Top 5 Bay Area Motorcycle Trips
San Francisco is a motorcycle-friendly city. From cruising down Valencia Street in the Mission to lane-splitting past boats in the Marina district, it’s almost like the city was built for two-wheel excursions.
But the surrounding Bay Area also offers a variety of scenic experiences for motorcyclists. Winding roads, lush greenery and mountains, breathtaking views of the blue waters of the bay. You can enjoy all these things if you’re ready to venture outside of the city.
Here are our top 5 Bay Area motorcycle trips.
1. San Francisco to Santa Cruz
One day ride – 78 miles.
This 78-mile route offers some gorgeous views of the Golden State’s famous redwood forests, sparkling waters of the bay, and a stroll down Santa Cruz’s famous boardwalk.
Ride down Interstate 280 and Highway 1 from San Francisco to Pacifica and Half Moon Bay. If you need a quick pit stop or pick-me-up, Half Moon Bay offers a variety of coffee shops, restaurants, and curiosity shops.
From there, continue south toward Gregorio State Beach and the Pescadero turn-off. Need to stretch your legs and get some exercise? You could rent a surfboard and catch some waves in San Gregorio State Park. The water’s usually pretty cold, so don’t forget your wetsuit!
Before you wear yourself out in the water, hop back on your bike and continue south to end the trip in Santa Cruz. Take a stroll down the world-famous Santa Cruz boardwalk, grab some grub, and don’t forget to ride the rollercoaster, The Giant Dipper.
2. Monterey Bay/Cannery Row Loop Tour
One day ride – 121 miles.
If you’re ready to take a slightly longer ride, you won’t be disappointed with this route. Both Bay Area residents and visitors will love this 2 ½ hour trip to Monterey Bay, home of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row.
Leave San Francisco via Interstate 280 South and ride 5 miles until you hit the Highway 1 exit toward Pacifica. Keep heading south all the way to Monterey.
What’s waiting there for you? Seals, sail boats, seafood restaurants, souvenir shops, and more. Don’t worry, there’s plenty to do and see.
If you’re a big reader, you might recognize Cannery Row as the setting of a John Steinbeck novel of the same name. Maybe read the novel before you go and take a walk down memory lane with your favorite characters.
You’ll also want to check out the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, though you might need to book reservations ahead of your trip.
3. California North Coast
Two day ride – 243 miles.
Redwood groves, a prehistoric forest, a picturesque town that’s also the setting of a famous Alfred Hitchcock movie, and breathtaking cliffside views of the Pacific Ocean. This route pretty much has it all.
Head north on Highway 1 to Highway 101 towards Eureka. While there are plenty of scenic views of redwoods, ferns, and the crashing whitecaps of the Pacific, you’ll want to make sure to take it slow and keep your eyes on the road. This winding route has tight turns that can be dangerous at high speeds.
There are plenty of small towns with quaint restaurants along the way, so you could easily stretch this trip out longer than two days if you wanted to.
Film buffs will definitely want to stop in Bodega Bay, the site of the classic Hitchcock film "The Birds." History enthusiasts and shutter bugs might consider taking the “Avenue of the Giants” instead of the highway to catch a glimpse of a prehistoric forest rife with ancient ferns and redwoods.
Whatever you choose to do and see along this route, it’s certainly one you won’t regret.
4. The Santa Cruz Mountain Loop Tour
One day ride – 60 miles.
Once you’ve made it to Santa Cruz (using the directions from our 1st trip), take a trip through the winding, twisting turns of the Santa Cruz Mountain Loop.
This incredibly scenic route will take you through mountains and a series of 5 state and county parks, including:
- Anna Jean Cummings County Park
- Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
- Lexington Reservoir State Park
- Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
- Wilder Ranch State Park
This loop can be heavily trafficked on the weekends and is full of tight turns that can be dangerous at high speeds. So be sure to take it slow, be careful, and enjoy the scenery.
5. Alice's Restaurant Loop Tour
One day ride – 130 miles.
Alice’s Restaurant is nestled cozily amongst the Golden State’s ancient redwoods and is a hot spot for plenty of motorcyclists. This little BBQ restaurant just south of San Francisco also sees plenty of sports cars and classic muscle cars in its parking lot too.
Leave San Francisco on 280 South. After 15 miles, you’ll want to take Highway 92 West and exit towards Half Moon Bay. At the top of the hill on Highway 92, turn left onto Highway 35 South (Skyline Boulevard towards Santa Cruz). After about 10 miles, you’ll see Alice’s Restaurant on the left at 17288 Skyline Blvd.
After you’ve gotten your fingers sticky with Alice’s BBQ sauce, scoped out the other bikes and cars, you’ll have three options for returning to San Francisco:
- North via Highway 35, 92, and 1-280
- West via Highway 84 and Highway 1 North
- South via Santa Cruz on Highway 35, 9 South, and Highway 1 North.
The first route takes about an hour, the second 1.5 hours, and the third is a three-hour trek back home to the city.
If you’re tired of simply splitting lanes through San Francisco neighborhoods, these 5 Bay Area motorcycle routes offer a great excuse to escape.
Winding roads, lush greenery and mountains, breathtaking views of the blue waters of the bay—what are you waiting for? Start exploring.