Something about warmer weather just calls for bike riding. (Maybe it’s because, even though I’m a few weeks shy of 30, it still reminds me of childhood summer vacations.) Here are some of my favorite spots for biking in Naples and Southwest Florida that I’m looking forward to revisiting in the coming weeks:
Lovers Key State Park
This barrier island is one of the few spots you can ride along the water, since the beach is wide and the sand is hard packed. Beyond that, there are more than five miles of trails through the coastal hammock, where you might spot manatees or dolphins in the inner waterways. If you don’t own a bike, you can rent one there or take a guided bicycle tour.
Gordon River Greenway
After nearly three decades of planning and construction, these two miles of paved trails, boardwalks, bridges and waterways off of Golden Gate Parkway officially opened in November 2014. It’ll only get better with time, too, as the vegetation grows around it and more wildlife begins to call it home.
Downtown Naples/Gulf Shore Boulevard
Bikes were made for cruising neighborhoods like downtown Naples. Lowdermilk Park is a good starting point, and staying on Gulf Shore Boulevard will take you south and hook into Gordon Drive, where you can check out all the jaw-dropping real estate in Port Royal along the way. There are plenty of stopping points nearby, including the Naples Pier (at the end of 12th Avenue South), or head east and stop for lunch or an ice cream break along Fifth Avenue South (Adelheidi’s lime mint sorbet is the perfect thing to cool down on a warm day.)
This cute little island is well equipped for bikers, with 25 miles of paved paths that keep you off the roads. The paths traverse nearly all areas of the island, from the shops of Periwinkle Place to the neighborhoods of San Carlos Bay to J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge (it’s just $1 per person to enter if you’re on a bike). There are plenty of cute places to stop for snacks or drinks along the way, too.