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5 bucket list races that make 'Merica great

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

Last week, I wrote about some of the world's best bucket list marathon and half marathons. But, what about here in the United States? We got some great places to explore on foot like our National Parks, Wine Country, and let's not forget our southern most state, Hawaii. So, I've made a list of marathons and half marathons to honor some of America's best bucket list destinations.

Red Rock trails​

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Zion National Park Marathon

Zion National Park, Utah

February 20, 2020

It's a steady climb to the road to Zion. This race starts and ends in Springdale, Utah. Runners travel along the Watchman trail to carefully arrive at the mouth of Zion Canyon. Runners can stop and take in the breath-taking views of of cold snow canyons and snow capped cliffs. Better hurry and register because this race sells out every year.

Race fit for a Disney Princess

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Disney Wine and Dine Marathon

Orlando, Florida

November 3, 2020

This popular race takes place on Walt Disney World Resort. Runners get to run wild through the theme park. Make sure to bring your camera for this novelty race. It is perfect for the Mickey and Donald Duck lovers. Stop and take your picture with your favorite Disney characters every mile. This marathon is great to walk and trot to the finish line which is a food and wine festival fit for a prince…or…..princess or……a fairy………or a cricket.

Get hitched on this marathon course.

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Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon

Las Vegas, Nevada

November 16-17, 2020

The Rock and Roll race series really out did themselves with this one. Have you ever wanted to dress as Elvis or a Cirque Du Soleil character, listen to your favorite rock band, and run down the Las Vegas Strip at night? Me, too! This race is definitely on my bucket list. There is so much packed in that it takes an entire weekend. This marathon is literally a night race down the Las Vegas Strip. You get to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of Vegas. You can even get married on course at Mile 3. Bands play at every mile of the race to keep you pumped up. A Rock and Roll race would not be right if it didn't start with a pre-race performance from headliner Kesha. Can I say #StripAtNight?

Run the rolling hills of wine.​

Pixabay.com

Napa Valley Half Marathon

Napa Valley, California

March 1, 2020

This is known as the "biggest little marathon in the west." This picturesque course starts at the Silverado Trail from Calistoga and ends in Napa Valley. Runners run past the vineyards and wineries. It is the perfect tour of wine country. This race is not just wine. This road race is a Boston Qualifier. You will truly want to Run.Sip.Savor.

Fun in the sun.

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Honolulu Marathon

Honolulu, Ohau

December 8, 2019

Run in paradise in our southern most state. Sandy beaches, tropical flowers, and palm trees. Kick off the weekend with a luau complete with male and female hula dancers. The 5am start is no hardship with a spectacular fireworks show. The run up Diamond Head Crator is a challenge, but well worth it. You get to experience the laid-back attitude of Hawaiians. It's come one, come all for this race. Everyone and their mama, grandpa, whoever else comes out. There is no time limit or limit of participants. Fun in the sun.

H-Town Run Tourist

10 Reasons why we love Buffalo Bayou Park

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

Aside from our hospitality and our restaurant scene, I truly believe that Houston's parks are the city's pride and joy. Let' say it together with pride, "HOUSTON PARKS ARE BADASS!" One park that stands out is Buffalo Bayou Park. It is that 160 acres of green space between Shepherd Dr. and the Mosbacher Bridge. It is An amazing networkof hike and bike trails and the best natural tourism of Houston. So many reasons to love Buffalo Bayou Park. Here are mine!

Courtesy of Buffalo Bayou Partnership

1. It is a great place to train.

I have used Buffalo Bayou Park to train for all of my marathons. It is a great connector to other parts of the city like Downtown, the Heights and Montrose. It keeps your run interesting with hills, flowers, and wildlife. It is also a great place to add mileage to your runs.

2. So Many Awesome Events.

Buffalo Bayou is home to some of Houston's best events. These are held at resident venues such as the Bud Lite Amphitheater, Eleanor Tinsley Park, and the Water Works at Buffalo Bayou. Enjoy weekly 45 minute session of Sunrise Yoga at the Water Works. All ages and fitness levels welcome. Mark your calendar for the upcoming Houston Margarita Festival, the Houston Press Tacolandia, and Octoberfest Houston 2019.

3. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities.

It takes a lot of donations to make a place like Buffalo Bayou Park possible. $58 million in fact. Not all of us have that kind of cash lying around, but we still have two valuable resources to offer: time and energy. Buffalo Bayou Park has plenty of ways to put your good time and energy to. You can volunteer to restore and protect the lovely trails of Buffalo Bayou. You can do this by weeding and picking up debris. Every third Saturday is designated as Volunteer Day where groups and individuals are welcome to join.

