Great Places to Ride For Beginners and Families

San Diego may not be the most cycling friendly city in the world when it comes to dedicated bike lanes and bike path network. However, there are still a number of great places for the cyclist just staring out or for families with kids looking to log a few miles together. Please note that this list is based on routes that have a significant amount of paved paths used by both pedestrians and bikes. It is truly intended for beginners and families with kids. The average speed and limits on these paths are high single digits on most stretches.

Without further ado, here's a list of places that my family and I typically go to ride together (and also where we grab a meal):

 #3 - Pacific Beach Boardwalk

My family and I love this stretch of boardwalk which spans from Pacific Beach all the way down to Mission Beach. It's a great mix of beach and shops and eateries. Foot traffic can be heavy on weekends but everyone is pretty forgiving and pedestrians are accustomed to navigating along side bikes. Key Tip: This is an excellent place for younger rides to hone their bike control and balance skills. Having to ride in foot traffic is great practice!

If you do venture away from the boardwalk toward Garnett Avenue, please not that numerous driveways in this area make for very unsafe biking. Use caution when biking through this area! Instead a much better opposition is to cross over to mission bay which is just east of Belmont Park (south of Pacific Beach).

Where to Park: Next to Bicycle Discovery at: 742 Felspar St, San Diego, CA 92109 or nearby local streets.

Places to Eat: Kono's Cafe (Generous portions and great burritos and breakfast plates!) Located right next to Crystal Pier at: 704 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109.

#2 - Embarcadero Marina

This is another family favorite. Foot traffic is a bit lighter here compared to Pacific Beach but the pedestrians are also not as amenable to passing bikes. Still, the views here are amazing. During the summer they also host concerts on the marina behind the Convention Center.

From there, head north past Seaport Village and toward the USS Midway Museum, then past the Star of India. There certainly is no shortage of things to see on this route! One note, you will need to cut across the parking lot for next to the Hyatt behind Seaport Village or hop off an walk your bike since these is a short pedestrian only section on this route. The turn around point is at the Water Front Park after the kids have had a chance to play on the modern jungle gym equipment there: 1600 Pacific Hwy San Diego, CA 92101.

Where to Park: Metered, behind the Convention Center Next to Jones's Crab Shack (or free if you grab a bite at Joe's) at: 525 E Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101.

Places to Eat: Joe's Crab Shack at 525 E Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101.

#1 - Mission Bay

This is hands down the best place to go for a leisurely ride in San Diego. Despite being a major San Diego tourist destination, the pathways are wide and rarely congested. And did I mention that the views here around dusk are amazing? If you or your family is up for a slightly bigger challenge, try rounding around the entire bay which comes out to about 13 miles. The pedestrian bridge next to Camp Land on the Bay was recently completely. This make the route much safer and completes the loop around the bay.

Another plus is that parking here is a breeze. Numerous parking lots line the east side of the loop.

Lastly, if time permits, this would be a great place to get some paddle boarding or kayaking immediately after the ride!

Where to Park: 2688 E Mission Bay DrSan Diego, CA 92109-6802

Places to Eat: There are no eateries or places that we frequent on this route. But if you know of one please let me know and I'll update the post.

Sunset over Mission Beach.
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