NYC Running Routes

When it comes to New York City’s running paths, I get around. Yes, I’ve been around the block – several times and more – and fortunately for you, I’m willing to share all of my secrets. In detail.

In short, I love New York City and all it has to offer, from the crowded streets to the waterside pathways to the bridges and beyond. No Garmin? No problem. I know when they’re crowded, where there’s dirt, and the approximate distance from the water fountain at the Central Park Reservoir to Prosperity Dumpling’s $1 meals in China Town.

Here are some of my favorite running routes from east to west, north to south, in New York City, aka the greatest city on earth.

**Note: I live around Grand Central Station, so my personal running routes start in that general area. Distance is approximate, and depends on street lights, etc.

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Where: Bottom loop of Central Park and around the reservoir

Approximate Distance: 4 miles

To Know: Thirsty? Be sure to stop at the water fountain at the southern entrance of the reservoir. (This is also a great place to run laps since you essentially have a water station every 1.7 miles.)

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Where: Across the Williamsburg Bridge (optional, and back)

Approximate Distance: 5 or 10 miles

To Know: This run combines the flat surfaces of the East River with the steady incline of the Williamsburg Bridge. Know that, once on the bridge, the pathway splits off for runners and bikers, making for a pleasant route void of dodging typical city foot-traffic. From Grand Central to Williamsburg, you’re looking at 5 miles. If you’re in training mode, skip the subway home and use your legs.

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Where: Around Grand Central up to the 104th (approx) Street entrance of Central Park via Madison Avenue (generally pretty quiet above 60th Street, so a good route to take). Enter the park and weave through the Conservatory Garden, heading west. Cut across the park (avoiding Harlem Hill; add 1 mile if you actually continue northwest around this beast), and run the length of the park, exiting at Columbus Circle. Take an avenue of your choice (we chose 8th, but this is a bad idea if you’re not used to New York congestion) down to Union Square.

Approximate Distance: 10 miles

To Know: I had never stumbled upon the Conservatory Garden until this run, and I have to say, it was one of the most beautiful, zen places I’ve ever discovered in Manhattan. Run around here, and you may never want to run anywhere else ever again. Ever.

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Where: From around Grand Central Station around the reservoir and back

Approximate Distance: 7 miles

To Know: On weekends, you may want to skip the Manhattan streets. They’re crowded! If you love running through New York City though, and don’t mind playing Frogger in your head, then I at least suggest taking Park Avenue. Because it’s mostly corporate and residential, with very little shopping, you’ll run into the least tourists here.

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Where: From around Grand Central, up the east side of Central Park and around the reservoir (2 laps). Exit at 72nd Street, run cross town to the East River. Run to the top of Carl Schurz Park and back down the East River. Exit at the Bridge, and take 1st Ave. back downtown to around the U.N. and back to Grand Central.

Approximate Distance: 12.5 miles

To Know: Incorporating 2 major running areas — both Central Park and the East River — gives you room to be playful. Don’t be afraid to add an extra lap around the reservoir like I did, or to skip the northern most part of Carl Schurz Park if you’re getting tired. It’s up to you; just enjoy the beautiful park and water views!

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Where: Down the East River from 34 St. to the Williamsburg Bridge and back

Approximate Distance: 5 miles

To Know: A great place for warmer summer runs. Enjoy a nice breeze off the East River as well as ample water fountains along the way. Knees need a break, or feel like extending your route? Check out the track about a half mile before the Williamsburg Bridge. Do I smell speed work?

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Where: Start at 34th Street on the East River, and run south, around the tip of Manhattan, past Battery Park and up the West Side Highway.

Approximate Distance: 11 miles

To Know: One of my favorite parts about this course is the abundance of water fountains all along the East and West sides of New York City. While the breeze can be especially nice on a particularly hot day, neither side of the city offers much shade. Either wear sunscreen, or stick to the city streets, where you’ll find ample shade from the buildings, if you’re afraid of overheating.

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Where: From around Grand Central around the bottom loop of Central Park. Enter at the 72nd Street entrance (the Inventor’s Gate), and exit at the park’s bottom.

Approximately Distance: 5 miles

To Know: Run down 5th Avenue because, while busy, these are the widest streets and it’s easiest to weave in and out of commuters. Best in the morning, before 8:30.

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Where: From 34th Street to The High Line (entrance is around 30th St. and 10th Ave). Exit at the bottom of The High Line and head west toward the water. Run down the Hudson River to Battery Park. Exit around the Freedom Towers and weave your way through the streets back north.

