5 Great Spots to Cheer, Eat and Shop Along the Marathon Route in Harlem

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

Marathon runners looping around Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem.
Marathon runners looping around Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem.

The New York City Marathon is finally back this Sunday after a pandemic-induced pause, which means it's time to pick a favorite place along the 26.2-mile route and cheer on the 30,000 runners participating this year.

One of the best places to catch the action? Miles 22 and 23 in Harlem, which has a less-crowded, almost small-town feel.

This 42-block stretch—Fifth Avenue from E 138th Street to E 96th Street, with a short detour around Marcus Garvey Park—is where you'll find tons of great music, inspirational messages and lively cheering.

For those planning to attend, here are a few notable spots to watch, eat and shop along the route, starting at around noon. And if you want to glimpse the elite runners, get there early—around 10:45am.

From north to south:

Watch: Final entrance into Manhattan Madison Avenue Bridge exit ramp, E 138th Street and Fifth Avenue

This is the spot where runners re-enter Manhattan from the Bronx for the last stretch of the race—and really need your encouragement. Look for DJs, fun signs and plenty of other encouragement.

Harlem's Shake Shack has huge windows facing Fifth Avenue, the route of the New York City Marathon

Eat: Shake Shack 1 W 125th St and Fifth Ave

The large windows here look directly onto Fifth Avenue, making it the perfect spot to grab a quick burger while watching the race outside.

Watch: Harlem Run Cheer Station 124th Street and Fifth Avenue

Join local running collective Harlem Run from noon onwards as they cheer on marathoners approaching the bend around brownstone-lined Marcus Garvey Park. (Local ice cream shop Sugar Hill Creamery, a short walk from the park, is scooping a limited-edition flavor called "Harlem Run-aissance" in honor of the running group.)

Shop: Grandma's Place 84 W 120th between Mt. Morris Park W and Lenox Ave

Chosen by Nico Heller of @newyorknico as one of his three favorite small businesses near the marathon route (it's for a new Mastercard campaign), this children's toy and book shop run by former educator Dawn Harris-Martin struggled to survive during the pandemic, but is now back after a rousing crowd-funding campaign. Stop by and show your support with a purchase.

All of Teranga's windows face Fifth Avenue and the New York Marathon route

Eat: Teranga, 1280 Fifth Ave between E 109th and E 110th Sts

Grab a grain-based bowl at this colorful West African spot located on mile 23 of the race. Once you've made your selection, eat your lunch by the windows overlooking Fifth Avenue and all of the action.

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