Bike these towns: 5 mid-size cities to see on two wheels

By Jeanenne Tornatore

There’s nothing better than taking in the fresh morning air or breezing along basking in the warmth of an evening sunset from the seat of your bicycle.  And it’s fast becoming a favorite way to explore new destinations, whether you have an entire day or just a few hours for a quick look around.

The great news is that more cities and small towns across the country are seeing the benefits of planning bike-friendly communities.  And in most, being a novice cyclist is just fine.  You’ll find neighborhood bike rental shops, paths that are well mapped and paved for easy riding with plenty of interesting places to stop along the way.  Here are some destinations that are doing it right, from urban escapes to laid-back USA:

Memphis, TN. Home to Beale Street, BBQ, the National Civil Rights Museum, and of course, Graceland.  This down home city has a lot going on, from outdoor concert series’, BBQ competitions, new eateries, neighborhoods with lots of personality and major new retail development right on the Mississippi River.  Recently named “Most Improved Bike City” by Bicycle Magazine, Memphis boasts over 60 miles of bike lanes, off road trails and protected pathways. Find the best routes around town, along the river, through state parks and to local attractions using the city’s interactive map.

Fort Collins, CO. This college town at the foothills of the Rockies is known for its natural beauty, breweries, and bike trails.  Named by Money Magazine as one of the best places to live, it’s also a great destination to visit, and getting around on two wheels is the way to take it all in.  With mostly flat terrain, wide bike lanes and trails that follow the Poudre River and Spring Creek, you can easily get around town with plenty of attractions for stops along the way.  Don’t have a bike? The Fort Collins Bicycle Library has been lending bikes to visitors and residents since 2008 and provides maps for various self-guided tours, including the Brewery Tour and Historic Homes Tour.

Milwaukee, WI. If you bring your bike to this friendly lakefront metropolis, you won’t be alone.  Home to several bike fests and events, including the 24-hour RiverWest 24 bike race and the Downer Classic, celebrating cycling has become a tradition here.  And with it’s own bike share program, Bublr Bikes, offering 10 stations in the downtown area, bike racks on Milwaukee County buses, dedicated bike lanes and miles of on and off-road trails, it’s easy to explore this baseball-bratwurst-brewery-bike-loving city on your cycle.

San Antonio, TX. With art, beauty and heritage around nearly every corner, there’s no shortage of sites to see on your cycle in San Antonio. Boasting its own bike-share program, two-wheeling your way through this beautiful and historic city is made easy with bike racks on its metro buses and neighborhood bike maps featuring five distinctive routes pointing out local attractions and interest points.  Take a leisurely ride to one of the local eateries, or go all-in for ten miles on one of the city’s best rides – Mission Reach, where you’ll capture wildflowers in bloom and wildlife in their native habitat, ending at Mission Road leading you to 18-century colonial missions.

Sacramento, CA. The more than 32 miles of paved bike path along the American River Parkway showcase what this up-and-coming bike-friendly town has to offer. The river trail is surrounded by protected habitats and scenic bridges, you’ll pass fishing spots and follow kayakers while hopping off and on the trail at different points along the way.  Explore Old Sacramento with dedicated bike lanes or take to the Sacramento Northern Bike Trail for a tour of surrounding communities, historic neighborhoods, or the outlying rural beauty of this farm-to-table capital of the West.

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