Where to Rent a Bike in San FranciscoMost of the city's bicycle rental agencies are clustered around Fisherman's Wharf, and it will impossible to miss them once you are there, here are a couple of the larger outfits:
- Blazing Saddles: Seven locations at or near the wharf. (415)202-8888 www.blazingsaddles.com
- Bike and Roll: Five locations at the wharf and North Beach. (415)229-2000 www.bikeandroll.com
Alternatively, and to make sure that you can actually get a bike during the summer high season, you can reserve your bicycle online and save a bit of money in the process.
There are also a hand-full of bicycle and skate rental shops near Golden Gate Park, which is another excellent place to explore on two wheels, but this article will concentrate on the San Francisco Waterfront and biking across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Touring the San Francisco Waterfront by BicycleOnce you have your bicycle, you will want to get out of the Fisherman's Wharf area as soon as possible. The best way to do this is to cruise north on Jefferson Street to Aquatic Park, where a bay side trail winds along a small beach and terminates in a curving pier.
Before getting to the pier however, take the trail to the left, which climbs up the the cliff and brings you to the verdant tranquility of the Great Meadow at Fort Mason. Down below, the historic military fort now houses several museums and a great vegetarian restaurant.
Continue past Fort Mason into the Marina District, one of San Francisco's more upscale neighborhoods. Here you have the choice of riding down Chestnut Street, which is lined with shops and cafes, or continuing along the Marina Green, a waterfront park that has a bicycle trail. Whichever path you take, stop to check out the Palace of Fine Arts, a replica of an ancient Greek Temple and one of San Francisco's top landmarks, before you leave the area.
Continue riding into Crissy Field, a wildlife reserve and one of San Francisco's largest waterfront parks. You can visit the Farrallones Marine Sanctuary Visitors Center here and stop for a coffee and a snack at the Warming Hut cafe and bookstore.
Continue past the Crissy Field Marsh along Old Mason Street and into the Presidio National Park, until you are almost directly under the Golden Gate Bridge. From here a bicycle path (Bicycle Route 202) leads up to Lincoln Boulevard, which leads to Fort Point and the entrance to the bridge itself.
Biking the Golden Gate BridgeDuring the week bicyclists share the pedestrian walkway on the east side of the bridge with walkers, but on the weekend they get the other walkway - on the west side of the bridge - all to themselves. Slower bicyclists should stay to the right as the fast riding professional types often like to whiz across the bridge at top speed. Stop in the middle of the bridge to admire the San Francisco skyline, the bay and the Marin Headlands, all spread out before you.
Biking into Marin CountyAlthough many will turn back after crossing the Bay Bridge it is just a short and scenic ride down Alexander Avenue from the bridge to the charming waterfront town of Sausalito. This is an excellent place to grab lunch, do a bit of shopping and give your legs a rest from pedaling for a bit.
Returning by Ferry to San FranciscoFrom the Sausalito waterfront, two different ferry companies cross the bay to San Francisco and they both allow bicycles on board. The Blue and Gold Fleet returns visitors to Fisherman's Wharf, so be sure to take this one if that is your destination.
Those that want to plan ahead and save a bit of money can buy the WharfPass, which includes a 2 hour bike rental (More than enough time to get to Sausalito from the Wharf) as well as a Blue and Gold Fleet Bay Cruise plus admissions and savings on a slew of other Wharf activities and attractions for one low price.
The other ferry, the Golden Gate Ferry, takes passengers to the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace, about two miles away from Fisherman's Wharf (another nice bike ride) on the waterfront.