On any given day in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan, you can find a block party, parade, or festival taking over the city’s streets. But there is only one day each year that all five boroughs join together in a massive 26.2-mile-long televised street closure that involves five bridges, 50,000 amateur and professional athletes, and 12,000 volunteers. 


A highlight of Gotham’s fall calendar, the New York City Marathon returns this year on Sunday, November 5, 2023. If you’re one of the estimated 2.5 million spectators who intend to attend what The New York Times called “the city’s biggest block party,” you’re going to want to do a little planning beforehand to make sure you can navigate the city to find that ideal vantage point to cheer on runners, catch a bite, or grab a drink.


Know the Course

The race–which involves five bridges–starts in Staten Island at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and winds its way through Brooklyn and Queens before its final leg in Manhattan, The Bronx, and back to Manhattan to the finish line in Central Park. 


Since no spectators are allowed on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, scratch Staten Island off your list of places to watch the race. In Brooklyn, we recommend any spot along Fourth Avenue. If you’re watching in Queens, we like 51st Street. In the Bronx, try 138th Street from Alexander Avenue to Third Avenue. Since the final leg is in Manhattan, anywhere is terrific. If you want to try Central Park, you’ll need to do some extra planning. More on that later.


Take the Subway

The Marathon famously ties up New York’s already traffic-challenged streets. Don’t try taking a car or even a CitiBike. Even on foot, you may not be able to cross the street if it’s part of the course. Your best/only option is underground. 


Get the App

The TCS New York City Marathon App provides up-to-date information during race week. On race day, you can track your favorite runners to make sure that you’re there to cheer them on when they pass you. You can even see them cross the finish line right in the palm of your hand.


Finish line? Navigating Central Park

Maneuvering Central Park on Marathon Day is tricky for first-timers. You’ll have a near-impossible time entering the park on the east and south sides. We recommend taking the C train to 72nd Street and then walking through the park. Grandstand seating at the finish line is a hot commodity. Save this link and check back to get tickets when they go on sale.



The best way to be a part of the race without having to go through months of training and the grueling 26.2-mile course is to sign up as a volunteer. Each year, over 12,000 people volunteer their time to set up stations, pass out water, and support the runners. For information on volunteer opportunities, visit the NYC Road Runners website. All you need is a great attitude and comfortable shoes. Depending on your shift, you may be on your feet for a while. After all, it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.


Picking a Restaurant or Bar 

When it’s all said and done, you and your runner will probably want to grab a meal to celebrate! Do a little research beforehand to find a bar or restaurant on or near the course. Since Marathon Day translates into big business for these places, expect crowds and long restroom lines. Call ahead to see if you’ll need a reservation. 


Did you catch the running bug after watching the marathon? Check out these beginner-friendly NYC Running Clubs!