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Family Bike Ride by the San Francisco Bay with...

Last Saturday, we went on a bike ride by the Bay thanks to Bay City Bike rental company who asked my family if we would be willing to test our their services, bikes, and family bike trail.

I was curious about the experience but anxious about riding any hills and I was afraid that it may be too hard in San Francisco with the children. They are 7 and 11, definitely not too little but still…But why not, we gave it a try.

What we liked

Professional staff:

Rafael at the desk. Makes you fill out the paperwork, show you the family trail on the map,  and tell you which bikes you need. He advised us to pick a tag-along for my 7 years old daughter Thais who started to cry because she wanted her own bike. Talk about starting the day.The smallest bike they have is a 15'” and it was too big for her (she is tiny). 

Rodrigo: I do not know how he pulled that out but when I went to pick my bike, Thais, my diva extraordinaire, was sitting on the tag along with a big smile on her face and Rodrigo had even found a bag so she could have her plush toy with her on the ride.


Rodrigo checked all our bikes and made sure that the seats were at the proper height and explained to us why they should be at the height they are. Note to self: readjust all the bike seats at home. He provided us with some locks in case we wanted to stop for a walk and a kit if we would get a flat tire.

Brandon: the repairman. Luckily, we did not have to use his skills!

Bay City Bike makes it easy for you
No need to prepare anything at home: helmets are provided, water is available for purchase, and the family route is traced for you: Fisherman’s Wharf – Sausalito, then coming back by the trails or by ferry. You can even buy your ferry tickets at the shop. We left that option open and eventually, we decided to skip Sausalito and drove again across the bridge. I could have done that all day by the way!

At some point, we wanted to change trails (several trails are featured on the map), but it took us a minute to realize that it was safer to stay in the family trail, that avoids driving alongside cars at all cost.


And thank you Rafael for showing the restrooms along the way! as well as the tourist stops.

The bikes
Our bikes at home at of good quality but these ones were so much better. The seats are so comfortable. As far as family bikes are concerned, they have all the options you need: smaller bikes, tag-alongs, seats for toddlers, trailers for smaller children. By the way, you can keep the bikes overnight.


The locations
BAY CITY BIKE  shops are nicely located: 2661 Taylor Street, 1325 Columbus Ave and 501 Bay Street. We went to the Taylor Street address, the closest to the Wharf.
When you are done with your tour, there is so much more to do just right there. We had brought a picnic and ate along the way but we were still hungry when we gave the bikes back. Two minutes after leaving the bikes, we were sitting at a restaurant.

What a beautiful city San Francisco is. You discover new details, spots, and views when you ride your bike. We had never rode our bikes by the bay so finding the green globe and the warming hut were nice surprises. We discovered new parts of Crissy Field and enjoyed every moment of it. For people new to San Francisco, stopping at the foot of the bridge is a must do. The waters from the Ocean meet the water from the Bay and it is quite an encounter. You can also visit Fort Point, just right there, under the bridge.

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Riding the Golden Gate Bridge
The lane on the left hand side of the bridge is for bikes only. Riding on the bridge was magical. At some point, the kids and my husband were out of view, I was left behind, nobody in front of me, this orange structure, the ocean on my left, the cars on my right, the fog, the wind blowing, I felt at peace. I LOVED it and when I met my family again, they told me they loved it too. Apparently, the girls got so excited that they laughed all the way. Seeing the Bridge that close was priceless.

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My advices

Ask all the questions you want and need at the shop before leaving. Or call them if you have a question along the way. The staff is really friendly and helpful.

Wear layers: it is San Francisco. If you want to experience the fog on the Golden Gate Bridge and not ride with the crowd, leave before 10:00 am. If you want a warmer weather and do not mind the people, leave after lunch.

Bring snacks and/or a picnic.

Count on more than 4 hours for the tour. And this is a minimum with children. Go at your rhythm, stop when you want, they are plenty of things to do along the way.

Is it worth it?

We had an amazing time and discovered a city that we know pretty well under another light.
The daily rate is the way to go, especially with children. The total for our family of four is $96 ($28 per adult bike, $20 for the kid bike, and $20 for the tag along). If you book online and you can save 10%.
We will definitely do it again in the next city that we will visit. My daughters are already taking about how we can visit Seattle this way (I did not know they had plans to visit Seattle…).

What we did not like too much

As far as the service is concerned, there is nothing I could advise them on doing better. The whole process, rental, and visit went smoothly and they made us feel like the only client in the store, and we saw them do the same thing with the other customers.
Regarding the route, I could have done without the two little hills but what can you do in San Francisco? I have to admit that it was not that bad. My husband and my daughter did not have any issue with the hills. As for me, just looking at them makes me sweat. I walked instead of riding and it took me less than 5 minutes to arrive at the top.

Parking: it is not an easy area to find parking. If you stay in a hotel, walk to the Wharf, take the Cable Car or bus. If you must drive, check around the location, you will find parking around the block for $20-30 a day in a garage. If you spend the whole day, it is not that bad.
What you need to know

Bay City Ride
Locations: 2661 Taylor Street, 1325 Colombus Avenue, 501 Bay Street, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
Hours: 8 am to 8 pm
Phone number: (415) 346 BIKE (2453)
10% discount when you order online

Bay City Bike gave my family complimentary bike rides . I received no other compensation besides this, and Bay City Bike did not express any requirement that I express a particular point of view.

Lydie Thomas is a Travel Whisperer and mother of two little avid travelers. She is sharing her tips and tricks on visiting the San Francisco Bay Area with children. She also loves to share her French culture and tips on vacationing in France with little ones. Subscribe to her blog or follow her on twitter @lydiethomas or on Kindle.
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