Our Five Least Favorite Cities for Running in North America

Favorite Locations Lists

Our mission here at Great Runs is to find the best places to run in destinations worldwide. So, like our children, we love just about every city. Yet, all runners will admit that there are cities that are great for running, and others that, well, could be better. Have a trip planned to San Diego or Washington, D.C.? Yippee!!  Dallas or Vegas? Ughh. So, here are five cities in North America that we think could be a lot better for running. I’ve discounted ‘accidental’ factors such as weather and geographic setting. Agree? Disagree? (please be civil in your responses/comments!).

Las Vegas. This place is a ‘tale of two cities’. If you’re stuck on the Strip, finding a good place for running can be a challenge, owing to the fact that you have to go through a casino/shopping mall to just cross the street. BUT, there is fantastic running about 5 miles outside the city center, if you can make the time (and have a car…).

Miami. This fast-growing city with great weather should be a lot better for running than it is. Yes, there’s Miami Beach/South Beach and Key Biscayne. But downtown Miami is just plain crappy for running. Few parks or paths, skyscrapers creating urban canyons, and a car-centric layout.

Dallas. This city has what I call ‘pockets’ of good places to run. And the scene is much improved from 15-20 years ago. The Katy Trail is OK, but getting to it from anywhere downtown is sorta miserable. Turtle Creek is nice…but paths are confusing and not seamless. Parts of the so-called ‘MetroPlex’ are nice for running…but you really have to plan it (use our guide!), else you can get stuck on a hotel by the highway in some generic suburb with sidewalk-less roads.

Orlando Area. More than 70 million people visit this area every year. If you’re staying in the Disney/Theme Park/Convention Center area, you’re in ‘running jail’. Many roads lack proper sidewalks. And there is practically zero public infrastructure for runners/pedestrians (such as parks or multi-use paths), since the objective is to keep visitors inside the [theme] park or hotel/resort area. There’s some passable running in downtown Orlando. For nice running, head to Winter Park (nice, older suburb) or Celebration (new urbanism city, not far from Disney).

Toronto. Apologies to my siblings and other relatives who live there…but in becoming the fourth largest city in North America, the pace of commercial and residential development outpaced attention to outdoor public infrastructure, such as parks, paths, and transport. Outside a few nice sections along the waterfront, there aren’t a lot of pleasant places to run in the downtown core. There are some nice spots, such as Center Island, but they take getting to. The Belt Line connects downtown to residential areas, but the city has done little to develop it or promote it for visitors. Hey, Toronto, this is Canada — you can do better!