A Relaxing Bike Ride on the West Side – The Ballona Creek Bike Path
The Ballona Creek Bike Path is a beginner-level bike path completely free of cars and signals, extending from Culver City to Marina del Rey. It can be a great date idea if you go at the right time of day (avoiding the heat of mid-day) and make plans to hang out afterwards.
The Bike Path
The path consists of two bike lanes adjacent to the Ballona Creek, which is essentially a huge concrete flood control channel. That may not sound so appealing, but stay with me. It runs about seven miles from Syd Kronenthal Park in Culver City to Marina del Rey. Here are some reasons why I like this bike path as a date idea:
- It’s an easy bike ride. It’s really flat and only 14 miles total, which means you can do the whole out and back in less than 1.5 hours.
- It’s completely free of car traffic and signals or stop signs, making the ride fun and effortless.
- It’s relatively uncrowded.
- Afterwards, you can have drinks or grab a bite in downtown Culver City or Marina del Rey, depending on where you end up.
- Although parts of the path are somewhat ghetto with graffitti and homeless folks living under the bridges, there are some nice parts, especially along the Milton Street Park (behind Marina del Rey Middle School) and at Marina del Rey itself.
There are numerous places along the path where you can enter the bike path. For a complete list and map, check out ballonacreek.org.
I recommend either starting near the endpoints at Marina del Rey or downtown Culver City. That way, when you’re done, you have easy access to nearby restaurants and bars.
If you want to start in the Marina, park at the Dock 52 parking lot. Amazingly, parking here is totally free!
When you depart from the Dock 52 on your bikes, take a right onto the bike lane on Fiji, then turn left at the end to enter the bike path. Go right if you want to go to the end of the Marina. Go left to go to Culver City.
Some good reasons to start in the Marina are the easy parking situation (amazingly), and the fact that you can get a beautiful sunset view at the end of your ride if you time it right.
If you want to start in Culver City, there are a couple of options.
You can start at the very end of the path at Syd Kronenthal Park. There is a small parking lot, and the bike path connects to the Expo Line bike path, if that helps. The downside is that there is little else in this area – no restaurants, bars, etc. And, the bike path at this end is somewhat ghetto, with graffiti on the walls.
If you want to start closer to downtown attractions, start at the Duquesne Ave. entrance. This is close to downtown Culver City. There is some street parking near there, but read the signs carefully, as they are pretty tricky, and you might have to search a while to find an open spot.
As I mentioned, this is a really easy, level ride! It’s great for beginners because you won’t need to mess with cars, traffic signals, stop signs, intersections, etc.
Although there is some shade, it’s mostly in the open, so don’t go when it’s blazing hot in the middle of the day. I recommend early morning or late afternoon, timed so you see the sun set at Marina del Rey. Spring or fall are great times of the year to do this ride.
Most of the time, the wind is at your back as you go inland, and it is slightly downhill on the way back – a great combination.
There is a water fountain at the Milton Street park, which is one of the nicer areas of the path.
Other parts of the trail are not so nice, with chain-link fences, graffiti and homeless people. There was a part in the middle where we definitely smelled pot – a lot of it! We never felt unsafe when we went, but I would recommend always going with someone.
What to Do Afterwards
If you end at the Marina, stay on your bikes and head over to one of the many restaurants in the area. In the nearby mall there are some good casual options like Chipotle and California Pizza Kitchen.
If you end in Culver City, you have downtown just a short bike ride away. Check out my Top Culver City Date Ideas article.
Well, I hope I’ve given you an idea of what it’s like to do the Ballona Creek Bike path. Although it’s not as picturesque as, say, the Strand, I still really like this really easy and mellow bike path. – Brian