Approximate Distance: 8.5 miles

To Know: Best in the morning. If running any time after the morning, it’s probably just best to run back north along the Hudson River to avoid commuters and foot traffic.

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Where: Around Grand Central up to Central Park. Run toward the top along the Bridle Path (going counter clockwise), but cut the route before you get stuck climbing Harlem Hill. Loop all the way around to the bottom of Central Park and head back north, past Cat Hill, to the reservoir. Complete 1 loop of the reservoir and head back south from the 72nd Street exit to Grand Central.

Approximate Distance: 11.5 miles

To Know: Feel free to run the entire loop around Central Park, but know that if you don’t choose to cut west where I did, you’ll come face to face with (cue the dooming music) Harlem Hill. It’s really not a big deal, I’m just dramatic. But if you’re not in the mood for a long, slow incline, which I’m usually not, it can be a real ass-kicker.

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Where: From around Grand Central Station up 3rd Ave. to 59th Street. Cross over to take the Queensboro Bridge entrance at 1st Ave. and 59th Street. Run across, and jump up and down declaring “I’ve made it to Queens!” Then run back, taking 1st Avenue to around 42nd Street instead of 3rd.

Approximate Distance: About 6.5 miles, depending on where you start and finish exactly.

To Know: You’re dealing with a bridge here, and one that’s known to break a lot of hearts come marathon day at that. If you’re not in the mood for a hill — especially with no water fountains in sight — then you might want to skip it for the day. Otherwise, the long, slow incline does wonders for you as a runner.

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Where: From Grand Central area to The High Line and home.

Approximate Distance: Between 4 and 4.5 miles.

To know: Do not – I repeat do not – attempt this run any time after 9am. The High Line is a main tourist attraction in Manhattan, and while incredibly stunning when empty, it can be that much more frustrating when packed with strollers and an abundance of SLR cameras. You should be safe between 7 and 8 in the morning.

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Where: Near Grand Central to Madison Square Park, Gramercy Park and home.

Approximate Distance: 3 miles

To know: Beware of crowds in Madison Square Park during rush hour and, when circling Gramercy Park, be even more aware of dog poo. Consider yourselves warned.

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37 thoughts on “NYC Running Routes”

  1. Looking forward to trying out some of these at the weekend – and wondering if I have long enough to do all of them :-)

    • Stacy Lazar said:

      Feel free to shoot me an email if you need recommendations on good places to run near whatever you’re staying!

      • Thanks Stacy! I was in NY last weekend and used the first of your routes for a little Saturday morning jog. Of course, my internal navigation system was totally off despite repeatedly studying the route and I ended up doing 5 miles instead of 4. But I loved it! Central Park is a runner’s paradise!

      • Stacy Lazar said:

        I am so happy you were able to use one of the CP routes! Awesome. It is an amazing place – even if I can’t be there now :( Glad SOMEONE got to enjoy it’s perfect pathways.

  2. Thanks for all of the choices of running routes. My wife and I will be traveling to NYC later this month, staying near 39th/Lexington. Your post are just what we were looking for. I especially appreciate the info on water stops for my long run. Thanks again, and take care.

  3. Just discovered your blog, and I LOVE IT. This is SUCH a great resource! Thank you so much! You’re definitely getting linked to my lil’ blog start-up, and I’ll be a regular reader from now on!

  4. I love your running routes–especially since I start and end in the same area as you. Thanks for putting these together–they motivate me to get out the door. :)

    • Stacy Lazar said:

      Thanks so much, Nicole! I’ve been in a bit of a lull in terms of originality lately — kind of just been hitting up these routes a bunch. Hopefully in the coming months I’ll be able to keep adding. Any you’d suggest?

  5. We’re headed to NYC this weekend, and we’re thinking the High Line is a pretty safe route to do 3-4 mi on Sunday morning. We’re staying in the financial district, so we’ll take the subway, then just run up and back. Can you suggest anywhere to grab a quick bite to eat when we’re done? Grab and go is fine since we’ll be sweaty, but want something kind of good. :) Would Chelsea Market be appropriate?

    • Stacy Lazar said:

      Chelsea Market is always a good one, though if you’re down with an upscale diner that serves all local ingredients, then I definitely suggest Westville (I believe on 18th b/w 7 and 8, but look it up!). They have awesome veggie starters and, my fave, a mint lemonade and prosecco smoothie. Enjoy!!

      • I don’t know if post-run sweat + upscale diner mixes well? :) I’m NOT pretty when I’m done running! What do you think?

