7 Best Cities for Runners

Jon Fesmire |

Whether you’re looking for a place to live that accommodates your love for running, or you want to travel and experience some of the best running spots, you’ll find plenty of great parks, trails, and courses across the U.S. We’ve compiled a list of the seven best cities for runners here.

As for cost of living and jobs, you’ll have to find that information elsewhere. This list focuses on parks trails, and races.

1-2. Minneapolis & St. Paul, Minnesota

Technically two cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, called the Twin Cities, mingle so closely that for most purposes, you can think of them as one large city zone. You can enjoy a run along the Mississippi from one city to the next, jog along The Greenway, or speed-walk around Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, or Cedar Lake. There are also multiple 5K races each year, including the Miss Hmong America 5K Run/Walk and The Super Run 5K. When the weather is too cold or too hot, you can join one of the many gyms and hit the treadmills.

3. New York City, New York

You might not think of New York City as a great city for runners. After all, in the media, we often see packed sidewalks and dangerous streets in the Big Apple. However, New York City has some great running spots. These include 10 large parks and more than 20 running tracks. Want to meet new friends to run with? New York has more than 50 clubs for runners. Some of the best places to run include Central Park, Prospect Park, and Van Cortlandt Park. This is also the home of the New York City Marathon, which has about 50,000 finishers every year. As with other cities, when the weather gets extreme, you can join one of New York City’s fine gyms.

4. Washington, DC

In the U.S. capital, there are plenty of walkways, as evidenced by the fact that more than 10% of workers walk to the office. On your time off, you can walk or run along the world-famous National Mall. However, that’s not the city’s only public park. You can also run in Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill, Rock Creek Park, and elsewhere. If you prefer indoor running, Washington D.C. has plenty of gyms to join. Washington, DC also has 5K runs year-round, from the Grub for Food 5K Fun Run/Walk in June, to the 5K Run/Walk for Domestic Violence Victims in October.

5. Seattle, WA

It may sound crazy, but Seattle has thousands of running trails. Some are upward of 18 miles, others less than 1 mile, but each will give you a new spot to exercise. Of course, you’ll want to check out the most popular places to run, including Burke-Gilman Trail, Green Lake, and the Washington Park Arboretum. The city does have its own running culture, with many people running to work in the morning. If running 5K races is your thing, you’ll find plenty in Seattle, from the Where’s Waldo 5K to the Halloween Hustle 5K.

6. Portland, Oregon

In Portland, you’ll find plenty of support for runners. That includes shops like the Portland Running Company and Fleet Feet Sports PDX, and running clubs aplenty. You’ll also find plenty of parks. Have a jog through the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden, or run the trails in Grant Park. Portland rarely gets too hot to run, but when the weather is cold, consider joining a gym for some indoor running. When you feel like a 5K run with thousands of others to inspire you, you’re sure to find one, from one of the many Beer Runs to the Portland Shamrock Run.

7. San Francisco, California

When it comes to running in San Francisco, we need evoke the name of just one place: Golden Gate Park. This huge, scenic area is a great place to run or jog. Are you tired of running in flat areas, or want to challenge yourself? San Francisco has plenty of rolling hills. Besides Golden Gate Park, or your own local roads, there are other scenic spots for runners, including the Embarcadero, Crissy Field, and Huntington Park. Another great advantage of San Francisco is that the weather rarely gets into hot or cold extremes, so for the most part, you can run outdoors year-round. Of course, after all that exercise and getting in shape, you’ll be ready to participate in one of the area’s many 5K runs. These include the Presidio Cross Country 5K, The Halloween Hustle, and the Father’s Day Rainbow Falls 5K.

So, if you’re unhappy with running options in your city, consider visiting or moving to one of the above, and here’s to your health!