The Best Places to Run in NYC

New York City is a runner’s paradise, which befits a city that’s host to one of the six World Marathon Majors. Whether you’re on the trails of iconic Central Park, or enjoying views of the city along its shorelines, there are lots of opportunities for visitors and New Yorkers to run. So, where are the best places to run in NYC ? Well, I have a few favorites, but I thought I’d find out from some other local runners their favorite places to run first.

Best Places to Run in NYC

 

Eric, Dirty Old Sneakers:

One of my favorite places to run in NYC is also one of my favorite places to cycle. And interestingly, it’s not even in New York rather, about a mile over the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey.

Colloquially called “River Road” because it snakes under the GWB and follows the Hudson River, Henry Hudson Drive (the road’s proper name) is eight miles of ups and downs with very little flat terrain.  I’ve run this road a bunch when I’m at the peak of marathon training and to tell you I’ve ridden it on my bike thousands of times wouldn’t be an exaggeration.

There are two (what I consider) steep sections on the course. Heading north, the first starts at the Englewood picnic area, it lasts about a half mile and peaks at 4.5% grade. The second is better known as Alpine (because it starts at the Alpine Boat Basin and is also in the town of Alpine, NJ). It’s the last mile of the course, lasts a full mile and peaks atabout 10% grade. Are these hills the most daunting you’ll ever run? Probably not but they are tremendous opportunities for hill work, learning how to run with “the hurt” and figuring out the best way to stay out of your head – all very important things when you’re in the throes of race training.

Best Places to Run in NYC

What I like about running River Road is the simple beauty of the scenery. I’ve had a friend call it a little slice of Northern California outside of NYC and I think that’s pretty accurate. From the rolling to downright steep hills to the boat basins (where you can find a little snack shop during the summer months – great for water stops) to the myriad of cyclists and runners along the course, this is a virtual athlete’s paradise.

Best Places to Run in NYC

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Heidi, idlehide:

Running along the Hudson River via the Hudson River Park is my favourite place to run in the city. I love running alongside the water and having the city beside you at your fingertips.
Being a Canadian, it is a very special treat to get to run in NYC and it truly has stolen my heart  – from living in Long Island almost a decade ago! One of these years I will run 26.2 miles all around NYC! :)

 

Best Places to Run in NYC
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Christine Yu, Love Life Surf:

Coney Island – beach, boardwalk, the Cyclone, Nathan’s hot dogs. You can’t get more iconic than that. While slightly off the beaten path, running along the Coney Island boardwalk is a fun alternative to park running. The boardwalk is approximately 2.5 miles end-to-end or 5 miles for an out-and-back route taking you from Coney Island to Brighton Beach. Along the way, you’ll pass by the amusement park rides, the New York Aquarium and typical boardwalk shops. You’ll also have a nice view of the ocean and a great breeze. Just be careful as you run on the boardwalk since there are some uneven sections. It’s probably not the best place to do a hard workout (depending on the time of day, there can be a lot of people walking on the boardwalk) but a good option for an easy run. Afterwards, you can take a dip in the ocean or treat yourself to some funnel cakes or a hot dog. That’s refueling, right?

 

Best Places to Run in NYC
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Gabrielle, Marathons and Macarons:

These days I do most of my weekday runs in Brooklyn Bridge Park, but my real love is the Central Park Reservoir. The dirt surface is a nice change from concrete, and it connects up to the Bridle Path for when you want to do a longer run on a soft surface. It’s less than 2 miles in circumference so it’s perfect for doing speedwork. It tends to get crowded with tourists in the afternoons but in the mornings it’s only runners and walkers – no bikes allowed! On the East Side you can see the Guggenheim Museum, the West Side skyline includes the beautiful San Remo apartment building (with two peaked towers – you’d recognize it right away!) and to the south you can see a panorama of Manhattan’s skyline. Both the sunrise and the sunset over the lake are spectacular. It’s even gorgeous in the winter when it freezes!

