These are enCYCLEpedia’s favorite combinations of easy scenic bicycle rides and enjoyable al fresco dining experiences in the Coachella Valley. Bike routes that include these restaurants as destinations are described in the book “enCYCLEpedia Southern California – The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides” .
For the more upscale establishments like Spencer’s or those along El Paseo perhaps bring or wear a more appropriate frock. Personally I carry a light Hawaiian shirt to wear over my tee! Feel free to comment with your own favorite Bike ‘n Dines. More info: book’s website (Palm Springs area is Chapter 9); book’s Facebook page.
1. Central Palm Springs
Most of the best patio restaurants are along South Palm Canyon Drive between Tamarisk and Baristo. Palm Canyon can be a nightmare to ride on, and cycling is forbidden on the sidewalks. However, you can cycle on parallel roads to the west that comprise the city’s bike routes, and just ride a block or two east into town to get to your patio restaurant of choice, including Cheeky’s, Trio, Blue Coyote, Kaiser Grill, Lulu’s, Ruby’s and Las Casuelas Terraza to name a few. Or, you can pedal west on Baristo Road a few blocks to experience the fabulous outdoor patio of upscale Spencer’s, which is fairly reasonable for luncheon. Along Indian Canyon a block to the east are several patio options as well. At La Plaza are Bill’s, a pizza favorite and Tyler’s, a burger favorite. Wang’s Chinese restaurant’s popular Zen Patio is north of Ramon.
2. The River at Rancho Mirage
Reached via the sidewalk bike trails along Hwy 111 or Gerald Ford, the refreshing pools of The River complex are not a mirage, but will revive you on a warm day, and the choice for eats here are stellar. The fabulous waterfront patio once occupied by Acqua Pazza now belongs to BB’s at the River, an upscale California bistro serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Other choices for lunch and dinner include Cheesecake Factory, Babe’s BBQ and PF Chang’s, each offering an al fresco option.
3. Old Town La Quinta
Granted it’s a newly-built old town, but it charms nonetheless. Access it south from Hwy 111 on Washington, right on Eisenhower, left on Tampico, and right on Bermudas one block. La Quinta prefers you to ride in bike lanes or specifically marked sidewalk trails, but if you ride courteously on the unmarked sidewalk paths you will rarely if ever be hassled by the authorities. We particularly like the patio of Stuft Pizza, where they have happy hour food prices from 3 to 6. I love their Napa Valley Pizza. For breakfast, the Old Town Coffee is popular with cyclists where tables are set out on the square. A few more options can be found on the two parallel streets of Old Town as well. From there you can ride uphill several miles on the scenic Bear Creek bike trail, with some optional mountain biking at the top of La Quinta Cove.
4. South Palm Springs
This is a very popular district to cycle around on residential streets. Your brunching options are the restaurant at the golf club (that changes hands fairly frequently) along Murray Canyon, or some choices along Hwy 111 east of Sunrise. Our favorite patio is Manhattan In the Desert (east of Barona) with its delectably huge deli menu that spans all three meals. I dare you to avoid the amazing bakery counter as you exit. For quicker fare a Chipotle (west of Barona) has a popular patio. A detour north up South Palm Canyon from Belardo/East Palm Canyon brings you to popular El Mirasol for Mexican food.
5. Escena Golf Club, Palm Springs
A stand-alone destination, the restaurant of the golf club at the Escena development is a popular Bike ‘n Brunch destination with delicious food served on an expansive patio with fabulous mountain views. From the bike path along the west side of Gene Autry, pedal east along the south sidewalk of Vista Chino to the community entrance on the right, then ride another half mile to the golf club.
6. Indian Wells
If you follow Indian Wells’ sidewalk path (no longer a designated bike path, what’s up with that?) west adjacent to the south side of Hwy 111 toward the towering mountains you will reach Cook Street, across which is Eureka! Their semi-covered and fanned patio is the perfect stop along your bicycle exploration to enjoy fabulous gourmet burgers, salads and crafted brews. Continuing a bit farther west leads to El Paseo (#8 below). There are also lots of restaurants, some with patios, along Hwy 111 in this area that you can access via frontage roads.
7. El Paseo, Palm Desert
Cycle here either via the Indian Wells Hwy 111 bike path, or from the bike-friendly sidewalks along Hwy 111. From the north, Monterey, Portola and Cook intersect El Paseo. As in downtown Palm Springs, it’s best to ride on the less crowded parallel streets to the south and hop into the town for grub. Some popular patios in this area are California Pizza Kitchen, Daily Grill, Pacifica Seafood, Tommy Bahama’s and Café Des Beaux-Artes. A new Manhattan in the Desert is tucked away at the very east end of El Paseo. To the west of Monterey, Westfield Mall offers Stuft Pizza and Bobby Mao’s Chinese kitchen, each with a large mountain-view patio. Louise’s Pantry is now along the 111 frontage road.
8. Desert Willow Golf Course, Palm Desert
The beautiful half-mile long sidewalk trail leading up the hill from the Desert Springs (ie Ralph’s) Shopping Center northwest of Cook and Country Club leads to the clubhouse of Desert Willow Country Club, an upscale city-owned golf course. Its Lakeview Terrace has a wonderful outdoor view patio and serves delicious food, perfect for your mid-ride meal. If you hanker for Chinese food, the patio at City Wok in the Ralph’s center is popular.
9. Palm Springs East of Palm Canyon
Palm Springs streets are mostly pleasant to pedal around, and you can find lots of nice dining patios to visit. Sherman’s Deli is one of our favorite patios, on Tahquitz Canyon east of Encilia, while Tropicale at Amado and Encilia has a fun outdoor bar featuring live music.
10. Restaurant Row, Rancho Mirage
Cycle along the bike sidewalk along Hwy 111 between Frank Sinatra or Country Club, or from Palm Desert, head west on either of those boulevards to the end. Las Casuelas Nuevas has a very popular patio for its delicious Mexican cuisine, and an elaborate Sunday brunch. We love to go to The Palms Cafe II for al fresco breakfast, especially since they sub a giant pancake for toast.