The 12 Best Half Marathons in the US

best half marathons in the us

We’ve compiled a list of the best half marathons in the US with spellbinding scenery, fast courses, along with vacation destinations, and after-party atmospheres.

So start your half marathon training (follow a training plan for half marathons), and then discover some of the best half marathons around the United States!

The Best Half Marathons in the US

We’ve outlined the best half marathons in multiple categories – scenery, speed, destination, and party atmosphere.

Let’s get to the list.

The Best Scenic Half Marathons

a runner participating in a scenic half marathon

Imagine yourself experiencing the beauty of nature, from majestic redwoods and historic downtown Savannah. Sign up for scenic races like Big Sur in California or Zion in Utah that offer spectacular sights as you race towards the finish line!

To get an amazing experience just add a Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – it’s guaranteed to make running more enjoyable. These races and their stunning routes with breathtaking views will have you falling in love with running for sure.

Monterey Bay Half Marathon

Breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean and redwood forests during the Big Sur Half Marathon

Date

November

Location

California

Runners

5,800

Weather

Averages 45 to 65 F

The Monterey Bay Half Marathon (formerly the Big Sur Half Marathon) in California stands among the best half marathons throughout the United States. Runners will enjoy incredible views of rolling hills near redwood forests and the Pacific Ocean during their race journey, as well as exploring nearby distilleries and horse farms on route too. This is definitely a race that should be added to every runner’s bucket list!

There are plenty more local attractions runners can stay around for. Relax at one of many beaches in the area or discover historically rich towns while indulging yourself with shopping and dining experiences.

Don’t forget the wineries located towards Santa Barbara & Santa Ynez Valley where you can savor exceptional wine tastings too.

Catalina Island Half Marathon

Catalina Island Half Marathon - best half marathons in the US

Date

November

Location

California

Runners

630

Weather

Averages 60 to 80 F

The Catalina Island Half Marathon course is a masterpiece, combining challenging ascents and descents with stretches of serene coastal beauty. Beginning in the quaint town of Avalon, runners will traverse a variety of terrains, from paved roads to rugged trails. The course is a testament to the island’s natural diversity, featuring everything from eucalyptus groves to panoramic ridgelines that showcase the vastness of the Pacific.

One of the highlights is the infamous “Airport in the Sky” section, where runners ascend to Catalina’s airstrip, situated at an elevation of 1,602 feet. You’ll also run through an area where bison roam free. There are over 150 of them so be on the lookout!

This race is mainly off-road and extremely hilly. You’ll gain about 2,750 feet of total elevation from start to finish.

If you love nature, this is the race for you. The race is even cupless to minimize landfill waste!

Zion Half Marathon

Zion National Park Half Marathon - best half marathons in the US

Date

March

Location

Utah

Runners

1,550

Weather

Averages 25 to 60 F

The Zion Half Marathon in Springdale, Utah is perfect if you enjoy running through stunning scenery. This is a point-to-point race entirely on paved roads.

The race starts at 3600 feet of elevation and gives participants access to one of nature’s most incredible places -Zion National Park. This is an unforgettable experience while running. The route is slightly uphill from start to finish with 589 feet of elevation gain total.

Enjoy majestic red rocks and canyons along this half marathon as it will inspire everyone who participates. Held in March each year, this event offers runners the chance to set new goals for the season and test their limits with its breathtaking views all around!

The weather is typically good for running, although it can be a bit chilly. Be sure to pack your winter running jackets!

You will absolutely love this opportunity to explore Zion National Park while enjoying your favorite outdoor activity!

Best Half Marathons for Personal Records

Runners achieving personal records at top half marathons

Are you looking to set personal records and run faster than ever before? Then pick a top half marathon that can help you reach your goals.

These courses have flat terrain, ideal weather conditions, and cheerleaders lining the route, all meant to motivate participants to set a new PR!

Three great races designed especially with this purpose in mind include the Philadelphia Half Marathon in Pennsylvania, the St. George Half Marathon located in Utah, and the Fargo Half Marathon in North Dakota.

Sign up, lace up, and go set a new record!

Philadelphia Half Marathon

Start of the Philadelphia Half Marathon

Date

November

Location

Pennsylvania

Runners

13,000

Weather

Averages 35 to 55 F

The Philadelphia Half Marathon is one of the best and biggest races for setting a personal record. It offers an easy, fast course that takes you through notable landmarks and neighborhoods in Pennsylvania’s largest city.

You’ll be able to experience authentic Philadelphian history as you run past City Hall, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and more.

The spectators cheer on runners throughout the race, giving plenty of encouragement along this historical half-marathon route. They are as much a part of the race as the runners.

