Spartan founder and CEO Joe De Sena likes to say that vacations suck. No, he doesn't mean that you're not entitled to relax a bit, take a break from work, and step away from the screen. You can, and should, do all of those things. But sitting on a beach for a week, eating poorly, and sleeping 12 hours a night? That's not the Spartan way. That's not a Spartan vacation.
A Spartan vacation, or a "racecation," as we like to call it, blends leisure with adventure, exploration, and stimulation. Racecations, where you combine a Spartan race weekend with a family vacation, are ideal family getaways. It's a prime opportunity to spend quality time with your kids, push your body physically, test yourself mentally, and experience some of the most stunning, historically significant locations in the country.
The full schedule is loaded with epic racecation destinations. With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming. To make it easier, we picked 10 of our top picks. Check out the races and the surrounding areas below, and start planning your next racecation.
10 Epic Spartan Racecations
Utah Spartan Trifecta Weekend (Huntsville, UT) - Sprint, Super, Beast, Ultra, Kids
This weekend, with races for all athletic levels, takes place at Snowbasin Resort, which hosted the downhill ski event at the 2002 Winter Olympics. The views from the top of Mount Ogden are breathtaking — it's a 3,000-foot vertical climb to the peak — and on Sunday night there's a concert and barbecue, perfect for the whole family. When you're not racing, you can take a gondola ride around the course and take in the sights.
Ogden is a badass mountain town with a vibrant arts and culture scene, plus a slew of delicious local restaurants and breweries. Before you settle in for the night, however, take the family to Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest for a day of hiking, mountain biking, paddleboarding, and fishing. If you're craving a city excursion, Salt Lake City is less than an hour's drive away.
Hawaii Spartan Trifecta Weekend (Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu, HI) - Sprint, Super, Beast, Ultra, Kids
Do we really have to sell you on Hawaii? Didn't think so, but we'll do it anyway, since it's so much fun to talk about. This Trifecta weekend is held on Kualoa Ranch, a 4,000-acre private nature reserve on the coast of Oahu. Kualoa Ranch, located approximately 25 miles from Honolulu, has been the filming location of nearly 80 movies and TV shows, including Jurassic Park, 50 First Dates, Pearl Harbor, Jumanji, and Lost. Kualoa Ranch is also a cattle ranch, as its name suggests, and the course takes you through the exotic Hawaiian jungle.
When you're done racing, the tropical life is at your fingertips. Relax and recover on the golden-sand beaches of Waikiki, and then take a refreshing dip in the ocean. If you're looking for more activity, hike to the top of Diamond Head, a volcanic tuff cone on Oahu, and take in a magnificent panoramic view of Honolulu.
Kelowna Spartan North American Championship Weekend (Kelowna, BC) - Super, Beast, Ultra, Kids
This race weekend, which also happens be North American Championship weekend, is held at Big White Ski Resort in beautiful British Columbia. The course takes racers through Big White Mountain, the highest summit in the Okanagan Highland, and features alpine views and challenging climbs. After the race, the entire family can enjoy tours of organic farms and wineries in the Okanagan Valley, which also boasts hiking trails and beaches. If you want more of an urban experience, head to the city of Kelowna, which is about an hour away from the resort.
Citizens Bank Park Stadion Race Weekend (Philadelphia, PA) - Stadion, Kids
What's more familial than a day at the ballpark? This is a chance for you and your kids to experience an MLB ballpark up close and personal, and race on the same field that the Philadelphia Phillies play 81 games. It doesn't matter how many baseball games you may have been to in your life, or how good your seats may have been at those games: You simply can't say you've gotten the full ballpark experience until you've run a Spartan Stadion.
Once you've received your finisher medal and T-shirt, The City of Brotherly Love is right at your fingertips. Philly is an incredible city for parents and kids alike. Take a stroll in Rittenhouse Square, explore Independence National Historic Park — where you can view the iconic Liberty Bell — and run up the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The nightlife is befitting of the sixth-most-populous city in the United States, with a myriad of excellent dining options and shows.
North Lake Tahoe Ultra World Championship Weekend (Olympic Valley, CA) - Beast, 24-Hour Ultra World Championship, Kid of the Hill
This venue hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics, so you know it's especially epic. It's also a legendary Spartan venue, having hosted numerous Spartan World Championships over the years. This year, North Lake Tahoe is hosting the 24-hour Spartan Ultra World Championship, plus a 10K Night Ultra Lap. We'll be honest: This venue is tough. We're talking a surface elevation of 6,224 feet, a max elevation upwards of 9,000 feet, seemingly endless twists and turns, rocky running, and an alpine swim in fresh mountain water. Kids shouldn't be intimated from participating, though: They can choose from 1K, 1.5K, and 2K Kid of the Hill Heats.
As for the surrounding area, it's spectacular. Keep your heart rate going with a hike to the summit of Ellis Peak, which offers views of Lake Tahoe, the Desolation Wilderness, the Granite Chief Wilderness, and a stretch of the northern Sierra Nevada. Rather paddle or kayak? The Lake Tahoe Water Trail is a 72-mile designated route around Lake Tahoe's shoreline, and along the way you'll find beaches, inlets, and places to camp for the night.
