Running in New York City: Central Park Review

Experiencing the Big Apple as a runner…

There are few better places to run in the world than Central Park in New York City.

The Park provides the perfect escapism from the hustle and bustle of the City That Never Sleeps.

Diverse terrain, picturesque scenery and traffic-free paths and roads only serve to enhance the running experience in Central Park.

In fact, you feel an element of new-found freedom when running through it.

And, indeed, it’s little wonder that the Park serves as the finale to November’s New York Marathon major event.

Running in Central Park

I visited the Big Apple for the second time in September, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to experience running in the Park.

I managed to squeeze in three highly enjoyable workouts — two in the morning and one in the evening.

And, given I was staying on W 49th St – just off 7th Avenue — it was a quick and easy jog each time to reach the Park on W 59th St.


As you can see from Strava, I tweaked my routes slightly each time — and there is ample scope to do that.

A full loop of Central Park is about 6.1 miles (almost 10km) — with the route taking in Park Drives on the West and East sides of the Park, with a few intersections interspersed.

That, for me, was definitely the most appealing and satisfying offering – featuring slopes, straights, ups and downs.

Alternative routes

Should you so wish, a double-loop of either the lower or upper sections of the Park is roughly five miles, while the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir offers a beautiful 1.5 mile stretch and great views.

The Park also has two Bridle Path Loops to tackle, both of which are on dirt.

The full loop is 2.5 miles, taking runners from the Reservoir and through the North Meadow Fields — before rejoining the West Drive.

Stunning: The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.

There are also several New York running clubs, many of which meet up regularly in Central Park. So, if you’re new to the city, I’d definitely recommend getting involved with one of them!

Running etiquette 

Thankfully, cars were effectively banned from driving through Central Park in June 2018 — meaning you don’t have to watch out for oncoming vehicles now.

Though, what you do need to do is ensure you stick to the right-hand lane throughout when running — and also keep an eye out for cyclists and skaters!

Escapism: Getaway from busy Manhattan.

Overall, experiencing the Park as a runner (or walker) should be a must-do on any New York City visitors’ itinerary.

So, don’t forget to pack your runners!

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