A nice family ride is one that meanders through neighborhood streets and bike boulevards to an ice cream shop or other fun spot.
- Wear a properly fitting helmet. Florida law requires it of those under age 16.
- Follow the rules of the road.
- Test your route for dangers, and change it if it is uncomfortable.
- Use hand signals.
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But there are some other really great rides, too, around South Florida. Here are some of the best routes:
Shark Valley loop
Experience the wildlife of the Everglades up close by cycling the 15-mile Shark Valley loop at Everglades National Park. This time of year is great for alligator sightings: You literally have to ride around them. The observation tower at the end of the paved trail provides amazing views.
U.S. Highway 41/Tamiami Trail, 25 miles west of the Florida Turnpike. More info at Shark Valley website. The Park Service Visitor Center is at 36000 SW Eighth St.
The island has an abundance of dedicated paths and lanes.
• Bill Baggs State Park
has a paved bike path for easy cycling. Don’t miss the beautiful Cape Florida Lighthouse and beach. Rentals available. Regulars suggest parking at No Name Harbor to access the Lighthouse Grill restaurant to refresh pre- or post-ride. (1200 S. Crandon Blvd.)
• Crandon Park ’s Bear Cut Preserv
e features paved, winding paths through mangrove forest. Families can take a break from the sun and make sense of the iconic nature at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Nature Center. Cycle south along the beach past the playground to the former Miami Zoo called Quiet Gardens to see the many diverse birds, including peacocks, herons, and ducks. 6747 Crandon Blvd.
“I am always amazed at how many kids on bikes are on the paths at Tropical Park every weekend,” said David Henderson, Miami-Dade county bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. “They also rent four-wheeled pedal cars for families.” The park is at 7900 SW 40th St. in Miami.
Oleta River state park
This peaceful urban oasis offers miles of challenging, intermediate mountain bike trails. For the beginner, there are more than four miles of novice trails and three miles of paved trails. Bike rentals, picnic pavilions and a restaurant are also on-site at 3400 NE 163rd St.
Matheson Hammock Beach Park
The park has three areas to bike - the area off Old Cutler Road; on the trail through the mangrove parallel to the entry road; and around the calm atoll pool on Biscayne Bay. The park is at 9610 Old Cutler Rd.
Map has more
Miami-Dade County’s interactive map of bike trails includes the Old Cutler Trail – 11 miles south from Cocoplum Circle to Palmetto Bay, but leaves out the worthwhile Bayfront Park and the stunning path around Brickell Key.
“In Broward, riding along the Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale beach and waterfront are both great destinations,” said South Florida Bike Coalition Executive Director Kathryn Moore. ”They’re fun for the whole family, and both have shuttle bus connections from Tri-rail.”
The park offers paved and mountain bike trails, as the city of Sunrise works to promote cycling. “That's a great place to go, no matter what kind of riding your family likes to do," Moore said. The park is at 16001 W. State Road 84.
Mark Horowitz, Broward county’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, suggests the 627-acre Tradewinds Park, 3600 W. Sample Rd., Coconut Creek. It offers about two miles of paved jogging/biking paths on the south side of the park. Also check out the farm and miniature steam trains.
More than a dozen Broward County parks feature paths for recreational bicycling.
On city streets, use the BikeBroward online mapping tool to find your optimal route.