Just be careful – there are a lot of participants in this race. So you’ll want to start in the proper corral in order to avoid having to pass slower runners that may impede your time.

St. George Half Marathon

St. George half marathon - one of the best half marathons in the US

Date

November

Location

Utah

Runners

1,620

Weather

Averages 40 to 65 F

The St. George Snow Canyon Half Marathon is a spectacular race and features gorgeous views along with an incredible downhill track that boasts 1,800 feet of net elevation drop. This is the perfect opportunity for you to set a new personal record.

The half marathon has a combination of factors that make it awesome including beautiful scenery, a downhill course, and perfect temperatures for racing fast.

I think you’ll love this fast race. It’s amazing!

Fargo Half Marathon

Fargo half marathon finish
Facebook / RunFargo

Date

June

Location

North Dakota

Runners

6,400

Weather

Averages 50 to 80 F

The Fargo Half Marathon in North Dakota provides a great environment for achieving personal records, with its flat and fast race course. The low humidity levels ensure cool temperatures during the event, making it an ideal place to test speed and stamina.

The course is flat and fast and goes by many fun areas of Fargo including the finish line, which is actually inside the FargoDome!

Crowd support is awesome too. People are enthusiastic along the entire race course and the race organizer has musicians and bands playing at various points to keep your energy high!

The SWAG is above average. For 2024 they are giving everyone a windbreaker instead of your average tshirt.

The average participant’s finish time clocks at 8 minutes 51 seconds per mile which is much faster than the national average. Give this race a shot and see if you can set a new personal best!

Destination Half Marathons Worth Traveling For

a picture of a man overlooking the ocean while sitting on a rock

Experiencing new places, exploring different cultures, and pursuing a passion for running combine all these elements into one exciting adventure through destination half marathons! I like to call these vacation races or racecations.

Popular races such as the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Florida, the Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon in Hawaii, and the Niagara Falls International Half Marathon make great vacation experiences.

Pack your bags and get ready to enjoy an unforgettable journey with each race.

Disney Princess Half Marathon

Walt Disney World Half Marathon - the best half marathons in the US

Date

February

Location

Florida

Runners

14,550

Weather

Averages 60 to 85 F

Runners seeking a unique and memorable experience should look no further than the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Florida. Disney puts on an awesome event, which is why this is one of the best half marathons.

On this magical course, runners are transported through various theme parks of Disney, passing entertainment featuring beloved characters on the route to the finish line. You’ll not only run through the parks, but Disney characters are EVERYWHERE. Many people stop in the middle of the race to take a selfie with them.

This is perfect for families or those who simply love all things related to Disney. Each day is a different race, and there are race combinations that allow you to get additional Disney medals. An example is the Fairytale challenge – run the 10K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday – and you get the Fairytale medal as well!

This race sells out very quickly so you have to be ready the day registration opens.

Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon

Maui, Hawaii Half marathon

Date

January

Location

Hawaii

Runners

550

Weather

Averages 70 to 85 F

The Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon, held in January every year, provides an amazing running experience surrounded by the beautiful Pacific coast. But seriously, this is Hawaii, so is “amazing” really even needed? You probably already know it’s paradise.

Runners of all skill levels can enjoy this picturesque point-to-point course that takes you along one of Hawaii’s most stunning shorelines with its breathtaking views and tranquil beaches.

I’ve experienced a healthy dose of humidity in Hawaii, so be prepared to run in the heat.

This is a perfect opportunity to visit an amazing place while keeping fit at the same time. Don’t miss out (and take me with you please)!

Niagara Falls International Half Marathon

Niagra Falls Half Marathon

Date

October

Location

Ontario, Canada

Runners

1,170

Weather

Averages 65 to 85 F

Ok, this isn’t actually in the USA, but it’s literally across the river so it made the list. Take on the challenge of the Niagara Falls International Half Marathon! This iconic course will start in Rapidsview Park in Ontario, Canada. You’ll head south towards Fort Erie with views of the majestic Niagara River and world-famous falls along its route. At approximately the halfway point, you’ll turn around and begin heading back.

Experience one of nature’s most spectacular sights as you immerse yourself within this wonderful destination which offers sensational sceneries combined with stunning landscapes all around during your run – making it perfect for anyone wanting to get out there!

This race is paved and generally regarded as an easier course without many hills. It does sell out so sign up early if you want in.

Tip – get to the start earlier than normal. There are draw bridges that may delay traffic.

Themed and Party Atmosphere Half Marathons

If you’re looking for a race experience that offers more than just running, look no further than the themed and party atmosphere half marathons. Combining all of the elements from any traditional half marathon with lively events and festive atmospheres, runners will receive an energizing challenge along with plenty of entertainment to make their time even better!

