The 12 Best Half Marathons In The USA + 10 Honorable Mentions

Choose your next bucket list marathon from our favorites!

The half marathon has become one of the most popular race distances; it’s long enough to be deeply gratifying and challenging while short enough that the training doesn’t have to take over your life.

Another perk of the half marathon distance is that as the event’s popularity has skyrocketed, so has the availability of half marathon races in the USA.

Almost every state has at least a couple of half marathons somewhere during most months of the year, so there’s likely to be a race within striking distance that lines up with your training plan.

But, if you’re looking for a truly unforgettable race experience, you might want to run not just any half marathon but one of the best half marathons in the USA—the cream of the crop.

Our choices for the best half marathons in the USA are intended to represent a diverse sampling, from small-town races to big-city half marathons, and fast, flat courses for those trying to get a big PR to scenic courses that take you through some of America’s most picturesque landscapes.

With this diversity, our goal is that most runners can find a half marathon on this list of the best half marathons in the USA that excites them and feels like a perfect training goal.

People running a half marathon.

What Are the Best Half Marathons In the USA?

No matter where you live, from Florida to Kentucky, Texas to Philadelphia, there are plenty of half-marathon races all over the country to sign up for.

As much as we might all wish, it’s probably impossible to run every single one. Even with a lifetime of running, there are just too many races to have them all on your bucket list.

For this reason, you have to become somewhat choosy in your race selections, which means picking from the best half marathons in the USA becomes that much more appealing.

What you might like most about a half marathon in terms of the course, field size, location, time of year, etc., is likely quite different from what another runner seeks in his or her half marathon experience.

Here are some factors to consider and questions to ask yourself when trying to narrow down the best half marathons to run in the USA for you:

Time of Year

When would you like to run the race? If you will be running locally, you should consider the typical weather for the time of year of the race.

Do you run well in the heat or the cold? If not, you might look for a spring or fall half marathon.

Also, remember that you have to train for months before the race, so think about what time of year you can dedicate more time and energy to getting your workouts in.

A close up of people's legs running one of the best half marathons in the us.

Field Size

Half marathons come in all sizes in terms of the number of participants. 

Would you like a small, intimate running event with fewer runners or to run one of the largest half-marathons in a big city like New York City with thousands of runners and a huge crowd of spectators?

Location

Do you want to run a local half marathon or travel to a destination race and plan a trip around your race weekend? 

Do you like a city course, a small town, or something rural? Do you prefer a road or trail race?

Course

Are you hoping to get a PR on a flat, fast course, or is your time less important, and you’d rather do something rolling and scenic, though more challenging?

Do you want to run a point to point course, an out-and-back course, or a loop where you won’t cover any section twice?

Does the scenery and landmarks you’ll pass matter to you?

Race Perks

Do you care about the swag like your finishers medal, pasta dinner, finish line party, race course nutrition at the aid stations, music, etc.? 

People running over a bridge.

The 12 Best Half Marathons In the USA + 11 Honorable Mentions

After you consider what matters most to you, you can better narrow down what will be the best half marathons in the USA for you.

#1: AirBnB Brooklyn Half

The Airbnb Brooklyn Half is the biggest half-marathon in the country, with well over 25,000 runners finishing every year.

It’s part of NYRR’s Five Borough Series, so it’s exceptionally well-organized and well-run and draws a very diverse crowd of runners and spectators.

The NYC course takes runners past famous Brooklyn landmarks like the Brooklyn Museum, the Grand Army Plaza Arch, through hilly Prospect Park, past the NY Aquarium, with the finish on the Coney Island Boardwalk. 

Aside from the rolling hills in Prospect Park, much of the course is flat.

#2: San Francisco Half Marathon

If you’ve always wanted to run across the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll love the San Francisco Half Marathon.

It’s a hilly course, but runners enjoy the Embarcadero waterfront, Mission Street, unique neighborhoods, views of the Bay, and, of course, the iconic bridge itself.

#3: Disney Princess Half Marathon

The Disney road races are always crowd favorites, and the Disney Princess Half Marathon is no exception. 

If you like to run in costumes or enjoy the fun of Disney and the colorful cast of characters, you’ll enjoy this lighthearted half marathon.

The course is flat, and because the race is held in February, if you live in the North, you’ll have mild race weather while escaping colder winter weather.

It’s also one of the best destination half marathons for families—after race day, you can enjoy a family vacation in the parks.

People running a half marathon.

#4: Golden Leaf Half Marathon

Golden Leaf Half Marathon isn’t usually found on the list of top half marathons in the USA, though this omission has nothing to do with it not deserving such an accolade.

It’s just that it’s a smaller race and a trail half marathon, so road runners often overlook it.

