5 Spots To Check Out Along The Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn 5-Mile Course

Grand Army Plaza, Photo: Courtesy of Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series

Need something to focus on while you’re running this weekend’s Synchrony Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn 5-Mile race—in addition to the bands and your fellow competitors? There’s something along the course to feed your interest, no matter what it is. Get the intel on five spots—plus some talking points (or thinking points, if you’re at your threshold) to make the miles fly even faster.

FOR THE ART LOVER: The Brooklyn Museum

NYC’s third largest museum isn’t the only place to be at the start of the race, it’s the place to be on the first Saturday evening of the month, when admission and entertainment is free. Each month has a different roster, but there’s entertainment all night long. October’s lineup even featured a salsa party with lessons.

Ask your friends if they saw: Last year’s exhibit on The Rise of Sneaker Culture, which featured about 150 pairs of sneaks—including the iconic Nike waffle trainers, whose soles were prototyped on Bill Bowerman’s wife’s waffle iron. If not, tell them they can still hit the museum now and see animal mummies, plus a large global collection that spans works from Ancient Egypt to of-the-moment artists.

FOR THE GARDENER: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

To think of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden as home of the annual cherry blossom festival is to cheat the rest of its impressive 52 acres—and the other 51 weeks of the year—worth the attention. There’s always something amazing in the conservatories of all types, including a Japanese garden, rose garden, Shakespeare garden, and even a rock garden—plus a visitor center with a 10,000-square-foot green roof (yes, with plants growing on it).

Impress your friends: Casually mention that the Brooklyn Botanic Garden happens to have a great Grammatophyllum speciosum specimen—that’s thought to be the largest orchid species in the world.

FOR THE KID AT HEART: The Carousel

Not just any carousel, this fanciful ride was carved in 1932 largely by Charles Carmel, who loved outfitting the horses in the Coney Island style…and if you know Coney Island, you know that means quirky. The horses are flamboyant, decked out in fish scale armor and even imperfect teeth, and they’re on board with two dragon chariots, a deer, a giraffe, and a lion (all carved, of course). The carousel—once in disrepair—now runs at more than 100 years old…and so should you!

Discuss: The training plan that will let you and your friends claim your trophies at age 100.

FOR THE FOODIE: Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket

Across the parkway, between miles three and four, Brooklynites are busy buying just-picked fruits and vegetables, pickles, baked goods and, on Oct. 14, grains. On that day, The Greenmarket Regional Grain stand will be featuring regionally grown whole-grains and flours. And there will be hops: local craft beer producers who will also sell their goods at this event. (Find out more here: https://www.grownyc.org/DrinkLocal.)

Decide: Whether today’s all about pilsner or stout.

FOR THE HISTORY BUFF: Lookout Hill

As you make the final left-hand turn of the course, off to the right is Lookout Hill, the site of a Revolutionary War battle—it’s where the “Maryland 400” stood to hold the hill while Washington’s army, along with Washington himself, fled across the East River. Along with a monument to the Maryland 400, you might see goats (you’re not hallucinating). While the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens uses more traditional pruning methods, the park employed four goats in the Lookout Hill area this year to clear up invasive species so native ones can be planted in their place.

Consider: What the park was like in 1776. Historians say it was forest, field, and swampland. It was officially opened as a park in 1867—and was designed for Olmsted, Vaux & Company. Yes, the same people who designed Central Park nearly 10 years earlier.

RELATED: A Runner’s Guide To Exploring Brooklyn On Race Weekend

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