San Diego E-Bike Tour
Come Along on our 3-Day, 60-Mile Adventure!
This past weekend we went on an e-bike tour of San Diego county. Let's just say... it was a whole lot of fun! Thank you to our friends who didn't shy away from our crazy idea to load up the panniers and head south on a one-way bike adventure! We enjoyed perfect San Diego weather, spectacular scenery, tasty food, and a good time traveling with friends. In three days, we traveled 60 miles (roughly 20 miles each day) and explored more than ten coastal communities in San Diego county. The route is a combination of bike-only paths, designated bike lanes, and some travel on regular streets with cars. In this post, I'll share the details of our trip and also provide a few tips on what we learned. This itinerary could easily be split up for three separate day-only bike routes.
Day One: Oceanside to Del Mar (19 miles)
We chose the Oceanside Transit Center as our starting point. This made sense for a couple of reasons. We planned to return to this location via Amtrak at the end of our trip. (Spoiler alert: that's not what happened in the end, but you'll have to keep reading to find out why). Parking at the Oceanside Transit Center is free and overnight parking is allowed.
There is a bike-only path that begins at the Oceanside Transit Center, just west of the train tracks (use the pedestrian tunnel under the tracks to get to it). From there the bike path turns into a designated bike lane that shares the road with cars. We made our way through Carlsbad, Leucadia, Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Del Mar each offering plenty of choices for lunch, ice cream, and coffee.
The Del Mar coastline
We opted for Nectarine Grove in Leucadia and Gelato 101 in Encinitas. Then we pulled in to the Best Western Premier in Del Mar and checked in. In theory, it should have only taken us an hour to bike 19 miles on e-bikes, but speed wasn't the name of the game. We took our time and enjoyed the stops along the way. Once we checked in, we spent the afternoon relaxing at the pool and then walked into town for dinner.
A pretty nice place to spend the afternoon after a 19-mile ride
Day Two: Del Mar to Mission Bay (21 miles)
After breakfast and exploring the gorgeous Del Mar coastline on foot, we were on our way again. First up was climbing the Torrey Pines grade (not difficult on an e-bike!). Then we hung a right on North Torrey Pines Road and followed signs to the Torrey Pines Glider Port. We spent some time on the observation deck admiring the brave folks who catch the wind with something like a large wind-breaker. It is inspiring!
From there we rode down the hill past the Birch Aquarium and into La Jolla Shores. Then we made our way to the La Jolla cove where we had a delicious Italian lunch at La Dolce Vita. I highly recommend the pizza!
Children's Pool Beach, La Jolla
After lunch, we rode south to Windansea Beach and the Bird Rock area. We joined a bike path right where the Seacliff Apartments are located which took us into Pacific Beach and past the Crystal Pier. We followed this (crowded) bike path to Belmont Park and then crossed over to the bayside and followed it around to Crown Point, across the bride and to Paradise Point Resort & Spa, our stop for the night. Again our afternoon was spent relaxing at the pool. For dinner, we walked over to the onsite Barefoot Bar & Grill.
Day Three: Mission Bay to Coronado Island (20 miles)
Here's where our original plan-A had to be ditched for a plan-B. Riding into downtown San Diego and then taking the ferry over to Coronado Island was not the initial plan, but it turned out to be way more fun than what we had planned. We had intended to just ride over to Old Town, San Diego on Sunday, a shorter distance of 5 miles. We thought we'd end our trip with Mexican food and then board the Amtrak to get back to our cars at the Oceanside Transit Center. We did not even consider that Amtrak would be limiting service due to the pandemic and that train travel would not be an option for us because we had not pre-purchased our tickets. Had we booked in advance, it would have been fine, but we didn't! I'm glad we discovered this on Saturday night and not on Sunday when we were standing on the train platform. We considered alternatives and decided it would be fun to extend the ride down to Coronado Island and to end at the famous Hotel Del Coronado. The only question at that point was... how were we going to get our cars down there? That was the beauty of being only 45-minutes away from where we parked! A couple of people from our group took an Uber back to our cars on Sunday morning and drove them to Coronado Island. They parked them and then took another Uber back to Mission Bay. In the end, it cost less money than 6 train tickets would have been, plus it was way more fun to have another full day of riding.
