The New York City Marathon is the most fun event of the year for spectators. Because the course is 26.2 miles along city streets, it’s not hard to find a great vantage point and enjoy the runners in their country’s colors and costumes. The Marathon website is essential for advice on how to get the most out of watching—everything from what to wear to spectator etiquette (tip: Don’t say “You’re almost there!” unless you’re holding the finish-line tape). Here are a few of our favorite spots to watch from:

Miles 3-8: Fourth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The runners are still pretty tightly bunched this early in the race, so you can root a lot of them on in a short time. There are coffeehouses and good restaurants along both Fourth and Fifth avenues, but we really like the Sheep Station (149 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-857-4337)—yes, an Australian pub; try the meat pies. Terrific.

Halfway point: Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City is usually not too crowded, plus the stretch boasts several eating stops, including the café Communitea (47-02 Vernon Boulevard, Queens, 718-719-7708), with fresh sandwiches and sweets. Go early and enjoy while you wait for the exciting moment when the cyclists herald the arrival of the first runners.
Manhattan: 59th and Second Avenue will be crowded, but watching the runners come off the Queensboro Bridge is a great experience. Wait for them a block away at Cafe Joul (1070 First Avenue, 212-288-0665), with jazz, mimosas, and a prix-fixe brunch.

Sun., Nov. 7, 8:30 a.m., 2010

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