Whether you’re a devoted cyclist or a leisure rider, a wonderful way to experience a new destination is by bicycle. Cycling is more popular than ever, and the trend of exploring far-off destinations by bike is on the rise. An array of companies across the globe offer guided cycling tours of varying lengths, locations, price points, and surfaces. Here are six exceptional experiences hosted by top-notch operators, ranging from epic road rides across Europe to leisurely tours in Cajun Country and from gravel grinders in Tuscany to high-altitude mountain bike excursions in New Zealand.
This new cycling tour from Grasshopper Adventures is the essential discovery trip of Thailand, Cambodia and the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. It includes a wide variety of dynamic riding, ranging from single-lane bike trails to remote backroads through the countryside. The itinerary includes must-sees, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site Angkor Archaeological Park, the Silk Islands and Cai Rang Floating Market.
Cycle of Life Adventures’ New Orleans Big Easy Bike Tour includes riding the routes of the Mardi Gras Parade, exploring historic neighborhoods with lavish 300-year-old mansions, overnighting in plantation houses draped by live oaks, biking the levees on the Mississippi River Trail and pedaling along Lake Pontchartrain.
Get off the beaten track and into New Zealand’s wild, dramatic landscapes on a mountain bike tour of the South Island with H+I Adventures. This trip takes riders from coastal cliffs near Christchurch to the flowing singletrack of Craigieburn, the rainforest and ridgelines of the Old Ghost Road, the technical trails of Alexandra and, finally, the descents around Queenstown.
Ride & Seek, an adventure cycling company offering itineraries that follow in the footsteps of historical figures, is thrilled to announce The Marco Polo Expedition. This epic cycling tour leads riders 1,900 km from Venice to Athens, Greece. Guests will cycle down the coast from Italy through Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece.
Ride to waterfalls, lakes and Inca ruins during the day, and stay in classic haciendas each night on a tour of the foothills around Ecuador’s Cotopaxi National Park with Adventure Life. At the end of the trip, take on the thrilling descent of Cotopaxi Volcano itself into the valley below.
Cycle Tuscany’s historic gravel roads on a new eight-day cycling trip that crisscrosses Italy’s famous Chianti region. The trip, offered by Tourissimo and Ride & Seek, passes through medieval hilltop towns and by abbeys, wineries and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Be ready for steep climbs and winding descents when you join this trip.
Eco-inspired families are trading in their rental cars for the chance to tour their vacation destinations from the seat of a bike. This energy savvy transportation mode not only saves dollars but adds a healthy fitness component to any holiday outing.
Here are 15 places where you can cruise with confidence:
Portland, Ore –
This super-bike friendly city is widely recognized as being a two- wheel trend setter. Get to know the City of Roses by taking advantage of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco’s Carless Vacation package. You’ll arrive from the airport via free light rail passes and then embark on an historic city tour led by Pedal Bicycle Tours. The Green Seal certified hotel offers complimentary bikes. Contact: 1-503- 222-0001; www.monaco-portland.com.
San Diego, CA –
Cruise along the flat and car-free pathways of Mission Beach or take in the scenic views on Coronado Island, along San Diego Bay or in the Gaslamp District. Whether you have young children or older kids looking for a mountain bike adventure, this seaside SoCal destination is a biker’s paradise. Contact: 1-866-425-2925; www.hikebikekayak.com.
Lake Placid, NY-
Enjoy wooded trails and scenic byways between villages in the Adirondack region of northern New York State. With a treasure trove of outdoor recreational opportunities and stunning mountain vistas, you and your family will enjoy the views from the seat of your bikes. Choose a rugged mountain bike, a road bike or tandems and be sure to bring plenty of water. Contact: www.PlacidPlanetBicycles.com; 518-523-4128
Chicago, IL –
Get off the tourist beat and on to the quiet neighborhood streets, city parks and beautiful beaches that keep Windy City residents happy and eager to become the nation’s most bike friendly city by 2015. Or hop on a cruiser for tours that include a glimpse of Oprah’s house, the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Old Town Historic District and the Lakefront. There are wheel-based options for family members of all ages and fitness levels. Contact: 1-312- 915-0995; www.bobbysbikehike.com
Tallahassee, FL -
Follow the abandoned rail bed of the historic Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad to the town of St. Marks and the confluence of the St. Marks and Wakulla rivers. The Florida State Park Service maintains the 19-mile paved trail, deemed accessible for family members of all ages and abilities. Contact: 1-850-224-7461; www.greatbicycle.com.
Summer Remix. Keystone, CO.
