The best marathons in the US
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Top 29 Best Marathons in the USA: 26 Miles Around the Country

Looking to make good on your long distance running goals?  And combine that drive with the opportunity to witness some exciting new places across the country from the most unique and active perspective?  Then check out these top 29 best marathons in the USA!  Regardless of how many of these racing events you participate in, each one is guaranteed to be an exceptional destination “runcation” experience!  From big city energy to rural back road serenity, the courses of these 29 best USA marathons will have you hooked!


Best marathons in the US

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The Top 29 Best Marathons in the USA



These are the best marathon courses in the country to experience an epic “runcation” at, with these 29 best marathons USA style!

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The best marathons in the United States
The 29 best marathons in the United States



Map of the 29 Best Marathons in the US


Use this map below to see the locations of all 29 of the best marathons in the United States.  As you can see, there is something for everyone, and a destination worth running in in every corner of the country!  Just imagine all the new things you can see running these destination courses!


Locations of the 29 best marathons in the United States!



#1: Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon


When: June

Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Surrounding Attractions: Cook Inlet, Chugach Mountains, Anchorage, hiking

Best For: Destination runners, outdoor lovers, small towners, animal lovers


A marathon to highlight the longest day in summer, the summer solstice.  That is what this running event is based around.  In addition to this festive environment, runners will get to enjoy classic Alaskan views, including a backdrop of Denali, as well as a taste of this small town, rural, Alaskan town.


More information on the Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon


Anchorage Alaska
Anchorage Alaska



#2: Run Crazy Horse Marathon


When: October

Location: Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills, South Dakota

Surrounding Attractions: Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Black Elk Peak in the Black Hills, Wind Cave National Park, Badlands National Park (check out this road trip itinerary for BOTH National Parks)

Best For:  outdoor lovers, history buffs, National Parks, Monuments, and State Parks


The mantra of this marathon is Black Hills beauty.  And that’s exactly what type of scenery to expect on this run.  The Black Hills Wilderness is one of the most unique areas of the country, with rolling hills, mountain peaks, and craggy spires.  Not to mention the overload of outdoor opportunities to enjoy when you are not running, such as Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, hiking the state high point at Black Elk Peak, Wind Cave National Park, and Badlands National Park!


This course takes place in the shadow of one of the nation’s most impressive memorials, the Crazy Horse Memorial.


After the race, check out this South Dakota National Parks itinerary to see both of this state’s twin National Parks!


More information on the Run Crazy Horse Marathon


This region of South Dakota is brimming with intriguing spires!
This region of South Dakota is brimming with intriguing spires!



#3: Rock and Roll New Orleans Marathon


When: March

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana

Surrounding Attractions: the French Quarter, Garden Districts, Mississippi River, Cafe Du Monde, museums

Best For: big city runners, southern charm and high energy, southern architecture appreciators, jazz culturists


Run through some of the most iconic areas of New Orleans, like the French Quarter and Garden District, as well as passing by some iconic sights like the Mississippi River!  This course is full of energy and enthusiasm, due to its accompanying Mardi Gras season, and really embraces the character of the south, and specifically, the unique personality of New Orleans!


Afterwards, there is a never ending spread of distinctive things to do, from sampling Cajun cuisine, to touring the WWII Museum, to taking in a jazz show, to strolling some of the best architecture in the South.


More information on the Rock and Roll New Orleans Marathon


Taking in the skyline on the Steamboat Natchez on one of the best marathons in the USA
Mississippi River views on one of the best marathons in the USA



#4: Rock and Roll Nashville Marathon


When: November

Where: Nashville, Tennessee

Surrounding Attractions:  downtown Nashville and country music establishments

Best For:  country music junkies, big city runners, high energy and southern charm


This marathon is full of live country music, running the friendly streets of Nashville in high energy fashion!  Afterwards, soak up more of the southern attitude with a multitude of southern restaurants and live music bars.


