I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I know this not only because I have eyes, but also because millions upon millions of people converge upon the city by the bay every year. Tony Bennett even left his heart here, so you know it’s got to be a pretty legit place. Tony wouldn’t leave his heart just anywhere.
But San Francisco isn’t just beautiful for living; it’s absolutely awesome for running. Most of the major races make a pit stop here, there are a variety of neighborhoods, parks and trails to run on, and the weather is mild year-round – never too cold, never too warm. It’s no wonder the running community here is robust: SF is practically a runners’ utopia. Forbes even named it one of the 10 Best Cities for Runners in 2012.
I could go on and on, but instead I’ll get to the point: if you ever find yourself visiting this heavenly place and have a hankering to go running, there are a few places to bookmark. Want to know what they are? Read on!
This beach and park is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. On any given day, you’ll find a mix of dogs and their owners, families setting up blankets and picnics on the sand or grass, and, of course, runners. Lots and lots of runners. The pebbled path here takes you along the water all the way down to Fort Point, which stops right underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. The route is 1.5 miles one way, so it’s a great practice route for 5Ks.
Plus, hello, it’s stunning!
Golden Gate Park
This is the West Coast equivalent of Central Park. With over 1,000 acres, it’s a gorgeous green sanctuary right in the middle of our bustling city. Not only is there a ton of stuff to do in general (I recommend the paddle boats and snack shack at Stow Lake), you could run for miles and miles here while soaking in the beautiful scenery.
Park anywhere, get out, and hit the road. The urban jungle awaits!
Golden Gate Bridge
At the very least, if you visit San Francisco, you need to walk across this piece of architectural history. But it’s a great place to run, too. The bridge itself is about 1.7 miles long, and there’s a great lookout on the Marin side of the bridge. Make sure you bundle up if you do this one – it can get blustery up there.
It’s also probably not the best option for those of you who are afraid of heights. That ish is tall.
This is one of my very, very favorite places to run, the Embarcadero stretches from AT&T Park where the San Francisco Giants play (an insanely beautiful place, though I am an A’s girl) alllllll the way down past Pier 39 – wave hi to the sea lions! – stopping at Pier 45. It’s nice and flat, so it’s not too terribly difficult a run. AT&T Park to Pier 39 and back is right around 3 miles, but you can easily go further to make it a longer run.
Hint: when you reach Pier 39, make a pit stop at Trish’s Mini Donuts. These things are piping hot and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Hint hint: once you turn back and hit the Ferry Building, reward your efforts with Gott’s Roadside, a ridiculously good burger joint with outside seating perfect for people-watching.
Lyon Street Steps
I’ve never actually run here, but I would be remiss not to include it on this list. Made up of 288 punishing steps, this stairway connects the Pacific Heights and Cow Hollow neighborhoods. This is a runners’ favorite, but I have yet to attempt it. Probably because I’ve heard how hard it is!
Still, the view might be worth it.
As you can see, Forbes wasn’t lying, and my list is just the tip of the iceberg. Try dragging your heart with you when you leave here. I guarantee it’ll put up a fight.
Do you have favorite running spots where you live? Tell me about them in the comments!