21 Scenic California Half Marathons in 2018

Runners on the course at the Monterey Bay Half Marathon. (Courtesy Big Sur International Marathon)


1) Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon

If you’ve ever traveled to San Francisco and driven through or just walked past the gorgeous landscape that is Golden Gate Park, then you know why Runner’s World ranked this as one of the country’s most scenic half marathon races.

Sunday, February 4, 2018 • San Francisco, CA

2) Surf City USA Half Marathon

Often mentioned as one of the nation’s best all-around road races, this event follows a long, scenic out-and-back course along the Pacific Coast Highway, and includes stretches past the famed Huntington Beach pier and the Bolsa Chica Wetlands.

Sunday, February 4, 2018 • Huntington Beach, CA

3) Encinitas Half Marathon

Run just as winter is giving way to spring in Southern California, this race takes runners on a tour of this beach city perched atop the dunes overlooking the Pacific Ocean near San Diego, along a course that runs through Encinitas and the nearby towns of Cardiff and Solana Beach.

Sunday, March 4, 2018 • Encinitas, CA

4) Rabbit Chase Trail Run Half Marathon

Set to unfold through the jaw-dropping scenery that makes up the more than 82,000 acres of Northern California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Rabbit Chase Race offers up both amazing views and seriously challenging hills.

Saturday, March 24, 2018 • Stinson Beach, CA

5) Golden Gate Headlands Half Marathon

Run along a backdrop that combines gorgeous natural vistas with views of San Francisco’s urban skyline in the distance, as well as a hilly and challenging course, this race features some dramatic changes in elevation.

Saturday, March 31, 2018 • Sausalito, CA

6) Heartbreak Ridge Run Half Marathon

You’ll run off-road trails through the hilly mountain wilderness of the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base at this springtime race, which climbs some 1,280 feet over the course of the half.

Saturday, April 14, 2018 • Camp Pendleton, CA

7) La Jolla Half Marathon

Gorgeous, hilly and challenging, the La Jolla Half Marathon welcomes more than 5,000 runners each year — this year is its 35th annual — for a race that unfolds along one of Southern California’s most scenic stretches of coastline, as well as on city streets and through parks like Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

Sunday, April 22, 2018 • La Jolla, CA

8) Rodeo Beach Rumble Half Marathon

Run among the hills, trails, military landmarks and dramatic coastal shorelines of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area at this race, where you can enjoy a day at the beach after you cross the finish line at Rodeo Cove.

Saturday, April 28, 2018 • Sausalito, CA

9) San Luis Obispo Half Marathon

Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway and you’ll see exactly the scenery you find here — huge, rolling green hills and mountains overlooking the rocky Pacific coastline, with vineyards tucked into the hills just beyond the edge of the land.

Sunday, April 29, 2018 • San Luis Obispo, CA

10) Mountains 2 Beach Half Marathon

Towering mountains, green hillsides and valleys, and the waves crashing along the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean are just some of the scenery runners will see at this race between Ojai and Ventura in Southern California.

Sunday, May 27, 2018 • Ventura, CA

11) Truckee Running Festival Waddle Ranch Trail Half Marathon

You’ll get to run through some of the most stunning scenery the Lake Tahoe area has to offer at this event, as you’ll pass by mountains, forests and lakes, and make your way along single-track trails for much of the race.

Sunday, June 3, 2018 • Truckee, CA

12) Squaw Valley Half Marathon

Just a few hundred runners finished both races combined last year at this stunningly beautiful race, which runs the roads and trails of California’s famed Squaw Valley Ski Resort, the home of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games.

Sunday, June 10, 2018 • Olympic Valley, CA

13) Mammoth Half Marathon

You’ll start this stunningly picturesque race through Northern California’s High Sierras at roughly 9,000 feet above sea level, and follow a route that runs along a combination of trails and mountain roads — including stretches around lakes and across a bridge — next to the Sierra Nevada Resort and Spa.

Sunday, June 17, 2018 • Mammoth Lakes, CA

14) Angel Island Half Marathon

Set to run around the largest natural island in San Francisco Bay, this race follows a looping trail around Angel Island State Park, a place where you can see some of the most stunning views of the Marin Headlands and the rest of the Bay Area.

Saturday, June 23, 2018 • Angel Island State Park, CA

15) Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon

The is a pretty large contingent of runners who also love wine. They are both good for your heart, right? The Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon is the ultimate destination race for wine lovers who appreciate a glass or two after covering 13.1 miles.

Sunday, July 15, 2018 • Sonoma, CA

16) Oakland Redwoods Half Marathon

Nestled among the hills east of downtown Oakland and home to one of the Bay Area’s largest natural stands of coast redwood trees, this race makes its debut this summer with a loop around Redwoods Regional Park.

Saturday, July 28, 2018 • Oakland, CA

17) The San Francisco Half Marathons

When it is hot and muggy in the middle of summer, escape to the oasis of San Francisco, whose marathon is held at the end of July and runners from all over come to enjoy a weekend of (usually) cooler temperatures — and you’ll have two half marathon routes to choose from.

Sunday, July 29, 2018 • San Francisco, CA

18) America’s Finest City Half Marathon

This point-to-point race takes runners from the majestic views of the historic Cabrillo National Monument overlooking the Pacific to the green, expansive meadows of Balboa Park, whose 1,200 acres are home to 15 museums including the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

Sunday, August 19, 2018 • San Diego, CA

19) Heart of Cool Trail Run Half Marathon

“There really is a town called ‘Cool’?” You can imagine that’s a conversation that happens many, many times in this small town nestled in the foothills of the Sierras of Northern California, with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and canyons.

Sunday, October 7, 2018 • Cool, CA

20) Monterey Bay Half Marathon

For sheer natural beauty and dramatic coastal scenery, it’s pretty much impossible to top this event, which runs alongside the Pacific Ocean crashing against the shoreline for most of the race.

Sunday, November 11, 2018 • Monterey, CA

21) The North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon

Set to take place in the stunningly gorgeous — and very hilly and challenging — Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the North Face Endurance Challenge features a weekend filled with a full marathon, 50-mile and 50K on Saturday and the half marathon, 10K and 5K on Sunday.

November 2018 • San Francisco, CA

Twenty-one of the most breathtakingly beautiful half marathons in California, from the Southern California coast to the wine country of Napa Valley and back.
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