Beyond Manhattan—New York City's 4 Best Island Running Routes

Edward Blake
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Sometimes the art of adventure means exploring the semi-unknown. For many of us in New York City, that might just mean venturing off the small island hub that is Manhattan. Luckily you don't have to go far. These four island running routes are all just a run or ferry ride away from Manhattan. Put on your running shoes and get ready for some urban adventures, one island at a time. Or go big and try to run every island in a day!

1. Statue of Liberty

Even the Statue of Liberty has room for a run
Even the Statue of Liberty has room for a run David Jones

You'll need to catch a ferry to this park, but it's worth it for the historical and cultural significance alone. Checking out Lady Liberty is a must-do for tourists and New Yorkers, and what better way to do it than by lacing up your running shoes for a few laps of the statue's small island park home? Be aware that crowds are thick no matter when you go, but a mid-day, mid-week visit is usually the least crowded option. Even then, you won't get in those sprint intervals. Plan for a relaxing jog better suited for people watching than serious training.

2. Roosevelt Island

Four Freedoms Park is a green oasis between Manhattan and
Four Freedoms Park is a green oasis between Manhattan and Sean's fotos

Roosevelt Island is a tiny sliver of heaven with amazing views of midtown Manhattan and the Queensboro Bridge. Situated between Queens and Manhattan proper, it's accessible via the F train on the subway (with only one stop on the island, you can't miss it), or by running the Roosevelt Island Bridge, down 36th street. The island itself is ringed by a three and a half-mile promenade path, perfect for running multiple loops or adding a scenic 5K to your standard route. At the far end of the island, take in the sleek beauty of Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park and its tree-lined views of the water and the city.

3. Randall's Island

Running on a track has never had a cooler backdrop than the cityscape you can view at Randall's Island
Running on a track has never had a cooler backdrop than the cityscape you can view at Randall's Island Steven Pisano

Just a footbridge away from Manhattan, the eight miles of pedestrian and bicycle paths on Randall's Island are relatively quiet compared to Central Park. It's only packed when events like Lollapalooza, the Vans Warped Tour, or Cirque du Soleil and the Electric Zoo are in town, but thankfully for us outside adventurers, that doesn’t happen too often, making Randall’s Island a calmer alternative to the hustle of the city.

The paths themselves are fairly nondescript, but it’s the perfect spot when you want to go for a run without being at the mercy of stoplights and pedestrians. Run one loop or two for a long run within sight of Manhattan nearly the entire time. The park is entirely car-free (except for shuttle buses). Views of Manhattan across the East River are fantastic, and the park is fully equipped with restrooms, water fountains, and even a cafe.

The park is situated in the East River (run the East River Promenade and use the footbridge to access the island) and lies between East Harlem, the South Bronx, and Astoria in Queens.

4. Governor’s Island

Governors Island has waterfront paths with a city skyline view
Governors Island has waterfront paths with a city skyline view @Gov_Island

In the summer, Governor’s Island is the best spot if you love the outdoors and art. However, it's only open seasonally and closes September 27. Mark your calendar for its reopening next spring. The park itself offers great running and cycling paths, and, with a ferry running from Manhattan or Brooklyn Bridge Park, it's an easily accessible. It's also an excellent way to sneak a bit of culture into a run, or turn a long run into a fun day with a short ferry break for recovery.

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