What to do when the snowy season sets in in Manhattan? Head for the hills! For kids and kids at heart, there's nothing like a little snow-centric adventure to fully capture the wonder of winter. While city streets and sidewalks can get sloppy and slushy rather quickly, there are several pristine places primed for sledding atop well-blanketed hills. (After all, the very name "Manhattan" comes from the Lenape Indians who once inhabited the island—they called it Mannahatta, or "land of many hills.") Happily, sledding in NYC parks is not only legal but very much encouraged. Here, we've rounded up four of Manhattan's very best sledding hills for slippery winter fun—so bundle up, grab a sled, and head outside to these sled-friendly slopes.
Don't have a sled? No problem! Feel free to get inventive (even the lid of a garbage can, a laundry basket, trash bag, or a strong piece of cardboard will do), or pick one up from area retailers like or Target, Paragon, or... Eastern Mountain Sports—just be sure to call ahead to ensure that they still have sleds in stock, since they tend to sell out very quickly post snowfall.
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Perhaps no place in Manhattan is as picture-postcard-worthy as Central Park under the snow. Make way for Pilgrim Hill (near 72nd St. & 5th Ave.), one of the city's best and most popular slopes, for a satisfyingly steep and lengthy incline met by a smooth finish (it's marked by a bronze statue of a pilgrim at its top). For a less-crowded alternative, and a good choice for small children and beginners hit up nearby Cedar Hill instead (near 78th St. & 5th Ave.).
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Choose from several runs within Riverside Park, a hilly Hudson River-fronted park on the Upper West Side (the best stretch for sledding is along Riverside Drive between 91st and 103rd Sts.). Seek out the slope at 103rd Street for some memorable and gentle thrills, or head to the Hippo Playground (Riverside Drive & 91st St.) to indulge more amped-up sled runs, barreling straight for the Hudson. (Not to worry: Strategically placed hay bales ensure soft landings.) Just be sure to bundle up, as the riverside locale tacks on extra-cool winds to an outing here.
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Not far from Columbia University, Harlem's Morningside Park offers several sled-ready hills set along Morningside Avenue—try the ones at 110th, 113th, and 122nd streets for the best thrills. Don't be surprised to see Columbia students whizzing by here on dining hall trays, garbage bags, or other makeshift sled contraptions.
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Inwood Hill Park
Best known for its hiking and biking trails, sled-hounds won't be disappointed by the sled-ready powder in this Uptown park. The expansive grounds at Inwood Hill Park (Dyckman St. at the Hudson River) propose several hills primed for sledding, plus, once you're all sledded out, there's enough snow for everybody to stick around for some quality snowman building, to boot. Tip: Once you crawl out of the snow, warm up with some hot cocoa at the nearby Indian Road Café.