When the first real snow falls in NYC, pretend you’re a kid again and go sledding. Some of the best NYC parks (in all five boroughs) offer great hills for thrill seekers. After having a playful day throwing snowball fights and sliding down those slippery slopes until you become a snowperson, take us up on our recommendations for watering holes where you can grab a drink and warm up afterward. There are many great bars with fireplaces in the city that will do the trick, but if you want the real post-sledding beverage, check out our list of the best hot chocolate in the city.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the winter in NYC
Best places to go sledding
This is the grande dame of NYC sledding institutions—and rightfully so, with its perfect steepness and gentle denouement (that's sledspeak for a smooth finish). This spot gets crowded, so prepare to slalom around wayward toddlers and other human obstacles. Enter at 72nd St and Fifth Ave.
Where to drink: Friendly Euro wine bar Via Quadronno (25 E 73rd St at Madison Ave; 212-650-9880)
Thrill-seekers need not apply: A less-crowded alternative to Pilgrim Hill, Cedar makes a good starter slide for beginners (ahem, wusses). Fifth Ave between 76th and 79th Sts.
Where to drink: Munch on pizza and pasta or just go straight for the Limoncello at Serafina Fabulous Pizza (1022 Madison Ave; 212-734-2676).
There are some gentler slopes between 92nd and 103rd Streets, but the hard-core head to Hippo Playground, where you can catch a glimpse of the Hudson as you dodge trees on your way out—er, down. Hay bales at the bottom prevent impalement on the fence beyond. 91st St at Riverside Dr.
Where to drink: No-fuss hangout spot Broadway Dive (2662 Broadway; 212-865-2662)
This is where the Columbia crew kicks it, using dining hall trays, cardboard boxes and snowboards. Come nightfall, there's drunken sledding beneath the lights. Stupid? Yes. Fun? Certainly. Morningside Dr at 115th St.
Where to drink: Local beer garden perfect for large groups Harlem Tavern (2153 Frederick Douglass Blvd; 212-866-4500).
Yuppies and their offspring start at the gentle knoll near 9th Street for a little downhill action before heading toward the rolling stretch of the Nethermead to make snow angels. Enter at 9th St and Prospect Park West.
Anything goes at this mellow Brooklyn spot. Grab a giant garbage bag and join the mix of families and hipsters on one of the park's four hills, which range from beginner to painful. Or, if you're cool with bumps and possibly broken bones, tackle the park's treacherous staircase (you wouldn't be the first). DeKalb Ave at Washington Park.
Where to drink: Chilled-out gastropub with tasty grub and an extensive beer list Putnam’s Pub & Cooker (419 Myrtle Ave; 347-799-2382).
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/cisc1970
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.
Where to drink: Smiley neighborhood stop Maggie May's (214-22 41st Ave at 214th Pl, 718-224-9898).
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.
Where to drink: Family-friendly Latin joint El Nuevo Bohio serving beer and wine (1155 Webster Ave at 167th St, 718-293-2954).