More information on the Rock and Roll Nashville Marathon


Nashville Tennessee
Nashville Tennessee



#5: Missoula Marathon


When: June

Where: Missoula, Montana

Surrounding Attractions: hiking, rafting, downtown Missoula

Best For: rural outdoor runners, wide open spaces, backcountry enthusiasts, small towners


Stunning rural scenery that highlights the best of Montana, on a mostly flat course filled with friendly spectators.  This race does a great job of balancing Montana’s backcountry views with Missoula’s small town and friendly feel!  Just like the logo says, if you want to run wild, this is the place!  And this marathon is also a Boston qualifier.


More information on the Missoula Marathon


The natural beauty of Montana
The natural beauty of Montana



#6: Route 66 Marathon


When: November

Where: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Surrounding Attractions: downtown Tulsa, Brookside District, Arkansas River

Best For: Americana, history buffs


This marathon route provides runners a glimpse of Tulsa, a city that may not be at the top of everyone’s mind when they think of destination race locations, but a city that is still rooted in unique Midwest history.  This course winds through several of Tulsa’s quaint neighborhoods, its bustling Brookside District, and skirts the banks of the serene Arkansas River.  And of course, you’ll have a chance to run on Route 66 itself, a unique way to partake in this part of American history.  Live music and friendly local spectators line this course adding to the charming character of this race.   This is also another Boston Qualifier marathon.


More information on the Route 66 Marathon


Tulsa Oklahoma
Tulsa Oklahoma



#7: Amica Newport Marathon


When: October

Where: Newport, Rhode Island

Surrounding Attractions: beaches, downtown Newport

Best For: beach lovers, historical neighborhood runners, seaside towns


This race sums up the best of coastal New England vibes, on a course that traces along sunny beaches, historical homes, serene state parks, and historical buildings with roots in the Revolutionary era.  This multi-faceted race gives runners a glimpse of everything that makes the New England region quintessential.  And just as an added bonus, the finish line is seaside, so you can relax with your hard working toes in the sand after your run!


More information on the Amica Newport Marathon


Newport Rhode Island



#8: Kaua’i Marathon


When: September

Where: Kaua’i Marathon

Surrounding Attractions: beaches, resorts, outdoor opportunities, Waimea Canyon, National Tropical Botanical Garden

Best For: beach and jungle enthusiasts, resort life, warm weather runners


This marathon courses through stunning Hawaiian coastlines, with accompanying jungle and volcanic peak views.  There is a significant climb on this course, but the payoff is getting to run through the iconic “Tunnel of Trees”, as well as being treated to coastline views from above as you descend towards the finish line at one of the island’s best beaches at Poipu.


More information on the Kaua’i Marathon


The best marathons in the US
Hawaii is home to one of the best USA marathons



#9: Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon


When: November

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

Surrounding Attractions: casinos, nightlife, the Strip, and Valley of Fire State Park

Best For: nightlife, high energy, and nighttime runners


This marathon is unique, in that it takes place at night on the Las Vegas Strip, which is arguably the best time to witness the lights and energy of this environment.  This marathon actually closes down the Strip, so you have this iconic course all to yourself, with your fellow runners of course, without the cars and traffic.  This course is energized from start to finish, true to Las Vegas style!


More information on the Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon


Get ready for the Vegas energy on this best half marathon in the USA
Ready for the nightime energy of one of the best marathons in the USA?



#10: Cowtown Marathon


When: February

Where: Fort Worth, Texas

Surrounding Attractions: downtown Fort Worth, historic Stockyards, Dallas

Best For: western heritage, big city vibes and high energy


Run through historic downtown Fort Worth and experience its western roots at the Stockyards, and historic neighborhoods and homes!  This course is a beloved tradition with Texas runners, and is heralded as one of the top races in the state of Texas, as well as across the country!  It is big on spectator energy and runner morale, for those that appreciate the high energy races!


After the race, check out some of the area’s best state parks for camping and hiking near Fort Worth!


More information on the Cowtown Marathon


Fort Worth Texas
Fort Worth Texas



#11: San Francisco Marathon


When: November

Where: San Francisco, California

Surrounding Attractions: Golden Gate Bridge, California coastline, Alcatraz

Best For:  iconic landmarks, hilly courses, ocean views, high energy courses and big city appreciators


This course takes full advantage of one of the most iconic landmarks in the country, the Golden Gate Bridge, and its surrounding city and ocean-scapes provide a stunning, one of a kind background and racing experience.  Don’t just glimpse the Golden Gate Bridge, actually appreciate the rare opportunity to run across it on this race!  The remainder of the course will also have you appreciating San Francisco’s characteristic hills and neighborhoods!


