So you’ve resolved to make 2019 your year to get in shape—and travel. Ambitious? Sure. Doable? Absolutely. We’ve rounded up a dozen of the country’s most fun races that’ll make you eager to lace up your jogging shoes all year long, and we’ve found some outside-the-box places to stay while you’re in town that are just as fun. Pencil in these races now, and by the end of 2019, you’ll have a collection of medals and fantastic travel stories.

RELATED: 5 great places to get fit and feel good this winter

January 26: DC Road Runners JFK 20k and MLK 5k in Washington, DC

washington dc

The Washington Monument

Choose your hero and get ready to go the distance in one of these races along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath. The use of headphones is discouraged for both the John F. Kennedy 20k (12.4 miles) and Martin Luther King Jr. 5k (3.1 miles), so use this time to think about your fitness goals for the new year.

Stay: Skip DC’s stuffy hotel scene in favor of this charming 3-bedroom houseboat docked right on the banks of the Potomac.

February 23–24: Gasparilla Distance Classic in Tampa, FL

hotel cabana clearwater beach

Photo courtesy of Hotel Cabana

Arrrgghhh! Ready for a pirate-themed run along Tampa Bay? This race weekend encompasses distances from 5k to half-marathon (13.1 miles), with runners, walkers, wheelchair racers and stroller riders wearing their buccaneer best in tribute to mythical pirate José Gaspar.

Stay: Enjoy some post-race R&R at Hotel Cabana Clearwater Beach, an intimate inn set inside a charming Key West-style clapboard house.

March 2: Awesome ‘80s Run in Pasadena, CA

queen mary - pasadena california

Photo courtesy of Queen Mary

Lace up for a totally tubular run around Rose Bowl Stadium. Whether you choose the 5k or 10k (6.2 miles), be sure to leave behind your 21st-century moisture wicking socks and fancy GPS watch in favor of some gnarly ‘80s threads. And if you’re not the first runner across the finish line, don’t have a cow; all participants get to enjoy the dance party and go home with a Rubik’s Cube-style medal.

Stay: Wondering where to sleep? Try The Queen Mary, a floating ship hotel in nearby Long Beach that’s wicked awesome.

April 4–7: Star Wars Rival Run in Orlando, FL

star wars docking bay in orlando

Photo courtesy of Disney Park News

May the force be with you on this epic adventure through Walt Disney World Resort. Distance options range from 5k to half-marathon to shorter kids’ races. Along the way, you’ll have a chance to pose for photos with your favorite Star Wars characters and earn an epic medal.

Stay: The homey Aquamarine Hideaway is just 8 miles south of Disney, so there’s no need to travel to a galaxy far, far away.

May 4: 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis, IN

Yard of Bricks

Yard of Bricks | Trover photo by Grant Lewis

If you’ve got a need for speed, embark on this half-marathon that kicks off with an IndyCar leading each wave. The entertainment-lined course winds through downtown and includes a lap around the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway; when you reach the speedway’s Yard of Bricks, stop to kneel and kiss the bricks—it’s tradition. After crossing the finish line, enjoy a post-race party with free massages, entertainment and snacks.

Stay: Keep up the vehicle theme with a stay at Crowne Plaza Indianapolis – Downtown Union Station, where you can choose to sleep in an old Pullman train car.

June 1: Starlight Run in Portland, OR

Theatre at McMenamins Kennedy School

Relax and watch a movie | Photo courtesy of McMenamin’s Kennedy School

More than 3,500 participants lace up their shoes for this evening fun run—emphasis on fun. Costume contests, free glow sticks and DJ dance parties before and after this 5k will keep your heart pumping long after you’ve crossed the finish line.

Stay: Head to the McMenamins Kennedy School, an elementary school-turned-hotel, where the only three R’s you’ll need are rest, recovery and relaxation.

July 4: Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, GA

atlanta skyline

Atlanta, GA

With more than 57,000 runners, this summertime race is one of the hottest 10k’s in the country. Start in the upscale Buckhead neighborhood, run through Midtown, test your endurance on “Cardiac Hill” and finish in Piedmont Park, where you can catch your breath only to have it taken away by a spectacular view of the downtown skyline and, if you hang out until dusk, Independence Day fireworks.

Stay: For a heavenly night’s rest after the race, stay in this converted church that sleeps 16—perfect for running crews and big families.

August 3: Bull Moon Ride Run in Durham, NC


Durham, NC

Ready to mix things up from the usual early-morning race? Try this sunset event at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, where you can choose from a 5k run, 6.5-mile bicycle ride or 12-mile bike ride. Put on a glow necklace or some twinkle lights, hit the trail, then stay for the post-race block party on Blackwell Street.

Stay: When you’re all partied out, head to Arrowhead Inn, an upscale B&B that’s been charming visitors since 1775.

September 7: Run Mag Mile in Chicago, IL

found hotel chicago

Photo courtesy of Found Hotel Chicago

Before a chill takes over the Windy City, squeeze the last few drops out of summer with a run past some of the city’s most popular attractions along the Magnificent Mile. Whether you choose the 5k or 10k, you’ll start in Grant Park and return there for a post-race brunch. Hey, you earned it.

Stay: You also deserve a good night’s rest, so check out the swanky Found Hotel Chicago River North, a poshtel that’s just a 12-minute walk from Mag Mile. You’ll sleep in style and still have enough coin for a new pair of running shoes.

October 26: Devils Chase 6.66 Miler in Salem, MA

house of seven gables in Salem

Run past the House of Seven Gables | Trover photo by Dawn Madden

Put on some horns and run like hell past some of the town’s most infamous attractions, including the Salem Witch Museum, House of Seven Gables and more. For the littlest goblins, there’s a 0.666-mile kids’ race.

Stay: After your nightmare of a run, rock yourself to sweet dreams on a surprisingly affordable Boston Harbor houseboat.

November 28: Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot in Dallas, TX

blue steel tiny home

Photo courtesy of Blue Steel Tiny Home

On Thanksgiving morning, rev up your metabolism during this jaunt through downtown Dallas with 25,000 fellow participants. Distances range from a kids’ 1k (0.62 miles) Junior Trot to an 8-mile run. Turkey costumes are encouraged.

Stay: And for someplace to stay, get cozy in a shipping container-turned-tiny-home… because not everything needs to be bigger in Texas.

December (exact date TBA): Jingle Bell Run in Tucson, AZ

tucson casita

Photo courtesy of Tucson Casita

Get decked out in holiday gear, tie bells to your running shoes and jingle all the way to the finish line. This event is the nation’s largest holiday 5k fun run series, with dozens of races nationwide; a good bet is the dash through Gene C. Reid Park in Tucson, where December temperatures peak in the mid-60s. And regardless of whether you PR, knowing that the event benefits the Arthritis Foundation will fill you with good cheer.

Stay: Treat your sore muscles to a soak in a hot tub or nap by the fireplace on this ranch property, whose multiple casitas make it ideal for a large group. The ranch is located just steps from Panto River Park Trail—perfect whether you’re taking a cool-down jog or gearing up for next year’s races.

Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This