Two such races include The Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, Wine Country Half Marathon, and the St. Jude Half Marathon – each creating its own unique opportunity for fun!

Gear up and get ready to enjoy your run while having some extra celebratory excitement at these top-notch races.

Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon

Date

February

Location

Nevada

Runners

15,500

Weather

Averages 50 to 70 F

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon is an electrifying experience that combines the thrill of running with the excitement of the Entertainment Capital of the World. This half marathon stands out for its dazzling lights, pulsating rhythm of rock ‘n’ roll that propels runners forward, and the fact that it is held at night.

You actually run down the famous Las Vegas Strip. The atmosphere is nothing short of magical, as runners pass by iconic landmarks like the Bellagio Fountains, the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, and the pyramid-shaped Luxor Hotel.

Live bands and DJs are strategically placed along the course, infusing the air with the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. You can expect a diverse range of music genres, from classic rock to pop, ensuring there’s something for every musical taste.

The nighttime setting of this race (it starts at 4:30pm) adds an extra layer of excitement and transforms the race into a dazzling spectacle. The temperature is cooler, the lights are brighter, and the entire city comes to life. Running through the heart of Las Vegas at night is an experience that is not forgotten.

Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon

Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon

Date

July

Location

California

Runners

1,700

Weather

Averages 55 to 80 F

The Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon in California is an event unlike any other.

Enjoy the spectacular sights of Napa and Sonoma County’s vineyards as you run this incredible race, offering a unique running journey that won’t soon be forgotten. As participants reach the finish line, they can attend a post-race wine festival celebration at Solvang with all fellow runners to taste different wines from area wineries while commemorating their accomplishments!

This race has gorgeous scenery, a cheerful atmosphere, and joyous celebrations.

If you enjoy wine, and running, this is your race.

St. Jude Half Marathon

St. Jude half marathon - best half marathons in the US

Date

December

Location

Tennesee

Runners

9,800

Weather

Averages 30 to 60 F

At the core of the St. Jude Half Marathon is a mission that transcends the typical marathon experience. This event serves as a powerful fundraising platform for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This hospital is an amazing organization that provides support for families facing the challenge of childhood cancer. Runners run for both the physical feat of completing a half marathon and also to make a meaningful contribution to the fight against pediatric diseases.

The course actually has you run through the hospital parking lot and some patients always seem to be there cheering you on. It’s pretty emotional and makes this one of the best half marathons in the US.

The fun begins that night though. Beale Street (near where the race starts and finishes) comes alive with all the sights, sounds, and food that Memphis is known for. There is a Santa convention where hundreds of Santas come marching into Beale Street en masse. It’s crazy and fun and another reason we love this race.

This race sells out very quickly (along with nearby hotels), so sign up!

Summary

From scenic courses with awe-inspiring vistas, to courses ideal for setting personal records, to destination races merging running activities with vacation experiences – there is no shortage of great options!

This list is some of the best half marathons in the US.

So whether you are an experienced athlete or just embarking on your running journey – grab those sneakers, choose one that catches your eye, and let the adventure begin!

Frequently Asked Questions

How far is a half marathon?

13.1 miles or 21 kilometers. Which is roughly equivalent to
26,200 steps or 69,168 feet or 97,649 bananas.

Where is the biggest half marathon?

Every year, over 30,000 runners from all over the globe come to Göteborgsvarvet in Gothenburg, Sweden for an experience like no other: one of the largest half-marathons on earth.

What is a half marathon world record?

In October 2021, Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey made history by setting the women’s half marathon world record with a time of 1:02:52. Likewise, in November 2021, Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo established an impressive men’s mark at 57 minutes and 31 seconds.

Is there anything less than a half marathon?

A distance of 10 miles, often referred to as a “tweener” in recent years, is available for those not quite ready or interested in running a full half marathon. It has become an increasingly popular option among runners looking for something less than the traditional 13-mile course. There are also the 10K (6.2 miles) and 5K (3.1 miles) races.

How do I run the best half marathon ever?

For the best half marathon experience, it is advisable to train for at least 12 weeks, find a training partner, plan out 5Ks and 10Ks runs, and incorporate speed intervals with long-distance running sessions. Focus on building up your speed initially then endurance in order to get ready for race day!

I will run farther than a half marathon in my longest training runs, so on race day the distance feels easy.

What scenic views can I expect from the Big Sur Half Marathon in California?

The Big Sur Half Marathon offers an unforgettable journey of exploration along the majestic redwood forests and stunning Pacific coastline. Be prepared to be amazed by this epic experience!

Disclosure

We review products based on a multi-point health-focused methodology. Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to us if you decide to purchase the product at no cost to you.

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