Whether it’s a little or a lot, there’s nothing quite like a fresh coat of powder in NYC parks. Be prepared to hit the slopes with the kids and check out our list of the best sledding hills in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island! (P.S. you might as well read up on where to grab one of NYC’s top hot chocolates while you can…)
photo: Shannon McGee via Flickr
The unanimous city favorite seems to be Pilgrim Hill at 72nd Street on the East Side in Central Park. It offers a perfect incline, very few rocks or sudden drops and a smooth, level glide that evens out at the bottom. Unfortunately, being deemed the best sledding spot in the city also means it gets very, very crowded.
Carl Schurz Park
Don’t want to wait your turn? Heading a few blocks north and east to Carl Schurz Park on 84th Street and East End where, as an added bonus, dogs can find two separate runs to call their own.
Over on the Upper West Side, some swear by Riverside Drive from roughly 90th Street to 103rd, with a particularly good hill near Hippo Playground on 91st Street. But, the Urban Rangers have been known to host snowball fights, snowman-building contests and pass out hot chocolate at the hill on 103rd Street, so take your pick. The area’s biggest drawback is that being practically atop the Hudson River leads to some frigid winds sweeping in across the water. Bundle up!
photo: Kristine Paulus via Flickr
96th Street/The Children’s Gate
Enter Central Park at 96th Street for another great Upper West Side spot that offers hills of various inclines, plus benches where you catch your breath. The biggest challenge here is to avoid those benches mid-flight — the ability to bail at the last possible moment is imperative.
More Upper West Side Sledding Options
Two other choices on the UWS are Morningside Park, from 100th to 123rd Street, and St. Nicholas Park on 135th Street, the latter known for its gentle hills and being ideal for beginners.
photo: Miika Silfverberg via Flickr
Head for the hills near Prospect Park‘s Long Meadow near the entrance at Prospect Park West and 9th Street. Other favorites include the Long Meadow near Grand Army Plaza and behind the Picnic House at 3rd Street and Prospect Park West. However, if you have younger kids, you can find plenty of bunny hills throughout the park that are good for beginner sledders.
Fort Greene Park
You’ll find four sled-worthy hills of varying height and intensity in Fort Greene Park between Myrtle and Dekalb Avenues.
If you live in DUMBO or Brooklyn Heights, your closest spot is the tiny park that’s technically in Columbia Heights. As its name suggests, Hillside Park is home to a respectable slope, and provides ample space to glide to a stop. (You’ll likely see dogs romping in the snow as well, as the park is a very popular place to bring four-legged friends year-round.)
photo: Lee Haywood via Flickr
Take your sleds to Astoria Park at 19th Street between Shore Boulevard off Ditmars Boulevard for a fun sledding spot in Queens.
Mary Whalen Playground
If you’re thinking of going to Forest Park Golf Course’s Suicide Hill, think again. It’s dangerous and sledding there is prohibited by the Parks Department. (But yes, you will see families going there.) Instead, Mary Whalen Playground will offer a less nerve-racking — yet still fun — experience at Park Lane South and 79th Street.
photo: Steven Depolo via Flickr
The slope behind ballfield #3 at Fulton Avenue and the Cross Bronx Expressway in Crotona Park boasts an official, NYC Snow Day designation, which means you’ll find organized recreational activities, snowman-building contests, snowball fights, complimentary hot chocolate, and even sleds you can borrow here. Call 311 to find out when the program is in effect.
St. Mary’s Park
The largest park in the South Bronx not only features hills much less crowded than the ones above, but also a recreation center where you can warm up before heading out for a second go-round.
photo: Nicki Dugan Pogue via Flickr
Clove Lakes Park
We were duly chastised for leaving this local gem out of our last round-up. The protected Forever Wild site isn’t exclusively about ecology, however. It is also a Snow Day site where the park employees put out bales of hay to soften your kiddos landing.
Mission of the Immaculate Virgin at Mount Loretto
This South Shore hotspot for sledding in Pleasant Plains was founded as an orphanage by a priest. The orphanage is long gone, but parents may find comfort in the idea that some angels might still be hanging around looking out for daredevil kids.
For a complete list of city parks that allow sledding, visit: nycgovparks.org. Go here to find spots where the city hosts special snow days activities on those particularly winter white days.
cover photo: Travel Oriented via Flickr
Where do you and the kids head for sledding when the snow flies?
— Alina Adams & Julie Seguss