Years ago, I started the blog RunningWithCake.com to document my many running and healthy living adventures. After hundreds of posts, I realized that I was yearning to write about more than just fitness and food. Enter BistroChic.net. The new website, BistroChic.net allowed me to still write about health, but also expand to include my many other loves like travel, fashion, European culture and more.
Today, I want to share with you one of my favorite posts from RunningWithCake that has been updated to include two of my passions – Travel and Running. Enjoy!
Destination Running – Adapted from RunningWithCake.com
Like many people, before I travel I think of all of the sights I want to see, all of the restaurants I want to try, and the best places for shopping. In addition to these things, I also think about where I will run. I know I’m a little odd when it comes to running, but it’s true. When I’m out of town for work or vacation, finding new, fun places to run is just as exciting as finding a cool new restaurant or museum.
In my many years of running, I’ve run in 9 countries, not including the US, and have run in 24 of the 50 United States. I’ve had so many wonderful running experiences – running along old and winding streets in Ireland, past Gaudi’s legacy in Barcelona, by totem polls in Vancouver, and right up to the gates of Buckingham Palace in London, The White House in Washington, DC, and the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. All of these places are reminders of wonderful trips and wonderful runs.
When I’m traveling and looking for a place to run, I consider 3 main things – Safety, Stability and Sights.
Safety – My utmost priority when I run is my own safety. If I don’t feel safe in an area, I will run inside (if there is a gym) or not run at all. In most situations, I’m able to find a safe place to run outside, one that has enough people and/or businesses in the area to make me feel “seen” and one that is open, and well lit enough for me to see potential dangers ahead.
Stability – I also consider the path that I’m running on. I prefer an actual running or walking path so that I don’t have to worry about sharing the road with cars, tripping over tree roots or rocks, or getting sand/dirt all over me. But sometimes I have to make my own path, which is still ok as long as it’s relatively safe.
Sights – Destination running is most fun when you can combine sightseeing and running. So when I’m traveling, I try to stay in a location where I know my run will take me past monuments, beautiful gardens, or most importantly, the ocean.
Although each destination run is unique and special in its own way, there are several that I hold near and dear to my heart.
My Top 10 Running Destinations Around the World
10. Huntington Beach, CA – The beachfront path that stretches from Newport Beach to Huntington Beach is a great place to catch an early morning run, before the sun rises (and the heat along with it), take in the ocean breeze and make a stop at the long pier for a quick selfie.
9. Hilton Head Island, SC – I’ve already mentioned how much I love Hilton Head Island as a vacation spot. It is also a fabulous place to run. Although a paved beachfront path is not very convenient, running along the inner path lined with moss covered oak trees provides incredible natural beauty and the much needed shade on a hot South Carolina morning.
8. London, England – There are so many things I love about London, including the abundance of beautiful community parks. Really, no matter where you stay in London, you are never more than a 10 minute run away from a scenic park. My personal favorites are Regents Park and Kensington Gardens – both providing lovely trees, flowers and water gardens. Side note – although I’d love to run through the city proper, sidewalks are very narrow and there are loads of people and traffic to navigate, so parks are the way to go.
7. Paris, France – Similar to London, Paris has amazing parks and gardens, that are a true necessity for runners given the narrow, often uneven paved walkways. Tuileries Gardens is a perfect place for a cultural run as the rectangular garden pathway takes you past 3 famous museums, including the Louvre.
6. Vail, CO – Last year, I traveled to Vail for the first time and after one trip it has landed in my top 10 of all running destinations. There’s something about Vail that is so fresh and unspoiled, yet modern and lively. An early morning run in Vail can take you up a mountain, through a charming village or along a paved river pathway. Take your pick, you can’t lose in Vail.
5. Vancouver, BC – The run from downtown Vancouver along the harbor to Stanley Park is one of the most scenic runs I’ve experienced. With the gorgeous yet serene harbor on one side and the vibrant city on the other, there is so much for your senses to take in. I can still recall my first run in Vancouver, seeing a sea plane fly in and land right in the water within the harbor, then ending my run in Stanley Park surrounded by brilliant orange and gold leaves, coming face to face with huge totem poles – just breathtaking. To this day, I can’t wait to return to retrace my steps and experience that feeling all over again.
4. Boston, MA – There are so many things about Boston that I love – the history, the architecture, proximity to top universities like Harvard, and the city’s strong ties to running with the Boston Marathon. Whenever I stay in Boston – which is not enough – I can’t wait to run along the Charles River running path. Depending on which side you run, you either get a view of Cambridge/Harvard/MIT or Boston proper. And, if I’m really lucky, my run will include a glimpse of the many rowing teams practicing on the water. Their reflection on the river along with the Autumn colors is a scene straight out of Good Will Hunting.
3. Washington, DC – Like Boston, Washington, DC is full of history and it is also home to a one-of-a-kind running experience in the United States. By running the route along National Mall, you’ll venture upon the Museum of Natural History, the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial and eventually make your way to the great Lincoln Memorial. To add to your already patriotic route, you can make a turn at the Washington Monument to view the White House in all of its glory. So many monuments to start your day…and all before our busy nation’s capital wakes up to the world.
2. Maui, HI – The Kaanapali Beachfront/cliff-front path is so breathtaking that it might leave you too distracted to track your mileage. In all seriousness, the path will take you along a palm tree-lined pathway, passing luxury resorts, condos, shopping and restaurants on one side, while on the other, the Pacific Ocean stretches beyond where the eye can see. On this path, I somehow run a little faster than normal, likely due to the inspirational surroundings. Every once in a while I will have to remind myself to slow down and not rush this lush journey, but rather leave time to drink in the salt area, feel the Hawaiian breezes and admire the scenic beauty, all while taking a mental photo of my experience.
1.Chicago, IL – Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive path is probably my favorite running route of all time. Having lived in the heart of Chicago for many years, the Lakeshore path was my go-to for EVERY run and for good reason. If you’ve ever been to Chicago’s lakefront, you will know that the path goes on and on for miles. On one side of the path, you run with beautiful views of the Chicago skyline on the horizon. On the other side is the mostly calming but sometimes stormy shoreline of Lake Michigan. Years ago, when I worked and lived downtown, I would take my running clothes to work. After work, I would change and run home along the path, starting from Navy Pier and finally turning into the Lakeview neighborhood near Belmont Harbor. It was such an amazing feeling to combine my 45-minute commute with a strong running workout, something I’ve greatly missed while being in the suburbs. On days that I was not able to run home from work, I would get up extra early to run the lakefront. Rain, snow, or shine, I pounded that beautiful pavement with hundreds of other athletes, yet somehow, felt completely lost in my own thoughts and in my own world. To this day, each time I run the lakefront path, breezing by North Beach or seeing the Ferris wheel in the distance, I have a slight melancholy feeling. I’m so happy that I’m running my favorite path, but also sad – almost like the feeling you get not knowing when you will be reunited with an old friend. And when I do return, the path seems to say, “it’s been way too long my friend, way too long.”
Happy travels and happy running my friends!