My Favorite San Francisco Running Routes

A year ago, I was still struggling to run 2 miles without stopping to take a break. When my friend told me she’d run for fun all the time I thought, what does that even mean?!  Now running has become a go-to exercise and I can run 4 miles continuously without having the feeling of never wanting to run again afterwards. A lot of this is owed to the fact that I’ve found running routes I love in San Francisco, and I want to share these with you so more people can enjoy running like I do now.

SF running routes

Background map source: Bay City Guide

Route 1: Embarcadero (AT&T Park <-> Pier 23)

This is a great run any day of the week, but avoid weekends if possible. This route, and really any route by the water, is perfect for running because there are no traffic lights so it’s extremely safe and liberating. I lived by the Embarcadero for 3 years and whenever I was motivated enough to get up an hour early in the morning to exercise, I would run either towards AT&T park or up to Pier 23 and back. It’s amazing to run during sunrise on weekdays because you can see the sun come up on the water and there won’t be that many people. Avoid the weekends because that’s when tourists will claim this route as theirs and you’ll be having lots of fun trying to avoid people stopping to take pictures, bikers, and children.

Route 2: Marina (Russian Hill <-> Marina Green)

I recommend this route during sunset because it is SO BEAUTIFUL to watch the sun go down when you’re at the top of a hill. And yes, this run is hilly, but it’s so worth it for the glimpses of the city you get as you arrive at the top of each bump. Once you get past Gough and Bay, it’s pretty much flat all the way to Marina Green, which has a road dedicated to pedestrians and bikers and you can see the Golden Gate Bridge from there – weather permitting!

Route 3: Golden Gate Park

This map is deceiving because Golden Gate Park is compressed to look like it’d be a shorter run than the other two routes, when in fact it’s the longest. For this route, you can either start at Fulton St. near 25th or Lincoln Way and 23rd. I like starting on Fulton St. because then you can go towards Ocean Beach, run along the water, turn in to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and end up in Inner Sunset at the end of the run where there’s lots of good Asian restaurants. And you WILL want that after a 6-8 mile run. The key with running in Golden Gate Park is to stay inside the park as much as possible rather than run around it so you can immerse yourself in nature. This is a good run if you want a longer stretch with little distraction.

Whether you’re a new runner, a visitor of San Francisco, or an experienced runner looking for a new route in the city, I hope you find this useful. Let me know if there are any other routes you prefer that I haven’t mentioned here. I’d love to know them.



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