If you follow me on Instagram, you know I am fan of combining sightseeing with fitness through running. I absolutely love running in cities across the country as a way to get both my workout in and see more of the city. I recently had the opportunity to run Central Park in NYC for the first time and had several followers who commented that it was their favorite run. That got me to thinking….
What are my top 5 runs across the country?
To me, a run has to have a few key elements in order to make the top 5. After all, you can run anywhere but there are only certain places where I am going out of my way to make sure I get a run in. So what makes a top 5 run for me?
The distance: This is actually a tricky one as I want a route that can be flexible enough to accommodate routes between 3-6 miles. If I don’t have much time, I need to keep it short and sweet but in order to be top 5, it still has to have the other elements below.
The sights: Looking at the same thing for 30-60 minutes is incredibly boring to me. I have a special kind of envy for those who can do long runs on a treadmill but I am unfortunately not among them. I love running but I need to have something to keep my mind going through the run. All of the runs below differ in the scenery but all of them have incredible scenery.
The challenge: On my ideal run, we don’t just run. Each of the runs below also include the opportunity to include an additional physical challenge unique to that run.
#5 Lake Front – Chicago:
‘Da Bears!! Running by Soldier Field, the Convention Center and Navy Pier? Sign me up!!! However with that said, I will only do this one between May and October. Outside of those dates, forget it. Otherwise Minneapolis probably would have made the list.
#4 Fort Lauderdale Beach, FL:
I probably do this run more than any other next to #1 below. Every time I am in South Florida with extra time on my hands, you can find me here. With courses of various lengths and a fitness challenge park near the south side of Fort Lauderdale beach, this really does have it all. Add to it the ocean and great dining al fresco once you are done with your run and you can understand why I will shower in the Admirals Club just to be able to get one of these runs in.
#3 San Diego Convention Center:
Great views, challenging course and great weather year round, you really cannot go wrong here. I like to run the waterfront first, especially by the USS Midway where World War II ended and finish with the stairs at the convention center itself. I have never run this course alone as there are always folks getting their workout in at the Convention Center. The constant hum of helicopters ferrying around training Navy SEALs is only added inspiration for normal folk like me.
#2 Las Vegas Strip:
The strip has morphed over the last decade or so to allow for all of the pedestrian traffic to never have to stop for a stoplight. All you have to do is go hit the escalator and take the sky bridge. What this means for runners is that you can do between 3 – 10 miles on the strip easily without ever having to wait for a stoplight to change and you get the challenge of constantly running stairs. However you have to do this one early in the morning and not just to avoid the heat and crowds. No, the people watching provided by the strip in the early morning hours cannot be matched anywhere else. Where else in the world can you see folks who are stumbling home from a night out, workers heading home from all kinds of professions and the families heading out with their kids to show them the sights? There is no better people watching in the world.
#1 The Capital Mall – Washington DC:
Hands down my number 1 run in the country. If I want a short run, it is from Lincoln to Washington and back. More time? Start at Arlington, head across the Memorial Bridge and hit the Capital Cross. Want something more physically challenging? Run the mall and Potomac Stairs with interval exercises in between. Best part of this run is you cannot go more than 4 steps without seeing history, literally (and dodging tourists is always entertaining). I have run this path in all kinds of weather and conditions (I think the Korean War Memorial is best seen in the snow) but if you can time your trip to coordinate with the Cherry Blossoms, it is absolutely stunning.
So there it is, my top 5. Now there were a whole bunch of others that came close (Huntington Beach, The Parthenon in Nashville, Seattle Center, Palm Beach and Central Park amongst others) but they all were missing at least one of the elements above. So let me hear from you RoadWarrior Nation…what are your top runs across the US?