  6. I’ve never run in a city. Do you run on the street or the sidewalk?

    • Stacy Lazar said:

      I guess it depends where I am. In midtown, it’s super busy, so I stick to the sidewalk for safety reasons. But further downtown I’m able to run in the street I suppose — with caution! My goal is always to get to a park or promenade though.

  7. Thanks for this. Im from charlotte nc and headed with family for july fourth week so looking to do some new routes. Ran in nyc last june and last december so will try out a couple above. Im looking for 8 to 12 mile routes. Will likely run daily that week while there to suck it all in. Staying at roosevelt hotel so seems in the right area for these routes.

    • Stacy Lazar said:

      Right near home! I’ll try to think of other good ones. Have you thought about going up the west side to toward the GW bridge?

  8. I havent. How far of a run there and back would it be?

  9. My first run there will be july 1st am prob 530ish. How far north of riverside park is it? Ive been as far north as grants tomb but not far beyond that.

    • Stacy Lazar said:

      I’ve only run up to about 96th street and back, that way I can cross over into Central Park and change up the view a bit.

      I’m also a big fan of running around the tip of Manhattan, which would take you about 10 miles total from where you’re staying. Start on the east side at 34th street, and you’ll end up passing all 3 bridges, heading west by the ferry, and heading back up the west side (which is a helluva lot nicer than the east side). If you do it super early, you can probably hit the high line just as it’s opening at 7AM. Now that it’s build further up, you can hop on in the Meatpacking District around 12th and hop off at 30th and 10th Ave.

  10. I ran from last summer over to west side from 45th st and then down to tip and back up east side. Nice run and enjoyed seeing all the asians doing morning tai chi over lower east. West side is much nicer though, had to do a lot of shifting on east due to construction.

    Is running over williamsburg br a good one?

    • Stacy Lazar said:

      I did that one a few weeks ago and actually really enjoyed it. It’s a lot less crowded than the Brooklyn Bridge, but not as ugly (err, I mean urban) as Queensboro. If you can swing it on a weekend, there’s a really cool little thing called Smorgasborg right on the other side of the bridge with awesome views of Manhattan and tons of great artisanal bites to eat.

  11. Thanks. I think day one run i will go from hotel to williamsburg bridge then to brooklyn bridge and back up east to start (or maybe up west to start depending on distance). Think that would be a reasonable longish run?

  12. Meaning btw OVER williamsburg bridge to Brooklyn bridge then OVER it

  13. Sorry to bug you again…

    Im looking at maps, and want to ask if its viable to run from Roosevelt Hotel, to 59th across Queensborough Bridge and then down Brooklyn near river to the Williamsburg bridge over and back to base?

    specifically, will I be able to do such a path and stay clear of big highways and is it safe neighborhoodwise?

    if so, weather permitting Im going to go for that run this Monday AM.

    Anyone out there viewing this conversation that is up for long run could feel free to join, prob do 9 min pace give or take. Will be sightseeing w my girls and wife later so will be an early run.

    • Mission accomplished

      Didnt get a reply here so just winged it today. I will share my adventure in case anyone wants to duplicate this one.

      Woke up at 515am and walked out front of Roosevelt Hotel to 45th st. A little stretch and then fired up the garmin. This was the first moment at reminded me I wasnt in Charlotte, NC anymore. Darned garmin could not get a signal lock so I wasted 10 minutes trying to find sattelites and eventually got a strong signal at corner 47 and madison.

      So, off we go…

      Ran to 59th and tookma right but was flagged down by a paper guy telling me i was headed up wrong way. Seems that i was headd up a cement path to my doom, along the car lanes up Queenborough bridge, so I followed the sage advice of my new friend and turned around and crossed the street to the walking path proper.

      This is then when I discovered the hippocracy of bikers. There was a distinct bike and walking lane division as there is on Brooklyn bridge, and I carefully stayed to my lane. The bikers though…who yelled at me last year on Brooklyn bridge for straying, seemed to be all in my business in pedestrian lane, but view was neat. Love the mid river baseball field.

      Got to Brooklyn side and asked a frindly law enforcement official best way to get to Williamsburg bridge, and she informed me it would be a long way. Thanks :). Well, she said to go to Jackson and head straight to Pulaski Bridge and from there look for river.

      Check.

      Got over Pulaski, and hit a bunch of neighboorhoods with graffeti, and must be trash day, lots of trashbags around. Still, not too bad to run in. Asked a couple of other runners for directions and went towards a park I think called McCarren park ( may be wrong) and then went towards Berry drive which took me to bridge. Turns out it was above my head so anohter runner, friendly short Indian guy with deceptively fast pace, ran with me to show me path, ramp, up bridge.

