San Diego has been actively building a bike trail network around the city. These are trails where bikers can ride generally free of auto traffic. One great trail for locals and tourists alike is biking San Diego Harbor between Liberty Station and Downtown San Diego. This short 8-mile out-and-back trail takes you by many of the top attractions in San Diego.
Starting Point: Liberty Station, intersection of Cushing and Dewey
Length: 8 miles
If you are visiting San Diego this bike ride is the closest one you can find to the airport. It starts at Liberty Station, right outside the airport and goes by all the hotels next to the airport. As of mid-2018 a rental bike is easy to find in this area. There are dockless services that offer bikes that can be picked up and dropped off anywhere.
There have been lots of complaints about these services because it means bikes are being dropped off all over the place. A user locates the nearest bike using the app, pays for and picks the bike up wherever it is and then leaves it wherever they finish. There will be plenty such bikes along the harbor route. As of this writing the main companies with dockless bikes are Lime, Ofo and Mobike (Bird is a company with a similar concept for electric scooters).
If you want to rent a bike from a more traditional place, Liberty Station has Moment Bicycles and a DecoBike docking station at 2753 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106. There is also a Discover Bike Station at Liberty Station and several more along the route. On the other end of the route, at Seaport Village, there is Wheel Fun rentals.
We start our ride in Liberty Station. This new 300+ acre retail and commercial area has been developed in the past ten years from the former Naval Training Center. It is a busy place, but there is usually plenty of parking. We like to start near the 52 Boats memorial. This is a large open space honoring the 52 submarines that were lost during World War 2.
Ride the trail through the memorial to the water (a finger inlet off of San Diego Harbor) and turn right. You will go along the water until you come to a bridge on your left right by a landlocked ship, the USS Recruit (used as a training ship). Turn left to go across the bridge.
After crossing the bridge you will to a stoplight along busy Harbor Drive. This is the busiest intersection you cross on this route. Cross with the lights and pick up the trail on your left, going towards downtown. The area you go through is Spanish Landing which has a small beach.
The trail goes along across the basin from Harbor Island. On your left will be the airport. Often you will see a lot of water activity going on in this area. On one day we went a yacht show was going on. As you get closer to downtown, the area tends to get busier, especially on weekends.
The trail curves toward the right as you enter the downtown area, following the contours of the harbor. On your left will be the San Diego County Administration Center. This large building has a free waterfront park that opened in 2014.
Along the water you will see where you can go on harbor cruises. There are all kinds of different cruises you can take. The Go San Diego Card offers both a one-hour cruise from HornBlower as well as a whale watching cruise. Right past this you will see the iconic Star of India and some other historic vessels that are part of the San Diego Maritime Museum.
This is also where cruise ships entering San Diego stop, the B Street Terminal. The next pier, Broadway Pier, is where you can take a ferry across the harbor to Coronado. This is also a good starting point for the 24-mile bike route around San Diego Bay (a work in progress).
At this point we turned around because the area was getting crowded. For a longer ride you can go on about a mile. You will pass the USS Midway aircraft carrier, Seaport Village and go past the San Diego Convention Center.
Eventually a full bike path will be built that goes all the way around San Diego Bay. This will allow for a 24-mile loop, but it will bypass most of this trail. This route, along with some of our rides on Mission Bay and the San Diego River are great warmups for the longer bay loop.
You should note that if you have a Go San Diego Card many of the attractions are along this route. This can include Hornblower Cruises, the USS Midway and the Maritime Museum.
If you are in San Diego for 3 or more days you may want to consider a Go San Diego Card which includes the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. The Go San Diego Card allows visitors access to up to 40 attractions for either 1,2,3,5 or 7 days. This is not a cheap option and we generally recommend it for 3 days or more where it is $209 adults/$189 children age 3 to 12.