Violet Coneflower

Arthor's own

4. Houston's best place for natural views, wildlife, and foliage.

One of my favorite things about running and walking in Houston, is taking pictures of trees, flowers, and natural settings. There are plenty of opportunities to do so in Buffalo Bayou Park. You have your pick: Live oak trees, wildflowers, jumping fish, even the occasional alligator. Nothing compares to the bat colony on Waugh Bridge. Whenever you are running and you smell this overwhelming stench, don't look at your running partner, its actually 250,000 Mexican bats that live under Waugh Bridge. You can see these bats emerge most nights at dusk to feast on the many bite size insects that drive us crazy.

the Kitchen at Dunlavy

Arthor's own

5. Home to the Kitchen at Dunlavy

Look past the Lost Lake and you will find a fantastical tree house restaurant called the Dunlavy. The restaurant, brought to you by Clark Cooper Concepts, serves breakfast and lunch everyday. It was voted "One of the World's Most Romantic Restaurants by CNN. To Houstonians, its the best place for weddings and Super Bowl Parties. During the day, it is counter restaurant service for breakfast and lunch. It is a go to for smoothies, breakfast bowls, croquet madame, cheese and charcuterie boards, and of course, the Dunlavy burger. But on the weekends, get there quick, because it fills up fast and you will be out there with the lily pads.

Beautiful downtown view

Arthor's own

6. The Best Downtown Views

My tourists really love taking pictures of the Downtown Skyline. Buffalo Bayou Park is home to some of my favorite views. For the best views, stop at Sabine Promenade and smaller bridges towards downtown. When you are about to walk into Downtown, don't forget to take in the amazing view from Mosbacher Bridge.

Police Officer's Memorial

Arthor's own

7. Let's honor our Fallen at the Police Officer's Memorial.

The Police Officer's Memorial. If you are traveling into Downtown from Memorial Drive, chances are you have passed this amazing structure. This memorial serves as a public recognition of sacrifices that have been made by police officers to carry out their duties. This is especially for the officers who have died in the line of duty. The memorial, including the names of over 100 fallen police officers, is made of pink granite in the shape of a Greek Cross with a pyramid for the center. You can honor these officers on the annual wreath laying ceremony.


inside the Cistern

​Katy’s Horner/Slight Clutter Photography 

8. Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern

This structure, the size of one and a half football fields, lay dormant as one of Houston's best kept secrets. That was until 2015 after the reopening of Buffalo Bayou Park. The Cistern, built in 1926, was used as the city's water reservoir for drinking water storage and fire suppression. Due to a leak, it was decommissioned in 2007. Today, you can enjoy tours and photography sessions inside. It has been home to art exhibits as well like Chromointerference by Carlos Cruz Diez.

The Seven Wonders

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9. Oh! the Spectacular Artwork of Buffalo Bayou.

I hope you have enjoyed all of my pictures of the art in Buffalo Bayou. Here are some of my favorites that you need to look out for.

Gus S. Wortham Fountain. Also nicknamed Dandelion near Waugh Bridge. At night, this fountain lights up with alluring colors like pink, purple, and blue. It doesn't take much to see why it is called the Dandelion.

Seven Wonders. This exhibition by Mel Chin, used the art from grade school students to depict the seven pillars of Houston civilization. Agriculture. Energy. Manufacturing. Medicine. Philantropy. Technology. and Transportation.

Tolerance. This is a seven piece constellation at Montrose and Memorial. It stands for equality of all religions and nationalities of the seven continents.

The Big Bubble. This installation by Dean Ruck is a big bubble that occurs in Buffalo Bayou that is activated by a "secret button." I would say that you have to be in the know, but it has been turned off since Hurricane Harvey. Maybe one day.

10. It is resilient!

Houston was so proud at the unveiling of the park aafter its $58 million renovation. Then came Hurricane Harvey. We all saw the pictures online and on social media. They were horrible. Just like I would expect from Houstonians, we all came together and after 2300 volunteers donated 7000 man hours, 60 million pounds of sediment, 500 trail lights, 5 dump trucks full of trash and debris were removed or repaired. Over 400 native trees and 1100 flowers were planted to restore the park.

You can definitely see why we all love Buffalo Bayou Park. I can't help but think this every time I run, walk, host, or drive anywhere in or around our pride and joy!

If you want more information or have questions about Buffalo Bayou Park, email info@buffalobayou.org. BBP Instagram handle is @buffalobayou.

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