Finding a go-to spot in urban areas can be somewhat of a challenge, but once you know where to run you’ll be there every day — and chances are you’ll meet a friend or two along the way. But urban areas can also present different challenges than those that might be experienced in a more rural or suburban neighborhood, which means you’ll have to take extra care to ensure that where you run is safe. Here are a few great places to run, and a few tips on how to remain safe while you’re away from home.
Roosevelt Island is the former site of the Blackwell Island penitentiary, but now it’s prime real estate for runners. The island is just large enough for a great workout (3.6 miles the entire way around), but there isn’t much traffic if you wanted to explore away from the trail. Best part? It’s scenic, with great sunrise and sunset views across the water to the east or west.
If you only have time for a short run, we recommend visiting the High Line, a 1.45-mile track above the road. It’s described by city officials as an “elevated park” and it fits the bill nicely. A very scenic way to explore part of Manhattan, and with headphones you can almost trick yourself into thinking that it’s peaceful, too.
Head down to the Bronx to take in Van Cortlandt Park. You’ll be surrounded by the green tunnel the whole way through, but that means the opportunity to forget you’re in one of the biggest cities in the world is at hand. The park boasts a 400-meter track, but there are also plenty of cross country trails through the greenery — 14 miles of them to be exact — and you’ll also find historical significance (George Washington slept in a house nearby).
Because running is still seen as animalistic behavior (deep down you’re either the predator or the prey!), we recommend sticking to off-road bike paths or well-traveled parks. Central Park is the most obvious destination for daytime runners (and we never recommend running at night, no matter how much you like it). Still, unprompted incidents with the authorities have been known to occur here from time to time. If you find yourself the subject of one of these “routine stops,” then it’s time to call a discrimination attorney.
New York is known for its many parks beside the water, and if you like those then you’ll probably enjoy Hudson River Park — but you should know that you’ll find about a bazillion other runners if you go there. You’ll also notice other people enjoying water activities like kayaking. Many outdoor classes are scheduled to take place in this park.
Run along the West Side Highway for views of the George Washington Bridge and Little Red Lighthouse. This beautiful run can become crowded, but it will become more sparsely populated the farther north you go — especially on weekends.