PHILADELPHIA — Cruising around by bike on a warm summer day is a quintessential Philly activity. Philadelphia consistently ranks among the top bike-friendly cities in the United States and is also home to several trails that are almost entirely traffic-free, making it easy to explore the area on two wheels.
If you need a little extra motivation to get those legs moving, few better incentives exist than pizza and beer. We've outlined multiple different routes that will take you to both breweries and brick-oven pie shops, along with rides that lead to top-notch sushi, mega New York-style deli sandwiches, and more.
All eight routes start at City Hall, an easily accessible starting point for both those in the city and those taking public transportation from the surrounding area. SEPTA's Broad Street Line will put you right at its center, and a concourse at Suburban Station also connects to City Hall. Feel free to alter where you begin, and adapt your route as needed using Google Maps, the primary source for each route. (Note: The directions to Sagami Japanese Restaurant slightly stray from Google Maps; see below.)
All routes either run primarily along bike lanes or the Schuylkill River Trail, a 30-mile, tree-lined path that goes from Center City through Valley Forge National Historical Park. Each destination is also at least 12 miles round trip (or roughly a minimum of an hour-long ride), giving you time to work up an appetite. If you really want to work for your reward, opt for the Sly Fox Brewery route, a 62-mile ride that invites you to conquer the entire Schuylkill River Trail.
What to bring: Sunscreen and water are a must. A patch kit and extra tire tube are also highly recommended in case you get a flat. For destinations that aren't right off the Schuylkill River Trail, consider bringing a Bluetooth portable wireless speaker to stream GPS directions via a smartphone. It'll eliminate the need to stop every five minutes to look at directions. You might also want to bring a phone charger or portable battery. And, while all destinations lead to food and drinks, packing a snack is encouraged for all longer rides.
If you get tired: Whether your legs are feeling fatigued or you drank more than one beer at the brewery, public transportation options are within reach of most of the destinations listed below. For rides off of the Schuylkill River Trail, the Manayunk/Norristown Line of SEPTA's regional rail and the SEPTA DeKalb Street station on the Norristown High Speed Line are both options on each route. Another pro tip: SEPTA buses are equipped with a bike rack. PATCO is also an option for rides into New Jersey, and during worst-case situations, most UberXL's will allow you to bring your bike on board.
Length: 12 miles round trip
4116 Ridge Ave, 215-438-4848, in-riva.com
Once you navigate your way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a straight shot down the Schuylkill River Trail lands you at In Riva where the bike rack is always packed. The spot serves as an easy destination for grabbing a cold beer or a glass of wine and a Neapolitan-style pizza, always encircled by a fresh oven-charred crust. Just over 30 minutes away from City Hall, the ride is totally doable, and is the best option for new bikers. This is also a great option for those renting a bike via Philly's bike-share program Indego, with multiple Indego stations located by City Hall and also near the Philadelphia Museum of Art at 2601 Pennsylvania Ave. and 2170 Hamilton St.
Bonus stop: Philadelphia Rock Gym
3500 Scotts Lane B-3, 877-822-7673, philarockgym.com
Given this trip is the shortest on the list, perhaps you'll have some energy to spare pre- or post-pizza. If so, hit up the nearby rock-climbing gym for a quick climb or bouldering session. Just a half mile from In Riva, the 14,000-square-foot Philadelphia Rock Gym welcomes you to keep the physical fun going with over 90 routes to conquer.
Sagami Japanese Restaurant
Length: 12 miles round trip
37 W. Crescent Blvd., Collingswood, 856-854-9773, facebook.com/sagami.nj
Sagami is a Collingswood staple for scoring simple and extremely fresh sushi preparations. While the sashimi is a must-order, the non-sushi items on this BYOB's menu, like the sukiyaki, receive consistently high reviews, too. Forget commuting by car and pedal your way along the scenic Ben Franklin Bridge pedestrian walkway instead. The pathway (which is currently closed for construction on the south side but accessible via the north side) is built up above traffic and offers incredible Delaware River and cityscape views. Note: On Saturdays and Sundays, Sagami is only open for dinner, which can make cycling home a little tricky. The Ben Franklin Bridge pedestrian walkway closes at 8 p.m. Oct. 1 to April 30 and at 9 p.m. May 1 to Sept. 30. Plan accordingly, or carry your bike onto PATCO at the nearby Ferry Avenue station — which conveniently has an elevator — if you finish up dinner post-closing time. Note: A slightly altered route from what Google Maps instructs from City Hall is suggested. Find the revised route here.
