The Best Cities for Running Tours
If you prefer to tour a new city at a pace that surpasses a stroll, you're not alone—in fact, you're on trend. Bike tours have been big for years, allowing you to cover more ground, get a little sweaty, and—most importantly—see more sights. Now running tours are gaining popularity—even for novice runners. Yes, there are tours for serious marathoners, but also tours for families with little ones and folks who want to sip some beer along the way.
"No runner is ever left behind," assures Michael Gazaleh President & CEO of City Running Tours, a company that runs tours in 12 cities in the U.S., plus one in Toronto. "Our main focus has always been showcasing the city. Our clients are getting the opportunity to run with a local who lives, works, and plays in that city and through our tours we are able to go beyond the general history and culture and share our own personal city experience," says Gazaleh.
From nation and worldwide tour groups like City Running Tours to smaller companies in cities across the globe, finding the right running tour can be daunting. To make it easier, we hand-picked 10 cities with eye-opening, heart-pounding running tours.
Off N Running Tours lets you "run from the paparazzi" through the streets of Hollywood, Rodeo Drive, and more. You'll even stop in some shops along the way for a breather and maybe some ultra-swank souvenirs. The 4-mile run is $60 and includes water and a cupcake (hey, you earned it right?). Alternatively, you can choose the "Pacific Pleasure Running Tour," which takes you through Santa Monica and the Venice Canals. You can also go for a "fitness walk" if that's more your speed.
In Budapest, Go Running Tours include the "Heroes Tour" (5 miles, about $45), which focuses on architectural sites like the Basilica, Vajdahunyad Castle, and Andrássy Street as well as the "Must-See Tour" (4.3 miles, about $45), which takes you to Buda Castle (where you'll mix things up and get in some "hill work"), across the Chain bridge, and then to the Parliament Building. One more interesting option: The "Shady Budapest" tour, takes runners where "tour buses do not dare to tread." (3.7 miles, about $45).
London's City Jogging Tours offers routes for "gentle joggers" as well as "recreational runners." Consider the "Royal London Parks and Palaces" tour (about 4 miles), which runs past the Horse Guards Parade (you can witness the Changing of the Guard!), Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. There's also the "Iconic London Tour" (about 3.5 miles), where you'll take in Trafalgar Square, the London Eye, and Westminster Abbey. All tours are 26 pounds (about $38). You can also DIY your own tour—check their website for more details.
Topdeck Travel, the number one provider of group travel for "18-30 somethings," just launched a new concept they're calling "Bucket List Runs." Essentially, for those on one of their eight European trips (including London, Swiss Alps, Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rome, Florence, Vienna, and Krakow—and expanding!), you can download the 'Topdeck Move' app and get GPS-guided route instructions along with insight on points of interest, major sights (what they call "selfie-worthie"), and attractions throughout your run! There is also a social component of the app allowing you to chat with other travelers on your trip. On the Berlin trip in particular, you'll speed around the Tiergarten, past the Victory Monument, the Reichstag Building, and Brandenburg Gate on your 4-mile loop.
Take in the capital of Japan on the Tokyo Great Running Tour (5000 yen/about $45). Choose from two route options: the first takes you past the Imperial Palace (the Palace moat is considered the runner's "mecca") and through the popular Ginza neighborhood, while the second takes you to Asakusa—home of the incredible Asakusa temple—and along the Sumida River to Akiharbara. Both tours last three hours and range from 7 to 10 miles. Also worth noting: the Tokyo Marathon (not a tour) takes runners past the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, and Tokyo Big Sight.
While not really a tour, the Chicago Marathon takes you past the Magnificent Mile, the Loop, Lincoln Park, Wrigleyville, Old Town, Little Italy, China Town, and way, way more. It starts and ends in "Chicago's front yard," Grant Park. Missed the lottery sign-up? No problem. Sign up with Marathon Tours & Travel and get guaranteed entry now for the October 9 race. The company (which also offers VIP packages for the Boston Marathon, Big Sur Marathon, and New York City Marathon) offers a choice of hotels for Chicago marathoners as well.
Scope out the Live Music Capitol of the World with City Running Tours. In Austin, you can get a taste of history on the "Downtown Historic 5K" ($25), enjoy the college life on the "UT Campus 5K" ($25), or check out the famous bats (up to 1.5 million bats at peak season) under The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue bridge in downtown Austin on the "Ghosts and Bats 5K" ($25). The company also offers several beer-related tours including the "Hops and Grain Brewery 5K" that also allow you to take in key sights like historic 6th Street and "haunted hotspots." (And yes, you do finish at the brewery where you'll get to sample the local sips.)
Your RunBoston guide will pick you up at your hotel and customize the run based on exactly what you want to see and do. Tours run from $50-$70 per person. You can also choose from 10 set routes that range from 2 miles (the "Beacon Hill Tour") to 9.6 miles (the last nine miles of the Boston Marathon). A separate group offers the Freedom Trail Run every weekend ($40)—a 5K that takes you past the USS Constitution Museum, Boston Harbor, and way more (you'll stop at each landmark to snap some photos).
Check out the French Quarter, cemetery, and the Garden District off your to-see list with New Orleans Jogging Tours ($30, 6.2 miles). You'll also have a look at Café du Monde, St. Louis Cathedral, the street car line, the Mississippi River, and the French Market.
New York City
Take in NYC's most iconic sights—Brooklyn Bridge! City Hall!—with City Running Tours, whose routes include a "Brooklyn Brewery" run (4.5 miles, $45), which offers waterfront views and ends at a brewery. Other runs include a Central Park route, and the "America's Roots" run—perfect for history buffs. You can also personalize your own experience with a private guided run.