Art meets running

From Australia to Washington, here are 5 places to get a culture and fitness fix.

One of the world’s largest outdoor sculpture exhibitions stretches from Sydney’s Bondi Beach to Tamarama Beach. From October 18 to November 4, the 22nd annual Sculpture by the Sea transforms the dramatic 1.5-mile coastal walk (or run) into a living art museum with over 100 sculptures from artists such as Japan’s Keizo Ushio, and emerging local talent like Matthew Aberline.

The three-week event attracts 500,000 people, but if you go early in the morning (the exhibition is open 24 hours) to avoid the crowds, you can take in the art while getting in a workout. There are two sets of stairs on the route where you can do sprints or lunge sets for an added heart rate boost and a shallow hill perfect for repeats. Finish with a swim at Bondi’s historic Icebergs Pool.

If Sydney isn’t in your immediate travel plans, here are four other sculpture parks around the world where culturally-minded fit travelers can exercise while appreciating the artwork.
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  • Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, England

    Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, England

    Located on the grounds of an 18th-century estate, Yorkshire Sculpture Park is dubbed the “gallery without walls” due to its changing outdoor exhibition program. Modern art such as Ai Weiwei’s Iron Tree blend in with the historic buildings at Bretton Hall, while sheep, highland cattle, and geese wander in between towering pieces such as Elisabeth Frink’s Standing Man. With the estate spanning 500 acres, the exhibits—and your run—stretch across fields, bridges, and steep wooded paths. You can even do stair work climbing up David Nash’s Seventy-one Steps, which is one of the park’s largest current exhibits. Try the 4.1 mile loop beginning at the YSP Centre, across Cascade Bridge, through the woods past the Longside Gallery and Lady Eglinton's Well, and back over Dam Bridge.
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  • Ekebergparken, Oslo, Norway

    Ekebergparken, Oslo, Norway

    You don’t have to be an art connoisseur to recognize some of the artists on display at Ekebergparken: Salvador Dali, Auguste Renoir, and Damien Hirst. The Norwegian sculpture park also celebrates influential female artists such as Jenny Holzer, Marina Abramović, and Diane Maclean. Ekebergparken was built on a national heritage park with such sweeping views across the plain southeast of Oslo that it inspired The Scream by Edvard Munch. The 63-acre wooded area is full of gentle hills to add some elevation to your run, plus there’s a 3.65-mile running loop around a tranquil lake nicknamed “Tenerife.”
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  • Hakone Open Air Museum, Hakone, Japan

    Hakone Open Air Museum, Hakone, Japan

    Sat at the foot of Mount Fuji, Japan’s only open air museum is a work of art in itself where the often surreal sculptures balance out the natural beauty of the 17-acre park. One of the largest and most vibrant pieces is the Symphonic Sculpture by Gabriel Loire, which is a colorful 59-foot glass and steel tower with an outdoor deck and mountain views. Hakone Open Air Museum also has an entire indoor pavilion dedicated to Pablo Picasso along with photos of him throughout his life. After running around the Hakone, which is about the size of 13 football fields, tired feet get to recuperate in a steaming foot bath where mineral water with floating citrus fruit bubbles over massage stones.
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  • Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, Washington

    Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, Washington

    Built on a former industrial estate, the Olympic Sculpture Park is a nine-acre outdoor arts museum and beach in the heart of downtown Seattle’s largest green space. Operated by Seattle Art Museum, the park has 25 permanent exhibitions, such as a majestic 46-foot-tall head titled Echo by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa that looks out across the Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains, and 15 special exhibitions. You can sprint along the Z Path crisscrossing between the sculptures or take the Elliott Bay Trail that follows the shoreline for 10 miles through the west side of Olympic Sculpture Park and Myrtle Edwards Park.
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