Great Places To Run In and Around NYC

As we wrap up our last week here in NYC until next spring I have had the chance to do a few short post marathon runs.  The beautiful fall colors and paths brought back some really great memories of running NYC for the past 12 years and especially training for a marathon.  One of the best things about NYC, as well as it’s biggest drawback, is that despite NYC being one of the largest cities in the world it is geographically pretty small.  That means that after 12 years I have run almost every nook and cranny.  Some days I would weave around city streets and others I would travel parks and bridges.  Below are a few of my favorites that I recommend if you get a chance to run here.

Central Park:


Central Park is synonymous with NYC.  While it is not one of my most favorite places to run, it really is a must if you come to visit.  The loop around the park is just over 6 miles of some pretty big as well as gently rolling hills.  The actual run is a nice challenge, but you also get to see a panoramic view of the city skyline.  You will see the Sheep’s Meadow, Wollman Rink, Carousel, The Boathouse, Great Lawn, Resevoir, Metropolitan Museum of Art and hundreds of other sights.  Take a stop at 90th street to admire the statue in honor of Fred Lebow, the founder of the New York City Marathon.


I have also worked in Central Park for the past 12 years and didn’t know until yesterday that there is a memorial set up for famed distance runner Ryan Shay.  I grew up just a few towns away from Ryan and we ran track during the same years.  Despite the fact that I took a break for awhile, I still followed his running through out high school and college.  Shay passed away from a massive heart attack in 2007 during the Olympic Marathon Trials in Central Park.  There was a rock carved by fellow runners near a tree in the park.  I believe I found the spot but the etchings have faded away.  When I went to visit yesterday I found myself overcome with tears as I read his plaque on a park bench.


The West Side:

It seems that the only picture I have from running on the West Side is with Flat Stanley.  We had an impromptu 20 mile run together that afternoon.

It seems that the only picture I have from running on the West Side is with Flat Stanley. We had an impromptu 20 mile run together that afternoon.

If you are looking for a nice flat and picturesque run, head for the West Side of the city.  We once took a cab up to the George Washington Bridge and followed the stairs down to the Hudson River.  There you will find the Little Red Lighthouse.  You can follow the path for 13 miles all the way down to Battery Park where you will be able to see Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the new World Trade Center.  Along the way you will pass dozens of cool piers as well as the famed Chelsea Piers and The Intrepid.

The East Side:

That is Roosevelt Island across the river.

That is Roosevelt Island across the river.

Although not as continuous as the West Side path, the East River Promenade has a nice flat section spanning from 60th Street all the way up to 125th Street.  You can follow the East River path all the way down to Battery Park but you will have to weave a little bit as the path does not follow one straight line.  While the East River isn’t quite as picturesque there are still lots of great places to see along the way.

Take the Tramway Car at 59th Street over to Roosevelt Island.  This quiet spot will give you a couple of miles to run looking over at Manhattan from a different view.  Plus the ride in the Tramway Car (same price as a subway ride) gives you a bird’s eye view of the river and city.  And you can relive that pretty scary scene from Spiderman!

Take a run over a bridge.  Now here is where I admit that we once ran all the way along the East River to go run across the Brooklyn Bridge.  It looked different from what I expected and when we got to the other side we realized I had taken us across the Williamsburg Bridge.  Kind of a big difference.  But once we finally found the Brooklyn Bridge we took a detour and waited in line to wolf down a full Grimaldi’s pizza between the two of us.  By the way, I think the Williamsburg Bridge offers a much prettier view but definitely not the same pizza.

Randall’s Island:


This is one of my favorite places to go.  Cross over the footbridge at East 101st Street and you almost enter a different city.  While you can still see the sights of the city, it is much quieter over there.  There are miles of running paths as well as horse stables, dozens of athletic fields, Icahn Stadium and tennis and golf centers.  It also doesn’t hurt that the FDNY has it’s training center over there and you often see many new recruits out doing training runs.  Excellent motivation for you single (or not so single) ladies or gents.

Upper Saddle River Path:

Get up early on a Saturday or Sunday and take a short drive from the city out to New Jersey.  In less that 30 minutes you will find yourself at the Upper Saddle River Path in Bergen County.  Follow this out for about 6-7 miles along the Saddle River.  Weaving in and out of woods and under bridges, you will feel like you are dozens of  miles away from New York City.  Watch wildlife and fly fisherman as well as happy families biking along the path.  Stop at any of the 100 awesome diners along the way home for a delicious post run brunch.

I would love to hear what your favorite running spots are in the NYC area!

9 thoughts on “Great Places To Run In and Around NYC

  1. I’m going to visit NYC, for the first time, next July… very excited! But sadly I don’t think I’ll have any time to do any runs as I’ll be on a contiki tour and pretty much bound to their schedule. But never say never – I’ll pack my shoes just in case 😉

  2. you’re making me realize all of the places i DON’T run in my city! i live super duper close to the West Side path, so that’s my regular before-work morning running route, as well as my Saturday long runs. i haven’t made it to the Park in a while for a run, and i’ve never run on the East side, actually! i stick to what’s nice and easy and continuous. 🙂

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