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The Best Parks for Running in NYC


New York City, the concrete jungle that never sleeps, may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of serene running spots. However, hidden amidst the skyscrapers and bustling streets are some of the finest urban parks for running in NYC. Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or just looking for a scenic jog, the city has a plethora of options to choose from. In this article, we’ll take you on a tour of the best parks for running in New York City, where you can escape the city’s chaos and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature while breaking a sweat.

Central Park

No list of the best parks for running in New York City would be complete without Central Park. Located in the heart of Manhattan, Central Park offers runners a diverse range of running routes. With its iconic reservoir loop, winding pathways, and lush greenery, it’s a runner’s paradise. The park spans 843 acres and features a 1.58-mile loop around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, making it a popular spot for both casual joggers and serious runners alike.

Central Park’s beauty shines year-round. In the spring, you’ll be greeted with cherry blossoms in full bloom, while autumn blankets the park with a mesmerizing tapestry of colorful leaves. The park’s undulating terrain provides various levels of difficulty for runners, ensuring that everyone can find a suitable challenge. For those aiming to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, Central Park is an oasis that offers a temporary retreat into nature’s serenity.

Prospect Park

Located in Brooklyn, Prospect Park is often referred to as Central Park’s little sister, and it offers a unique blend of tranquility and activity. With a 3.35-mile loop encircling the park, it’s a runner’s delight. The route takes you through dense forests, past the shimmering Lake, and across the Grand Army Plaza. The rolling hills add an extra layer of challenge to your run.

One of Prospect Park’s highlights is the Long Meadow, a vast expanse of green that invites runners to stretch their legs and soak in the sun. The park’s pedestrian-only paths make it safe and enjoyable for runners of all levels, and you’ll often find local running clubs and events taking place here. If you prefer a quieter experience compared to Central Park, Prospect Park offers a peaceful alternative.

Riverside Park

Stretching along the western edge of Manhattan, Riverside Park is a hidden gem that many New Yorkers hold close to their hearts. The park offers a scenic escape from the city’s chaos, with its running path running parallel to the Hudson River. The Hudson River Greenway, as it’s known, is a 4.6-mile paved path that offers stunning river views and refreshing breezes.

One of the unique features of Riverside Park is its tiered layout, which provides multiple levels of running trails, each with its own unique charm. The park’s landscapes include manicured gardens, historic monuments, and even a skate park. Riverside Park’s diverse terrain offers both flat and hilly sections, catering to runners of all preferences. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely jog or a challenging hill workout, Riverside Park has something for everyone.

Van Cortlandt Park

Venturing into the Bronx, you’ll discover Van Cortlandt Park, a vast green oasis that offers a different kind of running experience. This park is known for its extensive trail system, making it an ideal destination for trail runners and those seeking a break from the city’s concrete jungle. The park’s centerpiece is the Parade Ground, which features a flat, one-mile loop that’s perfect for speed workouts.

For the more adventurous runners, Van Cortlandt Park boasts a challenging 3.1-mile cross-country course with hills and uneven terrain. The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail runs through the park, providing a picturesque and historic running route. With its serene woodlands, meadows, and the scenic Putnam Nature Trail, Van Cortlandt Park offers a peaceful escape from the urban landscape.

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

In Queens, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park offers runners a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. The park is home to iconic landmarks such as the Unisphere and the Queens Museum, making it a fascinating place to explore on your run. With a 1.3-mile loop around Meadow Lake, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park provides a scenic and relatively flat course for runners.

One of the park’s standout features is the World’s Fair Marina, where runners can enjoy views of boats bobbing in the bay. If you’re seeking a longer route, you can combine loops around the lake with exploration of the park’s various pathways and gardens. This park truly encapsulates the diversity and vibrancy of Queens, making it a fantastic place for a run.

Fort Tryon Park

Escape to the northern tip of Manhattan and discover the beauty of Fort Tryon Park. Nestled beside The Met Cloisters, this park offers a serene running experience with a dash of medieval charm. The park’s crowning jewel is the Fort Tryon Park Trust’s Cabrini Woods Nature Sanctuary, providing runners with a peaceful respite from city life.

Fort Tryon Park’s trails wind through lush forests, offering runners an escape from the urban hustle and a chance to connect with nature. The park’s crowning glory is the Heather Garden, a blooming oasis that adds a splash of color to your run. For a challenging uphill workout, head to the park’s highest point, Linden Terrace, and take in breathtaking views of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

For runners who crave waterfront views and a taste of Brooklyn’s vibrant culture, Brooklyn Bridge Park is the place to be. This scenic park spans 85 acres along the East River and boasts breathtaking vistas of Lower Manhattan’s skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty.

The park’s 1.3-mile-long promenade, with its smooth, tree-lined pathway, is ideal for runners. You’ll find ample opportunities to challenge yourself with stair workouts, hill sprints, and intervals while taking in the iconic sights. Brooklyn Bridge Park’s unique location and atmosphere make it a must-visit for both local and visiting runners.

Bonus: Unconventional Spots

For those seeking a more unconventional running experience that strays from the beaten path, the city offers a treasure trove of unique locations. While Central Park and the Hudson River Greenway have their undeniable charm, these unconventional running locations offer a fresh perspective on the city. Whether you’re seeking artistic inspiration, tranquil nature escapes, or a taste of local culture, New York City’s diverse landscape provides a myriad of options to elevate your running experience beyond the ordinary. So, lace up your running shoes and explore the city’s hidden gems one stride at a time.

Governors Island

Only a short ferry ride away from Manhattan, Governors Island transforms into a car-free haven during the warmer months. Runners can explore the island’s charming pathways, historic architecture, and waterfront views. It’s a unique opportunity to escape the city without actually leaving it.

The Cloisters and Fort Tryon Park

Located in Upper Manhattan, The Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art set in a stunning medieval-style building. Nearby Fort Tryon Park offers a hilly, woodland terrain that challenges runners while immersing them in a serene, castle-like ambiance.

Green-Wood Cemetery

Green-Wood Cemetery, in Brooklyn, offers a serene and picturesque running experience amidst towering trees, historic mausoleums, and rolling hills. It’s a peaceful way to pay homage to New York’s history while staying active.

The Socrates Sculpture Park

This outdoor art museum in Long Island City, Queens, combines contemporary sculpture with stunning waterfront views. Runners can explore the park’s ever-changing installations while enjoying a relaxing run along the East River.

The Finish Line

New York City’s parks offer a remarkable fusion of nature and urban life, providing runners with an abundance of choices. From the iconic Central Park to the hidden gems of Fort Tryon Park and Van Cortlandt Park, the city’s green spaces offer diverse terrain, scenic beauty, and a respite from the hustle and bustle.

Whether you’re a lifelong New Yorker or a visitor looking to explore the city while staying active, these parks cater to runners of all levels. Lace up your running shoes, hit the pavement, and discover the best parks for running in the city that never sleeps. Each park has its unique charm, and they all share one thing in common: the promise of an unforgettable running experience in the heart of New York City.