Some Personal Favorites

The following list describes the top running cities in the United States that this runner finds particularly special.

New York, New York

Nothing beats running in Central Park, an oasis in one of the biggest and most exciting cities in the world. Strap on your running shoes and prepare to be wowed. You'll join thousands of runners on their daily loops through Central Park, become one with fellow exercisers on Rollerblades and bicycles, pass horse-drawn carriages, and see strollers of every nationality. You'll pass the famous restaurant Tavern on the Green and where the New York City Marathon concludes as well as the monumental and lovely Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Head uptown to the Reservoir, where joggers have a 1.5-mile trail practically all to themselves with some of the best views of the skyline you can find. The New York City Road Runners Club sponsors races almost every weekend, including fun ones with various themes. There's no better way to feel connected to this imposing city as a traveler than to participate in the ritual of running with the natives.

Chicago, Illinois

From wherever you're staying in Chicago, it's not far to Lake Shore Drive, which runs along the shores of Lake Michigan. Yes, this is a roadway, but there's a walking and running path that parallels it. Talk about some nice skyline views! You'll get a great perspective on the Windy City as you run past Soldier Field, the aquarium, the art museum, the pier, and down to the more residential part of town.

Depending on the time of year, be prepared for weather conditions ranging from humidity to arctic air. One thing's for sure: That breeze off the lake will either aid or challenge you. What better way to gear up for a night of blues music and barbecue than to get in a run before dinner?

Waterbury, Vermont

With the world-class ski resorts of Stowe and Sugarbush close by, Waterbury is an almost picture-perfect Vermont town of church spires, antique shops, and quaint village streets. And then there are the foothills of the Green Mountains. You can't run in Waterbury without going up them — and down them. But your legs won't mind when your senses are filled with the beauty of Vermont on a fall day, or blanketed in new snow, or turning green in spring.

Even summer provides a visual feast of mottled sun and shade ripe with the scent of pine. If you're not used to running hills, though, take it easy going up and down. An old saying says that going down is for your legs; going up is for your heart. Enjoy the challenge.

Washington, D.C.

One of the country's most popular marathons is the Marine Corps Marathon, called both “the People's Marathon” and “the Monuments' Marathon.” Why? Because the 26.2-mile course snakes through the monuments of our nation's capital, including the Capitol, the Pentagon, the Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center, and the Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington Monuments. It's a race and a history lesson all in one.

As a business or leisure traveler, you don't have to run the whole marathon course to experience the beauty and history in and around this city. And the areas adjacent to downtown Washington, such as Georgetown and Arlington, Virginia, are also beautiful for running and touring.

Whether your travels take you to one of these top-rated running cities or not, you're guaranteed great memories if you follow the advice in this chapter and run away from home. It's addicting!

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston was first settled in 1670, ranking it one of this country's oldest and most historic cities. The area is quite diverse culturally, recreationally, and geographically, with much to see and do. Charleston's charm and beauty is characterized by beautiful beaches, parks, antebellum plantations, tidal creeks and marshes, and a lovely downtown historic district.

Without question, the best way to tour Charleston is not by one of its famous carriage tours but rather by foot. Stay downtown or park at Colonial Lake, the City Marina, the Battery, Waterfront Park, or the South Carolina Aquarium to begin your run or walk. The pedestrian sidewalks on several of Charleston's bridges offer spectacular views of the Charleston peninsula, harbor, Ashley and Cooper Rivers, marshes, and more.

Two of these include the James Island Connector and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. The latter is also the central attraction for the 40,000-plus participants who run or walk the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K, held in early spring.

Other recreational sites that offer paths on which to take in beautiful sights include Hampton Park as well as James Island, Palmetto Islands, and Wannamaker County Parks. Drive to any of the three barrier islands (Folly Beach, Sullivan's Islands, and Isle of Palms) and run on the beach or through the neighborhoods in these beautiful communities.

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