A bicycle is a great way to explore a new city or experience your favorite destination in a new way. You’ll take in the sights, sounds and smells while covering much more ground than you could on foot. With the popularity of cycling soaring in big cities across North America, it’s safer, more convenient and more fun than ever. On your next weekend getaway, go by bike.
Don’t worry about overdoing it on beignets and chicory coffee because cycling in the Big Easy is best enjoyed at a casual pace. Look up Free Wheelin’ Bike Tours for a spooky cruise through the haunted corners of the French Quarter or rent a cruiser from A Bicycle Named Desire and take in the mélange of French, Spanish and Caribbean architecture in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood.
While the crowded streets of Manhattan may not seem bike-friendly, the city has embraced cycling in a big way over the last decade. It has built more than 250 miles of bike lanes and 44 miles of them are completely separated from traffic (more in progress). You can skip the traffic on Broadway and spin along the Hudson River Greenway uninterrupted from the Upper West Side to Battery Park to hop on the Statue of Liberty Ferry. From Prospect Park in Brooklyn you can ride the Ocean Parkway bike path five miles out to Coney Island.
With wide boulevards, separated bike lanes and mostly flat terrain, the nation’s capital is an easy city to explore by bike. The Capital Bikeshare system is great for getting from monuments to museums along the National Mall. If you want to escape the crowds you can follow the scenic C&O Canal towpath 15 miles through Georgetown on to Great Falls Park to see the untamed rapids of the Potomac.
Having long ago shed its industrial past, Pittsburgh is installing protected bike lanes throughout downtown, including one that spans the Roberto Clemente Bridge. Cruise across the Allegheny River and visit the Andy Warhol Museum before taking in a Pirates game at PNC Park with its stunning skyline views.
Pedaling is the perfect way to enjoy Portland, one of the most bike-friendly places in America, and partake in the city’s obsession with craft beer. There are more than 50 breweries within the city limits, nearly all of which have pubs or tasting rooms. Roll into the Hopworks BikeBar and you can even help generate power for the building by spinning on one of the stationary bikes.
The Napa Valley has long been known as a cycling paradise thanks to beautiful weather and even more beautiful scenery. At the Clif Family Winery—owned by the same folks who brought you the Clif Bar—you can grab an espresso, a rental bike and some expert advice about where to ride. When you return you can toast your travels with a glass at the Vino Velo Tasting Room.
The crown jewel of the Appalachian Mountains, Asheville has a laid-back mountain town vibe with excellent food, shopping and outdoor recreation. For a casual cruise, make the five-mile loop along the Historic Downtown Bike Route. If you’re an experienced cyclist looking for a real challenge, try riding the 33 miles to the top of Mt. Mitchell, the highest point in the U.S. east of Mississippi River.
Each visit to Austin should start by making your way around the 10 miles of bike paths along picturesque Lady Bird Lake. Then hop on an electric bike for an Austin Eats food tour that stops at a half-dozen of the city’s best restaurants, breweries and food trucks, or try a BYOB ride on the pedal-powered Pub Crawler with routes through the Capitol, the Market District and the Warehouse District.
Only a 45-minute drive from the Salt Lake City airport, Park City blends a Wild West vibe with high-end shopping and restaurants. Rent bikes from White Pine Touring and take a guided tour of the city’s historic landmarks, or try your hand at mountain biking along hundreds of miles of local trails. In the winter you can even try fat biking in the snow on special bikes with super wide tires.
With an international flavor unlike any other North American city, Montréal has a European-style love of cycling. Comfortably explore the shops and cafes along De Maisonneuve Boulevard by taking advantage of the separated bike lanes, then pack a picnic and cruise the Lachine Canal path to the René Lévesque Park along the St. Lawrence River.