It’s that time of year in California. Time for romance, spring fever, and new beginnings. Here at the Amgen Tour of California, we like to think of love as the perfect bike ride and that isolated spot to share some of the most breathtaking vistas that incite the most twitterpated of feelings. Here are some of our most favorite places to spark the connection with that special someone.
1. BIG RIVER, MENDOCINO
You can’t help but feel romantic when you start in the Mendocino Redwoods, take a scenic ride along a quiet river and end up at the crystal clear blue beaches of Mendocino. This forested mountain bike trail is mellow enough to enjoy the sights the entire way, without the worry of technical single-track or rocky impasses. Once you get there, the Big River Beach has plenty to offer, including hiking, canoeing, and tide-pooling. More info: www.meetmendocino.com
2. CATALINA ISLAND
Called the “Island of Romance” it’s pretty difficult to make up a list like this without including the spectacular Santa Catalina Island. The playground to the Golden Era of Hollywood, this beautiful escape is a snapshot into the past, complete with Art Deco style buildings and the famous “Catalina Casino,” the most eye-catching of landmarks when ferries approach Avalon. Bikes are welcomed on all charter boats heading into this magical island, and the fire-road trails are unsurpassed, with miles on miles of unspoiled native California terrain. If you don’t have a bike with you, there are plenty of opportunities to rent while you’re visiting the island. Learn more: www.catalinachamber.com
They say California has everything, the sun, the sand, and the snow-capped mountains. But who knew it also had a historic Danish village nestled in the Santa Ynez Valley and surrounded by top quality Santa Barbara wineries. Effortless in its attempts to be the unique and memorable town on the Central Coast, the cycling around the area complements Solvang, which makes it a cycling destination holiday across the globe. More info: www.solvangusa.com
4. 17 MILE DRIVE
Get your camera out, or your phone, because this route has arguably the most stunning views in all of California. And that’s saying something. You can profess your undying love to your favorite cycling partner at any point of this route, and it’s all spectacular. Starting through Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula, the smooth roads touch along the Pacific Ocean and passes through famous scenic attractions, including the Lone Cypress, a tree growing out of rock that has been standing for over 250 years and been said to be the most photographed tree in North America. Learn more: www.pebblebeach.com/17-mile-drive/
5. HEADLANDS, MARIN COUNTY
The coastal bluffs of northern California have a distinctive ruggedness, yet sweet romanticism woven in its layers. At the Golden Gate State Park, the Marin Headlands is a Jayne Eyre style peninsula that is most known for its incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Area. With plenty of spots to picnic and bird watch, the hiking and biking trails are numerous as well and offer up some of the best vistas of all of northern California at its finest.