This Rocky Mountain resort offers guests year round fun. During the spring and early summer, get ready for mountain biking, along with snow tubing, a terrain park for snowboarders and skiers, and an open rail jam event. Families can also look forward to snow cones, face painting and family-style dining in River Run. Or, head to higher ground and enjoy a meal at 11,640 feet where the Summit House offers a full menu. From Memorial Day through the summer, weather permitting. Contact: 877-204-7889; www.keystoneresort.com.
River Dance Lodge. Coeur d'Alene, ID
With the cozy River Dance Lodge as your base camp, hop on disc-brake Marin bikes and explore miles of national forest where you’ll find pathways suitable for every age group and skill level. Experienced riders may choose to take on the Coolwater Ridge Trail. Get ready for a thrill ride during which you’ll descend 1500 feet in just seven miles. Later float the nearby river or spend the afternoon hiking the hillsides. Ask about summer specials. Contact: 208-765-0841 ;www.riverdancelodge.com/Summer-Idaho-Vacations
Finger Lakes. Central New York.
Spin aside the crystal clear water, that, along with the Erie Canal and Lake Ontario, provide for outdoor adventure and breathtaking views. Named for the eleven pristine lakes that spread like fingers across central New York, the Finger Lakes provide 9,000 square miles of outdoor adventure where bike paths are plentiful. Don’t miss Letchworth State Park, known as the “the Grand Canyon of the east.” There the Taughannock Falls features a breathtaking 215 foot drop, making it larger than Niagara Falls. Biking maps and suggested itineraries are available. Contact: www.fingerlakes.org/things-to-do/outdoor-fun/hike-and-bike.
The Homestead Resort. Hot Springs, Virginia.
Active families looking for a getaway will enjoy the Unlimited Activities package at this iconic resort. In addition to mountain biking, expend energy kayaking, canoeing, gorge hiking, horseback riding, fly fishing and skeet shooting in the beautiful countryside.
NorthstarResort. Near the North Shore of Lake Tahoe.
Choose from among more than 100 miles of trails for downhill and cross-country mountain bikers providing great views of the surrounding mountain vistas. Cycling fans might want to plan their getaway to enjoy the annual Tour de Nez. Modeled after legendary European Kermesse races, which incorporate professional cycling into 100-year-old festivals, the spectator-friendly Tour de Nez has grown to be an important stop on the professional cycling circuit and a fan favorite. Check the web site for dates. Contact: www.NorthstarAtTahoe.com.
Brac Reef Resort. Cayman Brac.
Take a break from your dive holiday at this all-inclusive resort and explore the island on two wheels. You’ll see herons and other exotic sea birds, have the chance to explore caves or stop to check out the amazing sunsets, or other sandy beach spots. Bike rentals are complimentary. Contact: www.BracReef.com.
Block Island, Rhode Island.
Relish ocean views that rival Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket but enjoy the laid back vibe of this scenic wonder that somehow stays under the radar as a tourism destination. Mostly flat, smooth, paved roads make it possible for two-wheeling tourists to enjoy this wonderland the Nature Conservancy deems one of the “Last Great Places” in the Western Hemisphere. You’ll also enjoy fresh seafood, walking on crescent beaches and learning about the local history. Contact: (877) 545-1864; www.GreatFreedomAdventures.com
Join the growing number of active families choosing international, self-guided bike trips. Itineraries include cruising the coast of Turkey or checking out the castles of the Loire Valley. A good choice for clans interested in a less scripted and lower-priced adventure, travelers can still expect luggage transfers, lodging and some meals to be included in the trip price. The Colorado-based, family-owned company offers global cycling tours in more than 20 countries on five continents. Ask about discounts and specific trip recommendations for children. Contact: 1-800-685-4565; www.ExperiencePlus.com.
Go with a guide or chart your own course as you explore the rail-trails of eastern Washington, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and on to the Montana border. Level, paved and pristine pathways make for stress-free but scenic family cycling. Up the adventure quotient by mixing in a day kayaking, rafting or fishing on local rivers. Stop by a hot spring or consider a side hike. Contact: 800-451-6034; www.silverbiketours.com; www.VisitIdaho.org.
Tuscan Family Biking.
Meet a four-legged truffle detective. Savor gelato in San Gimignano. Look forward to olive oil, fine wine and feasting on homemade pizza as you pedal through Tuscany with your family. Cruise past vineyards, cypress trees and iconic landmarks that make working your way up to the scenic hill towns worth every rotation. Savor a gourmet picnic on a working farm. Visit charming villages, take watercolor lessons and steep yourselves in Italian art history. This is how memories are made. Contact: 800-462-2848; www.Backroads.com
Resource: Reserve quality, family-friendly bikes and accessories in more than dozens of North American cities through www.Rentabikenow.com.