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Active Travel Inspiration

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Any example of exploration where you're moving under your own power to experience a place is ‘active travel’. For me, it’s the essential way to slow down and dig deep enough while traveling, to truly connect with the people that live there and create that sense of place. Removed from a vehicle and on your own two feet, two wheels, kayak, etc. we have the opportunity to not miss a thing.
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Panama Canal, Panama
Paddling through the Panama Canal? Yes, a passion born from an annual race called the Regata de Cayucos: Ocean to Ocean, founded in 1954. Witnessing the three day race (or even a few practices leading up to it, as I did) is such a phenomenal way...
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08024 Barcelona, Spain
A pilgrimage to this enchanting park is a must for any Antoni Gaudí fan. Located atop Carmel Hill to the north of the city, the park was inspired by English landscape gardens, but its fantastical elements make sure you know it was...
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1 Chapmans Peak Dr, Hout Bay Harbour, Cape Town, 7806, South Africa
When you're staying in Cape Town, be sure to get out to Hout Bay on the Cape Peninsula to witness a sunset that I'm convinced is the most beautiful one I've ever seen. I love the Chapman's Peak Hotel in Hout Bay. Even if you're staying in Cape...
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Rodeo Beach is a gorgeous place to start and finish some hiking or trail running in the Sausalito/Marin Headlands area and the perfect place for a picnic. Rodeo Beach is another gorgeous park in the big and beautiful Golden Gate National Parks...
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531 SW 13th St, Bend, OR 97702, USA
During your visit to Bend, there's a high probability that you'll do the local 'float' through town on the river and end up with a cold, craft beer at the Deschutes Brewery. A classic must! If you're looking to do more than float, then head...
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Sausalito, CA 94965, USA
If you're exploring the Marin Headlands area, make sure you scoot over to this hidden gem and still active, lighthouse. As you can see, the setting is dramatic and you'll be rewarded with some sweeping views of the bay. There's a half mile trail...
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Urupukapuka Island, Northland, New Zealand
There are 144 islands in the Bay of Islands on the North Island of New Zealand, and Urupukapuka (the largest of them all) aims to please. Check out the island's website to help plan your day, which will be a fabulous and full day that includes a...
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Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, USA
Golden Gate Park was formed out of an expanse of sand dunes to the west of the city in the nineteenth century—a history that is still discernible in the rolling topography of much of the park’s more than 1,000 acres. Over 13 million...
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Champs-Élysées, Paris, France
“People can either be over-the-top romantic about Paris, or they think life is ridiculous here,” saysDavid Lebovitz.“I try to strike a middle ground.” Lebovitz, an American, worked for 13 years in the pastry department at Chez Panisse in Berkeley,...
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To get a better understanding of the city and for some incredible views, be sure to walk the walls of the Dubrovnik old town. For a modest fee, anyone can climb the ancient stairs and circumnavigate the town, seeing life from the rooftops. The...
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8600 River Rd, Forestville, CA 95436, USA
My mother is such a good sport when she visits. She knows I have to be constantly moving outside to feel alive and on this visit, I thought a fun way to be active in the wine country region of the Russian River, would be to take her out on a 10...
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Long Ave & Marine Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA
FREE
The Golden Gate Bridge is probably the most photographed site in California, but this vantage point never gets old. Explore the hollowed out fort, learn some history, and marvel at the view from the top floor.
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Lodhi Gardens, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi, Delhi 110003, India
New Delhi is a bit of a concrete jungle, and the chance to start each morning in the green space that is Lodhi Garden was a welcome way to find balance amid the hustle and bustle. The gardens were built around the tombs of Sayid and Lodhi rulers,...
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3 Place de la Mairie, 29890 Plounéour-Trez, France
If you're in the beautiful Brittany region of France, be sure to take a break from the cider and buckwheat crepes, for a heart racing trip along the open beaches in one of these! 'Char a voile' in French, the phrase means 'sand yachting/speed...
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Florida, USA
This is your view from the top of the Diamond Lake Hike, which starts about 12 kilometers outside of the town of Wanaka. The views are so beautiful from the summit that it's nearly impossible to ever head back down the mountain. The track starts...
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Contadora Island, Saboga, Panama
Snorkel, fish, relax and recover while you're in Panama on Contador Island, in the Pearl Islands Archipelago. These beautiful boats are ready for hire (in hugely affordable fashion) once you've left Panama City and landed on this enchanting...
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100 34th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA

San Francisco's Legion of Honor, in Lincoln Park in the northwest corner of the city, has stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The building is a replica of the French pavilion constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition,...

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Lake Matheson, West Coast 7886, New Zealand
Lake Matheson is a magical little spot near Fox Glacier. It's a great place to take a walk at sunset, before enjoying dinner and some local wine at the Matheson Cafe. On a clear day, the reflection in the lake proudly displays all the reasons to...
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You'll have never seen a place more green. Hundreds of shades of it, with waterfalls and babbling brooks. Gleninchaquin is something out of a dream—yet it's the beautiful reality in Southwest Ireland. This family-owned park, overseen by Donal and...