 

Best Places to Run in NYC
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Michele Gonzalez, NYC Running Mama:

Hands down one of my favorite places in NYC to run is in my hometown of Staten Island. The route begins with a 2.5 mile stretch of running along the boardwalk (on the eastern-most part of the island) which allows for some beautiful views of the ocean and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. If you run early enough in the morning, you get some pretty spectacular sunrises. I trained for a couple of marathons and my first ultra here and the views never got old.
If you continue running north, there is a paved road that takes you into Fort Wadsworth – one of the oldest military sites in the U.S. From various points on the installation, you have some breathtaking views of the Verrazano, NYC and the harbor. But for runners, Fort Wadsworth is known for one thing – the start of the NYC Marathon. It’s where the tens of thousands of runners wait in hours leading up to the race before beginning the 26.2 mile journey through the other boroughs of NYC.

 

Best Places to Run in NYC
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Coach Travis Stanford, Team All American:

There are a few spots I like to run in NYC. I frequent Riverside Park in the Upper West Side because I only live one block away and it has some beautiful views of the Hudson River, as well as some soft surface trails that run alongside the paths. Also, the Hudson River bike path is great for long runs because you can take it all the way south to Lower Manhattan and all the way north to the Bronx, with greats views of the city, New Jersey and the George Washington Bridge.
Lastly, there is a short stretch in Central Park that I love, it runs for about a quarter mile along the west side of the reservoir. It’s a red bark chip trail with trees that canopy above and can be very beautiful with various colors and vegetation as the seasons change. I love this spot so much because it reminds me of my college days running in Eugene where I attended the University of Oregon. A majority of the running trails there are lush and scenic and resemble this trail in Central Park. It brings back good memories from my track and field team workouts and runs through the trails of Eugene.

 

Best Places to Run in NYC

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Melissa Burton, The Valentine RD

There are so many fantastic running spots in NYC but my favorite of all of them is the Brooklyn Bridge.  There’s something majestic about that beautiful span where you can see the entire East Side of Manhattan and the amazing NYC skyline.  It took me ages to realize the freedom of being able to run outside (I did most of my training for my one and only 26.2 on a treadmill – ugh!) and whenever I run the Brooklyn Bridge, I feel like a rockstar.  I run with music so I have memories of running the bridge approach to Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” or Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News” that I can almost visualize running there whenever I hear those songs.

However, I ran my very own special Duran Duran music filled Duran Duran Appreciation Day 10K via NYC Summer Streets (~7 miles of traffic free Manhattan is glorious) and took this amazing shot to commemorate my love for all things New York, running and Duran Duran.  This photo is my phone wallpaper and likely will be for a long time to come.

Best Places to Run in NYC

Check out Melissa’s blog, and find her on InstagramTwitter and Pinterest.

A big thank you to all my NYC runner/blogger friends who contributed their thoughts and photos of the best places to run in NYC – as for me, I have so many fond memories of different places in the city. My favorite is probably a toss-up between the Hudson River Park and Prospect Park. I spent many hours out by the Hudson when I worked as a trainer at Equinox in the West Village. It was just a couple of minutes from the gym and I loved my solo runs and runs with friends out there.

Having lived close to Prospect Park in Brooklyn for nearly ten years now, it holds a special place in my heart. From stair repeats on Center Drive, to attempting to get lost on the paths in Brooklyn Forest, to running around and around…and around that well-trodden loop (seriously, marathon training on a 3.35 mile loop gets old quickly!), it’s definitely one of my running happy places.

Best Places to Run in NYC

What about you? Do you run in NYC, or have you run here before?

What’s your favorite place anywhere to run, walk, hike, bike, whatever takes your fancy?

If you’re an NYC runner, or New York holds a special place in your heart for running, I’d love to hear from you! There may well be a round two, three or more of the best places to run in NYC. Contact me at finefitday@gmail.com if you’d like to be included on a future round up.

Comments

  1. Wow! New York does have a lot of nice places to run. I live outside of STL so if I want to get to a super nice location that is easy to run I have to drive there. But living where I live isn’t too bad, it just gets boring running the same route all the time. But lots of trees and such so I can’t complain too much.
    Carla recently posted…I Eat Like a Toddler and Other Random ConfessionsMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Boring will probably help you with the mental toughness you need for getting through the half marathon, so it’s not all bad!

