Taking on the task of narrowing down the U.S. to a few key cities is a tall order, but we are confident we found the best places for runners in the country. From cities that are home to iconic running moments to top-ranked park systems, there is something for every runner. Beaches, mountains and urban cityscapes await in these vacation spots — and there just may be something for the family, too.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Of course New York has endless entertainment opportunities, but it’s also home to some of the most popular running routes among MapMyRun users. Central Park is one of the highlights of any visit to the Big Apple, but make sure you also check out the views running along the Brooklyn Bridge. New York also boasts a well-connected running community, and groups such as the New York City Road Runners and Harlem Run offer opportunities to meet locals and see the city through their eyes.
If you are looking for a little bit of everything, Seattle is the perfect city to run by the water and in the mountains. Seattle is the training grounds for some top runners and one of the most popular trails — Burke-Gilman Trail — is 27 miles of pure running bliss. This city, of course, isn’t just for runners, so you can take the whole family there to visit attractions such as the Pike Place Market. Just get in your run before the sightseeing gets underway.
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
If you’ve visited some of California’s largest cities — San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco are highlights — but can’t get enough of the West Coast, San Jose is the perfect getaway for your next vacation. The climate is ideal for runners year-round and its location in Silicon Valley — with close proximity to San Francisco, Napa and Monterey — makes it a great stop on a California road trip.
Track fans will want to head to the city of Eugene, which is about two hours by car from both Bend and Portland. Home to the University of Oregon, it’s a track and field mecca. Hayward Field is a must-visit landmark for every running fan — and while you’re at it, you can visit Pre’s Rock, the now-memorial where famed Olympian Steve Prefontaine lost his life. Running on the roads and trails in Eugene puts you on the same ground many of the world’s best runners have trained on.
The Lone Star state boasts some great running routes and Austin is no exception. At any time of day runners take over the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake, one of the city’s most picturesque spots to catch views of the downtown skyline. Of course there is always live music to drop in on and festivals to attend, so the city offers something to everyone. Even better, new boardwalks have begun to pop up, making the city even more accessible to runners who would rather explore on two feet.
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
We know this city may not be at the top of your list but it is great place to embrace your healthy lifestyle. Kansas City is home to City Market, one of the largest farmer’s markets in the midwest and the perfect place to end a run and pick up some fresh ingredients for brunch. It boasts 132 miles of parkways and boulevards for you to explore, and its location along the longest river in North America means there are plenty of scenic views.
Though Tampa gets quite humid, its flat topography is ideal for runners training for flat, fast races. There are more than 165 parks and beaches, meaning outdoor enthusiasts have endless opportunities to take in fresh air and go on an adventure. If you are with the family, Orlando is just two hours away and day-trip to Disney World isn’t completely out of the question, so you can take in the wonderful running culture of the city and log some extra miles walking around the iconic park, too.
This historic city operates one of the oldest municipal park systems in the country, so runners have a lot of sights to see as they run through town. The nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., is only a few hours away by car, so you can make a longer road trip out of the vacation. River views abound and you’ll get to experience many colonial-era sights.
READ MORE > 10 OF THE BEST CYCLING CITIES IN THE U.S.
If you’ve always dreamed of running the Boston Marathon, a visit to Hopkinton puts you right where the iconic race begins. A visit here gives you a chance to split up the race course and either train for the race or test out your legs on the course as you work toward qualifying. Less than an hour’s drive from Boston, it is a great stop on a tour of the Northeast and gives you the chance to run on the same route where many historic running moments have occurred.
Running in the Twin Cities means you’ll have access to some of the best parks in the country. Minneapolis is home to many races throughout the year and the city itself has seven lakes interlinked by trails and pathways and open to runners and cyclists. The cultural opportunities in the city add to its charm, and besides taking in the arts, you can also catch one of the many professional sports teams when you aren’t exploring on foot.
For more running routes in the U.S. check out the 20 most popular ones according to MapMyRun users. Is yours on the list?
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN