Depending on where you live in the U.S., winter often spells the end of the riding season. In some states, bikes are ritually put away and sit dormant for months to wait out the cold and freezing weather.
However, there are many states where you can still find riding pleasure even when the temperatures drop.
Taking into account that winter demands a certain diligence with tracking weather to avoid unpleasant outings, here are three places where winter rides can be a rewarding adventure. Plan accordingly and you just might be able to shed those winter-time blues.
Texas Hill Country
Using the state capital of Austin as a base, there are a number of rides and loops that meander the rolling terrain of Texas Hill Country. They accommodate a wide range of riding preferences perfectly, from sport-styled curves to wide-open cruising.
There are favorite rides/loops created by locals, which include the Lake Travis Loop, the Marble Falls to Buchanan Lake Loop, and—perhaps the most popular—the Austin BBQ and Hill Country Loop. As its name implies, the latter mixes a number of famous barbecue stops with the ride.
There’s also the charming Luckenbach area—founded by Germans, the Spanish, and Eastern Europeans, with foreign dialects still heard today. Then there’s the more lengthy Nueces River Valley Loop, which offers a full 258 miles of fun.
All of these routes will have you passing through charming, quaint towns established in the mid-19th century, with preserved main street facades and plenty of nooks, crannies, and eateries to discover. Winter is a unique time as it displaces the often sweltering Texas summer heat and can make for cool riding.
But be warned—contrary to popular myth, this region can get blisteringly cold, with roads quickly frosting over. Keep a sharp eye on the weather.
Popular attractions in the Hill Country region include Hamilton Pool, Enchanted Rock, Gorman Falls, and Garner State Park. To fully immerse yourself in the landscape and the Hill Country experience, consider booking into the luxury Casita Ranch.
Daytona Beach, FL
Although Daytona Beach conjures images of college students on spring break in Florida sunshine, there’s another season wholly removed from traditional tourism—Speed Week. Every March, Daytona hosts a week-long series of motorcycle events and races in the lead-up to the AMA Supercross.
It all culminates with the famous 200-mile motorcycle road race unfolding on the steep banks of Daytona International Speedway.
For motorcycle enthusiasts, Main St during the race week becomes a cruising venue to rival Sturgis. The entire city resonates with the sound of combustion engines.
There are a number of rides from long to short in the surrounding area, with a 67-mile jaunt to Cape Canaveral to take one of the tours of this legendary rocket facility as a particular highlight.
In Daytona there’s the Beach Boardwalk & Pier, as well as the unique opportunity to ride your bike on the packed sand of the most famous beach in the world—which is where the original years of the Daytona 200 (motorcycle) and 500 (auto) races took place.
March is warm in this part of Florida, but be prepared for sudden cloud bursts that can quickly drench streets. Weather is hit-or-miss, with on-shore Atlantic winds altering things quickly.
That said, if you don’t like the weather, just wait 10 minutes.
For lodging, you might as well go all-out with the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach.
Situated in the Mule Mountains near the Arizona/Mexico border, Bisbee is a mining town ripe with history and legend. Founded in 1877, Bisbee became a major mining success with large deposits of copper and lead and a promise of silver.
Word spread and the city quickly swelled with prospectors and speculators hoping to strike it rich, earning it the title of Queen of the Copper Camps. By 1910, Bisbee’s population grew to 25,000. As mining lore often goes, when the ore had been extracted, people left in droves.
Today, you can glimpse the authentic atmosphere of a mining town, as the main street of Bisbee is preserved with store fronts and several museums that chart the town’s heyday. These include the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum and the Bisbee Restoration Museum.
There are also underground tours of the vast Queen Mine that you shouldn’t miss.
Being in the Arizona desert, riding will tend toward the straight and flat, with beautiful desert landscapes. The legendary town of Tombstone is just 25 miles away, and for the aircraft enthusiasts, the Air Force has mothballed literally thousands of aircraft in the dry climate of Pima, outside Tucson. Pima and the Pima Air Museum make for an interesting outing.
Winter is a good time to visit this part of the country, with mild weather—from cool to warm, sometimes cold. None of that debilitating Arizona heat of the summer.
Be smart, check for fuel stops, and stay filled up on gas as well as water, as humans can become dehydrated even in the cooler climes. For lodging in Bisbee, the most popular choice is the historical Bisbee Grand Hotel, which maintains a timely feel and atmosphere to cap the whole Bisbee experience.