Three American Cities Made for Running

These three urban enclaves offer above-average options for anyone who enjoys running in the great outdoors.

> Boston, Massachusetts

The Charles River and the Emerald Necklace string of parks both offer mostly uninterrupted running on paved and dirt paths throughout Greater Boston. Along the Charles, you can enjoy a short, flat run past Harvard, MIT, and Boston University, or log up to 17 miles round-trip from the Museum of Science to Watertown.

The Necklace stretches seven gently hilly miles from Boston Common and the Public Garden—past waterways through Back Bay Fens, Olmsted Park, Jamaica Pond, and Arnold Arboretum—to Franklin Park.

> San Francisco, California

The 6.5-mile-long waterfront promenade, from the Giants ballpark to Fort Point beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, affords close-up views of the bay and the city’s two great bridges. It’s primarily flat and paved—and traffic free except for a few blocks through Fisherman’s Wharf. Just follow the water.

That rule also applies to the three-mile run along Ocean Beach, which is where you can head inland for a seven-mile loop of Golden Gate Park.

> Washington, D.C.

Skip the walking tours: You can see most of D.C.’s monuments on the National Mall, a five-mile round-trip run between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial.

For more serene surroundings, run the oak-shaded trails in Rock Creek Park, which wind through several parks in nine rolling miles from Georgetown to the Maryland border and beyond. The nearly flat C&O Canal towpath heads north from Georgetown into Maryland alongside the scenic Potomac River (look for eagles and herons).

This piece, written by Bob Cooper, appeared in the October 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.