Our new series explores the best spots to run in some of the best cities in the world. First up: San Francisco, California.
Running around the Golden City is a just as glamorous as its shiny nickname. From the rolling hills through the Presidio to outstanding views from the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco offers a unique experience to any type of runner in any part of the city. Plus, the city is stacked with scrumptious food, scattered pockets of quirky character and tourist attractions worth re-visiting year after year.
Here are five of the top stops as you run your way through the City by the Bay:
Scope out the San Francisco Bay Trail and follow it toward views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Various trails throughout the old park give runners directional options, while the early 20th century buildings offer visitors a run through history. On a clear day, Alcatraz can be spotted on the water. For an extended run when 4-5 miles isn’t enough, just keep going across the Golden Gate Bridge and back—that’s an extra 3 miles round trip. Sitting right on the bay, Crissy serves as the Presidio’s “front door.”
This 1,500-acre national park, formally a military outpost, is a stellar spot for a quiet run and a full day of exploring indoor and outdoor attractions around the space. Choose from any of the popular trailheads inside the grounds and create a run of any distance, bouncing up and down one route or in between multiple trails. Don’t forget to check out all of the various outlook points as you stop for a breather.
Golden Gate Park
Resting on the west edge of the quirky Haight-Ashbury area of the city, this 1,000-plus acre park is home to tons of walking/running paths, verdant grassy knolls with shady patches and a lot of interesting people watching. Step onto one of the various dirt trails in the park and navigate to the edge of the Pacific Ocean or past the botanical gardens inside the park. If you’re itching for a post-run picnic, runners can dash across Stanyan Street to Whole Foods on the east end of the park.
Start at AT&T Park and follow the Embarcadero along the bay to finish at Fisherman’s Wharf. Along the way, you’ll pass the recently re-located Exploratorium, street performers, the Ferry Building Marketplace and tons of pedestrians enjoying the city—but don’t worry, they are quick to move aside for runners along the popular route. The wharf is a great ending spot to grab some grub and digest before the return trip.
The Land’s End Trail
Run along the Pacific Ocean and gawk at the gorgeous views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge. The remains of sutro baths are not to be missed along the way—nor is spectating the remains of various shipwrecks throughout the early 1900s. Jet off on any of the side trails to mix up the scenery on the way back to your starting point; a recommended beginning is the Merrie Way lot.