Roll out your bicycle in the land where burritos are rolled to perfection! Here are three coastal routes that dish out ocean views along with one of SoCal’s most celebrated foods. Get your appetite in full gear, it’s time to ride!
Sometimes you want to bike by the ocean, sometimes you want to bike in the mountains, and sometimes you want both. For those with high demands, the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition has put together an ideal 15.9-mile loop through Santa Barbara and Montecito. Their easy-to-follow guide offers turn-by-turn directions and a map with numbered highlights. Pedal away from Stearns Wharf, the main pier in Santa Barbara, and venture up State Street toward the lower slopes of the Santa Ynez Mountains. After an 800-foot climb on paved bike lanes and low traffic canyon roads, the trail crosses Mountain Drive, overlooking the world-class coast and house-dotted hills that make this area famous. Tracing the edge of the Los Padres National Forest, the road passes Cold Spring Creek at the start of Cold Spring Trail. Leaving the mountains, you’ll then coast toward the coast and the charming Coast Village Area (where you can get your Burrito Bonus, see below). From there, fly down to Butterfly Beach—a five-star stretch of sand across from the Four Seasons Hotel—and roll along the tranquil lagoon in the Andrea Clark Bird Refuge. If you don’t see any of the feathered creatures that flock to these wetlands, see if you can spot the top half of a giraffe as you bike past the Santa Barbara Zoo. Close out the day on a bike trail along East Beach cruising between sea-swept palms. Ocean cool down!
BURRITO BONUS: En route, make a pit stop at Los Arroyos (1280 Coast Village Rd.) in Montecito. Grab the oozing-with-flavor Chile Verde Burrito to enjoy on their patio or make it a take-out to enjoy at Butterfly Beach.
The ride begins from the dolphin fountain at the intersection of Cabrillo Blvd. and State St. in Santa Barbara (map). Follow the Coalition’s route for the Mountain Drive Bike Ride. Rental bikes are available across from the fountain at Wheel Fun Rentals. Dog-friendly!
Activity: Bike ,Dog-friendly
Region: Points Beyond
If LA feels like too much of a concrete jungle for a jaunty bike ride, we’ve got a concrete suggestion for you: Try a beginner-friendly 6.75-mile (one-way) ride from Culver City to Playa del Rey along the Ballona Creek Bike Path. This paved two-lane path delivers ongoing action minus the traffic lights and crosswalks. In fact, you’ll dip beneath every street along the way and gain some terrific scenery. Set out from Syd Kronenthal Park on the east side of Culver City and pedal southwest along the conduit that contains Ballona Creek. Enjoy a mostly level ride with a few minor dips beneath cross streets and the 405 Freeway. After sneaking under Duquesne Avenue the path curves to the left, lining up an unexpected over-the-shoulder view of the Hollywood Sign. With 1.5 miles to go, the creek expands from a shallow 20-foot-wide runoff stream into a deeper channel that attracts a peloton of seabirds like whimbrel and brown pelicans. You can smell the ocean over the last leg of the bike path as it shoots down a narrow jetty separating Ballona Creek from the mouth of Marina del Rey. Here the trail comes to an end, but riders with more energy to burn can further the two-wheel fun by heading down the adjoining Pacific Coast Bike Route toward Redondo Beach. Good way to savor the sea-nery!
BURRITO BONUS: Roll up to Señor G’s (343 Culver Blvd.) in Playa Del Rey (map). The Chicken Colorado Burrito is delicious. If your appetite is extra large, upgrade to a “super burrito” like Carlito’s Way, a bold and tasty steak selection.
The Ballona Creek Bike Path begins behind the backstop at Syd Kronenthal Park at 3459 McManus Ave. in Culver City (map), and makes an immediate U-turn heading down to the creek, starting a 6.75-mile run to the ocean. At the end of the jetty, cross a bridge to Pacific Ave., where you can take the Pacific Coast Bike Route south along the beach or bike inland a quarter mile on Culver Blvd. to Señor G’s. The bike path is dog-friendly!
Activity: Bike ,Dog-friendly
Region: Los Angeles
Huntington Beach Hop
Modern muscle cars might make a nice ride, but they’re no match for a good old cruiser bike when it comes to beach-hopping bliss. The Pacific Ocean views are literally nonstop on the Huntington Beach Bike Trail, which runs along sandy Orange County oceanfront between Sunset Beach and the Santa Ana River. The wide, paved bike path travels 8.5 miles (one-way), crossing two state beaches and passing through the lively hub of Huntington Beach. Start at the north end and pedal 2.5 miles through Bolsa Chica State Beach, where you’ll glide as close to the Pacific as possible without sinking in the sand. Next cross a channel that feeds into Bolsa Bay; the trail rises slightly and slips through a long row of palm trees. Weave through surfers and beachgoers, pass beneath the extensive Huntington Pier, and stick with the seemingly endless sand to reach Huntington State Beach. Soon the bike path turns inland to become the Santa Anita River Trail, which borders Orange County’s main river. If you start to experience ocean withdrawal symptoms, turn around for a second dose of seafaring views. Return the way you came. Cruise control, indeed.
BURRITO BONUS: After biking back to the north end of the trail, pedal another mile north along the park on Pacific Ave. to Taco Surf (16281 Pacific Coast Hwy. in Surfside; map) and enjoy a Baja Fish Burrito served wet under red sauce and cheese. The bamboo panels and shanty decor make this a perfect beach burrito spot.
The Huntington Beach Bike Trail begins at the end of Warner Ave., two blocks west of Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach (map). There is free parking to the north along Pacific Ave. Ride 8.5 miles south to the end of the bike trail at the mouth of the Santa Ana River. Beach cruisers may be rented from Out-Spoke-n, located at 16400 Pacific Coast Hwy. in Surfside or from Wheel Fun Rental at 12501 Pacific Coast Hwy. in Huntington Beach (map). Dogs are allowed on the bike trail but not on the beach.
Region: Orange County
Who's Your Favorite Travel Companion?
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Non-stop destinations from LAX include:
Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, Medford, Sun Valley, Vancouver BC, Guadalajara, Ixtapa/Zihautanejo, La Paz, Loreto, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Mammoth Lakes, San Jose, Santa Rosa/Sonoma County, and Washington DC.
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**Based on average fares, excluding non-revenue tickets, from the West Coast (CA, WA, OR) to Hawaii, according to U.S. DOT data for year ending March 31, 2012. *Terms apply. See site for details.