The Best Cycling Vacations along California’s Central Coast

March 11, 2021

Santa Barbara County on the California Central Coast is known for its world-class wine region that features vineyard-lined rolling hills and fog-swept fields. There are plenty of ways to taste your way through the county’s wine region. But one of the best ways for guests to the region to take in the stunning scenery while enjoying the temperate Mediterranean climate is to put the pedal to the pinot and embark on a wine tasting bike tour. Read on for tips and tricks for making the most of the Central Coast’s cycling routes.

Santa Maria Valley

Santa Maria Valley is your perfect home base for a Santa Barbara County getaway, where you can do more, for less. The area is home to miles and miles of cycling trails ranging in difficulty, ensuring there’s something for every type of cyclist. Here, you’ll find trails for casual riders, mountain bikers, families and more. Those looking for a challenge can tackle the 30-mile stretch of Foxen Canyon Road known as the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. This winery hotspot is home to 13 different tasting rooms. Read more about Santa Maria Valley’s bike trails here.

Through the Bike + Bottle Project, guests can book a private, customized vineyard cycling tour with Dave Corey, local winemaker and former competitive cyclist. The Bike + Bottle tours can be tailored to match your ideal length and difficulty, stopping at whichever tasting rooms you choose.

Santa Ynez Valley

The Santa Ynez Valley — to the south of Santa Maria — is another popular wine country destination. This region is also home to many vineyard-lined roads that provide excellent Central Coast cycling. The Ballard Canyon Loop allows cyclists to see the charming town of Solvang as well as Ballard Canyon. The loop is only 13 miles long, with roughly 700 feet of elevation gain. This loop is mostly quiet, giving guests the opportunity to take their time and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

For families, Solvang is a great place to hit the road and go for a casual cruise, stopping at local attractions along the way. There are several parks and wineries in Solvang that are kid-friendly and sure to please the whole family.

Santa Barbara

The beautiful oceanside city of Santa Barbara is a short drive south of Santa Maria and flaunts iconic red roofs and a thriving arts and culture scene. Whether you are an experienced or casual rider, biking in Santa Barbara is a great way to explore the area and visit some of the local attractions. For an easy and scenic ride that’s perfect for families, head to the Santa Barbara Waterfront. Beginning at Stearns Wharf leaves you with options for how long to make your ride depending on which places you want to see. The roads are flat and paved so they’re easy to navigate for cyclists of all ages and skill levels.

Those looking for a challenge can head to the nearby hillside for mountain biking. The Old Marcos Pass is a popular challenge for local biking enthusiasts. This 5.5-mile trail climbs nearly 2,500 feet. With many switchbacks and a steep climb, this trail is recommended for dedicated cyclists only, but the views at the top are sure to make it all worth it. Read more about cycling in Santa Barbara here.

No matter where you cycle, be sure to be safe and use proper gear and equipment. We recommend calling any venue you’re planning to visit ahead of time to ensure availability. Browse hotels and lodging in Santa Maria Valley and start planning your next trip now.

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