      I ran over Williamsburg bridge and midway had to lose the shirt. It just dripped water and prob had two pounds of sweat in it.

      Entered Manhattan and bought a low cal gatorade to help hydrate and help,the shot blocks id been using every 2 miles. Ran a few blocks in and started heading north.

      Saw a few other runners but mostly peeps out doing their morning routines or going to work.

      Pause here…in Charlotte, other runners always wave or give a thumbs up…interesting how customs vary in thos country. People in the big city really need to wall themselves away dont they? I did however try to greet other runners with a courtesy. ;)

      Finally got back to start, and overall I will say it was much much fun.

      Totals:

      11.12 miles. 1238 cals. 1 hr 40 mins. 9 min mile

      Will go shorter tomorrow, maybe central park loop. Wuld love if any local reading this wants to join me in the AM july 2 to pull me through prior to 7 am since ive got tired legs now.

      Btw, returned to hotel room to find my girls (age 7 and 11) and wife completely knocked out and oblivious to my adventures. :)

      Fun morning.

      • Stacy Lazar said:

        Wow, so invigorated by this Brad! Thanks for sharing! Sounds like you had a phenomenal run … and all while the family was sound asleep. Sounds like a typical morning in my household :) And sorry I couldn’t respond sooner! I’ve been away with limited access to any form of technology besides my phone. Which I’m super thankful for right now! Disconnected = very necessary.

  14. Hi Stacy, thanks so much for this page. I’m visiting from New Zealand and found your blog a few months ago when I was planning the trip. After arriving yesterday, I went for my first run this morning, following your advice about starting early and hit the streets about 6:30am – even then the streets seemed pretty busy by my standards! I would usually only see 4-5 people on my entire run at that time of the morning. Inspired by your description of running in Central Park I headed up there from our hotel on 42nd, and ended up doing a 6 mile run including a few km’s in the park.

    Tomorrow I’m hoping to find the High Line and incorporate that into my run. Without your advice above I would have probably just ended up going around the avenues and streets randomly and missed the highlights – you have a beautiful city for running in, thanks so much for sharing your knowledge.

    • Stacy Lazar said:

      Hi David,

      Thanks so much, and welcome to NYC! It’s tough in the summer here, but you picked a great weekend — it’s been cool and kind of pleasant. Had you come last week, I’d have felt really bad. I’m so glad you were able to hit Central Park, it’s amazing there. Isn’t it wild how crowded the city gets so early? If you want silence, early weekend runs are the best — but those are also the most difficult to wake up for naturally. And to your follow-up note, I’m so sorry you didn’t get to see the High Line! I did know that they open up their gates at 7am (I learned the hard way a year or so ago), but fortunately you were able to make your way to the water. The West Side Highway is one of my favorite places in the city, just far from my apartment. Hope you’ll make it back to the High Line soon.

      My fingers are crossed for a New Zealand honeymoon next summer, so perhaps I’ll find myself running on your side of the world not too long from now.

      Thanks again for your kind note :)

  15. Just an update – you probably knew this, but the High Line gates don’t open until 7am! so I was a bit stymied at 6am this morning, and just had a nice run along the Hudson instead – will get up later and try the High Line tomorrow ‘cos it looks really nice and now I’ve seen it I really want to run it!

  16. If you are going 10 plus a great run is to go up west side to grants tomb and then head eastwards towards central park west and then head down west side of the perimeter dirt path road back to columbus circle. I did it last month starting fro grand central and was about 12 miles overall. Enjoyed it and good things to see.

    • Stacy Lazar said:

      I’ve never been up as far as GT, but have been meaning to! Maybe the next time I actually train for something :) Glad you enjoyed NYC’s running pathways in all their splendor.

  17. Thanks for your posting!!! Can’t wait for an early morning run!!! :)

  18. Daniel Rothman said:

    I live right near GC and im training for marathon now. This is amazing. Thank you.

  19. OK. So, I’m a 50-year-old woman, who, in a 4-week stretch, decided to trade in the high heels for sneakers – i.e., a personal trainer certification (3 weeks left of this 3-month/300-hr. course) – AND train for my first half-marathon (Jan. in Miami). I decided that, once I reached 4 miles at a comfortable 5 MPH average pace, I’d transition from the (relative) comfort of the treadmill & A/C to the pavement and pollution. Hit the milestone this morning and proceeded to an online search for route recommendations that start and end in my area (Murray Hill)… which led me to your delightful blog. Thank you, Stacy!! This old new runner is truly grateful for the many wonderful ideas. Be well and be happy… in Philly and/or wherever you may roam.

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