You know what to do when a blizzard comes our way and schools are closed: Head for the hills! By that we mean the best sledding hills in NYC of course—sledding is one of our favorite winter activities for kids, so grab a warm coat and a pair of the best winter boots for kids, and prepare for an epic day in the snow.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to outdoor activities for kids in NYC
We mapped out all of our go-to hills for sledding in NYC. What's on your list? Central Park? Van Cortlandt Park? Prospect Park? Options abound when planning an epic snow day.
Once the sun starts to go down in the early afternoon and you're ready to pack it in why not head out for some of the best hot chocolate in NYC for kids and grownups? Winter can be so much fun. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Best sledding hills in NYC
The mecca of snow days, Central Park's Pilgrim Hill draws quite the crowd after winter storms roll in. The hill is both steep and gentle, with a perfect denouement—that's sledspeak for a smooth finish. It's a tremendous experience for all visitors, of which there are plenty. Our suggestion: Get there early. Enter at 72nd St and Fifth Ave (centralparknyc.org).
Yankees and Mets, Coke and Pepsi, Harvard and Yale—add to that list of storied competetors Cedar Hill and Pilgrim Hill, the two great sledding hills of Central Park. Cedar Hill is a gentler alternative to Pilgrim Hill, plus, the quieter slopes are perfect for tots or newbies. If the kiddos work up the courage (or the crowd winds down), you can always make a trek back to Pilgrim Hill! Fifth Ave between 76th and 79th Sts (centralparknyc.org).
Inwood Hill Park is a sledding wonderland in the winter. Steep incline, light crowd, gorgeous view: This sledding hill has it all. Kids flip for this spot, so brace yourself for a lengthy afternoon outdoors. Bonus: Your little sledder will have the deepest of sleeps after. Dyckman St at the Hudson River (nyc.gov/parks).
When the forecast predicts a wintery mix, you can be certain that Vannie (the fourth-largest park in NYC, thank you very much) will guarantee a gorgeous sledding experience. There are hills for sledding, and lots of open space for epic snowball fights. Van Cortlandt Park South between Broadway and Jerome Ave (nyc.gov/parks).
Cedar Hill and Pilgrim Hill might be Central Park's marquee sledding hills, but Great Hill is one of the best slopes in the city. It's one of the highest points in the park, and because it's off the beaten path it's less crowded than other sledding hills—it's where the locals go. Enter at W 103rd St and Central Park West (centralparknyc.org).
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 finish the afternoon by making snow angels on the Nethermead. Enter at 9th St and Prospect Park West (prospectpark.org).
Anything goes at this mellow Brooklyn spot. Grab some cardboard and join the mix of families and hipsters on one of the park's four hills, which range from beginner to painful. DeKalb Ave at Washington Park (nyc.gov/parks).
When pint-sized downtown residents need to make the most out of a snow day, East River Park is the way to go. Although it isn't quite as steep as other spots, the park's visitors won't be able to resist the gorgeous waterfront views. Make sure someone in your crew has a phone or camera handy! Montgomery St to E 12th (nyc.gov/parks).
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. Riverside Drive and 96th St to 103rd St.
When snow flurries swoop in, a collegiate crowd from Columbia ventures to Morningside Park to experience its epic sledding hills. Follow in the footsteps of the Ivy Leaguers, and get snowy. Morningside Dr at 115th St (morningsidepark.org).
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 are mesmerizing, but watch out for trees at the bottom. Colonial Rd at 68th St (nyc.gov/parks).
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).
While daredevils have been known to tackle "Suicide Hill" (Forest Park Dr at 79th St), the Parks Department says it's a big no-no. Not only is it located on a golf course and therefore off-limits, it's considered dangerous. Instead, try the park's Mary Whalen Playground (Park Lane South at 79th St, nycgovparks.org).
The inclines at Clove Lakes Park are so formidable that park staff stack bales of hay at the bottom to prevent kids from gliding into traffic; this is where Rangers organize sledding races on the hill and oversee kids on school snow days. Martling Ave at Slosson Ave (nyc.gov/parks).
As the Bronx's most popular sledding destination (park staff have been known to show up bearing hot chocolate for sledders), the historic park's minipeaks fill up with everyone from babies to vagabonds—prepare to share. Fulton Ave between Crotona Park North and 172nd St (nyc.gov/parks).