However, although it may be a different experience than your big city half marathon or even local road race, the Golden Leaf Half Marathon won’t disappoint.

The race starts in Snowmass Village in Aspen, Colorado, and takes intrepid runners up the backcountry trails Colorado is prized for.

Between the elevation and the rugged, rocky terrain, it’s far from an easy course, but you’ll be treated to stunning foliage, a great race atmosphere, and distracting scenery for your 13.1 miles.

#5: Covered Bridges Half Marathon 

One of the most popular small-town half marathons has to be the Covered Bridges Half Marathon held in Woodstock, Vermont.

On this half-marathon course, runners enjoy the picturesque Vermont countryside, trotting over covered bridges, farmland, and babbling rivers.

The course is also super fast, with lots of downhill, and there is usually genuine maple syrup in the swag bag!

A blurred aerial photo of people running in the street.

#6: Chicago Half Marathon 

The Chicago Half Marathon isn’t as massive as the full marathon in Chicago. However, it still has many of the same draws of the famed Marathon Major: a flat, fast course, tons of crowd support, mild weather, and views of Lake Michigan and the iconic landmarks in the city.

Lake Shore Drive gets completely shut down, so runners have the run of the city.

#7: Run Crazy Horse Half Marathon

Despite the beauty and rich history in much of South Dakota, the state is often notably missing from any entry on the list of the best half marathons in the USA.

However, we think the Run Crazy Horse Half Marathon is definitely one of the top half marathons in the country. 

Held in the scenic Black Hills region of South Dakota, the course takes you past the impressive Crazy Horse Memorial while you enjoy the incredible spires of the Black Hills.

Although the course is rugged and begins with a climb, the bulk of the race is mostly downhill, so you can actually get a good finish time.

People running over cobblestone.

#8: Run Sedona – Sedona Half Marathon

Held in February in the dead of winter, the Run Sedona Half Marathon will be everything you need to forget about the cold winter.

The bright, warm course has gorgeous red rock scenery and views that will take your mind off the pain at mile 11 or 12 when you’d otherwise want to be done.

You’ll feel like you’re running through a postcard despite Sedona’s challenging terrain and tougher elevation.

Plus, when you’re done running what’s sure to be one of the top half marathons you’ll ever run, you can take in the local Sedona hiking or travel further up to Flagstaff, the Verde Valley, or Grand Canyon National Park.

#9: Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon 

If you want a half-marathon with a small-town New England feel, you’ll love the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon.

It takes place in Portland, Maine, every June and features a beautiful course with views of the New England coastline, beaches, the waterfront and lighthouses, colonial architecture, and quaint towns. 

It’s a slice of quintessential New England. You’ll even have a cobblestoned finish.

The race is well organized, and the crowds and runners are super supportive.

People running on the road.

#10: Amica Newport Half Marathon

You can’t beat the fall foliage at the Amica Newport Half Marathon.

Held in Newport, Rhode Island, in October, this coastal half marathon has a stunning course with oceanside views of Easton Beach and Bay.

It also includes plenty of miles through historic neighborhoods, alongside cliffside mansions, and past New England countryside studded with vibrant fall leaves.

It’s a well-run event, and the course doesn’t disappoint.

#11: Anchorage Mayor’s Half Marathon 

Every year on the summer solstice, Anchorage hosts the Anchorage Mayor’s Half Marathon and Marathon. 

With 20 hours of daylight, it’s a great day to celebrate summer while taking in the beautiful views of the Alaskan wilderness and wildlife, including scenic views of Denali, forested trails, and waterways.

There are some trail sections and plenty of opportunities to catch some wildlife.

It may not be your fastest half marathon, but it’ll undoubtedly be memorable.

People beginning a half marathon.

#12: Napa To Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon 

Even if you’re not much of a wine drinker, you can’t go wrong with the picturesque Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon.

Held annually in July, this race is marked by the pasture, vineyards, rolling hills, and valleys associated with wine country. 

Plus, runners enjoy a post-race glass of premium wine rather than a run-of-the-mill sports drink.

10 Honorable Mentions: Top American Half Marathons

Now that you have the list of the best half marathons to run, where do you want to run?

Ready to get training? Check out our half marathon training resources to get you on your way to a successful race.

People running through a finish line of a race.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

2 thoughts on “The 12 Best Half Marathons In The USA + 10 Honorable Mentions”

  1. There is one PR setting 1/2 that is overlooked and it’s a charity run. The Wendell Foster 1/2 marathon. I think the elevation gain is a mere 56′. And all proceeds go to a home for adults with severe mental handicaps. Oh did I mention that you run through the campus of this home and most residents will be cheering you on?

    Reply

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