12 Best Places to Run in NYC (Routes, Tracks & Trails!)
New York City is a runner’s mecca. Not just because it is host to one of the most famous coveted races in the world, the New York City Marathon. But because it offers many beautiful places to run.
New York City has a plethora of parks, bridges, and trails that give you an array of scenery, from rolling hills to river views. Indeed, there’s no shortage of running spots to keep you motivated.
We talk with New Yorkers to find the best places to run in NYC. Because let’s face it, even if there is no shortage of places to run in NYC, it’s still a giant city, so we all could use a little help in finding where to run in NYC.
Consider this your complete NYC running guide complete with :
- The best places to run in Manhattan
- the best places to run in Brooklyn
- best places to run in Queens
- best places to run in the Bronx
- best running trails in NYC
- best hills to run in NYC, and
- best public tracks in NYC
Let’s get started!
Best Places to run in Manhattan
1. Central Park
We have to start with THE running destination for runners in New York City: Central Park, a runner’s mecca in the urban jungle.
The park runs from Harlem (110th Street) down to Midtown (59th Street) between 5th Avenue on the east and Central Park West (8th Avenue) on the west. The east side (at Engineers Gate) down to the bottom loop is the end of the Marathon course).
Resident New Yorkers say Central Park is filled with runners, walkers, and cyclists from 6 a.m to 8 p.m.
Bonus: it’s the best way to get a feel for the charm of the Big Apple and for celebrity sightings.
New York runners say Central Park offers a variety for running workouts: If you’re doing a long run, you can repeat the 6.1-mile loop. If it’s shorter, there are plenty of places to cut across.
There are rolling hills throughout the loop so if you have a hill workout, you hit Cat Hill (.25 miles) for short hill sprints. Just head to the Boat Basin restaurant and run north on East Drive.
For a longer hill loop, head to the 102 Crossover and to Harlem Hills at the north end of the loop. From the crossover around the top and back is about 1.5 miles. Switch up your direction (counterclockwise/clockwise) on each loop to get a different effect, says New York runner Katie Overdevest.
You can also do laps around the reservoir which has scenic views.
“If you need a softer surface, there are cinder trails throughout the park for the bridle paths. These are a lot of fun just to change up the scenery and try a new loop,” adds Overdevest.
(Get a Central Park running guide here!)
2. Riverside Park
If you want a flat and scenic course in Manhattan, head to Riverside Park which runs about 4 miles from 72nd street up 158th street along the Hudson River. Riverside Park is a pedestrian path with no cars or stoplights, so it is a great place to do an easy run or a tempo.
It’s also home to a beautiful park above the highway featured in the movie, You Got Mail.
3. George Washington Bridge
Get more miles in by continuing on the path north of 158th past the George Washington Bridge. Beware: this path is hilly, so it is a great course for hill workouts.
Another option is to loop up at the top to the GW bridge and run across to New Jersey.
4. Hudson River Park
Continuing on the same path is Hudson River Park (down from 72nd all the way to Battery Park). It’s about 4-5 miles of an uninterrupted path that passes well-known piers, including the Intrepid Museum, Little Island, and the Vessel.
If you continue south along the tip of the island, you will sneak a view of the Statue of Liberty.
5. Riverbank State Park
Riverbank State Park is a 28-acre state park between 137th and 145th off of Riverside Drive. It has beautiful views of the Hudson River and downtown. It also features a public track!
6. West Side Highway
If you want to tour the city while you run, just head to West Side Highway which essentially spans the entire west side of Manhattan.
The path offers spectacular views of the Hudson River and New Jersey, lots of interesting scenery, and piers to stop at for a quick breather or selfie-break.
Also, the path is free of cars, so you only need to stop if you want to.
Best Places to Run in Brooklyn
7. Brooklyn Bridge
If you want more adventure, runners can crossover the Brooklyn Bridge. Which is fun, scenic, and a hot spot for taking photos.
8. Park Slope
Park Slope, a neighborhood in northwestern Brooklyn, features a beautiful park in the center of an urban jungle. Park Slope is known for its picturesque, runner-friendly sidewalks and organic food markets. Head for a run and then re-fuel afterward at one of the borough’s charming markets.
9. Prospect Park
For those who want a park loop that isn’t Central Park, Prospect Park in Brooklyn is a very worthy alternative. “Some even prefer it to Central Park because it’s generally tourist-free and has even prettier scenery,” says Overdevest.
Indeed, the park is designed by the same people who designed Central Park.
Prospect Park features wetlands and thick green forests. Within its 526 acres are a zoo, Audubon Center, ice rink, carousel, athletic fields, and a bandshell. If you’re visiting the city with your family, they can meet you after your run to head to one of these attractions!
Best Places to Run in the Bronx
10. Van Cortlandt Park
There aren’t a lot of trail options for runners in NYC, but Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx offers everything hungry trail runners need. The Oak-forest laden park has more than a thousand acres atop the ridges and valleys of the northwest Bronx and is New York City’s third-largest park.
It’s beautiful, quiet, and rich in culture.
Best Places to Run in Queens
11. Flushing Meadows Park
The park is the fourth largest in New York City and offers lots of athletic fields, green spaces, playgrounds, skateboarding areas, the Queens Zoo, the Queens Museum, the New York Hall of Science, the Mets’ Citi Field, and much more. It’s another great spot for family or friends to meet you after your run to see the sights.
Flushing Meadows is also home turf to several of the most spirited and grassroots running clubs in NYC, says NYC-based running coach Evan Wood.
12. Forest Park
Forest Park in Queens boasts more than 500 acres of natural beauty including 165 of those acres full of trees. The hilly running path features a “knob and kettle” terrain, sure to give you a great workout and keep your runs interesting.
6 Running tracks in NYC
For those runners with a need for speed, there are several options for public running tracks in NYC:
- Riverbank State Park (Manhattan)
- East River Park (Manhattan)
- Astoria (Queens)
- McCarren Park (Brooklyn)
- Macombs Dam Park (Bronx), and
- Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island
If you’re visiting New York in August, the city hosts an event called Summer Streets, in which seven miles of roads from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park are closed from Saturday mornings to the afternoon.
Runners get the thrill of running down the main streets on the Big Apple without cars. Sponsors have “rest stops” where runners may get freebies, see performances, or even see an art display.
Indeed, the City that Never Sleeps is also the city that loves to run!
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