10 Must-Run 5Ks in the U.S.

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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10 Must-Run 5Ks in the U.S.

Whether you run when you travel or travel to run, these races are quick enough to squeeze in during a vacation for an impromptu run and fun enough to plan a vacation around. Check out our top-10 5Ks in the U.S. that check all the boxes to guarantee a seriously good time.

1. WALT DISNEY WORLD 5K
January | Orlando, Florida

The Thursday before the legendary Walt Disney World Marathon, the event hosts a 5K that’s perfect for the whole family. The course takes runners through the Walt Disney Resort, where you’ll find plenty of entertainment and Disney characters along the way. Register as early as possible before the race reaches its maximum capacity.

2. CARLSBAD 5000
March | Carlsbad, California

Elite pros and weekend warriors alike run this race to set a new PR. Dubbed the fastest 5K in the world for its swift-moving, flat route through the heart of downtown Carlsbad, the coastal course is also incredibly scenic. Afterward, stick around for the epic post-race party by the sea where top finishers take home cash prizes.

3. BEAT BEETHOVEN
April | Fairbanks, Alaska

This unique 5K in Alaska challenges participants to Beat Beethoven. To do so you’ll need to finish the race before the end of the composer’s infamous “Fifth Symphony,” which is approximately 31 minutes and plays throughout the race. If you accomplish the feat, you’ll receive free admission to a Fairbanks Symphony performance of your choosing.

4. SANTA ANITA DERBY DAY 5K
April | Los Angeles, California

Starting at the L.A. County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, this 5K finishes on the legendary Santa Anita race track. There’s also a complimentary beer garden, custom medals for all participants and a free ticket to the Derby Day horse races.

5. MUD MOUNTAIN 5K
July | Edwardsville, Illinois

This cross-country style 5K challenges participants to tackle several hills on a grassy, and sometimes, muddy course. The toughest and most challenging section is Mud Mountain, which begins at mile 3 just before the finish.

6. WILDCAT MOUNTAIN RACE
July | Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire

Run on the historic Wildcat ski trail system, the 5K course traverses the mid-mountain run along the rolling “Catwalk,” which is steep and difficult. Hikers are welcome to participate — and once you reach the top you can zipline to the bottom at a discounted price.

7. RUN THROUGH THE LAVENDER 5K
July | Mona, Utah

Part of the annual lavender harvest and festival, this popular 5K in Mona, Utah, celebrates the 200 acres of beautiful, blooming purple fields the area is known for. The family-friendly race also invites attendees to pick lavender from the fields and join in on activities like wagon rides and an epic jousting tournament.

8. OREGON TRAIL GAME 5K
August | Oregon City, Oregon

A throwback to the classic ‘80s computer game, this adventure-style cross-country race forces runners to make decisions along the course to reach the finish line. Rivers, mountains and a 223-step climb up to Singer Hill Falls are just a few of the obstacles on this memorable route that’s meant to be as fun as it is challenging.

9. CHEESEHEAD RUN
August | Hilbert, Wisconsin

Along with a half-marathon, this boutique-style 5K takes runners along the Fox River Trail in the small town of Hilbert. Runners are encouraged to wear cheese heads to show their pride for the region and will be entered into a special prize drawing when they do. At the finish, you’ll be treated to the area’s selection of craft beer, maple-nut granola and plenty of tasty cheeses.

10. VOLCANO RAIN FOREST 5K
August | Big Island, Hawaii

In addition to a marathon and 10K, the Volcano Rain Forest Runs event also features an epic 5K that starts in Volcano Village. Beautiful native rain forests with stunning views of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa make the moderately hilly course worth your efforts. For the kiddos, there’s a free Keiki run for children ages 1–4 (100-yard dash) and 5–7 (200-yard dash).

About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for Active.com.

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