More information on the San Francisco Marathon


San Francisco is home to one of the top US marathons
San Francisco is home to one of the top USA marathons



#12: Big Sur Marathon


When: November

Where: Big Sur, California

Surrounding Attractions: California oceanside and beaches, coastal towns

Best For: ocean views, beach runners


Run along historic Highway 1 on the edge of California, with miles and miles of epic coastline views!  From Big Sur to Carmel, this course takes advantage of some of California’s best scenery.  It is also a Boston qualifier!


More information on the Big Sur Marathon


Big Sur California
Big Sur California



#13: Walt Disney World Marathon


When: January

Where: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Surrounding Attractions: Disney World, Epcot, Universal Studios, Animal Kingdom

Best For:  Disney fanatics, whimsical courses, high spectator energy and involvement


According to this race, this is the most “enchanting” course in the country, and for good reason!  Imagine running alongside scores of costumed spectators and fellow runners alike, in a race that appreciates all things Disney!  There are few events with more childlike fun and imagination that participating in a Disney marathon!


More information on the Walt Disney World Marathon


One of the most magical and best marathons in the USA
Walt Disney World – home to one of the best marathons in the USA



#14: Carlsbad 5000 Marathon


When: September

Where: Carlsbad, California

Surrounding Attractions: Legoland, Botanic Gardens, beaches, downtown Carlsbad, oceanside towns, Carlsbad State Park

Best For: coastline runners, ocean views


This race has been around for over 30 years, and is cherished as an iconic California race!  Loads of the distinct California sun, ocean views, and miles of coastline!  This course also provides a good dose of spectator energy in the town of Carlsbad.


More information on the Carlsbad 5000 Marathon


Carlsbad California
Carlsbad California



#15: Boston Marathon


When: September

Where: Boston, Massachusetts

Surrounding Attractions: historical landmarks, buildings, and architecture, Boston Harbor, sporting venues and events, downtown Boston

Best For: history junkies, iconic courses, bucketlist runners, qualifiers


Arguably one of the most well known races and courses in the world, the Boston Marathon should be at the top of every long distance runner’s bucket list!  It is the oldest annual marathon event in the world, and draws runners from all over the world for an epic experience of runner morale!  The course winds through the historic areas of Boston, and passes by iconic establishments like Boston College as it winds towards the harbor.


More information on the Boston Marathon


Views of Boston Harbor on one of the best marathons in the United States
Views of Boston Harbor on the course of one of the best marathons in the United States



#16: Chicago Marathon


When: October

Where: Chicago, Illinois

Surrounding Attractions: Lake Michigan, downtown Chicago, museums, restaurants, sporting venues

Best For: big city runners, high energy, historic landmarks and architecture, harbor views and cityscapes


Big city energy, lots of visual stimulation, and amazing scenery of both the surrounding lakeshore and Chicago landmarks!  This is a flat and fast course that starts and finishes in beautiful Grants Park, and passes through a multitude of Chicago neighborhoods, each filled to the brim with enthusiastic and supportive spectators!


More information on the Chicago Marathon


Iconic Chicago views on one of the best marathons course
Iconic Chicago views along one of the best marathons course



#17: New York City Marathon


When: November

Where: New York City, New York

Surrounding Attractions:  downtown NYC, museums, nightlife, restaurants, historical landmarks and tours, city parks, Statue of Liberty, Central Park

Best For:  big city runners, high energy, history buffs, iconic landmark appreciators


New York is full of things to appreciate as a “runcation” destination!  There’s the history you are bound to see, with museums, landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, and classic neighborhoods.  Some of the best city parks in the world reside here in NYC also!  There is a lot to appreciate here both on the course and off.  This classic marathon draws scores of runners from across the globe, making this an event full of comraderie!  Over a million runners have crossed the finish line of this race since its creation, with tens of thousands of finishers each year, billing this as one of the world’s largest marathon events.


