• New York City is meant to be explored from the streets. Running might give you an experience of the city you won’t get at a walking pace.
  • Favorite running routes: Hudson River Park, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, and Gantry Plaza State Park.

Beyond the megascreen in Times Square and the $1 pizza shops that exist on every other street, you’ll know that you’re in New York City when Google Maps tells you that walking 20 blocks is faster than taking the MTA. You’ll quickly realize this is a place that is meant to be explored from the streets. As a former high school track athlete and avid runner, I can guarantee you that running through New York City may give you an experience that you will not get walking that “New York City pace.”

Whether you are training for the annual New York City Marathon or catching a good whiff of that fresh air before your 8 a.m. class, here are some of my favorite running routes you must experience in the city! 

1. Hudson River Park

Little Island in New York City, a location along the one of the author’s favorite running routes.
Little Island in New York City.
The New Jersey skyline from Hudson River Park Pier 46.
The New Jersey skyline from Hudson River Park Pier 46.

During my first year at NYU, this was my go-to route before most of my morning classes. Many of my friends can say the same too. This park is only a mile away from Brittany Hall (my first-year residence) and offers some of the best sunrise views overlooking the Hudson River and New Jersey skyline. The mornings tend to be much less crowded than the afternoons. (Plus, there are more people walking their cute dogs in the mornings!) But the sunsets are just as stunning. I also highly recommend making the trek to Little Island near Pier 54. It’s a unique urban oasis not found anywhere else in the city. To finish this run, you can either head to Chelsea Market for a quick meal or to Pier 45 to stretch on the turf. 

2. Central Park

Trees in Central Park during the fall.
Just look at all that foliage in Central Park in the fall!

Can you even consider yourself a real NYU student if you haven’t visited Central Park at least once? Central Park is the ultimate runner’s dream. And when you run there for the first time, you will easily understand why the New York City Marathon has its final miles there every year! Yes, the hills may seem to go on forever, but running past Belvedere Castle and Gapstow Bridge will make the lactic acid burning through your calves worth it. Although it may be colder, fall is one of THE best times to run in Central Park. Why? The gorgeous foliage. And a Central Park run would not be complete without sunbathing in Sheep Meadow or trying a chocolate chip cookie from Levain Bakery on the Upper East Side! 

3. Brooklyn Bridge

A pedestrian’s view of the East River from the Brooklyn Bridge.
A view of the East River from the Brooklyn Bridge.
The Brooklyn Bridge with pedestrians.
The Brooklyn Bridge.

Although you can technically take the free NYU shuttle from the Manhattan campus to the Brooklyn campus, this would take the fun out of walking or running 3.2 miles over the Brooklyn Bridge. You don’t want to miss the chance to experience Jane’s Carousel and the Brooklyn Bridge Park altogether. As a person who has run this route before, I suggest going before noon to avoid crowds. And even if the bike lane seems empty, stay out of it. Those cyclists can show up very quickly. Make sure to have a camera or phone with you to take pictures of the bridge itself either during or after your run. Also, don’t forget to stop in Chinatown afterward for some dim sum! 

4. Gantry Plaza State Park

Gantry Plaza State Park.
Clear skies in Gantry Plaza State Park!

It may be your Gossip Girl era, but that doesn’t mean you can’t escape the city for at least one day (preferably before noon) to experience Queens in Long Island City! It is just a short 7 train ride to Gantry Plaza State Park. And this route will give you one of the best views of the New York City skyline along the East River. You can see the Chrysler Building, One World Trade Center, and even one of the NYU Langone Health hospitals. Definitely run north to take a picture with the iconic Pepsi Cola Sign. And if you have time, ride the New York City ferry too! 

But Before You Go...

While you may be dying to put on your running shoes and watch the sunrise from the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time, it is still extremely important that you prioritize your safety. (After all, this is New York City!) Here are some tips to consider if you are running in the city for the first time:

  • Stay in populated and well-lit areas.
  • Run against traffic so you can be aware of approaching automobiles.
  • Run in a group.
  • Try not to wear headphones or earbuds, especially if you are new to the route.
  • Always carry some form of identification in case of emergency.

With that being said, it is also completely OK if you are nervous to run in the concrete jungle for the first time! New York City has many indoor tracks, like The Armory. NYU also has multiple treadmills on campus. Check out Palladium, 404 Fitness, and the Paulson Center.

Wherever you decide to run, I hope it will only broaden your love for the city! 

Hi! I’m Michelle (she/her/hers), a sophomore pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the Rory Meyers College of Nursing. I am a native New Yorker, born and raised in Queens, who is re-discovering my love for the city as an NYU student. On campus, I am an Admissions Ambassador and on the Eboards for UNSO (Undergraduate Nursing Student Organization) and SGA (Student Government Assembly). When I am not giving tours or memorizing 100+ flashcards for anatomy, you can find me either running by the Hudson River, baking brownies for my friends, or reading in the NYU Law courtyard.