There’s no better way to see the sights of a new place than on foot. So why not break a sweat on vacation before you relax?
When it comes to distance races, a half-marathon is the perfect length. It's not too long or short, so it's challenging but doable. Make your next race one to remember by running one of these top destination courses in the U.S. You’ll discover places that a tour would never take you as you pound out the miles on new terrain.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon series is known for its energizing races, which feature bands that jam along the course as you run. Sign up for the Las Vegas one to hit up the strip in a whole new way. Las Vegas Boulevard shuts down at night so runners can take it over. That’s right, at night. This race starts at 4:30 p.m., which means that the temperatures are less sweltering and you'll get the chance to crush your PR under the flashing strip lights. After the race, try your luck in the casino, see a show, or soak your tired feet at the hotel pool while you recover.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, getting the chance to run 13.1 miles (21 kilometers) as your childhood idols–including Belle, Cinderella, and Snow White—cheer you on is an experience that you’ll always remember. This women’s race encourages runners to dress up (just go easy on the ball gown attire, because, after all, you still have to run!). Looking for something a little less frilly? The runDisney series hosts other themed runs that everyone will enjoy, such as the Wine & Dine Half-Marathon and Star Wars Half-Marathon races.
Talk about earning your calories! This course is not only beautiful—there’s also a pretty sweet reward when you cross the finish line. Take in the scenery as you run past vineyards, ranches, and farms, making your way from Napa to Sonoma. As you end at Sonoma City Hall, you’ll discover: That’s where the party really gets going. All finishers are welcome to stay for the post-race festival, complete with live music, food, and—you guessed it—wine tasting.
If Kauai, one of the Hawaiian islands, isn’t on your bucket list of travel stops, then it’s time to revise your list. Known as the garden island for its lush greenery, this destination has it all. Your mile markers will be sprinkled amongst rugged, non-man-made beaches, volcanoes, and tropical rain forests, and with so much to look at, those miles will fly by. Once you're finished exploring Kauai, you're a short plane ride away from checking out some of the other breathtaking Hawaiian islands, such as Maui and Oahu.
You might not think that New York City would be a good place to run a half-marathon, with all its traffic and crowds, but this race is surprisingly peaceful. Thanks to an early start time, you won't have to elbow your way through throngs of tourists. You’ll run through Central Park, weave your way through a desolate Times Square, and then make your way down to Battery Park—all without ever having to hail a taxi. If you’ve ever wanted to take in the Big Apple’s sights without hassling with the hoards of people, this race is for you.
No matter which race you choose, you're bound to have fun and get fit at the same time. What's you're favorite destination race? Share your two cents in the comments, below!
Colleen Travers is a health, fitness, travel, and women’s lifestyle writer for various publications.