefer to stay closer to the urban center, don’t fret. The Lake Trail will guide you along five paved miles of perhaps the most upscale views to be found anywhere in the country. Appropriately nicknamed "The Trail of Conspicuous Consumption", the bike route travels past some of the ritziest mansions (and their private docks) to be found in Palm Beach.
Strengthen your quads on the hilly streets of San Francisco, which are becoming more bike-friendly by the minute. The city boasts a remarkably high percentage of bicycle commuters thanks to miles upon miles of protected bike lanes and nearly 1,000 bike racks. (One of the most popular routes, the Market Street bike lane, logged more than one million bike trips in 2015 alone.) While you’ll find bike lanes all over this coastal city, don’t miss the eight miles of car-free paths lining Angel Island State Park, which offers panoramic views of San Fran’s skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge. Check out our tour of SF here.
Just 70 miles south of Tampa lies the hidden gem of Venice, which is situated smack dab on the Gulf of Mexico. You won’t find canals here, but you will find plenty of bike-friendly routes. The charming city is lined with paved bike paths that allow riders to take in the town’s many parks and beaches as well as its historic downtown and intercoastal waterway. This cornucopia of bike paths—one of the most popular of which is the 12-mile Legacy Trail—has helped earn the city a Silver Award for its accessibility to bikers of all stripes.
From Florida to California, bikeable cities dot the coastlines of the U.S. What’s more, many of these towns boast stellar weather nearly all year long. So pack your beach towel, grab your cruiser, and pedal your way along some of America’s most beautiful beach vistas.