Riding bikes is a perfect family activity, especially in San Diego where the weather is awesome and there’s a plethora of family-friendly bike trails and resources for beginners.
Bike riding provides a healthy dose of physical activity and it’s fun quality time with family. Biking helps kids grow strong and learn balance, and is an easy way for them to stay active all summer, which is critical for their health and wellness.
Know Before You Go
Know your kids' fitness levels before heading out and plan accordingly. Watch for signs of fatigue and know when it’s time to stop. Plan your turnaround point ahead of time and consider a “plan B" (like a car parked at a trail midpoint) in case your crew gets tired. Make sure everyone is fed and hydrated before departure. Bring at least one water bottle for each person and take sips every 10-15 minutes. Don’t forget sunscreen. Riding in the early morning or late afternoon is usually most comfortable.
Be sure to register your family for Bike It!, a summer biking initiative where you can log your rides and submit them at the end of each summer month for a chance to win cool prizes. Register at www.mycitybikes.org/bike-it.html.
Reinforce Good Traffic Safety Habits
Each of the paved bike paths below is mostly separated from vehicular traffic, but there are some traffic crossings, which can be used as teaching opportunities. Discuss the importance of coming to a complete stop at an intersection, looking both ways for oncoming traffic, using the pedestrian crosswalk, and listening for traffic beyond what you can see. Give one of the kids the official “crosswalk button pusher” job and ask her to report when the light changes.
Family-Friendly Bike Trails in San Diego
Distance: 17.1 Miles
This paved coastal trail runs alongside the ocean from Coronado to National City. With connections to Tidelands Park and Silver Strand State Beach, rides around the Coronado Golf Course and under the Coronado Bridge—and plenty of trailside dining options—you can make a day of this trail. This trail is best to ride earlier in the day, as the wind tends to pick up in the afternoons.
Distance: 1.1 miles
Linear Park in downtown San Diego is short and sweet—a great option for families with kids who may not be able to ride longer distances. There is no shortage of detours accessible from the linear park, including the popular Gaslamp Quarter, Petco Park, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Promenade.
San Luis Rey River Trail
Distance: 9 miles
This popular Oceanside trail runs along the San Luis Rey River. It is mostly flat and is frequented by cyclists, walkers, joggers and inline skaters. It can get busy, especially on the weekends.
San Diego River Trail
Distance: 6 miles
This trail runs alongside the San Diego River channel and mud flats. It is a great path for viewing wildlife, especially bird watching.
Mission Bay Bike Path
Distance: 11.4 miles
This path loops around Mission Bay and runs through Mission Bay Park where there are ample amenities for taking a bathroom break or a playground detour. The path provides access to several other parks, two wildlife preserves and SeaWorld San Diego.
Visit family-friendly bike trails for more information.
Visit a Local Bike Shop
If you’re buying a new bike, visit a local bike shop, which has expert advisors, mechanics and trade-up programs. When it’s time for a bike tune up, a local cyclist and trained bike mechanic is the way to go. Most big box and online bikes are either pre-assembled at a factory or put together by employees who do not have experience with bike maintenance.
Visiting a bike shop with your kids can be a bit of a wonderland experience. When getting your bike serviced or purchasing a new bike, ask about learning how to change a bike tire. As long as the shop isn't busy, most mechanics will show you how it’s done. It's a fascinating and practical hands-on experience for kids, and can save you from having to pay for a repair in the future.
Ask an expert to teach your family proper bike prep: putting on a helmet properly, checking the air in your tires, and having plenty of water and snacks for the ride. Get the kids involved by making them responsible for getting bike gear ready for a family ride.
Bike Shops in San Diego
These family-friendly San Diego County bike shops are part of the My City Bikes Alliance and have pledged to provide an environment that is welcoming and informative for beginning bicyclists at every age.
Adams Avenue Bicycles
Bike Vault Bike Shop
North County Family Bicycles
Zumwalts Bicycle Center
Did you know? The American Journal of Public Health reports that kids are more likely to gain weight during summer than during the school year. Your habits at home have the greatest influence on whether or not your kids remain active.
For more information, visit www.mycitybikes.org or download the free San Diego Bikes app from the App Store.
Published June 2016