Active City Spotlight: San Francisco

Your Guide to Running, Cycling, Hiking and Getting Active in the Bay Area


Places to Run

John Kamola heads City Running Tours in San Francisco, a growing business that provides customized running tours in the Bay Area. He often asks for feedback on what routes tourists enjoy the most, and almost always, a run across the Golden Gate Bridge is high on the list.

"That's probably my most popular route," Kamola said. "Everybody wants to do that."

The bridge is 1.7 miles long. Kamola often stretches the run out another 1/3 of a mile to get to a vista point near the north side of the bridge. So an out-and-back run is about 4 miles.

Other popular routes:

  • Downtown: The Embarcadero, on the northeast edge of downtown, is popular with runners. The route goes under the Bay Bridge, along the shoreline and past AT&T Park, where the San Francisco Giants play. An out-and-back run from Fisherman's Wharf to the stadium is about 6 miles, with views of Pier 39, Alcatraz, the San Francisco Bay and more.
  • Golden Gate Park: The park is 1,017 acres set aside from the big-city life that surrounds it (similar to New York's Central Park). Among the more popular sightseeing attractions are the Japanese Tea Garden, the Conservatory of Flowers and the AIDS Memorial Grove.

Races to Remember

A popular event in San Francisco is Bay to Breakers—a 12K race that's half-running, half-partying. The 2013 edition in May will be the 102nd annual race. If you don't run it, it's still an unforgettable experience to be a spectator at.

Other well-known races include:

  • The Nike Women's Marathon in October. A Tiffany necklace is given to you at the finish line by a fireman.
  • The San Francisco Marathon in June. The race starts and finishes on the Embarcadero, crosses the Golden Gate Bridge, and hits almost every other sight of San Francisco. It's also a Boston qualifier.
  • Search for more San Francisco running races.

Stores to Check Out

Kamola suggests The Sports Basement, and while it's more of a general sporting goods store than a running store, the local business has two great locations in tourist-heavy areas (at 610 Old Mason Street and 1590 Bryant Street) and is popular among endurance athletes.

Other running stores include:

  • On The Run, 1310 9th Avenue.
  • Fleet Feet Sports, 2706 Chestnut Street.
  • Niketown, 278 Post Street.

One Last Tip

The San Francisco Roadrunners Club welcomes visitors to their 7:45 a.m. Saturday run at no charge, though you must sign a waiver.

More: 6 Tips for Running While You Travel

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About the Author

Ryan Wood

Ryan Wood is an editor for He enjoys a good ride and loves participating in endurance events throughout the year. Follow him on Google+.
Ryan Wood is an editor for He enjoys a good ride and loves participating in endurance events throughout the year. Follow him on Google+.

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