Sure, if you were to create a top-10 list for New York City (à la David Letterman), pizza, bagels, Times Square, Broadway shows and crazy cabbies might make the cut—but running would probably not be on there. However, as far as local and visiting runners are concerned, this city, home to one of the world’s most loved marathons and most pedestrian-friendly parks, does not disappoint.
“Certain parts of town can be really crowded, and the weather is definitely less than perfect, but I think there are way more positives than negatives to training here,” says coach Jonathan Cane, president of City Coach Multisport. “There are lots of great scenic routes and useful running resources. Plus, there’s a race happening almost every weekend.” So next time you’re visiting the Big Apple, be sure to pack your kicks, cue the Frank Sinatra and tackle one (or more!) of these fabulous two-footed running tours.
Best for…escaping the city streets
Located literally in the middle of Manhattan, Central Park is a mecca for runners, cyclists and walkers alike. You could do a short, 1.58-mile run on the packed-dirt reservoir, complete the longer, hillier 6-mile paved loop around the park or try anything in between. Either way, you’ll get some great city views and a nice dose of nature. For the Brooklyn equivalent, head to Prospect Park, which has a 3.3-mile inner loop.
Tourist Tip: New York Road Runners hosts races here often. Visit nyrr.org to see if there are any events happening during your visit that you might want to join in on.
Warning: In a city with 8.2 million residents, the races often fill up quickly!
Best for…seeing the NYC skyline
Take the R line on the subway to Court Street– Borough Hall in Brooklyn Heights, and run down the Promenade, a short stretch of sidewalk sandwiched between the East River and a row of beautiful brownstones, which provides breathtaking city views. Continue going north along the newly extended Brooklyn Bridge Park, and then backtrack to run up and over the Brooklyn Bridge, which takes you into lower Manhattan for 3-ish miles in total. Completed in 1883, it is one of the oldest (and most photographed) suspension bridges in the U.S. Hop back on the subway (at one of the City Hall stops) to get back to your hotel.
Tourist Tip: Go early to avoid busy foot traffic.
Hudson River Park:
Best for…logging flat, fast miles
Head as far west on 59th Street as possible, and then cruise about 5 miles south along the Hudson River Path, down to Battery Park City. You’ll pass Chelsea Piers, multiple dog parks, plenty of green space, and you’ll even see the Statue of Liberty. Bonus: This bike- and runner-friendly path has multiple restrooms and water fountains for you to use en route. Circle around the tip of Manhattan and then continue up the east side until you reach South Street Seaport.
Tourist Tip: If you need to refuel, stop at the amazing indoor smorgasbord Chelsea Market for a cookie from Fat Witch Bakery, or a donut from Doughnuttery, or…you get the idea.
The 59th Street Bridge:
Best for…getting a taste of the New York City Marathon
You may not experience the full trampoline effect that comes with sharing the bridge with thousands of other runners on race day, but there’s still something exhilarating about crossing the East River on this giant structure. Cut straight across the bridge, step foot in Queens and then head back up the incline to your starting point for a total of 2.8 miles.
Tourist Tip: If you’re looking for a true race sampler, turn up First Avenue after you exit the bridge in the city, run about a mile north, and then cut left, toward Central Park.
Best for…early morning sightseeing
Before everyone else rises and the chaos begins, head downtown to City Hall on the subway, and then run north on Broadway through the heart of the city. You’ll meander past City Hall, Soho, the Flat Iron building, the Garment District, Macy’s, Times Square, Columbus Circle and Lincoln Center, all in less than 5 miles.
Tourist Tip: Be out the door before 7 a.m. and finish your jaunt with bagels and lox at Barney Greengrass, one block over, on Amsterdam, between 86th an 87th Street.