Paris may be the city of love, but those of us who live in San Francisco know just how romantic our own city can be. From gorgeous vistas overlooking the ocean, to secret lover’s lookouts, to sunny picnic spots in the park, our city has it all – and almost all of it is reachable by bike. In honor of Valentine’s Day, and inspired by all the bike-loving singles who met at Wednesday’s Love on Wheels dating game, we present our picks for the most romantic daytime bike dates.
Romantic bridge and ferry ride
There’s a reason thousands of bike-riding tourists flock to the Golden Gate Bridge every week: It’s one of the most gorgeous spots in the country and an exciting place to bike with your sweetie. Pedal your way across the bridge. (A tandem is a nice touch, and rentable from Parkwide bike rentals in Golden Gate Park.) Snap a few shots of you and your sweetie with the ocean and cliff views behind you. On the other side of the bridge, turn right and coast down to Sausalito. Take in the Sausalito sights and make your way to the ferry terminal. Snuggle on the upper deck, taking in the views. On the other side, grab some oysters and white wine at the Ferry Building.
Waterfront bike ride and secret lover’s lookout
For a perfect daytime bike date, there’s nothing more romantic than pedaling side by side along the waterfront. Start at the Ferry Building and make your way down the Embarcadero. You can ride slowly, hand in hand on the multiuse path (Herb Caen Way), or more quickly on the bikeway.
Make your way through Fisherman’s Wharf and up and over to Fort Point. Snap a few pictures of the two of you with the bay in the background, and pedal your way down to Fort Mason. Grab a sandwich from Greens to Go (discount for San Francisco Bicycle Coalition members) and walk your bike to one of the best-kept secret romantic spots in the city: the bench by the firehouse. To get there, ride around the back of the firehouse on the east side of Fort Mason, and cuddle up for unobstructed views of the bay and Alcatraz.
Magnificent views and a perfect pedal
Many a wedding has taken place at the Cliff House, and there’s no doubt why: This is one of the most romantic venues in the city, with unparalleled views of the ocean and an airy, open restaurant. Have a romantic meal inside the Cliff House or spend some time inside the Camera Obscura – a perfect place to hold hands and marvel at the amazing 360-degree images of Seal Rock. Take JFK Drive through Golden Gate Park (there’s a new parking protected bikeway coming there soon), or ride to the Cliff House through the Presidio. Très magnifique!
Picnic in the park
Golden Gate Park offers countless quiet, romantic spots for biking sweeties. Swing by Falletti Foods on Broderick Street and pick up all your fixings for the romantic lunch. Pedal into Golden Gate Park through the Panhandle, and scope out your secret picnic spot from the free lookout of the de Young Museum. You might find your spot near Rainbow Falls or in a paddleboat on Stow Lake, or profess your love from the inside of the Bandshell. After lunch, take your sweetie to the Park Chalet for a local microbrew on the glassed-in porch or grassy lawn, and toast to your perfect San Francisco bike date.
Bike About Town is presented by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, a 12,000-member nonprofit dedicated to creating safer streets and more livable communities by promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation. For more biking resources, go to www.sfbike.org
*Published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Bike About Town, February 9, 2012