Best Places to Ride a Beach Cruiser in Southern California

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There's nothing like a ride on a beach cruiser along one of Southern California's beach bicycle paths.
There's nothing like a ride on a beach cruiser along one of Southern California's beach bicycle paths. (Image: Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

They don’t go fast or stop on a dime. They have balloon tires, coaster brakes, a single-speed drive train and even a chain guard. Their wide seats are padded for comfort since, as bicycles go, these aren’t so much for performance as they are for style. They’re called beach cruisers for very good reasons, since some of the best places to ride them are along the paths that meander through the sand of the beaches that stretch from Santa Monica all the way down to San Diego.

Marvin Braude Bicycle Trail

The longest and perhaps most diverse of Southern California’s beach bicycle paths is the Marvin Braude Bicycle Trail, known colloquially as the Strand or simply the bike path. The 22-mile-long trail begins at Will Rogers State Beach just north of Santa Monica and ends at Torrance Beach. The path takes riders on a cruise past the Pacific Park roller coaster on the Santa Monica Pier, the Gold’s Gym bodybuilders on the beach at Venice, hang gliders on the dunes at Dockweiler Beach, the surfers of El Porto, the vibrant activity along the Strand at Hermosa Beach and through King Harbor and the Redondo Beach Pier. Part two-way beach bike path and part Strand promenade, the path is shared among bikers, skaters and pedestrians for part of the ride.

Long Beach Bike Path

Beach cruisers will find a hidden treasure in Long Beach. The Long Beach Bike Path cuts a swath through the sand from Shoreline Village to Alamitos Bay, passing beachfront housing and offering riders spectacular views of Long Beach Harbor and the majestic, permanently moored Queen Mary. This concrete path, built on the sand, is 17 feet wide and intended for bicycle traffic only. The Long Beach Bike Path is 3.5 miles long. Parking is abundant at Shoreline Village and several spots along the route.

Huntington Beach Bike Path

Nowhere is the beach cruiser more at home than on a ride past some of Orange County’s most popular beaches along the 8.5-mile-long Huntington Beach Bike path. Running parallel but west of Pacific Coast Highway, the path begins at Sunset Beach and trails south to Newport Bay. The trail passes some pretty spectacular geography, including the beaches of the self-proclaimed “Surf City,” Huntington Beach, the hive of activity at the Huntington Beach Pier, Bolsa Chica Beach and the 300-acre Bolsa Chica Ecological preserve. More of a promenade or boardwalk, the concrete Huntington Beach bike path is shared by in-line skaters, skateboarders and pedestrians and can get quite congested, particularly near the pier area.

San Diego Bay Bike Route

For spectacular viewing of San Diego Bay, downtown San Diego and the historic Coronado Hotel from the padded seat of a beach cruiser, there is the San Diego Bay Bike Route. The 24-mile path around San Diego Bay includes a combination of existing street, traffic-sharing bike lanes and separated concrete bike paths. The route begins at Harbor Drive in downtown San Diego and follows a circular path around the bay, ending at the Old Ferry Landing near the Coronado Hotel. Although the end of the bike path is at the tip of a peninsula, a passenger and bicycle ferry carries riders across the bay to the starting point. The ferry departs every 30 minutes, and tickets for the 15-minute voyage can be purchased upon boarding.

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