Sure, biking is a form of transportation — but cycling in the city is also a great way to enjoy the nice weather, check out local attractions, and get some exercise. We’ve put together three bike routes for your pedaling pleasure, complete with restaurant, bike shop, and sightseeing suggestions along the way. Grab your helmet and your family and friends and hit the streets.
Forests and Fields: Overview
This first ride is a relaxed journey through the South End and Jamaica Plain. Making use of the Southwest Corridor (pictured) and its paved bike paths, this route runs straight into the leafy Arnold Arboretum, where cyclists can enjoy the flora on miles of paths. From there, intrepid riders can go on to Franklin Park, or circle back toward the city along Jamaica Pond.
Forests and Fields: Culture stop
Museum of Fine Arts or Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Before you hit the trails, or after you finish, stop by one of these cultural attractions near the Southwest Corridor path. Kids in tow? Take them to the Art Cart at the Museum of Fine Arts. The nearby Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (pictured) also houses many famous artworks to enjoy before a day on the road.
After the museums, take a warm-up ride or perhaps enjoy a stroll through the Back Bay Fens, which can be found across the street from both museums. A quick walk (or ride, if you’re confident enough on the street) from this spot will take you to the Southwest Corridor path, where you can pick up the trail.
Forests and Fields: Bike shop
Bikes not Bombs
Bikes not Bombs in Jamaica Plain is a full-service bicycle and bike repair shop that also sells accessories and parts. But, the shop is also on a mission. Connected with a global nonprofit of the same name, Bikes not Bombs promotes alternative transportation by recycling bikes and then donating them to low-income communities located as close as Boston and as far away as Ghana, Guatemala, and Tanzania.
18 Barlett Sq., Jamaica Plain. 617-522-0226. bikesnotbombs.org Next
Forests and Fields: Fun stop
Sam Adams Brewery
Quick! What’s your favorite Sam Adams variety? The iconic brewery is housed in a discreet building in Jamaica Plain. Stop by for a free tour (donations are welcome — they go to charity) and learn about the brewing process and sample classic and experimental brews right from the source. Local flavor, indeed.
Forests and Fields: Where to eat
The Dogwood Café, featured in our citywide pizza crawl, is an eclectic eatery located near the Arnold Arboretum and the Southwest Corridor path. Split a Birch or Evergreen brick-oven pizza (pies are named after the trees in the nearby Arnold Arboretum) with friends. Bonus: Catch live music on weekend nights.
Forests and Fields: Sight to see
At the end of the Southwest Corridor path, and across an intersection or two, the idyllic Arnold Arboretum awaits. Explore the urban oasis on four miles of paved paths and see some of the oldest and rarest plant and tree life in North America. Pedal up Bussey Hill for a stunning view of the Arboretum and surrounding city. Or, lock up your bike at an entrance and take advantage of the many miles of unpaved walking paths.
Flora fans should check to see what’s in bloom and where to find it.
Forests and Fields: Go further
Explore paths through other parks and public spaces in Boston’s Emerald Necklace to add miles to your trek. For example: Cyclists comfortable riding on the street for a short while can head northeast along Centre Street to the Olmsted Park area and bike past Jamaica Pond (pictured). This route will take you back toward downtown.
Harborwalk Cruise: Overview
This scenic trip from the University of Massachusetts-Boston to Pleasure Bay is about 3 miles one way. Though dedicated bike paths are not available along the entire route, cyclists can share the wide and double sidewalks with pedestrians and joggers.
Harborwalk Cruise: Bike shop
Frederico’s Bike Shop
Need a bike part or repairs? A short detour up L Street off the Harborwalk, followed by a left on East Broadway, will bring you to Frederico’s Bike Shop.
126 Emerson St, Boston. 617-269-1309. Next
Harborwalk Cruise: Fun stop
Castle Island / Pleasure Bay
Hit the brakes and stay a while at the whimsically named Castle Island and Pleasure Bay. Bikes aren’t allowed on the path around the bay or on the island — park ‘em and take a walk. Watch wind surfers on the water or catch the sunset over Fort Independence, one of the oldest fortified sites in the country.
Harborwalk Cruise: Sight to see
It might not be beach season quite yet, but you can still enjoy the ocean breezes at Carson Beach, right along the Harborwalk. Hello, harbor views. Next
River Ride: Culture stop
Museum of Science
For families or the inquisitive of any age, the Museum of Science, near the start of this route, offers a workout for the brain. Check out the regular exhibits and rotating attractions, including IMAX movies and the newly renovated Planetarium.
River Ride: Fun stop
The Esplanade offers several recreational perks. Near Science Park and right along the bike path, riders will find public basketball and tennis courts. If you’re traveling with a particularly athletic bunch, you can pack gear and play during a break from biking. Next
River Ride: Sight to see
There are several benches for lounging along the path. However, if you’re looking for a particularly clear view across the Charles River, hit the docks near the Mass. Ave. bridge and in the surrounding area. Pause, catch your breath, and enjoy the scenery with friends or family. Next
River Ride: Where to eat
Grumbling stomach? Tuck into a sandwich or soup at neighborhood joint Paramount. The cozy restaurant has been around since 1937 and takes pride in “just how little things have changed,” according to the website. Beacon Hill is a short walk from the footbridge near the Hatch Shell.
River Ride: Go further
The Charles River bike path continues through Allston and Brighton, and into Watertown Square. You can finish the 18-mile loop back to the Science Museum on the Cambridge side of the river.
Itching to ride? Ready to explore?
The Department of Conservation and Recreation maintains a list of bike trails throughout Greater Boston and the rest of the state.
The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, or MassBike, is an advocacy group promoting bicycling for “fun, fitness, and transportation,” according to its website. Find bike laws, path listings, bike commuting, classes, and volunteer opportunities. Back to the beginning
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