Exploring Los Angeles County's Bike-Friendly Beaches

One of the most enjoyable ways to explore Los Angeles is by taking a ride along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, also known as The Strand. This 22-mile bike path is a paved, flat trail that connects many of Los Angeles' coastal cities, from Santa Monica and Venice to South Bay (Manhattan, Hermosa, Redondo) and Torrance Beach. It's popular with cyclists, joggers, skaters and anyone lucky enough to find themselves on the beloved beachside trail. By going at a fast pace with no stops, it's possible to cycle the entire trail one way in less than two hours.

But you can also easily take the whole day off, stopping at dozens of places along the way. A great place to start is at Will Rogers Beach and the Santa Monica Pier. This iconic beach and pier offer a fun and festive atmosphere, with a huge open beach area and plenty of amenities. The bike path goes through several beach clubs and the Annenberg Community Beach House, which is free to the public.

Here you can find the Back on the Beach Café, where you can buy products such as sunscreen and towels, and rent beach chairs, umbrellas and bodyboards. When you're done exploring, hop on your bike and go under the pier to head south to Venice Beach. The road takes a turn toward the artistic in this iconic, free-spirited beach community. At this point on your Marvin Braude bike trail tour, you'll be sharing the sidewalk with a variety of people who cycle, walk, skate and run at different speeds.

Sometimes people suddenly stop and turn around or veer off course while hiding their faces in their phone. Slow down and let yourself go, taking extra precautions when passing pedestrians. Approximately halfway to the Venice Beach pier, when the bike path begins to run parallel to the world-famous waterfront promenade (also known as the Venice Beach Boardwalk), the path will go from being almost straight to turning smoothly with curves and curves. Soon you'll find Venice Ale House, a local favorite that serves amazing burgers and craft beers.

In addition to Ale House, you'll find a number of dining options right next to the bike path, such as The Waterfront Venice and Fig Tree Cafe. This could be the perfect spot on your biking adventure on the beach to stop for lunch before heading to the colorful and chaotic heart of Venice Beach. Biking along the beachfront pedestrian promenade is a great way to enjoy the atmosphere without having to get stuck in foot traffic. The bike path goes through the skate park, public art walls, basketball courts and Muscle Beach, and then continues to Venice's fishing pier.

The Venice fishing pier is a simple concrete structure that juts out into the ocean. Unlike the neighboring Santa Monica pier, there are no cafes or carnival games here; only fishermen, a few pedestrians and a few hungry seagulls. The Marvin Braude bicycle trail leaves the beach a few kilometers after the pier and heads inland along West Washington Blvd to explore the thousands of boats docked at Marina Del Rey. Fortunately, Washington is a bicycle-friendly street with lots of bike lane signage. Head inland for a detour through Los Angeles.

From Venice Fishing Pier, you'll travel along West Washington Blvd for less than a mile. When you reach Mildred Avenue, go right along the bike path and drive along Marina del Rey on the exclusive bike path. Marina del Rey is the largest artificial small boat port in the world and a destination in itself. You could get lost exploring if you wanted to slow down and really enjoy the marina by bike. If you're hungry, you have a wide variety of dining options, from a banh mi pork belly sandwich at Mendocino Farms to peeled prawns at Killer Shrimp.

Finally, the bike path joins Fiji Way on the last stretch around the marina to Ballona Creek. The bike path can be accessed from beaches along its route but there is more parking and bike rentals in Will Rogers and Santa Monica areas. A 1985 bike tour guide reported that this was “deservedly the most popular (and busiest) bike path in Los Angeles County”.While its length can be challenging for beginners or younger members of family, its low slope makes it ideal for spending an entire day of adventure while immersing yourself in Los Angeles' diverse cultures. The 9-mile Griffith Park circuit is one of Los Angeles' most popular bike trails so those looking for a quiet ride may be disappointed. In Hermosa Beach passengers have two options: continuing along class II bike path that borders Hermosa Beach (which can be quite busy due to foot traffic especially during summer months) or going along class II bike path that runs parallel to Hermosa Avenue. Although Los Angeles is making strides towards becoming bicycle-friendly city it's still not as welcoming as other historic biking cities in United States. The current path was proposed in late 1960s with Los Angeles Times reporting “Camera study plan for a bike path in Venice” in 1967 which was approved by LADOT (Los Angeles Department of Transportation).

Initial gaps in route which was otherwise largely completed in 1974 were in Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica Hermosa Redondo Beach. A good starting or meeting point for your biking adventure is Will Rogers Beach or Santa Monica Pier where you can find plenty of parking spaces as well as bike rentals.

Adam Martabano
Adam Martabano

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