Fitness nerds, rejoice: here are your people. I wander through the crowds and my moderate pace (better to take pictures and run) is quickly usurped by a few profoundly sweaty runners with strides that put mine to shame. There’s a gaggle of women jogging next to me, but they keep their pace brisk. Cyclists whiz by, largely clad in spandex. In the middle of the park, you’ll see more strollers and people walking, but the outer loop is pretty much all business.
What Makes It Great
You’ll find a place with similar vibe to Central Park, just scaled down, though with better food trucks. There aren’t as many people, and the people who are there seem to know exactly what they’re doing: people aren’t lost and wandering, they’re running with a purpose, or toting in picnic lunches to sit in their favorite shady spots. It’s a simpler scene than the bustle of Midtown, but busy enough that people-watching is still hilarious more often than not. Sure, there’s no amusement park set up on the ice skating rink in the summer—actually, there’s no ice skating rink in general—but if you’re just trying to enjoy a run or a ride, this is a significantly less cramped option.
There are plenty of choices available at the park: you can hit the road on the main loop for a run, hop onto some gravel paths for a break, or even slip on to some of the less-traveled trails to give your brain a break from the pavement. The primary loop is about four miles, but crisscrossing through the park can add in a few extra.
The park itself does call to mind Central Park, and for good reason: both were designed by the famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Prospect Park takes up 585 acres and features a massive meadow (the “Long Meadow,” compared to Central Park’s “Great Meadow”) as well as a lake and Brooklyn’s only forest.
There are exits at almost every corner, and unlike Central Park, which can feel overwhelming—and intensely easy to get lost in—at times, Prospect Park is simpler to navigate, and significantly less claustrophic.
Once your run is over—or before, if you feel the need to preload—Prospect Park has one major thing over Central Park: epic food trucks. From ethnic to organic to classic, there’s something everyone will love, and they’re all huddled right at the park’s main entrance, near the massive arch that defines Grand Army Plaza.
If you love a good hipster brunch, just walk down any of the nearby streets and within a mile, you’ll find hundreds of funky but elegant places to stop for a mimosa and a crab omelet (or whatever you’re craving at the time).
Who is Going to Love It
Need a place to do your run intervals? Prospect Park has you covered.
If you like the idea of Central Park but find the crowds a little hard to contend with, head into Brooklyn to Prospect Park.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
It’s a short subway ride from Midtown (just take the 2 or 3 to Grand Army Plaza) and well worth the trip.