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Lion's Head, Signal Hill, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
This is the view that you'll be treated to while climbing to the summit of Lion's Head in Cape Town, South Africa. The ever-stunning Table Mountain is just to the left of this perspective and as you head up the climb, you'll soon be facing Robben...
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Nicasio Reservoir, California 94946, USA
Start the day off right in Point Reyes Station with coffee and a scone at the Bovine Bakery. There's loads of bicycle parking in the park to the right of the bakery and cyclists come in from every direction, to fuel up at this same intersection....
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Green Lake, Seattle, WA 98115, USA
Right in the middle of a packed urban neighborhood, this treasure of a local park in Seattle aims to please. Perfect for morning jogs or walks, it caters to hundreds of visitors a day, looking to soak up the 2.8 mile path and views. Beautiful...
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2501 Grizzly Peak Boulevard, Orinda, CA 94563, USA
This is my favorite 30-35 mile ride in the East Bay, and spring and fall are the times to see the colors really pop. Make your way up and out of Berkeley on Spruce and head straight on Wildcat Canyon to enter the majestic Tilden park, when you hit...
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Aiguille du Midi, 74400 Chamonix, France
France's Chamonix Valley is one of the most scenic places on the European continent. It's a narrow river valley which houses everything from rock-climbing centers to pulsing bars and pubs, and on both sides of the river the peaks of the French...
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Oakland, CA 94611, USA
Looking for a great afternoon or evening hike, high above the clouds of the East Bay? Need a few good labyrinths and a volcano to make it desirable? It so happens, I've found your place. Located on the border of Oakland and Contra Costa, the...
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Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Thailand
While you're in Thailand, be sure to escape the colorful chaos of Bangkok and head toward the historic capital of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The best option to get there would be by train and they run frequently from Bangkok's...
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200 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704, USA
It might be a part of the Colorado River—a man-made reservoir carved out of the river in 1960—but everyone calls the body of water bisecting Austin Lady Bird Lake. On hot summer days, scores of walkers and joggers move...
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Utah, USA
As its biblical name implies, Zion National Park has the appeal of a place out of time. Established on November 19, 1919, the canyon and its surrounding landscape feel like a natural temple, full of arches, hoodoos, and imposing walls, some of...
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565 Rim Dr, Klamath Falls, OR 97604, USA
Look at this view, from the back porch of the classic, Crater Lake Lodge. That blue begging for your complete attention. It makes sense why both rows of rocking chairs are facing only this direction. I was lucky enough to lead many of our Biking...
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Gorges de la Nesque, 84390 Monieux, France
Bienvenue to favorite bicycle ride in all of France. One that I did so often while living in Provence that my friends called it my 'church.' Aptly named. Depending on which direction you're coming from, you'll probably come through the small town...
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709 Main St, St Helena, CA 94574, USA
If you're headed to wine country for some sipping and spinning, I'd encourage you to start and finish your day at the Clif Family Wine tasting room and their all-bicycles-welcome back porch at Velo Vino in St. Helena. It's the perfect place to...
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Manawatu-Wanganui 4691, New Zealand
This huge, single-day hike is in the running for the "Best Day Hike in the World" contest. If you're spending time in Taupo on the North Island of New Zealand and you love a challenging hike with unbelievable topography, be sure to give yourself a...
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Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA, USA
Not crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco would be like skipping the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It’s a rite of passage every visitor should experience. The best way to traverse this iconic symbol of the city is either on foot or two wheels....
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Dewey Point, California, USA
There's an absolute gem of a hike in Yosemite National Park that anyone who loves a good winter snowshoe hike should do. It's a seven-mile out-and-back trek from Badger Pass to the inspirational Dewey Point, which is on the south rim at just over...
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Col du Tourmalet, Tourmalet, 65120 Barèges, France
Living and working in Europe for over a decade always meant an annual pilgrimage to follow certain stages of 'The Great Race'. This moment was from the 2010 Tour de France on the Col du Tourmalet and I'd just run across the road wearing my yellow...
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798 Arguello Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
$$$$
This cozy, community minded, all-things-bicycle-inspired cafe on Arguello (and a block from Golden Gate Park) is the perfect place to meet cycling buddies for your pre-ride fuel spot. You'll see the red, ceramic decorated bicycle hanging above the...
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Pont Drift, Botswana
I love the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana, near the Limpopo River. The opportunity to explore the 25,000-hectare reserve by bicycle or by foot is something that rarely happens on a safari. You can arrange morning and late afternoon walks with...
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Col des Tempêtes, 84410 Bédoin, France
It's the grand daddy of all famed Tour de France rides and always at the very top of every cyclist's dream, to-do list. There are three different ways to start the ascent, but the most storied (and most challenging approach) begins in Bedoin. Mont...
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08035 Barcelona, Spain
On both the Casual Inn and Premiere Inn Biking Spain trips with Backroads, you'll have the chance to accept the rewarding challenge of biking to the Coll de la Creueta for heart soaring views. In my humble bike touring opinion, I think it's one of...