Bonus stop: Knight Park
Park Avenue & West Browning Road, Collingswood, 856-854-0720, knightpark.net
Before hopping back on your bike for the six-mile ride home, work off some of that sushi at the nearby Knight Park. The 70-acre Collingswood gem features a massive playground, as well as a pond and other picturesque scenes surrounded by walking paths.
Length: 15 miles round trip
342 Montgomery Ave., Merion, 610-668-3354, hymies.com
Sandwiches piled high with corned beef, lox, pastrami and other New York-style deli delights await at Merion's Hymie's. Be sure to bring a backpack, as you may want to stash half your sandwich for later to save room for one of the spot's extra thick milkshakes or to enjoy at the bonus stop listed below. You definitely won't want to miss the self-serve pickle bar. We recommend saving the trip to Hymie's for a Saturday or Sunday, the days when our bonus stop is open and when a four-mile stretch of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive closes to vehicular traffic from April through October, allowing you to bike this section of the Hymie's route on the street. You can take the Schuylkill River Trail on weekdays, but the trail on this side of the river can be quite bumpy in areas, so be prepared to ride a little slower.
Bonus stop: Arboretum of the Barnes Foundation
300 N. Latches Lane, Merion, 215-278-7350, barnesfoundation.org
Open on the weekends (May through Labor Day), the Arboretum of the Barnes Foundation is less than a five-minute ride from Hymie's. The 12-acre grounds — the former location of the Barnes Foundation — is currently home to a horticulture school and a vast array of plants to peruse and admire.
Manayunk Brewing Company
Length: 15 miles round trip
4120 Main St., 215-482-8220, manayunkbrewery.com
Kick off those sneakers for a few and relax with a beer on Manayunk Brewing Company's spacious deck, offering scenic views that overlook the Schuylkill. Beyond brews made on-site, the microbrewery serves up burgers, nachos, pizza, and other salty eats to pair with a pint of your choosing. The ride here is easy, as the route follows the Schuylkill River Trail nearly the entire way. The main navigational challenge comes at the end, when you'll need to cycle through a small stretch of both Ridge Avenue and Main Street. At this point, the 0.8 miles to your final destination is lined by sidewalks, allowing you to hop off the street and walk your bike if at any point you feel uncomfortable.
Bonus stop: Main Street
4100-4500 Main Street, manayunk.com
Surrounding Manayunk Brewery, more than 60 shops, restaurants, and galleries fill a half-mile stretch of Main Street. Stroll the sidewalks and pop into the boutiques that catch your eye before finishing with an ice cream cone at Chloe's Corner.
Tired Hands Fermentaria
Length: 18 miles round trip
35 Cricket Terrace, Ardmore, 484-413-2983, tiredhands.com/fermentaria
Tacos and a dozen different taps bring reason take a ride out to Ardmore, where Tired Hands Fermentaria awaits with its signature, hazy HopHands pale ale and other intriguing options from the husband-wife duo-owned brewery. The route to get there crosses through West Philly, up into Haddington and through Penn Wynne, with bike lanes available most of the way. Take note: This ride does include a few hills, so be prepared to work for the beer that awaits ahead. Although, clocking in under 20 miles, the trip is not one to fear.
Bonus stop: Green Engine Coffee Co.
16 Haverford Station Rd., Haverford, greenenginecoffee.com
Whether you prefer coffee to beer or are simply looking for a pick-me-up before hopping back on your bike, Green Engine Coffee Co. awaits just less than a mile from Tired Hands. Beyond caffeinated drinks, the spot also serves up a rotating selection of Capogiro gelato, the perfect pairing for an afternoon espresso.
