Pedal Through L.A.’s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails
Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Cruise the Strand's Scenic Beachfront Path
Cruising down the Strand's picturesque beachfront bike path is one of the best ways to take in the sun, surf, and sights of LA's iconic coastline. This paved path stretches for over 20 miles, running parallel to the beach from Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades down to Torrance County Beach near the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Along the way, riders pass pristine stretches of sand dotted with surfers, volleyball nets, and sunbathers. Surf's up at Santa Monica's world-famous beaches, where you can pause to watch boarders catch waves against the backdrop of Santa Monica Pier's towering Ferris wheel. Further south, keep eyes peeled for celeb beach homes as you pedal through luxe Marina Del Rey.
No beach cruise is complete without a stop at Venice Beach - the eclectic, artsy heart of the strand. Here quirky shops, street performers, muscle beach bodybuilders, and colorful murals line the lively oceanfront boardwalk. Grab lunch on nearby Abbot Kinney Blvd, L.A.'s coolest shopping and dining district.
While the path can get crowded on weekends, consider an evening or early morning ride for lighter traffic and magical sunrises/sunsets - just be sure to use bike lights after dark. Pro tip: rent bikes in advance from a shop like Perry's Beach Cafe to avoid waits.
Riders say the stunning coastal views and ocean breezes make this ride an LA highlight. "Cruising the path feels like you're biking through a California postcard - I couldn't stop smiling!" shares Amanda G. Meanwhile, Sam P. raves "This has to be one of the most fun and scenic city bike paths in the country - a must for any LA visit!"
What else is in this post?
- Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Cruise the Strand's Scenic Beachfront Path
- Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Ride Through Hollywood History on the Red Car Trail
- Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Pedal Alongside LA's Iconic Concrete River
- Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Roll Through Artsy Venice Beach on The Marvin Braude Bike Trail
- Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Experience Downtown's Urban Core on the LA River Path
- Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Escape to Nature on Topanga State Park's Old Boney Trail
- Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Coast Under LAX's Runways on The Dockweiler Beach Bike Path
- Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Journey Back in Time on The San Gabriel River Bike Path
Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Ride Through Hollywood History on the Red Car Trail
Pedal back in time through Hollywood's Golden Age on the nostalgic Red Car trail. Hop on Metro's Orange Line bike path in North Hollywood to tour studios, landmarks, and neighborhoods from L.A.'s glamorous heyday.
This 18-mile dedicated bike trail follows the path of the historic Pacific Electric Railway's "Red Car" trolleys that ferried stars and workers between Hollywood and downtown in the 1920s-1950s. While the trolleys are long gone, you can recreate their lively route on two wheels.
Cruise by Universal Studios’ iconic globe entrance, then pass Warner Bros’ studio gates where classics like Casablanca came to life. Peek down palm-lined side streets like Formosa Ave, home to Charlie Chaplin’s studio, seeking out historic Tinseltown treasures.
Make a photo stop at Hollywood’s most famous sign, then pedal down Hollywood Blvd’s star-studded Walk of Fame. Pose with your faves, from Marilyn Monroe to The Beatles. Nearby theaters like the Pantages whisk you back to Hollywood’s Golden Age of cinema.
For a different view, turn down Beachwood Canyon to ride twisting roads up to the iconic Hollywood sign. This steep side trip rewards with phenomenal views, especially at sunset when the white sign glows against dusty hills.
End your time travel trip in lively Los Feliz, filled with historic homes, indie boutiques, and hip eateries. Fuel up on pancakes at Alcove Cafe, beloved by celebs since 1929, or enjoy craft cocktails on Hillhurst Ave.
Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Pedal Alongside LA's Iconic Concrete River
At first glance, the concrete-lined channel of the Los Angeles River seems like an unlikely spot for a scenic bike ride. But this iconic waterway has become one of the city's most unique and engaging cycling paths.
The river bike path currently runs for around 8 miles along the river’s Glendale Narrows section northeast of downtown LA. This stretch is notable as one of the only parts of the river that still has a natural bottom after the Army Corps of Engineers paved the majority of the waterway with concrete in the 1930s.
Riding this segment allows you to pedal alongside the river’s waters and experience a wild, verdant oasis in the heart of the city. The sights and sounds of ducks, herons, and other wildlife replace the roaring traffic above. Well-worn paths leading down to the water reveal this is a popular gathering spot for locals seeking refuge from the urban jungle.
Several access points allow cyclists to easily hop on and off the trail. Starting from Griffith Park, you’ll first pass remnants of an old zoo and ostrich farm before crossing under several iconic LA bridges. Next comes an area known as Frogtown, with esoteric riverside art spaces like Hauser & Wirth’s arts complex in a converted flour mill.
