By Mark Lowenstein at greatruns.com
It’s the middle of January, dark and cold, and your favorite running roads and paths are covered with ice and snow. Not to worry, though — millions of Canadians will travel somewhere warm this winter to popular destinations such as Florida and Arizona. In fact, some 500,000 Canadians own a home in Florida.
For those traveling to these warm weather spots, where to go running? Great Runs, a guide to the best places to run in the world’s major cities and destinations, has assembled an official Snowbirds Running Guide. This includes more than eight cities in Florida, and a special guide for Disney. For Arizona, we’ve put together great routes in the Phoenix/Tempe/Scottsdale area, as well as Tucson. In all, some 15 areas and more than 100 of the most beautiful routes — a festival of sun, sand, paths, and parks to help you stay fit on the road.
For each location, we offer up a quick summary below. Click on the links for the complete running guide for that area.
Our Florida Running Guide has the best of Florida running all in one place, including a list of ten favorite runs in the state, from Jacksonville to Miami. We even include tide tables so you can plan for those times of flat, firm sand!
Jacksonville. Perhaps more of a business destination, but there’s some great running in this very spread out city. Downtown, the best bet is along the Riverwalk. There are some wonderful parks and trails in the area too. Or, head east to the ocean, where you’ll find an 11-mile strip of some of Florida’s most gorgeous and relatively uncrowded beaches.
Orlando. There are some good trails around downtown Orlando’s six lakes. The Winter Park area is wonderful for running. If you have time, drive over to the Cape Canaveral area and enjoy nearly 10 miles of beach running heaven along Cocoa Beach.
Disney/Universal area. Some of the resorts have dedicated running paths. International Drive has some good sidewalks, and shade, in parts. If you have time, drive 15 minutes to Celebration, and enjoy a Truman Show-eque run.
Tampa/St. Petersburg. Some wonderful beach running opportunities. We love the Bayshore Linear Park Trail in Tampa and St. Pete Beach in St. Petersburg. Snell Isle and Fort De Soto Park are other area running highlights.
Naples/Fort Myers. The Gordon River Greenway is like taking a run through the Everglades. For waterside running, head to Gulfshore Blvd. Fort Myers Beach, wonderful for running, will remind you of Ogunquit or Old Orchard Beach in Maine.
Palm Beach/Boca Raton. One of my favorite runs in Florida is the 5-mile Lake Trail in tony Palm Beach. Flagler Drive also offers some wonderful waterfront running. In Boca, the best bets are sections along A1A, and on the beach.
Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood. Some sections of beach in this area are fantastic for running, especially in the sections of Ft. Lauderdale and Hollywood with boardwalks. One can also put together an interesting run along the riverways and bridges of Ft. Lauderdale.
Miami. Miami Beach is one of the best urban beach runs in the world. Run on the beach or along the extensive boardwalk. Other good runs in Miami are the leafy Coconut Grove area, or over the Rickenbacker Causeway to Key Biscayne.
Phoenix/Scottsdale/Tempe. There’s some decent running downtown, mainly along several canal trails. We also love Tempe Town Lake and the 11-mile Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt, which winds through Scottsdale. Or, head to some of the desert parks to enjoy some unique running, with trails for all abilities. Our favorites: Papago Park, McDowell Mountain Park, and Camelback Mountain.
Tucson. The second largest city in Arizona and an increasingly popular destination. Right downtown, there is some decent running around the large University of Arizona campus and downtown streets. Just north of Tucson, the Rillito River Park Path runs for 10 miles. The real highlights of the Tucson running scene are in the mountains nearby. Saugaro National Park, which is divided into eastern and western sections, has some wonderful trail running. For more modest trail running and an opportunity to enjoy the area’s mountain views and desert scenery, we recommend Sabino Canyon and the trails in the Starr Pass area.
And, for those who aren’t lucky enough to escape, or need to get back into the running groove upon your return, we have you covered: Great Runs has developed guides for Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax.
Happy sunshine and happy running!