Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Living in the Nation’s Capital, I am fortunate enough to run in a variety of interesting places. While I love traveling to other cities and exploring the running scene in different places, running in Washington, D.C. is pretty amazing. I could share a ton of places I like running in the city, but there are a few that I think are must-dos if you are visiting.
Here are my top five places to run in Washington, D.C.:
The National Mall
I’m putting this at number one because if you are visiting, this is where you are going to want to run. Know that from the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial is about 3 miles. You can easily add distance by hopping off the Mall and exploring other historic sites just off the main path.
I recommend making this a running tour and stopping for pictures if you so desire. I also recommend taking a brief detour to see the Martin Luther King Memorial. It’s close to the Lincoln Memorial and so well done. There are also bathrooms and water foundations that tend to be a bit less crowded than the ones lining the paths on the Mall.
Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek is a huge park in the northwest part of the city that offers tons of trails, gorgeous trees and amazing scenery. It’s often hard to believe that you are in D.C. while you are running through the trails of the park. If you are there on a weekend, hit up Beach Drive—it’s closed to cars on weekends, so runners and bikers have a long, wide street on which to run. It’s wonderful.
Another Tip: Beach Drive is plowed quite quickly if it snows, so it’s a great place for a long run in the winter!
Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
This is a hidden gem within the city. This trail will eventually run 28 miles from D.C. into Maryland with continuous paved trails. Currently almost 20 miles of the trail are open and complete and the trail runs along the water for a good majority.
This is where I run all my tempo runs and another place where I feel like I’ve left the city, even though I’m just two miles from my home.
Capital Crescent Trail (CCT)
The CCT is a 10-mile rail trail that runs from Georgetown up to the Bethesda, Maryland. It’s tree lined most of the way, which provides nice shade on sunny days and is always packed with runners and bikers.
This trail is one of my favorites but it is narrow at points, so I’d recommend not wearing headphones so you can hear others approaching on their bikes.
Embassy Row Run
If you are interested in seeing a number of different countries’ embassies, head over to Massachusetts Ave NW. Start in Dupont Circle and head north up Massachusetts Ave (note that this run is entirely uphill).
You will pass dozens of embassies, including Turkey, Romania, Australia, Colombia, Greece, Kenya, Egypt, Brazil, the United Kingdom and many, many more.
Have you been to DC? Where was your favorite place to run?