More information on the New York City Marathon


Classic NYC sights!
Classic NYC sights on the course of one of the best marathons in the United States!



#18: Pikes Peak Marathon


When: August

Where: Pikes Peak, Colorado

Surrounding Attractions: Mountain towns, hiking, mountaineering, outdoor opportunities, Manitou Falls, Colorado Springs

Best For: backcountry and outdoor appreciators, uphill trail runners, high elevation runners


The Pikes Peak Ascent Marathon is one of the most challenging marathons in the country.  Get ready for some rugged trail running on Barr Trail, and exhilarating uphills climbs, with some awesome rewarding views of Pike National Forest!  Colorado is famous for its 14’er peaks, and on this race, you actually get to run up one of the state’s most famous ones at Pikes Peak!  Uphill and high elevation training go far on this race, if you can make that happen!  When you are finished with this grueling feat, explore charming Manitou Falls, the mountain town that hosts this event.


More information on the Pikes Peak Marathon


Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak



#19: Couer d’ Alene Marathon


When: May

Where: Couer d’ Alene, Idaho

Surrounding Attractions: hiking and outdoor opportunities, Couer D’ Alene National Forest

Best For: rural runners, backcountry and outdoor appreciators


Held in the far northwestern sliver of Idaho, this race gets runners away from it all, and provides an opportunity to run in a rugged setting that will get you back at one with nature at its finest.  Stunning backcountry views of rugged Idaho, with a majority lake views along the course, and plenty of outdoor opportunities and small town charm to take part in when the race is done!


More information on the Coeur d’ Alene Marathon


Forests of the Idaho panhandle
Forests of the Idaho Panhandle



#20: Fargo Marathon


When: May

Where: Fargo, North Dakota

Surrounding Attractions: downtown Fargo, outdoor opportunities, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Red River Valley

Best For: outdoor appreciators, scenic view runners, small town charmers


This marathon takes advantage of a great rural setting, surrounded by stellar outdoor sights.  The course is fast and flat, and winds through charming and quaint historic neighborhoods in Fargo.  The course is also filled with live music, bands, and plenty of energy, making this a fun and energetic environment set in the heart of North Dakota.


More information on the Fargo Marathon


Fargo sign



#21: Philadelphia Marathon


When: November

Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Surrounding Attractions: historical buildings and landmarks, downtown Philadelphia, museums

Best For: history buffs, big city runners


Run past Philadelphia’s rich history, old neighborhoods, and scenic, extensive, waterfront, on this flat, fast, spectator filled, city course! Runners will see historical sights like Independence Hall, the Franklin Institute, Love Park, Friendship Gate, the U.S. Mint, City Hall, and Main Street.


More information on the Philadelphia Marathon


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



#22: Marine Corps Marathon


When: October

Where: Arlington, Virginia

Surrounding Attractions: Washington D.C, Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, White House, National Mall, museums, historical icons and landmarks

Best For: history junkies, armed services


This race is organized by the men and women of the United States Marine Corps, and serves to honor those who have sacrificed their service.  The start line of the course is situated by the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery, passes by the National Mall, and then finishes at the Marine Corps War Memorial.  This course will take you past some of the most recognizable and significant historical monuments in the country.


More information on the Marine Corps Marathon


The National Mall in Washington DC
The National Mall in Washington DC



#23: Hatfield McCoy Marathon


When: June

Where: Goody, Kentucky 

Surrounding Attractions: outdoor opportunities, small mountain towns

Best For: rural small towners, rural runners


Enjoy a fun, hilly run through the rural backcountry of Kentucky, past old coal camps and the region where the Hatfield McCoy feud actually took place, past the homestead of Randolph McCoy and gravesites of his relatives, and the home of Reverend Anderson Hatfield.  This course also passes mountains, rivers, and small rural towns along the way.


More information on the Hatfield McCoy Marathon


Kentucky pastures
Pastures of rural Kentucky


Pastures of rural Kentucky

24: Honolulu Marathon


When: December

Where: Honolulu, Hawaii

Surrounding Attractions: beaches, outdoor opportunities, hiking, resorts, island tours, Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach

Best For: beach and ocean views, jungle scenery


This mostly flat course combines all the best things about Honolulu, from its vibrant and thriving downtown, to Waikiki Beach, to its scenic harbor, to its lush oceanside parks, to its stunning monuments like Diamond Head.


