Six Great Running Routes in NYC

by Leah Serinsky
Running along the Hudson River. Photo: Ozan Hatipoglu / Flickr

New York is a city for running. (And biking, more and more.) Here are three scenic routes around rivers and bridges, with easy and hard variations for each.

NEW YORK CITY – I scream, you scream, we all screamed for ice cream all summer long. And now we must pay for it in the form of exercise.

But all joy is not lost. The tail end of summer and early fall makes for perfect running conditions. There's still an early sunrise, it's light until late, and, in the case of NYC, you can get inspired by marathoners going on long training runs. Here are three city loops to keep you on your feet.

West SIde Running Map

FOR THE TOURIST: The Hudson River Run

You love the Central Park loop, but you're looking for some local flavor. Or a gorgeous sunset. Either way, head west. The Hudson River Greenway is a favorite among walkers, runners, cyclists, and everyone in between. Though afternoons along the Hudson tend to get crowded, this route's easy on-off access and proximity to some of the city's best sights makes it just about the perfect route.

Where: The path runs from the Bronx all the way down to Battery Park and is accessible from nearly anywhere.
Length: 8.89 miles (regular) or 2.94 miles (short).
Cut it short: The out-and-back nature of this route is really flexible. Turn around at 14th Street for a three-mile loop or head uptown to 79th to get four.
When to go: Early morning or early evening. During the day, there is limited shade and lots of foot traffic.
Good to know: You'll share the path with cyclists, so stay alert. Above 72nd Street tends to be more tranquil.
What you'll see: From bottom to top, highlights include the Statue of Liberty, Chelsea Piers, USS Intrepid, art installations, the George Washington Bridge.
Route map: Regular | Short

Want more expertise like this? Discover the city's best beginner biking routes and get our guide to becoming a better traveler when you sign up for our weekly newsletter.

East River Running Map

FOR THE LOCAL: The East River Run

If you're ready to break out of your long-run routine, try this route that is definitely NFT. Bet you've never run like anywhere like this before.

Where: From the top of Central Park over the RFK Bridge to Randall's Island to Queens and back.
Length: 16.07 miles (regular) or 5.26 miles (short).
Cut it short: Skip Queens. Head over the 125th St. Bridge and run along the west side of Randall's Island. Cut across the Ward's Island Bridge and follow FDR to 110th Street for a five-miler.
When to go: Anytime.
Good to know: Even though this run is on the city streets, you won't have to break your stride: The route avoids a lot of foot and car traffic. If you need them, Randall's Island has bathrooms and water fountains
What you'll see: Killer waterfront views of Manhattan, Hell's Gate Bridge, Astoria, Queensboro Bridge. Did I mention beautiful views?
Route map: Regular | Short

Bridges Running Map

FOR THE ADVENTURER: The Five Bridges Run

Rather go island hopping? The Five Bridges route criss-crosses three boroughs and is perfect for the seasoned NYC runner who is ready for a little adventure.

Where: Practically everywhere. The bridges you'll cross include 59th St. Bridge, the Pulaski Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, and, last but never least, the Brooklyn Bridge.
Length: 16.68 miles (regular) or 3.37 miles (short).
Cut it short: Run two bridges instead: Start at Borough Hall and head directly over the Brooklyn Bridge. Cut across to the Manhattan Bridge and back down to the starting point.
When to go: To avoid traffic, definitely go early weekend mornings. Sunday is best.
Good to know: The course is a bit complicated. If you're new to the city, bring a friend
What you'll see: The better question is, what won't you see?
Route map: Regular | Short

Keep Exploring NYC

6 Awesome Beginner Biking Routes in NYC
A Walking and Eating Tour of Harlem
How Locals Spend a Sunday: Dancing in Brooklyn

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.