Whether you love the urban vibe of the City by the Bay or prefer a quiet drink in nearby vineyards, San Francisco and the Bay Area offer enough excitement and diversity to capture the imagination of every local and tourist alike. From a race across the Golden Gate Bridge to a “choose-your-own-adventure.” Run through San Francisco or to finish line refreshments from local wineries. You’ll find a little bit of everything in this roundup of the best Bay Area half marathons.
The Santa Rosa Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & 5K • Santa Rosa, CA
Enjoyable for both runners and walkers alike, the Santa Rosa Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & 5K is a scenic exploration of the largest city in Northern California’s wine growing region.
Run on a combination of paved, gravel, and natural surfaces, participants will traverse an out-and-back course that begins in Juilliard Park. It spans trestle bridges over Santa Rosa Creek to Prince Memorial Greenway park and back.
The course is flat, with negligible elevation change. The post-race party in downtown Santa Rosa is not to be missed. If you’re 21+, you can take a piece of Santa Rosa home with you. Finishers’ goodies include a complimentary bottle of wine from DeLoach Vineyards. The Santa Rosa Marathon makes the top of our list of bay area half marathons you should still run in 2023.
Sunday, August 27, 2023 | Read More | Register
Napa Valley Marathon & Half Marathon • Calistoga, CA
Racers are invited to “run, sip, and savor” during the wine country classic Napa Valley Marathon & Half Marathon.
This straightforward point-to-point half marathon course begins at Conn Creek Winery in Rutherford. The race nets a downhill elevation change to the finish line at Napa’s Vintage High School. Along the course, runners will enjoy the bucolic sights of farms and vineyards along the Silverado Trail.
Marathon and half marathon participants are advised to either be dropped off at the starting line or to plan on catching the bus. There is no starting line parking available. If you’re looking to experience the beauty of the wine country within driving distance of San Francisco, this is our top bay area half marathons recommendation.
Sunday, March 3, 2024 | Read More | Register
Livermore Valley Half Marathon • Livermore, CA
California’s wine country owes a lot to Robert Livermore, this race’s namesake. Livermore planted the region’s first commercial vines in the 1840s. Now, Livermore Valley is home to more than 50 wineries—and one great half marathon.
The looped half marathon course is largely flat and fast, with only a few rolling hills to add some spice. Runners will get to enjoy the beautiful area as the race proceeds from the city center along a counterclockwise loop that encompasses city streets, winding trails through Sycamore Grove Park, and a gentle descent along the Arroyo Bike Trail.
After the race, participants 21+ get the chance to sample a glass of wine or beer from one of the 13 area wineries and breweries.
Sunday, March 3, 2024 | Read More | Register
Golden Gate Half Marathon & 5K • San Francisco, CA
This is one for the bucket list. During the Golden Gate Half Marathon, runners get the chance to traverse the famous bridge. This out-and-back course turns around shortly after the bridge crossing—allowing you this once-in-a-lifetime racing experience twice in a day!
Along the half marathon course, runners will begin in San Francisco next to Aquatic Park. Before tackling the bridge and crossing into the Marin Headlands. Before heading back across and following the Golden Gate Promenade along the beach to Marina Boulevard and the pierside finish line.
The majority of the course is flat. But, keep in mind that bridges are hills in disguise—so be prepared for the additional challenge! If you’re trying to run across the Golden Gate bridge, try this bay area half marathon!
Sunday, November 5, 2023 | Read More | Register
San Francisco Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K • San Francisco, CA
This half marathon is a true choose-your-own race experience. Runners at this distance get to decide whether they want to run the first or second half of the full marathon route.
The first version of the race begins at the downtown waterfront at the Embarcadero. Followed by route highlights that include sea lions barking at Fisherman’s Wharf, views of yachts docked in the Marina, iconic architecture like the Transamerica building and Coit Tower, and the wetlands of the Presidio.
The second half marathon begins at the midpoint of the first half marathon course and offers its own joys. Runners in this race begin at Crissy Field in the Presidio. They are then treated to Pacific Ocean views of Sea Cliff neighborhoods, a jaunt through Golden Gate Park, and along the promenade behind AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants Major League Baseball team.
No matter which option you choose, you can’t go wrong. And of course, if you’d like to come back next year, you can always pick the other half!
Sunday, July 23, 2023 | Read More | Register
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon & 10K • San Jose, CA
Set in the heart of Silicon Valley, this installment of the popular Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon series takes runners through the heart of downtown San Jose and surrounding neighborhoods.
The course is fast and mostly flat, featuring the high-octane live music and cheering stations along the route for which the Rock ‘n’ Roll series is famous. Highlights along the course include touring past San Jose’s Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, Municipal Rose Garden, and the campus of San Jose State University.
Sunday, October 1, 2023 | Read More | Register
This Oakland staple includes race distances for all runners. Half and full marathoners share the same starting line at Snow Park, nearby Lake Merritt. From there, the out-and-back looped course takes runners around Lake Merritt before circling through Chinatown, the old Oakland Historic District, and the north up Broadway.
Though much of the course is relatively flat, runners should prepare for a steep middle section of the course. The course gains approximately 100 feet of elevation across two miles on the way to the city center and a loop around Oakland Technical Senior High School.
Sunday, March 17, 2024 | Read More | Register
Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon, 10K & 5K • San Francisco, CA
This half marathon frequently tops the list of most scenic in the nation, and it’s little wonder why. The race, which encompasses Golden Gate Park, features miles of Pacific coastline and verdant meadows.
The out-and-back race begins at Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park. The highlight of the course is the miles run along the Great Highway. Along which, racers can catch sight of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. Runners will hit their turnaround point at the San Francisco Zoo and the Presidio before retracing their way back along the Great Highway to the finish line.
Sunday, February 4, 2024 | Read More | Register
Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon • Sonoma, CA
While the only thing we recommend drinking during races is water. This wine country adventure has a rewarding finish at the Sonoma Wine & Music Festival.
Drenched in California charm, this peaceful point-to-point road race begins in Napa and takes runners past rolling farmlands, vineyards, and wineries. Be prepared for a hilly race, with the notably named “Butt Burner Hill” early on in the course.
Marin Endurance Festival Half Marathon • McNears Beach, CA
Held as part of a weekend-long endurance festival that also includes a triathlon on Saturday. The Marin Endurance Festival Half Marathon is run on a combination of roads and trails in and around China Camp State Park.
The race begins and ends at McNeal Beach Park, overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Runners will enjoy waterfront sights for the first three-mile out-and-back section of the course before tackling a series of rolling hills along the Shoreline Trail.
Organizers ask participants to arrive early to the park, since roads will close during the race. Marin is just north of San Francisco and is a great location for the bay area half marathons.
Sunday, October 29, 2023 | Register