More information on the Honolulu Marathon


Beachy running on one of the best marathons in the USA
Get ready for beachy running on one of the standouts among best marathons in the USA!



#25: Niagara Falls International Marathon


When: October

Where: Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York/Canada

Surrounding Attractions: Niagara Falls, downtown Buffalo

Best For: scenic runners


This unique race starts in one country, and finishes in another!  If you have ever wanted to fully appreciate the magnificent sight of Niagara Falls, enjoy it from the finish line of this event, in Canada!  Enjoy the charming neighborhoods of downtown Buffalo, New York, before crossing the Peace Bridge into Canada, and onto Niagara Falls!  This race is also a Boston Qualifier.


More information on the Niagara Falls International Marathon


This marathon course takes place in two countries
This course of one of the best marathons in the United States takes place in two countries!



#26: Flying Pig Marathon


When: October

Where: Cincinnati, Ohio

Surrounding Attractions: downtown Cincinnati, Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio River

Best For: city runners and big energy


This race represents quintessential urban Ohio.  In its own humble way, this big city race has a course that weaves through charming, historic neighborhoods, quaint parks, riverfront views of the Ohio, and other local sights.  The spectators on this course provide a big boost, and are one of the main reasons this fun event is on the list!


More information on the Flying Pig Marathon


Cincinnati Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio



#27: St. George Marathon


When: October

Where: St. George, Utah

Surrounding Attractions: National Parks, outdoor opportunities, mountain towns

Best For: rural, backcountry runners, outdoor appreciators, red rock junkies


If a red rock backdrop is your preferred scenery of choice for marathon running, then the St. George Marathon is a perfect fit for your destination race! This is a majority flat and fast race, through some of the best southwestern scenery in the state!  Start in the Pine Valley mountains, and continue to run through Snow Canyon, Diamond Valley, Dammeron Valley, and each of their respective and impressive scenery.  After the race, enjoy the distinctive Utah flair of the mountain town of St. George, and all the further outdoor opportunities it offers. 


Bonus – you can’t go wrong with checking out any of Utah’s National Parks as well while  you’re in the area, including my favorite, Arches National Park!


More information on the St. George Marathon


St. George Utah
St. George, Utah



#28: Twin Cities Marathon


When: October

Where: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota

Surrounding Attractions: downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul

Best For: urban runners, big city energy, river and lake views


Experience the twin experience of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, on this beautiful urban marathon event.  A flat race, that starts in Minneapolis and finishes in St. Paul, and passes along several serene lakes, both sides of the iconic Mississippi River, and sprawling urban landscape of both these twin cities.  It’s a great sampling of the northern heritage of the U.S.


More information on the Twin Cities Marathon


Minneapolis Minnesota
Minneapolis Minnesota



#29: Napa Valley Marathon


When: March

Where: Napa Valley, California

Surrounding Attractions: Napa Valley, wineries, outdoor opportunities

Best For: countryside and rural runners, small towns and winery appreciators, outdoor enthusiasts


According to this marathon slogan, runners have the chance to “run, sip, and savor” along this extremely scenic Napa Valley countryside.  This course follows the famous Silverado Trail, from Calistoga to Napa, passing numerous vineyards and wineries along the way.  There’s plenty of outdoor opportunities and places to relax afterwards, and is a great destination race for those looking to knock off some reputable wineries from their bucketlist.


More information on the Napa Valley Marathon


Napa Valley
Napa Valley, California



There you have it!  The 29 best marathons in the USA, encompassing every aspect of long distance running that a runner could want! Whether you are a big city or small town runner, mountain or ocean viewer, or a combination in between, committing to training for and running a marathon in any of these destinations will be a challenge you never regret taking on!  Conquer all 29 best marathons in the USA with this straightforward training plan!


Download your own 16 Week Marathon Training Calendar HERE!




Now that you know where running can take you, are you ready to get started training? 












Best marathons in the USA


Best marathons in the United States

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