RECOMMENDED: Full guide to outdoor activities for kids in NYC
The highs and lows of Gotham become so much more extreme—and fun—when it gets cold with the best sledding hills in NYC. You don’t need to go on a ski trip near New York City for hours of down-hill fun, just hit a few of the best NYC parks for families where the slopes are full of local snow-lovers. Just grab your toboggan, or make-shift sledding vessel, and find a spot across the five boroughs. Check in the the city’s parks department website, because on particularly snowy days the rangers help with the wintery fun—they’ve even been known to hand out free hot chocolate!
The best sledding hills in NYC
The grande dame of NYC sledding institutions—and rightly so, with its perfect steepness and gentle denouement (that's sledspeak for a smooth finish). This spot gets crowded, so prepare to slalom around a few human obstacles. Enter at 72nd St and Fifth Ave (centralparknyc.org). Subway: 6 to 68th St.
Though this long, narrow park isn't known for its steep tundra, it's a great option for downtown kiddos to get their sledding fix. Since it's located right on the river, parents can enjoy the scenic view while their tots play. Montgomery St to E 12th (nyc.gov/parks). Subway: F, J, M, Z to Essex St—Delancy St.
This is where the Columbia crew hangs out, using dining hall trays, cardboard boxes and snowboards. Take a cue from the undergrads and tote along a household item to use as a makeshift (read: cheap) sled. Morningside Dr at 115th St (morningsidepark.org). Subway: B, C to 116th St.
There are some gentler slopes between 92nd and 103rd Streets, but for some real excitement head to Hippo Playground (91st St at Riverside Dr), where you can catch a glimpse of the Hudson River as you dodge trees on your way down. Hay bales at the bottom prevent impalement on the fence beyond. You'll find another great slope up on 103rd Street, which is the Parks Department's designated Manhattan activity spot. On super-snowy days, Rangers supervise sledding, snowman contests and snowball fights, and hand out complimentary cocoa. Go to nyc.gov/parks for announcements. Subway: 1, 2, 3 to 96th St (for Hippo Playground); 1 to 103rd St (for activity spot).
This popular Bay Ridge spot should be on every little daredevil's sledding shortlist. Slopes are just steep enough to provide the thrill of reaching full throttle, but the trip back up the hill can really tucker tykes out. The stunning views may be mesmerizing, but watch out for trees at the bottom. Colonial Rd at 68th St (nyc.gov/parks). Subway: R to Bay Ridge Ave.
For a little downhill action, hit the slopes situated in Long Meadow, the Parks Department's Brooklyn snow day site. On those days, kids can venture into the nearby Picnic House for free hot chocolate. Finish up by making snow angels on the Nethermead. Enter at 9th St and Prospect Park West (prospectpark.org). Subway: F to Seventh Ave.
Bayside natives swear by this open space, which offers both a moderate pitch and a steeper one for daredevils. If you're into solitary sledding, come here to avoid the masses that dominate larger parks. 35th Ave between Cross Island Pkwy and 215th St (nycgovparks.org). Travel: LIRR to Bayside.