Here are the 4 best cities for runners in the US

Here are the 4 best cities for runners in the US
Photo by Daniel Reche on

Out of thousands of places in the United States, what makes four of them the best cities for runners? For a city to place in our ranking, they need at least four of the following: an active and supportive running community, ample trails and tracks, plenty of gyms, a decent walkability score and temperate weather.

The pandemic spurred a shift in lifestyle for many, especially those who can work remotely. Maybe you’ve taken up running in your spare time, or maybe you’ve ditched corporate America to accommodate your outdoor interests. Either way, a change in the city might benefit your cardio addiction. So read on to window shop for your next home for you and your running shoes.

Eugene, Oregon

best cities for runners
Source:, Melanie Griffin

Tracktown, U.S.A., baby! What better place to relocate than the birthplace of Nike, the home of the University of Oregon and host of the iconic Hayward Field? It’s hard to compete with Eugene. The temperate climate, long and rich running culture and history and beautiful path system along the Willamette River all speak to its appeal to runners.

When you explore this college town, you’ll find vintage Nike shoes adorning the wall of The Graduate Hotel, running posters plastered on the walls of Tracktown Pizza, local races advertised on streetlight flags and more. It’s no wonder it’s one of the best cities for runners in the US.

Favorite outdoor running locations include the 4-mile Pre’s Trail and the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path System. Runners looking for hills and picturesque city routes won’t be disappointed. Tackle Dillard Hill if you feel like dying an early death. If you love to watch others run, the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field hosts many events, including the US Olympic Track Trials.

OK, maybe it has above average annual rainfall, but the weather is overall great for runners. Temperatures average in the 50s. If you move to Eugene as a non-runner, it will most likely convert you into one before leaving.

“I’ve lived in Eugene for two decades; it’s a wonderful city for running culture,” says writer Melissa Hart. “We have miles of barked paths including a fully-lighted mile-long track, plus miles of paved paths along the Willamette River and dirt paths through Douglas fir forests and up to Spencer Butte with its expansive view.

“We have a couple of excellent gear shops staffed by experienced runners committed to finding just the right shoes and other gear for their clients. As well, different organizations in and around Eugene host organized runs (often as benefits for nonprofits) throughout the year.

“There’s an active, exuberant chapter of the Hash House Harriers here,” says Hart. “Running clubs abound. We’ve hosted the Olympic Trials in track and field, and in 2022, we’ll host the World Athletics Championships. It’s impossible to fall off the running wagon because of how many people are out on the trails each day, so I just keep signing up for another half-marathon in my city and surrounding towns!”

Portland, OR

best cities for runners

With 18 running clubs and over 100 races each year, Portland, Oregon has cultivated a prominent running culture over the years. With a temperate climate similar to Eugene, abundant greenery and countless running routes, PDX boasts one of the most beautiful sceneries in the United States and is at the top of our list for the best cities for runners.

Forest Park, arguably a runner’s favorite part of Portland, is among the largest urban forests in the country, with 80 miles of trails and thousands of acres. Anyone training for a marathon should take on the Wildwood Trail, Forest Park’s estimated 30-mile trail marked every quarter mile by blue diamonds on the towering trees. Portland’s urban running routes feel anything but urban, from the numerous bike trails and idyllic residential areas on the east side to the Springwater Corridor Trail and the Waterfront loop.

We all know that running requires fuel. Portland’s food scene would make anyone crave a plate of carbs. The endless places for post-run brunch, the experimental food carts, the quaint coffee shops and the hipster microbreweries make for an excellent source of running fuel.

“All of Portland’s 12 downtown bridges are accessible for runners,” says runner and former PDX resident Dorothea Hudson. “And it has over 200 miles of running trails. Powell Butte National Park has great running trails. You’ll find it has a gorgeous view as well. Even in the summer, the weather will never get too hot in Portland. So you’ll find it refreshing to run with morning mist often surrounding you in nature.

“If you want to run downtown, the Willamette River/Esplanade loop is an iconic four-mile loop,” says Hudson. “Portland is also the headquarters of Nike and Adidas. Portland Trail Runners is a great running club with a meetup. They meet every Saturday and Tuesday in the Portland Area.”

San Diego, CA

best cities for runners
Source: Medium, Mark Lowenstein

If you reside in San Diego and happen to love running, you’re spoiled. Who could possibly deny the luxury of running in beautiful, temperate weather each season? The almost nonexistent precipitation and gorgeous ocean views almost guarantee a pleasant and active outdoor life.

Though you might think of San Diego as a city of highways, locals know that it’s full of routes, parks, beaches and mountains perfect for varied training. So whether you enjoy a run through Balboa Park and its 65 miles of trails, a climb up the 6.5-mile trail up Fortuna Mountain or a jog over the sand of La Jolla, you’ll have plenty of places to get sweaty in your running shoes.

“Fortunately, I’m a runner myself, so I know that there is no special place or equipment required for us to run,” says David Atler, founder and chief executive officer of The Travel Secret. “We can run anywhere we want like parks, lakes or trails; however, I prefer the nice weather, good company and nice scenery in cities.

“I am fortunate to live in one of the most perfect cities to enjoy running and that is San Diego. It has an exceptional variety of routes and access to parks. From mountains to beaches, San Diego has it all. You can run on the hard-packed sand of the La Jolla coastline. Balboa Park has 65 miles of trails with varying difficulty levels. You can run past the San Diego Zoo or run through the historic Quince Street and Spruce Street suspension bridges. Having said that, I am sure many of you will not want to miss running in this beautiful city."

New York City, New York

best cities for runners

Central Park’s six miles of escapism isn’t all New York City has to offer runners by way of routes. But America’s most famous park isn’t the only great spot for you to get in an hour of cardio. Sandwiched between Manhattan and Queens sits Roosevelt Island and its scenic 3.5-mile perimeter.

Check out the Battery Park City Esplanade for views of the Hudson River, the New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty and more. Perfect for foot traffic, the esplanade features a wealth of parks and gardens. For those seeking a long run, you can get in just over 12 miles before you reach the George Washington Bridge.

The best thing about running in New York might be the fact that it’s almost impossible to get stranded. The subway and the city’s plentiful landmarks ensure that you can explore new areas without apprehension. Plus, one reason NYC made it on our list of the best cities for runners is due to its active running community (over 80 clubs!), which understandably thrives because of how isolating the city can be.

“I’m a lifelong runner and All-American track and field and cross-country runner,” says Jennifer Schindlerg. “Growing up, I competed in the Fifth Avenue Mile, the Colgate Games, at Columbia University’s televised high school national All-American event. Running is how I learn a new city.

“My favorite place to run – where I draw the most energy (literally in the world) is Central Park. Running along the Henry Hudson Parkway on the West side – from the GWB all the way down to the lower West side.”

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