10 Best Motorcycle Rides in Southern California

The natural beauty of the western United States is on full display in Southern California, and we find it highly enjoyable to take in the scenery on a bike. This is a shared feeling by riders near and far, and many are looking for the best motorcycle rides in Southern California.

Fear not, road warriors — Law Tigers has compiled just the list for you. We’ve picked 10 of our favorites, complete with ocean views, great spots to stop and relax, and all the adventure you can ask for!

Our Favorite Motorcycle Rides in Southern California

It is almost unfair to make us pick just 10 favorite rides in the Golden State, but we had to stop somewhere! In no particular order, here are our go-to highways, parks, and open roads:

Angel Crest Highway

This twisting mountain stretch starts in La Canada (South Los Angeles) and makes its way through the mountains to Wrightwood, CA. There are two lanes, passing available, and the road itself is in great condition. Make sure to stop at Newcomb’s ranch for some BBQ and downtime!

Big Bear Lake

This lakeside excursion is for the more adventurous riders who are looking for rougher terrain with some seriously rewarding scenery around it. A 62 mile 4×4 trail is one of the main highlights, but the pathways leading into Big Bear are all highlights in their own right.

motorcycle rides in southern california

San Diego

This is a broad category (and could really be its own full topic), but with a vast highway network that is perfect for riders, San Diego is the premiere city for motorcycle roads in Southern California. We recommend starting with the north counties (even all the way out by Jamul), and making your way south towards the beach cities. You can’t go wrong with any of the stops in America’s Finest City.

Palomar Mountain 

Though technically part of the San Diego area, we isolated the Palomar Mountain Loop for a specific reason. It is one of the most technical routes for riders in all of Southern California, and advanced groups make pilgrimages there year-round. The weather and scenery are idyllic, as San Diego tends to be, but the true appeal lies in the skill test on the roads.

San Gabriel Mountains 

This stretch of mountains will be a mix of technical prowess and sightseeing, located outside of Los Angeles in the Azusa Pacific area. With a great elevation up to lookout points followed by a dash down with ocean views, this is one of the most popular roads for group trips. There is even a guided tour of the Angeles Crest Highway available nearly year-round!

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Death Valley National Park

World-famous in every context, this majestic stretch of land will provide perspective, tough conditions, and an experience to remember for any rider. Make sure to prepare for the extreme hot weather, and plot your course well before you go. Though we wouldn’t consider this ride to be overly dangerous from a technical perspective, it is easy to get sidetracked by the canyon roads. We recommend the main path for first-time or inexperienced riders- you’ll get enough of an otherworldly journey on those roads.

Ortega Highway

A hidden Lakeside Ride just north of San Diego, this path is also known as the 74 to Elsinore. Lake Elsinore is a great reward for braving these popular narrow lanes, but we would venture that the entire pass is a rewarding trip. As always, use appropriate caution for the shared roads, but enjoy the blend of technical and scenic riding on your way towards a hidden gem. 

San Juan Capistrano

Much like San Diego, this broader region offers multiple rides for fans of the open road. You can actually make your way up through Ortega or Elsinore, as San Juan Capistrano’s roads meet many of the main ones running through Southern California. These roads contain some of our favorite biker-friendly stops such as the Mt. Baldy Lodge Restaurant or the Sycamore Drive-in.

San Francisco

Though this is technically Northern California, we highly recommend making your way up the coast from any of the other rides to get a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s hard to understate how diverse the roads and cities along the way are. Once you’ve made this ride, you’ll have a new appreciation for the vast California landscape and biker culture. The greatest part about heading up along the Pacific Coast is that you can make it a technical ride, a leisurely cruise, or a group outing- the adventure is there for the taking any way you like it!

Sunset to PCH

This could easily win our award for the most complete ride available from Southern California. Though it is not as technically intensive as some, the roads along the ocean are majestic, and driving up Highway 1 will give you a true taste of Americana. As you make your way north towards Big Sur, it is easy to feel like a pioneer of the open road. In a way, in that moment, you are. This is our favorite small-group ride, as it has wide lanes and great towns to stop in on a whim.

motorcycle rides in southern california

There is no way to go wrong with any of these rides in Southern California so long as you do a little research, take the necessary precautions, and ride to your skill level. We promise it will be worth the time to get out and see the Golden State.

Ride Protected

Open road riding comes with associated risk, no matter where you’re doing it. The good news is that Law Tigers can help you with any questions you might have about insurance, a free rider benefit card, and other ways to protect yourself and your loved ones who ride.

Our team of legal specialists have been helping motorcycle lovers stay safe and protected out on the road for decades. We’re confident we can help you keep your wheels moving.