When people think of San Francisco the first thing they often think of is hills. With that in mind, it's easy to see why somebody visiting might think that bikes are an impractical way to see the city. Fortunately, biking in San Francisco isn't really that hard. If you know the routes.
That's why I'd like to share this amazing bike ride on which I frequently take visitors to San Francisco. Not only is it almost completely flat, but it also boasts spectacular views of the city and almost no mixing with motor vehicle traffic. It's a fantastic ride for even the most timid biker.
First Leg - 0.6 Miles
If you're in San Francisco during the summer try to roll out of the Ferry Building by noon. This will give you enough time to complete the ride before the uncomfortably cold and damp San Francisco fog swallows the beautiful destinations later on in the ride.
Head north from the Ferry Building along the wide mixed-use path. On a weekend there will probably be a lot of pedestrians. Just take your time and enjoy the views of the bay and Trans America Pyramid.
You will see the sign for the Exploratorium after a short distance. Make a right and bike out along the pier. What awaits is a spectacular view of the Bay Bridge, Yerba Buena Island, and the east bay. Why not hang out and take some photos?
Second Leg - 2.2 Miles
Roll out from the Exploratorium and make your way back to the mixed-use path along the Embarcadero. Turn right and continue heading north.
After about a mile the path splits into multiple walking an biking areas. This area is San Francisco's famous Wharf. Here you can get a delicious bowl of clam chowder as many of the tourists do, or you can keep biking and pretend you were never there like most San Franciscans do. Both strategies have their advantages and disadvantages.
During this section of the ride there are 3 blocks where bikes and cars mix in a traffic calmed space. Careful! There is one block with trolly tracks.
Soon the road will dead end and all the suckers in cars will have to turn around. Instead, you continue on with views of the Maritime Museum Waterfront Park on your right and famous Ghiradelli Square on your left.
When the path forks take the left hand side up a slight incline and make a right at the top. This will take you out to Aquatic Park Pier where you can soak in views of the Wharf, Ghiradelli Square, and Alcatraz.
Third Leg - 2.1 Miles
Once you've gotten your fill of this spectacular vista it's time to continue on to the Marina. Head back down the pier toward land. Turn right as soon as you hit the road and prepare for the route's one and only hill climb. It's tough, but short and there's no shame in pushing.
Don't forget to pause at the top! There you will spot the Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Mason's Great Meadow.
Once you've gawked at the amazing beauty (ie. caught your breath) hop back on your bike and coast down the hill through the Great Meadow.
When the path forks keep right. You will go down a short and curvy decent after which you will ride parallel to a parking lot before reaching a wide open path with equally wide open views. This area is known as Marina Green.
Just as you reach the end of the Marina (where the sailboats are parked) make a right. Bike through the yacht club parking lot. You'll pass some speed bumps. Just keep going. And going.
Once you've gone as far as you can go you are at a point known as the Wave Organ. The name is a lot cooler than it sounds. The only music you'll hear is the gurgles and sloshes of the bay. However, the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marina from this spot are unparalleled. Take an epic pano and share to FB!
Fourth Leg - 0.6 Miles
The Wave Organ is amazing, but it's time to feel like we're in the city again. Head back out through the parking lot and back to the road with the bike path along side (Marina Boulevard).
At this point you cross Marina Boulevard and make your way towards the final destination: the Palace of Fine Arts. It's one of the most beautiful locations in the city and not very heavily trafficked. Here would be a great place to take some photos and enjoy your picnic lunch.
To head back to the Ferry Building just retrace your path. Enjoy the tail wind heading home.