Sparta Trifecta World Championship (Sparta, Greece) - Sprint, Super, Kids, Trifecta World Championship
Sparta is Spartan Race's spiritual home. Every year, the city hosts the Spartan Trifecta World Championship, an epic three-day weekend that celebrates the ancient city and everything that Spartan stands for. Surrounded by mountains and ancient olive groves, you'll race through ancient Sparta — where modern-day Sparta now lies — past the tomb of Menelaus and through the waters of Evrotas. Fittingly, you'll finish right in front of the statue of King Leonidas.
In addition to the racing, the action-packed weekend includes an opening ceremony, a Parade of Nations, award ceremonies and celebrations, afterparties and concerts, and closing ceremonies.
And when you have some free time to explore Sparta, check out such landmarks as the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, Laganda Pass, the Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil (yum!), and the Archaeological Museum of Sparta. Want more activity? Climb or hike Taygetus and Parnon. And we don't have to tell you how insanely tasty the food is.
Citi Field Stadion Weekend (Flushing, NY) - Stadion, Kids
Citi Field, the home of Major League Baseball's New York Mets, is one of the crown jewels of MLB ballparks. With a look and feel reminiscent of iconic Ebbets Field, the former beloved home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Citi Field evokes memories of baseball and America as they once were, while at the same time maintaining a modern feel with state-of-the-art features and architecture. Racers have the opportunity to run through the bleachers and the outfield, and as you complete the Rolling Epic obstacle outside of the 160-foot-diameter Jackie Robinson Rotunda, Shea Stadium's original Home Run Apple can be seen on Mets Plaza.
Oh, and when the race is over, you're in freakin' New York City! You can explore the many neighborhoods in Queens (where the race is located) or Brooklyn, or take the 7 Train to Manhattan, where there are about 5 million activities to choose from. Spend an afternoon getting lost in Central Park, see and tour the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, witness the jaw-dropping exhibits at the world-famous American Museum of Natural History (perfect for kids), see a Broadway show, and visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Arizona Spartan Trifecta Weekend (Avondale, AZ) - Sprint, Super, Beast, Kids
Held at Phoenix Raceway, a massive low-banked track and the home of two NASCAR races every year, this course takes racers on the track and through the trails of the surrounding area. The venue is nestled between the Gila River and Estrella Mountain Regional Park, both of which lend themselves to great views and interesting wildlife. When you're done racing, Avondale offers a vibrant food scene. Enjoy homemade pasta from The Pasta Factory, macaroons from MAE Fine Foods, and drinks at the 8-Bit Aleworks brewery or Superstition Meadery.
If you're craving even more nightlife, downtown Phoenix is a mere 30 minutes down the road. And if you don't mind taking a little road trip, the Grand Canyon — which everyone should witness at least once in their lives — is only three-and-a-half hours by car, and the scenery along the way is spectacular.
Abu Dhabi Spartan World Championship (Abu Dhabi, UAE) - Sprint, Super, Beast, Kids
Spartan World Championship weekend is unlike any other race weekend on the calendar. Racers come from all over the world in what is the culmination of a year of racing, and the energy and excitement is intoxicating. Over the course of the weekend, racers will experience local traditions and flavor, as well as cultural demonstrations. You can even ride a dune buggy! It's our second year hosting the event in the United Arab Emirates, a part of the world so rich in natural beauty, history, and culture.
What to do after you've raced in the desert? Check out The Corniche — a street featuring restaurants, cafes, children's play areas, and a beach — in Abu Dhabi, the Al Ain Oasis, and the massive dunes of the Empty Quarter, one of the "least-explored places on earth," according to Condé Nast Traveler. If you want even more adventure, jet ski on the shimmering turquoise water under the sun, which you can rest assured will be shining brightly.
Of all the locations on this list, the UAE is unquestionably the most unique. Don't miss the opportunity to see it and explore it, with a community of Spartans by your side.
Central Florida Spartan Trifecta and Kids World Championship (Lake Placid, FL) - Sprint, Super, Beast, Kids
This is the perfect kids race weekend, for a couple of reasons. First of all, the main event is the Spartan Kids World Championship, featuring 1-3K Kids races. Secondly, it's less than two hours from Walt Disney World, so after the race the whole family can hang with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and the rest of the gang.
The venue, Skipper Ranch, is an operating cow farm, so racers can expect to run on nice trails and flat farmland (as well as plenty of marshy mud). Make sure to take in the views as you're running, because if you're lucky you just might spot a bald eagle nest.
If you don't feel like making the trip to Orlando, or the three-hour drive to Miami, you can still have a blast in nearby Sebring. Take a stroll through Lake Placid, formerly named "America's Most Interesting Town" by Reader's Digest, and admire the 47 murals painted throughout the town. You can also check out Highlands Hammock State Park, one of the oldest parks in the state. Opened in 1931, the park boasts a beautiful old-growth hammock and thousand-year-old oaks, and popular park activities include picnicking, biking, birdwatching, and taking ranger-guided tours.