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29400 Ronda, Málaga, Spain
You'll feel as though you're pedaling back in time during this 6 day biking trip through Spain's Andalucia. The scenery, the unique hotels, the tapas and Los Pueblos Blancos will steal your heart. Each day's stretch of road feels like a different...
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Narlai, Rajasthan 306703, India
This is the kind of the trip (and for certain the kind of country) that, with an open heart, will change your life. The colors and the culture of Rajasthan carry you along during the intoxicating Backroads 10 day Premiere Inn Biking India trip....
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84390 Monieux, France
I happen to be convinced that there's no dreamier a place that Provence, for 5 nights and 6 days of cycling, eating, experiencing and drinking up all that there is to love. The Backroads Casual Inn Provence Biking trip covers beautifully diverse...
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Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast 7886, New Zealand
Brace yourself for the physical pull you'll feel as you approach the dramatic, 7.5 mile long glacier named Franz Josef, in Westland National Park in New Zealand. Together with the nearby 12 mile long Fox Glacier, you'll be astounded by this unique...
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Fjærland, Norway
The Flatbreen hike in Norway is officially in the running for "Best Day Hike in the World," in my book. You'll gain 3,100 feet in elevation on the way up these stunning, glaciated valleys and mountain passes. Depending on your pace and the...
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Monteensudder, Glengarriff, Co. Cork, Ireland
There's no better place to gather and celebrate than Ireland and to truly soak up all of the magic of the land and its people- you need to be biking! The history, the hospitality and the pride of County Kerry, County Cork and Connemara are my...
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Castle Hill 7580, New Zealand
This 10-day tramping (that's Kiwi for "hiking") trip on the South Island of New Zealand is hard to beat. This will be your first hike of many, all of which connect you to a land so beautiful that it's impossible to ever leave. Kura Tawhiti is a...
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Agert Pakhuis Pass, Clanwilliam, 8135, South Africa
This is the trip of a lifetime—there's no better way to describe it. Beginning in the dynamic and colorful city of Cape Town and finishing at Londolozi Private Game Reserve in Sabi Sand—the very pinnacle of animal-viewing experiences—this trip is...
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California, USA
“We wanted to go to Yosemite, but didn’t have time.” I’ve heard this refrain from several San Francisco visitors and they all have said it with regret. Yes, the reverent national park is outside of a short-drive comfort...
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370 Linden St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
The Streets of San Francisco Bike Tour company is not only a must for any visitor to the city, it's also an ideal way for locals to soak up something special about their own backyard. Founded by former international bicycle tour guides that have...
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Lake Aloha, California, USA
Welcome to Northern California's Desolation Wilderness, the perfect place to hike near South Lake Tahoe. Lake Aloha is a well-deserved and divine place to take a dip after having tackled the climb up from Echo Lake. I'd suggest parking your car at...
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Lake Tahoe, United States
This is big bicycle ride. Not necessarily because of the distance (if you're a regular road cyclists this amount is your usual Saturday or Sunday ride) or the terrain (there are only a few sections with significant climbs), but big because of the...
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Terrebonne, OR 97760, USA
Even on a cold, gray day in winter, this state park is something to be celebrated. (The last time I was this impressed with a six-mile hike I was in the diverse and mind-blowing landscape known as the South Island of New Zealand.) Smith Rock State...
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53000 East Historic Columbia River Hwy, Corbett, OR 97019, USA
$$$$
Multnomah Falls is a gorgeous sight located about 45 minutes by car outside of Portland, Oregon, on the Columbia River Gorge. Several hikes of differing degrees of difficulty offer vantage points to view the falls. The sound of the rushing water...
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Sandy River, Oregon, USA
This 35 mile loop ride will steal your heart. If you live in or are traveling through Portland, here's my suggested itinerary. Head out to the McMenamins Edgefield hotel property in Troutdale. Grab some serious coffee at their espresso bar in the...
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Rim Rock Drive, Fruita, CO 81521, USA
If you're an American Flyers fan and a believer in a bicycle ride's ability to inspire and instantly connect you to a place, this ride in Colorado National Monument park (just outside Grand Junction) will knock your socks off. To have a 33 mile...
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Moab, UT 84532, USA
See our full list of Where to Go in 2015. If you've been biking through Arches National Park, you've earned a mellow ride that still gives you plenty of time in the saddle and miles to put under your belt. On a recent three-day bike trip through ...
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Utah, USA
See our full list of Where to Go in 2015. This is one seriously tough and gorgeous full day on a bicycle in Arches National Park. Here's a quick hit on the route. I'd suggest trying to make this happen on a weekday to avoid the presence of the...
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This is what I love about seeing a region from the saddle of a bicycle. You're able to really witness all that is around you, none of it becomes a blur outside of a speeding car window. It was late morning on the second day of a six day biking New...
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Willow City Loop, Willow City, TX 78675, USA
Texas cyclists will often claim that this is their favorite bike ride in Texas. It's a classic 55 mile ride aimed to please and aimed to make you work. There are some seriously steep grades, great descents and endless rolling hills. Pack those...