Central Park is so much more than just a large park in the middle of Manhattan. From people meditating, and practicing tai chi, to bikers, strollers, runners, & rollerbladers, and people playing every sport imaginable, Central Park has it all.
And for those looking for a bastion of peace and tranquility, it is beautifully landscaped with ponds, rolling hills, and the most gorgeous trees – especially the Cherry Blossom trees in the spring. It has a couple of cafes and restaurants, but most people bring their own food and snacks and picnic in the park, enjoying each other’s company and a bit of people watching. For us vegans, I would highly recommend bringing your own food and enjoying a casual picnic in the park. There’s a wonderful vegan takeout named Blossom Du Jour, a couple of blocks away on Amsterdam Avenue between 67th & 68th Streets. There is also a vegan sushi takeout named Beyond Sushi a few blocks away on 56th near 6th Avenue, and there is a Whole Foods right on Columbus Circle (south west corner of the park) with lots of yummy vegan buffet items and vegan deserts for your picnic in the park.
Here’s some notes from the Central Park Conservancy on Running in the Park:
Offering both hilly and flat terrain and a combination of surfaces, Central Park is a runner’s paradise. The site of the TCS New York City Marathon’s final 3.2 miles, Central Park offers both a scenic and challenging course to all levels of runners. There are three optimal places to run in Central Park:
The Reservoir: A soft surface, the Reservoir track is a 1.58-mile loop offering some of the best skyline views in the Park. In spring, cherry trees alongside the track are in bloom. Central Park Conservancy is renovating the Reservoir Running Track. Renovation work will occur in sections to cause as little disruption as possible. Runners will be diverted to the nearby bridle path, which has been prepared in anticipation of the increase in use. Learn more about the Reservoir and the renovation project here.
Bridle Path: Runners can choose from three conjoined soft surface routes: The Reservoir loop, adjacent to the Reservoir Track, totals 1.66 miles; the North Meadow loop totals 1.1 miles; and the southern spur totals 1.5 miles.
Park Drives: Circling the entire Park, the drives provide three long-distance routes – 6.1 miles, 5.2 miles, or 1.7 miles, or shorter distances if you cross the Park at a number of scenic locations. The best time to run on the drives is when the Park is closed to traffic: Monday through Friday, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, and weekends from 7:00 pm Friday to 6:00 am Monday.
When the Park is open to traffic, a runners’ lane is always available, but we do not recommend running along the Park drives when they are open to traffic. The Park is officially closed from 1:00 am-6:00 am. New York Road Runners is the premier sponsor of running events in Central Park. Visit NYRR.org for a list of upcoming events.
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