Summer is around the corner, and you can get a unique look at Santa Monica this season by trying out one of the Santa Monica Bike Center’s walking or biking tours. After hearing the buzz around these experiences, I decided to try one out and report back to our Santa Monica Centric readers. The one I picked was a condensed* version of the usual Sweet Spots Bike Tour. Yum!
All tours meet at the Downtown Santa Monica Bike Center. Our guide, Shaun, gave the group a warm welcome and took the time to get everyone comfortable and properly fitted on their bikes. Shaun went over some basic safety procedures for following him on Santa Monica’s roads. He explained that each of the businesses on the tour uses local and organic ingredients in their products. After that, we put on our helmets and were off!
The first stop was Sweet Lady Jane on Montana Avenue, specializing in cakes and desserts. Once we locked our bikes up outside, Shaun gave us a brief history of the business that started in Los Angeles 27 years ago. The food tastings are included with the price of the tour, so Shaun proceeded to order some of the most popular items for our group: lemon bars, sea salt caramel brownies, and an extra-large slice of the triple-berry shortcake for all of us to split. I tried not one but at least two or three bites of each item. I could taste the fresh ingredients and sugary goodness in each bite.
“The desserts are flavorful, fresh, and they’re all so different,” said An Verbeek, another participant on the tour. “I think it’s all delicious.”
The rest of the group agreed. It’s a good thing that biking was a major part of the tour, because I needed to work off those sweets. The group set off again to our next stop, and we rode through some of the most beautiful parts of north Santa Monica, seeing large mansions and gorgeous landscapes along the way.
Our next stop was Sweet Rose Creamery at the Brentwood Country Mart. Once again, we locked up our bikes, and Shaun gathered the group in front of the store to share some history of the one-of-a-kind ice cream shop. The ingredients are all organic and purchased by local farms. In fact, you can frequently spot Sweet Rose employees buying these fresh ingredients from the Santa Monica Farmers Market each Wednesday.
Each bike rider was able to order a cup or cone of the flavor of their choosing (remember, the food tasting cost is already included in the price of the tour). I opted for a cup of the salted caramel ice cream, with salt on top of course. My tastebuds were doing a dance in my mouth! I had never tried an ice cream flavor like that before, and I absolutely loved it. Other tour participants indulged in the fresh mint with homemade chocolate chips, strawberry, and Cafe Luxxe coffee flavors.
Since this was a condensed tour, it was time to head back to the Santa Monica Bike Center, and in doing so, Shaun led us through more of the prettiest streets of Santa Monica. He took us to Palisades Park where we took a short break from our bikes to enjoy the overlook and the view of the beach. From there, we continued on through Downtown Santa Monica to get back to the Center where the tour officially ended.
“It was really great to explore new neighborhoods of Santa Monica,” said Elsa Guttery, another tour participant. “It’s not your typical touristy thing to do, so I think it’s a great option for anyone who wants to enjoy Santa Monica.”
As a resident of Santa Monica, I was thrilled to find new dessert shops and see parts of the city I had never explored before. It makes me want to sign up for their other tours as well!
“A bike or walking tour is the best way to experience a city,” Shaun said. “You can really feel the environment, plus you’re working out and tasting delicious treats.”
You’re right Shaun. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Tour Details (from the Bike Center’s web site):
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)
Adult Cost: $89.00 (includes the food tastings). Check website for costs for children.
Distance: 11 miles
Group size: anywhere from 2 to 10 people
Tell us which bike or walking tour you’ll be signing up for! Share it on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with the hashtag #DTSM.