Further along are the remains of several of LA’s historic older neighborhoods, like Atwater Village, Glassell Park, and Cypress Park. Glimpse pockets of charm between decaying warehouses, auto body shops, and graffitied storm drains that reveal the path’s grittier side.
The trail eventually opens up around Elysian Valley, where the grounds of the former Lawry’s California Center spice factory now host food trucks and an arts garden. From here, skyscrapers come into view as you approach downtown.
While the path can feel remote, the sights of highways overhead and the distant LA skyline remind you this “escape” is firmly in the heart of the city. Still, the novelty of biking alongside such an unlikely natural oasis keeps the ride intriguing. Regular events like Ciclavia’s car-free festivals also temporarily transform the space into a vibrant riverfront promenade.
Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Roll Through Artsy Venice Beach on The Marvin Braude Bike Trail
Gliding down the breezy Marvin Braude Bike Trail, it doesn't take long to realize you've entered the captivating world of Venice Beach. This paved 22-mile path connects Santa Monica to Torrance, but it's the stylish, creative vibe of Venice that makes this segment a standout.
As you cruise past swaying palm trees and the ocean's glittering waves, keep eyes peeled for the eclectic beach town's one-of-a-kind sights. Vibrant murals splashed across walls transform even fading alleys into an artistic wonderland. An old grocery store becomes a canvas for a mystical underwater scene, while a towering forehead mural watches you pass by with a Mona Lisa smile.
Around any corner could be a crazy character - keep cameras ready as you're just as likely to spot bodybuilders pumping iron on Muscle Beach as a bearded man in a viking helmet riding a bike with a parrot on his shoulder. Performance artists, fortune tellers, and street musicians line the lively boardwalk, infusing the oceanfront strand with creative energy.
While the bustling boardwalk scene steals the spotlight, don't miss abbey-lined sidewalks leading to hidden walkways and serene canals. Here classic Craftsman cottages painted in pastels evoke the beach community's early days, when gondolas were the main mode of transport.
Pause for lunch at one of Venice's upscale culinary haunts, like plant-based hotspot Cafe Gratitude or fresh seafood haven Gjelina. Or embrace the boho spirit and grab tacos on picnic tables at neighborhood favorite Venice Beach Cafe.
However you refuel, you'll soon be recharged and ready to get back in the saddle. Since bikes are the preferred way to experience Venice, you'll be part of a lively two-wheeled parade. As Jenny K. shares, "Riding the path alongside such a fun mix of characters made me feel like I was truly tapping into Venice's creative spirit!"
Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Experience Downtown's Urban Core on the LA River Path
After biking through remote sections surrounded by wilderness, the path’s final stretch opens up to impressive skyline views as downtown’s urban towers come into full view. This end of the trail passes right through the heart of the city, allowing you to experience the dynamic energy of LA’s center up close from two wheels.
The boundaries between nature and development blur as you pedal a lush green corridor shadowed by the concrete jungle’s monolithic structures. Pockets of landscaped yards and floral gardens soften the edges of the channelized river. Meanwhile, the sight of swaying treetops poking between dizzying arrays of glass high rises signals the wild obstinately endures.
In this last stretch, the path’s peace and isolation fades but its buzz and vibrancy magnifies. Under the deafening roar of the bustling 110 Freeway, ride through hives of activity in Chinatown’s crowded restaurants and Little Tokyo’s vibrant shopping centers.
The trails here are popular thoroughfares, full of cyclists, runners, and pedestrians. You’re just as likely to ride past suited executives walking to lunch meetings as spandex-clad athletes. Join the rush hour fray or plan rides on weekends when crowds thin and roads empty for a more leisurely pace.
Make time for detours to discover downtown LA’s cultural treasures, from its premiere art museums to famous Frank Gehry-designed concert halls. Fuel up on foodie finds in Grand Central Market’s gourmet stalls, then burn calories biking to iconic Broadway theaters and the Los Angeles Central Library’s grand 1920s architecture.
As twilight falls, ride through brilliant beams of light against inky blue skies in downtown’s ethereal after-dark setting. Skyline views turn even more magical as glittering towers illuminate LA’s famous nightscape.
Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Escape to Nature on Topanga State Park's Old Boney Trail
Trade the pounding pavement for pine-scented trails on the Old Boney Trail, a rugged 6-mile ride offering a back-to-nature escape in Topanga State Park. Just 30 minutes from Santa Monica yet worlds away, this challenging loop transports you to a lost coast redwood grove that feels far from L.A.’s urban sprawl.
shadows of hundred-foot tall trees washed in dappled sunlight. Ferns brush your shoulders while birdsong fills your ears. It’s a mossy, mystical retreat that transports you to Northern California’s forests - minus the driving time.
While a dirt trail runs most of the loop, enjoy a gently graded 1.5 mile paved warmup climbing from Trippet Ranch up lush Solstice Canyon. It’s just enough to get your cycling legs warmed up before the ride transitions to singletrack. From here, continue rolling over roots and rocks along the Old Boney Trail, keeping momentum to power up short punchy climbs.
Pause at the idyllic Parsons’ Landing for a picnic by a babbling creek - but don’t linger too long. The ride’s second half ratchets up the challenge as you climb over 1,200 feet up steep hills and back down treacherous switchbacks. While the epic coastal views reward the effort, be ready for an intense 9% grade descent you’ll need to take slowly.
While fitness helps, rider Victoria R. says the stunning scenery motivates her up every hill. “This trail showed me a side of LA I never expected! I was stunned by how far from civilization I felt.” Bring plenty of water and fuel since sources are limited. E-bikes can help ease the strain.
Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Coast Under LAX's Runways on The Dockweiler Beach Bike Path
Gliding along the breezy Dockweiler Beach Bike Path, you’d never guess LAX’s rumbling runways loom just overhead. This delightfully flat coastal trail runs right under the airport’s takeoff and landing corridors, making for an unexpectedly scenic ride despite the roaring jet engines above.
At just over 3.5 miles long, it's less epic than many LA beachfront trails but still a visitor favorite for its novelty factor. As Erica G. shares, "I just had to experience the surreality of biking under jumbo jets coming in for landing! It felt strangely empowering to zoom carefree below while imagining the travelers above."
Starting at the southern end of Dockweiler State Beach, the ride begins innocently enough. Palm trees sway above white sands dotted with sunbathers and surfers taking advantage of the wind-sheltered shoreline. But head north and soon a steady procession of soaring planes starts passing just hundreds of feet overhead.
Standing below a landing 747 or A380 Airbus, you truly appreciate their immense scale as they seem to float silently over the dunes. Then - WHOOSH - earsplitting engines kick on as the wheels touch down, vibrating your bike frame beneath you. Yet locals cruise unfazed, barely looking up from their handlebars.
Scenic lookouts with airplane watching benches make good pit stops along the way. Watch winged giants glide over the gleaming Pacific before disappearing behind low-slung airport buildings. LA natives love rattling off aircraft types but don't worry about identification. Just soak in the sights and surreal setting.
Pedal Through L.A.'s Past and Present on These 8 Breezy Bike Trails - Journey Back in Time on The San Gabriel River Bike Path
Pedaling along the San Gabriel River Bike Path transports you back through Southern California’s history, with sights spanning Native American roots, Spanish colonialism, and the region’s citrus heritage. This paved path runs nearly 30 miles along the San Gabriel River, but it’s the northern stretch from Azusa to Whittier Narrows that impresses with its historical gems.
As you roll out of secluded Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, keep eyes peeled for a replica Tongva Indian village. This immerses you in the lifestyle of the Tongva tribe who inhabited these lands for centuries before Spanish conquest. Recreated thatched huts and demonstrations from Tongva guides offer a window into their fishing, hunting, and acorn grinding traditions.
Further along, the path passes the Spanish Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, founded in 1771. Its striking bell tower rises high above the citrus groves, signaling approach to one of California’s most historic settlements. Inside, timeworn murals and artifacts transport you to early days of Spanish rule and mission life.
Most intriguing is the Pio Pico Mansion nearby. Known as "the last governor of Mexican California," Pico built this lavish Anglo-style mansion in 1853 as his private oasis. The ornate period furnishings and formal gardens whisk you back to rancho life for LA’s 1830s Mexican gentry.
The ride then continues through citrus-scented groves - echoes of the booming citrus industry that fueled this area in the late 1800s once dubbed “the Orange Empire.” While groves have dwindled, you’ll still spy orange-laden trees. Stop for a snack at Delicious Point of View cafe for orange-infused goodies.
As rider Courtney G. shares, “I loved how this ride gave me a vivid glimpse into Southern California’s multi-layered history - it helped me understand how today’s LA was shaped.” She also appreciated how scenic and accessible the path was, making history come alive: “Learning about the Tongva way of life in an actual Tongva village brought their culture to life so much better than any textbook.”