Los Angeles is notorious for having bumper to bumper cars on the road, but being stuck in traffic is one trend you don’t want to follow in this city. Take the family on a bike ride instead. Breathtaking bike trails along the Pacific coastline make cycling feel less like exercise and more like a perk of living near an ocean you probably wish you could visit more often. We’ve also included a new path in Thousand Oaks that’s perfect for tykes on trikes, and an activity-hopping path in Griffith Park for a bike ride that glides from one fun event to the next.

South Bay Bicycle Trail
Biking along the beach with an ocean view is an unbeatable experience. You’ll find that you can easily pedal for miles and miles without feeling like you’ve even put forth any effort, given the breeze in your hair and the fresh ocean air. Start in Marina Del Rey and work your way south through Dockweiler Beach State Park and Manhattan Beach. The flat, paved terrain along the South Bay’s shoreline provides smooth sailing for even the tiniest bike riders. Beach bike paths often get congested (especially on weekends) as they are shared with runners and roller bladers, so either venture out during off-peak hours or let little ones riding solo know to forge ahead with caution.

Conejo Creek Bike Path, Thousand Oaks
The city of Thousand Oaks spent 1.2 million dollars last year to pave the Conejo Creek bike path, which runs along the city’s busiest park, and begins at the intersection of Paige Lane and Janss Road. The paved path is 12-feet wide and provides a safe haven away from traffic for younger riders to cycle freely, away from cars.

Santa Monica & Venice
The picturesque bike path that runs through Santa Monica and Venice is instantly recognizable, as it has been depicted in countless movies and television shows. Providing gorgeous ocean scenery and people-watching galore, this 8.5 mile trek north, from Washington Blvd. to Temescal Canyon Road continues access and easy to navigate, paved terrain. Bonus: there’s plenty to do, see and eat in the touristy beach locales of Venice and Santa Monica along the way. Stop for lunch on the patio at The Sidewalk Cafe’ in Venice Beach which promises unrivaled people watching entertainment.

Griffith Park
It’s not technically a bike trail, but a family bike ride through Griffith Park is a fun and convenient way to hop from one fun activity to another — from the playgrounds to the carousel to the pony and train rides. Take the path that runs along Crystal Springs Drive and Zoo Drive and continues along the Los Angeles River, ending near the main entrance to Griffith Park on Los Feliz Boulevard.

The Strand
The Strand winds for 22 miles along the Pacific shoreline, all the way from Redondo Beach to the Pacific Palisades. You’ll bike past gorgeous homes and breathtaking beach scenery and literally get a breath of fresh air while cycling along this well-manicured bike path. Consider starting at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House in Manhattan Beach to fuel up for breakfast, then enjoy an amazing ride all the way up to the Pacific Palisades if you’re up for it, and baby is on board your bicycle.

The 12th Annual Los Angeles River Ride
Let all of your bike riding culminate in an enjoyable summer event by registering for the 12th Annual Los Angeles River Ride, which takes place on June 10, 2012. Opt for the 15 mile family ride, wherein the entire route is on a dedicated bike path along the river and is for children age 7 and up when accompanied by an adult. Or participate in the Kids’ ride and fun fair, which introduces young children to bike safety lessons and where kids age 6 and younger can practice their bike and trike riding techniques on a festive bike loop. Kids age 12 and under ride free at both of these events.

— Beth Shea

(Photo credit: FatBMX)