Valley Green Inn
Length: 21 miles round trip
Valley Green Road, 215-247-1730, valleygreeninn.com
For those with hybrid or mountain bikes, the 5.35-mile Forbidden Drive offers a beautiful cycling escape from noisy city streets. The gravel path parallels the Wissahickon Creek and is also home to Valley Green Inn, where berry French toast, chicken and waffles, crab cake avocado BLTs, and other brunch-time eats welcome you on the weekends. (Lunch and dinner are available seven days a week). To venture to Forbidden Drive, you'll take the Schuylkill River Trail past Falls Bridge until you hit Ridge Avenue (just before Manayunk). Here, you'll see the Wissahickon Transportation Center, where SEPTA buses travel in and out. This is where you'll cross the street to pick up the Wissahickon Bike Trail, a small trail that connects to a parking lot at the trailhead of Forbidden Drive. Take Forbidden Drive for about three miles, and you'll spot the historic Valley Green Inn, often hosting guests on its spacious front porch.
Bonus stop: Wissahickon Valley Park
Valley Green Road, fow.org
Surrounding Valley Green Inn is Wissahickon Valley Park, offering more than 50 miles of trail to explore by foot. Lock up your bike to head out for a hike, or if you possess a mountain bike and an adventurous spirit, explore the woods on two wheels.
The Schuylkill River Trail, a 30-mile, tree-lined path that goes from Center City through Valley Forge National Historical Park, provides a great traffic-free bike lane for reaching multiple breweries and food destinations.
Length: 26.5 miles round trip
739 E. Elm St., Conshohocken, 610-897-8962, conshohockenbrewing.com
Smack on the Schuylkill River Trail, the Conshohocken Brewery ride is one of the most pleasant on the list for those seeking to pedal for a little longer than an hour. The entire route is a trail ride, excluding the small stretch of Ridge Avenue and Main Street that you also navigate on the Manayunk Brewery ride. In fact, you'll pass right by the Manayunk Brewery, after which you'll quickly hang a left onto Lock Street, a small thoroughfare that brings you from Main Street back to the trail. Here, you'll continue on for just another 5 miles or so, finding the Conshohocken Brewery on your right with a bike rack and tire-pumping station sitting out front. While the spot serves food, the menu is limited, so consider hitting up Manayunk before or after enjoying a Conshohocken brew.
Bonus stop: REI Conshohocken
200 Ridge Pike, Ste. 115, Conshohocken, 610-940-0809, rei.com
Realizing you'd rather be wearing bike shorts than running shorts after the 13-mile ride to the brewery? Head up to REI's Conshohocken location, just two miles away, to shop for all of the bike gear and outdoor gadgets you could ever want.
Sly Fox Brewhouse and Eatery
Length: 62 miles round trip
520 Kimberton Rd., Phoenixville, 610-935-4540, slyfoxbeer.com/phoenixville
Ready to take on a longer ride? Just over 30 miles from the city's center, Sly Fox Brewhouse and Eatery presents the perfect excuse to spend the afternoon cycling in search of beer. Most of the route is traffic-free, running along the Schuylkill River Trail, through Valley Forge, until you hit the trail's end at Port Providence. From there, it's just another 4 miles to the brewery. The final stretch is composed of roads that don't contain bike lanes, so just be extra aware of your surroundings as you power through to the end. Beyond a selection of beers only available at the brewery, sandwiches and other bar fare await to help you refuel. For those who can't fathom the return trip after chowing down, the Norristown High Speed Line's DeKalb Street station is just 14 miles away in Bridgeport. It's located right along the route home, visible from the Schuylkill River Trail.
Bonus stop: Valley Forge National Historical Park
(1400 North Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, nps.gov/vafo/index.htm)
You’ll pass right through Valley Forge on your way to Sly Fox, so use it as a greenery-filled destination to take a break and enjoy a snack. The park is around the 23rd mile of this route.
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