The Rink at Rockefeller Center
Sledding in an NYC park
Tubing at Tuxedo Ridge Ski Center
Remember when you were a kid, and you actually looked forward to winter instead of dreading it? Revel in the season grade-school style with these fun outdoor activities, from skiing and snow tubing to ice-skating and stargazing. And remember: If you don’t slow down, you can’t get chilly.
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Now that the tourist-heavy holiday season has passed, Manhattan’s rinks are less clogged with out-of-towners. Trump Rink still attracts the masses for its unparalleled views of surrounding Central Park (enter at W 59th St and Sixth Ave; $5–$17, skate rental $7). If you want a little more space, show up at or make an online reservation for the Rink at Rockefeller Center (30 Rockefeller Plaza between 49th and 50th Sts, therinkatrockcenter.com; $12–$20, skate rental $10), which only allows 150 skaters on the ice at a time. Don’t let the elements hinder your winter fun: Riverbank State Park Ice Skating Rink (Riverside Dr between 137th and 145th Sts; $5, children $3, skate rental $6) has a roof to keep out the worst of the weather, and scenic views of the Hudson to boot.
Thunder Ridge Ski Area is only about an hour away from the city and boasts top-tier skiing, scenic views of the Hudson Valley’s rolling hills and free Wi-Fi in the lodge. The 30 available trails will appeal to both pros who hurtle Olympics-style down the slopes and newbies who inch down with skis wedged together. Best of all, a full-day lift ticket won’t set you back more than 50 bucks. Now you just have to decide whether to invest in snow pants or spray some Scotchgard on your old jeans. 50 Thunder Ridge Rd at Rte 22, Patterson, NY (845-878-4100, thunderridgeski.com). Full-day lift ticket: Mon–Thu $20, Fri–Sun $50; ski or snowboard rental $35.
Winter getting to you? We prescribe a brisk ride down a snowy hill on a slice of plastic. In Central Park, hit the crowded but satisfyingly steep Pilgrim Hill (east side of park, enter at 72nd St and Fifth Ave) or the moderate (read: wimpy) Cedar Hill (east side of park, Fifth Ave between 76th and 79th Sts). Hippo Playground in Riverside Park (91st St at Riverside Dr) offers stunning views of the Hudson, and its breakneck decline has earned it the nickname Suicide Hill. Or head to out-of-the-way Crocheron Park (35th Ave between Cross Island Pkwy and 215th St, Bayside, Queens), which offers both mellow and precipitous rises. The gentle slopes surrounding Prospect Park’s bucolic Nethermead (enter at Prospect Park Southwest and 16th St, Prospect Park, Brooklyn) will make you feel like you’re in the middle of the countryside.
Jump on an inflatable doughnut and take the plunge at Hudson Valley’s Tuxedo Ridge Ski Center, the closest snow-tubing spot to NYC. Take advantage of a frosty incline with four to six lanes, complete with a lift to take your lazy butt back up to the top. The 1.5-hour sessions fill up fast, so book a spot online in advance. No matter the weather, your slide will be plenty powdery thanks to Tuxedo Ridge’s snow-making equipment. Afterward, warm up at the lodge with a hot buttered rum ($8.75). Complimentary pickup and drop-off at the train station are available; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Tuxedo Ridge Ski Center at Sterling Forest, 581 Rte 17A West, Tuxedo, NY (845-351-1122, tuxedoridge.com). Thu–Sun; $15–$25 per person.
If you want to gain some perspective on your place in the universe, take time to look up at the winter sky; from Feb 1 through May 17, celestial bodies like Jupiter and the Orion Nebula become visible after sundown. Learn more at Columbia Astronomy Outreach’s gratis Stargazing & Lecture Series, held every other Friday (weather permitting). University faculty, postdocs and grad students lead a half-hour talk, followed by guided star viewing in the rooftop observatory and a Q&A session in the lecture hall. Pupin Hall at Columbia University, enter at Broadway and 116th St (212-854-4608, outreach.astro.columbia.edu). Every other Fri, start times vary; free. Feb 1–May 17.