Photo via PxHere
For avid runners and beginners alike, New York City offers a wide range of places to hit the pavement, from it’s iconic bridges to green trails nestled in the city’s parks. The scenic routes provide unbeatable views of the river and skyline that can keep you motivated to keep going when you’re ready to give up. Ahead, we round up the 10 most iconic spots to go for a run in the city, fit for regular marathoners, treadmill-devotees looking for a change of scenery, and total newbies.
1. Van Cortlandt Park
Van Cortlandt Park via Flickr
For those times when you want to feel like you’re outside of the city, Van Cortlandt Park is your best bet. Take the 1 to 242nd Street and start a 3.5-mile loop as soon as you enter the park. Along the way, you’ll pass by Vault Hill, the “Back Hills of Vanny,” the Tortoise & Hare Statue, and Van Cortlandt Park House Museum. If you’ve worked up an appetite, nearby Lloyd’s Carrot Cake will provide a decadent post-run treat (though maybe you’re better off not counting the calories).
2. Central Park
Central Park Reservoir via Flickr
Probably the first New York City running loop that comes to mind for both runners and non-runners is the Central Park Reservoir, which offers a 1.5-mile trail at a very gentle 2-degree slope. There are plenty of other options throughout Central Park, including a 6.1-mile full loop around the park or the more rugged Bridle Path loops. The shorter of the two spans 1.66 miles and circles around the Reservoir while the Full Bridle Path Loop is 2.5 miles and extends to the North Meadow fields and across the 102nd Street Transverse.
3. Riverside Park and the Hudson River Greenway
Riverside Park via Wiki Commons
Run along Riverside Park from 72nd Street to 158th Street and you’ll benefit from Hudson River breezes to cool you down as you work up a sweat. The park also has public restrooms, a skate park, and multiple playgrounds along the way, where you can stop and add some variety to your workout with a set of pull-ups.
4. The Highline
The Highline via Flickr
If you can get to the Highline when it opens at 7 a.m. and beat the tourist crowds, you’ll find a nearly empty oasis and the perfect spot for an early morning run. The linear park offers a 1.5-mile route, with plenty of transportation options at either end and spots to refuel with a post-workout snack. It’s known as a good option for beginning runners—who can easily stop for a breather at one of the built-in benches—as well as those who like their runs with a side of stunning Chelsea views.
5. Battery Park City
Battery Park Esplanade via Wiki Commons
Run along the southern tip of Manhattan for incredible views of the Hudson River and New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the New Jersey shoreline. The Battery Park City Esplanade is known as a pedestrian paradise, with multiple parks, gardens, marinas, and art installations along the way. If you want to tackle a longer run, just keep going. The distance to the George Washington Bridge is nearly 12.3 miles—but don’t worry, the scenery will distract you from the pain.
6. Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park via Flickr
You probably won’t be able to make it over the Brooklyn Bridge with your sanity intact on a weekend, when huge crowds armed with selfie sticks make their pilgrimage over the beloved bridge. But if you can get there for a sunrise run, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best waterfront views in the city. Once you’re over the bridge, continue to Brooklyn Bridge Park if you want to keep going, or just find a bench to stop and take in the scene.
7. Prospect Park
Image Prospect Park Alliance
In Brooklyn, Prospect Park provides multiple running trails across its 585 acres, ranging from approximately 1.5 to 3.5 miles in length. Though still hilly and quite overcrowded, these routes are more manageable than the ones in Central Park. There are several track clubs you can join, including the Prospect Park Track Club, and you can find frequent races and runs organized by the New York Road Runners Club and the Brooklyn Road Runners Club.
8. Coney Island Boardwalk
Coney Island Boardwalk via Flickr
The fun atmosphere at this quintessential destination will keep you entertained during your run—you may not even not your own music! In the off-season, Coney Island is eerily empty, but during summer especially the crowds can get insane. Opt for an early morning run if you want to avoid that, or better yet, embrace the people-watching opportunities that come with the location. The D, F, N, or Q trains to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue will bring you right to the heart of the boardwalk, which is approximately 2.5 miles long.
9. Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park via Flickr
A nearly four-mile trail in Queens’s Flushing Meadows-Corona Park beginning on the boardwalk outside the 7 train’s Mets–Willets Point subway stop, will let you take in the Park’s many attractions, including the Queens Art Museum, the Unisphere, and Citi Field. Aim for an early morning or early evening run, as there isn’t much shade during the day and the foot traffic can get intense. If you can, try to catch the sunrise or sunset over the Unisphere.
10. Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Island via Flickr cc
Located between Manhattan and Queens and accessible via the F train or the tram, Roosevelt Island provides a flat, scenic run along the island’s 3.5-mile perimeter. Enjoy the views of Midtown Manhattan and the Queensboro Bridge while relishing in the relative peace and quiet of the island.
- MAP: The best loops and trails for running in Central Park
- The 7 best hikes near New York City
- 100 things to do in NYC that are completely free