  2. Oh hey fellow New Yorker! But I am on Long Island. I love running anywhere in the city! So much to see but I would agree with Hudson River Park for sure!
    Tara Newman recently posted…Sherpa Wife Chronicles: Ironman Lake Placid 2014My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Well hello there! I’ll have to get you to contribute a Long Island route next time I do a post like this! :) I love the Hudson River Park, too.

  3. This is so fun! I’ve only run in Central Park and around the reservoir, which were fabulous early in the morning. Looking forward to getting the full NYC tour when I come for that little race on 11/2! :
    Marcia recently posted…5 Ways to Speed Workout RecoveryMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Yes, something tells me you’ll have run more of NYC than a *lot* of other people when November rolls around!! You see so many different parts of the city – it really is an amazing course.

  4. I have taken ALL the notes!! I am so excited to explore ALL of these places!! This was like an amazing christmas gift. Thank you for putting this together for us!!
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted…Sweet Suite 2014My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      I’m excited to get a quick run in next time we take Roman to the boardwalk! It’s a win-win, he and Fran can do the rides and the games while mama sneaks in 5 miles! ;)

  5. I’ve never run in NYC – maybe one day. What a fun list of these places to run by some great bloggers!!!
    Kim recently posted…Some Tough DecisionsMy Profile

  6. Love this!! Thanks for including me Carly!! Now I want to explore River Road over in NJ!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Post-Race ThoughtsMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      I know, doesn’t that look amazing? I know Riverside Park from when I lived on the UWS, but never ventured quite that far.

  7. All beautiful places to run in New York. I did a 5k through central park many years ago and that was fun.
    lacey@fairytaledandfitness recently posted…Why We Are Fed Up With Competitor ( AKA: Rock n Roll Series)My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Central Park is such a great place to run. It’s beautiful, it’s hilly, it’s a nice length loop. I miss being close to it, but nearly all the NYRR races are there, so I get my fair share of running there.

  8. I miss NYC so much! I hope to be able to get to go back soon! I’ve always wanted to run through Central Park!
    Erin @ Her Heartland Soul recently posted…July 2014 POPSUGAR Must Have ReviewMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      It’s such a lovely spot to run! So many places you can use for your workout and lots of fun spots to get coffee or a drink afterwards! ;)

  9. Thanks for including me in this post Carly! Seems like there are some other great spots that I may need to check out. It also seems like I may be a little more verbose than most :-)

    Great post!!
    Eric R recently posted…My Favorite Place to Run in NYCMy Profile

  10. My husband has promised me a weekend trip to NYC soon. This post will help me decide where to run while we are there ;)
    AmyC recently posted…Workout Wednesday: Hip OpenersMy Profile

  11. Thank you again for including me and in such fabulous company! I miss running in NYC every.damned.day. One of these days I’ll be back and be reunited with my old friend.

    Come and see me in CA sometime.
    Melissa Burton recently posted…In Susie’s Kitchen – A Gluten Free Bread Baking ClassMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      You are so welcome! I couldn’t leave a Brooklynite out of a post like this! ;)

      I promise I’ll be in touch if I venture to the left coast.

  12. Ok, I’m SO overwhelmed right now!!! I’m seriously plotting dates in my head as to when I can spend a weekend in the city with you and run all.the.places!!!! I’m so jealous when I read things like this because, although my surroundings are beautiful and peaceful, I have almost zero scenery like this. I see lots of cows, farms and one lake…maybe two. No bridges, no other people, no stores and certainly no Coney Island. Clearly I need to run-cation. We need to plan this asap. In the meantime, I will be checking out all these cool new blogs…and some that I already know and love. Thank you Carly!!!!
    Allie recently posted…I’m Making PRO Compression Socks The Yoga Pant of the Active SAHMMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Cows and farms and a lake sound pretty awesome, Allie! Not too many cows on any of these NYC routes. A run-cation is an excellent idea! And I’m happy you found a couple of new blogs – these are all some awesome bloggers.

  13. Hi Carly, I loved this post! Every time I have the privilege and pleasure to fly from Buenos Aires to NY I try to run in the city; I enjoy seeing so many people running at literally any time in Central Park. Now I have new place to explore! Thanks!
    Sil @ 42alos40 recently posted…Sony Sports Walkman NWZ-W273My Profile

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