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A riverside runner in lower Manhattan

A boardwalk through beach grass.

joanne rathe strohmeyer/globe staff

A boardwalk through beach grass.

On a girls’ autumn weekend my friends and I decided to stay in Lower Manhattan, home to the financial district.

The 9/11 Memorial at the site of the former World Trade Center has brought thousands of tourists to this area. From our hotel, the New York Marriott Downtown at 85 West St., next to the memorial, we planned a short excursion to the Museum of Jewish Heritage and lunch at the Stone Street Historic District, a row of unique eateries along the pedestrian-only street with rows of outdoor seating and heat lamps. But it was a surprise adventure that I will remember most.

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I got up early and checked in with the hotel’s front desk for a running route. The clerk recommended Battery Park City across the way. I crossed busy West Street and ran west a block to the Hudson River. I came upon the Esplanade, a beautiful path filled with walking, running, and biking enthusiasts. There in dawn’s early light were the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The magical path runs from Battery Park, at the southern point, north about 1.5 miles through woodsy encounters, over lagoons, through tall beach grass, around a marina, and juts out on Pier 25 past beach volleyball and mini-golf. There are multiple pathways along the way, so you can opt for routes with stairs to “up” the cardio or with inviting art installations. Look west to the boat traffic of a working city, east as the rising sun casts shadows through giant skyscraper canyons.

If looping around the Esplanade isn’t long enough, you can connect to the Hudson River Greenway, which stretches about 12 miles along the river. I stopped time and time again to snap photos on my iPhone to show my sleeping friends back at the hotel what they missed.

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