The main pool at Paradise PointWe set out from the Paradise Point Resort & Spa and headed south. We crossed the channel on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and met up with the San Diego River Bikeway, a designated bike path, over to Ocean Beach. We hugged the coastline, zig-zagging back and forth through residential areas that eventually led us to the Sunset Cliffs area.
Then we cut across the Point Loma peninsula and made our way toward Shelter Island. One of the most spectacular views of the entire trip was standing high up on Talbot Street overlooking the San Diego skyline. We stopped in at Ketch Grill & Taps for lunch and then made our way past the San Diego International Airport via the Spanish Landing Bike Trail. We purchased our ferry tickets for Coronado Island and then enjoyed some gelato while we waited for the ferry.
That view!(Note: the map does not show the correct location of the ferry. You'll find the ticket kiosk and the boarding area on the waterfront between the USS Midway and the Star of India. If you get to Seaport Village, you've gone too far).
Once on Coronado Island, there is a bike path that goes left and under the Coronado Bridge, circling around to Glorietta Bay and the famous Del Coronado Hotel. A path that allows bikes will take you right between the hotel and the beach. What a gorgeous area! If we hadn't been in a hurry to get our bike rental back to the shop in time, we would have spent the rest of the day relaxing on the beach there. Or who knows, maybe we would have stayed a night on the island and continued south again the next day! There is a bike path that continues south to Imperial Beach. The possibilities are endless!
We rode our bikes to where our cars were parked, loaded up, and headed home. In the end, we were glad for three days of fun and enjoying the beautiful coastline that San Diego offers! And we were very thankful for no flat tires or technical issues. We had one minor fall, but otherwise, everyone was safe and healthy.
Tips for Planning Your Bike Trip:
1. If you need to rent bikes and are in the Oceanside area, I highly recommend Mostly E-Bikes. This shop has all the latest and greatest in the world of e-bikes for rental and purchase. They keep their bikes in good working condition, so you can be sure you're getting a quality rental. They are located a short distance from the Oceanside Transit Center. (Note: This is not a sponsored plug. I just like this shop a lot).
2. Decide if you're doing a single-day ride or an overnight. This was not our first over-night trip. My husband and I tried it out for the first time last summer when we rode down to The Lodge at Torrey Pines, stayed the night and rode the train back from Sorrento Valley. We knew then that an over-night was easy to do and a lot of fun. If you decide to do an over-night, you have two options for carrying a change of clothes and your toiletries. You can either wear a backpack or use panniers. Mostly E-Bikes has panniers available and some of their rentals will accommodate them. If you own your e-bike and are looking to invest in panniers, there are plenty of options on Amazon. These are the two sets that we currently own. Both are great!
Rhino Bike Bag
Ibera Bicycle Bag
Those panniers can hold a lot!
3. Decide how far you want to ride each day. Google maps are very helpful in planning a route, especially when you choose "cycling" as the mode of transportation. Driving the route in advance is another way to make sure you know where you're headed.
4. If you are planning to do a trip like this with kids, consider their stamina and safety. Only you know what your kids are capable of doing. For our teenagers, I feel confident that they could be safe on the road with cars, stay in designated lanes, and obey traffic laws. But I probably would not have felt the same way a few years ago. I also know that my kids would probably not dig three days of riding like this (which is why we opted to enjoy this with friends instead). Only you can evaluate what's best for your family. Less is always better. You can always add more with experience and interest.
5. When making hotel reservations, let them know you'll be arriving by bike and will be bringing your bike inside your room with you. This must be more common than I realized because now after doing this at four different hotels, not one employee has acted surprised or concerned. You can ask for a ground floor room if you don't want to bother with an elevator.
6. Items I was glad I had brought:
7. Items I will bring along next time:
quick snacks like trail mix and protein bars
a laundry bag
a packable purse for dinners out (this may seem silly, but each night we went out to dinner, I was juggling my phone, wallet and reading glasses because I didn't want to wear my fanny pack to dinner! LOL).
So there you have it, our San Diego tour on E-bikes. Let me know if you have a great spot in your town for a point-to-point bike tour. We just may have to add it to our bucket list!
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