Whether you’re an avid cyclist or a recreational rider, the best way to experience a new place is on a bike. That’s because pedaling is much more immersive than driving—you’ll see, hear, and even smell additional things that you may miss otherwise—and the fact that you’re on two wheels allows you to cover more ground than walking. On top of that, it’s a great way to sneak in exercise while you’re on the road. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s just plain fun.
In the spirit of cycling meets vacation, companies across the country are offering guided destination cycling tours of varying length, locations, price points, and difficulty. Here, we’ve rounded up seven of these must-try experiences that are worth building a vacation around. From afternoon-long urban tours to overnight trips to National Parks, wine country, idyllic farmlands and more, the following tours—all hosted by highly-reviewed and reputable companies—will fulfill your two-wheeled wanderlust.
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Sonoma County Wine Country Road Cycling Tour – Pure Adventures
If you prefer to pedal sans guide, but hate planning logistics, this organized, self-guided tour by top-rated Pure Adventures is for you. It tours through a less-trafficked area of California’s wine country, offering a mix of “spectacular” back country roads plus coastal scenery and “challenging hill climbs,” says Loren Siekman, president and founder of Pure Adventures.
At night, you’ll stop in local cities to rest and refuel with farm-to-table meals and of course, lots of world-class vino. The route, which is scalable in distance from 179 miles up to 275 miles, is primarily for experienced road riders. Cost includes lodging, luggage transfers, in-person orientation, and on-route telephone support.
Location: Sonoma County, California
Duration: 5 days/4 nights
Price: From $930
Death Valley Weekend Tour – REI Adventures
Explore the otherworldly wonders of Death Valley National Park—think volcanic craters, multi-colored sandstone, and towering sand dunes—with this three-day, two-wheeled tour great for intermediate riders. Compared to more trafficked National Parks, Death Valley is “very remote,” says Arlen Hall, adventure program manager of cycling with REI Adventures. Most days, cyclists will encounter just eight or nine cars on the wide dirt roads.
The nights are equally epic, thanks to the “starfield sky above you,” he says, and the “awesome sunrises and awesome sunsets.” Plan your visit in the spring, and you’ll likely see a large super-bloom of wildflowers spread across the valley.
Another highlight, no matter when you go, is the day three stopover at Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America (elevation: 282 feet below sea level). One more plus: Compared to other tour groups, this group minimizes the amount of time spent in the van. In total, you’ll pedal 119 miles with just six hours of driving.
Location: Death Valley National Park, California
Duration: 3 days/2 nights
Cost: From $1,499
Pedal The Coast Tour – Summer Feet Cycling
This week-long, small group tour (max size: 12 riders) offers cyclists a breathtaking tour of Maine’s diverse coastline with cozy stays at local inns along the way. The journey ranges in distance between 322 and 428 miles (multiple distances are offered most days), beginning at quiet, picturesque Pemaquid Point and then traveling north along the shores of Penobscot Bay, a popular cruising bay, and Blue Hill Bay before finishing with two full days of riding in Acadia National Park.
Along the way, you’ll hit top tourist spots, like Camden, a quintessential New England town dubbed “the Jewel of the Maine Coast,” while also touring several not-as-famous, equally beautiful seafront towns, like Port Clyde and Castine, says Norman Patry, owner of Summer Feet Cycling. You’ll fuel for it with a variety of Maine delicacies, including lobster, smoked salmon, fresh blueberries, and the local favorite whoopie pies.
Location: Portland to Acadia National Park, Maine
Duration: 7 days/6 nights
Cost: From $2,795
Taco Tour – LA Cycle Tours
The City of Angels is also a city with damn good tacos. Experience the sights, sounds, and tastes for yourself with this taco-themed tour hosted by local company LA Cycle Tours, which currently holds a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor.
The looped 8.5-mile tour begins downtown near Union Station, and from there, pedals into Boyle Heights, a historic Latino neighborhood known for its Mariachi culture. Throughout the all-inclusive, all-you-can-eat adventure, you’ll visit five different taco joints—from trucks to stands to shops—offering taco flavors from different regions. You’ll also ride past tortilla factories, sombrero retail shops, street vendors, and live music. “The tour gives you a real taste of Los Angeles,” says Art Palacios, owner and operator of LA Cycle Tours.
Location: Los Angeles
Duration: 4 hours
North Carolina and South Carolina Biking Tour – Backroads
Traverse the Carolinas, climb the Blue Ridge Mountains, and experience Southern Appalachian culture with Backroads, a 40-year-old company known for its upscale, active trips. Highlights of this five-day itinerary include riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway (a 469-mile roadway famed for its sweeping views and thrilling elevations), navigating famed American cyclist George Hincapie’s Gran Fondo route, staying at Hincapie’s Hotel Domestique, and visiting Asheville’s 8,000-acre Biltmore estate.
When you’re not pedaling, you’ll likely be eating classic Carolina fare (think farm-to-table meals and craft beer), listening to live bluegrass, viewing local art, and/or simply soaking in the beauty of Carolina countryside. The distance and difficulty of the cycling is scalable to your fitness level, ranging from 103 to 172 total miles and 7,400 feet to 14,100 feet in elevation gain.
Location: Greenville, South Carolina to Asheville, North Carolina
Duration: 5 days/4 nights
Cost: From $2,899
Midtown and Broad Ripple Bike ’N’ Dine Tour – ActiveIndy Tours
Indianapolis is a growing cycling-slash-cultural hub. In 2013, the Midwest city unveiled the Cultural Trail, an 8-mile route connecting six distinct districts through the heart of downtown, and per a rep with the local tourist bureau, the city is set to double the number of rentable bikes in summer 2019.
Immerse yourself in the burgeoning community with this daylong tour by ActiveIndy Tours, a top-ranked TripAdvisor company. The 20-mile journey, which rides on the Cultural Trail plus other local pathways, passes iconic MLK Memorial Park and the Landmark for Peace Memorial before weaving through historic neighborhoods with 19th-century architecture.
You’ll stop for lunch at a local joint in Midtown or Broad Ripple and then continue on the scenic Central Canal Towpath through the Butler University campus and past the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Another cool feature: with every pedal, you’re paying it forward—proceeds support Nine13sports, a local nonprofit that implements bike programs in schools across central Indiana.
Glacier National Park Bike Tour – TrekTravel
Soak in the splendor of this million-plus acre National Park with a guided tour by TrekTravel, a Wisconsin-based company praised for its thoughtfully planned trips, high-end bikes, and knowledgeable guides. Over the six day trip, you’ll pedal 165 miles and climb 9,270 feet of mountainous terrain, including a stint on iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road, which stretches the width of the park and intersects the Continental Divide, offering panoramic views of the surrounding wild country.
As you cycle, you’ll see glacial lakes, snowy mountains, cedar forests, alpine tundra, and more. The itinerary also features time off the saddle, including a rafting trip along the Flathead River (keep your eyes peeled for bears, moose, and other wildlife), plus a trip to the local farmer’s market in the resort town Whitefish.
Location: Glacier National Park, Montana
Duration: 6 days/5 nights
Cost: From $3,399