NYC’s 5 Best Winter Sports

January 24, 2013 6:00 AM

This weekend New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation sponsors its annual Winter Jam, including live entertainment, snowshoeing, and animal tracking demos. But don’t worry if you can’t make it to Central Park on Saturday, January 26—there’s plenty of winter fun to be had in the five boroughs all season long. By Jessica Allen.

(credit: The Rink at Rockefeller Center)

(credit: The Rink at Rockefeller Center)

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Probably the most famous skating area in New York City, the Rink at Rockefeller Center has seen countless marriage proposals. In fact, there’s even a proposal package, with five minutes of exclusive skate time along with your favorite song. Even if you’re not marriage-bound, though, it’s still fun to hold hands and skate around this rink, next to the famous Prometheus Fountain.

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

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New York’s delightfully friendly Urban Park Rangers host year-round programming, from hiking to orienteering to seal watching to nature talks. In the colder months, the rangers offer courses in winter birding throughout the city. Download the calendar for details. Kids are welcome, and events are usually free.

(credit: City Ice Pavilion)

(credit: City Ice Pavilion)

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City Ice Pavillion in Queens has hockey for adults and kids year-round. If you’re unsure of your skills, sign up for Skating School, or practice during one of the public skating sessions. At just $5 during the week and $8 on weekends, with $5 skate rentals, skating here offers a cheap way to get on the ice and stay fit. Staying upright is up to you.

(credit: Howard Walfish)

(credit: Howard Walfish)

When it comes to sledding, as with pizza-by-the-slice joints, people have certain spots they swear by. For many, it’s Pilgrim Hill at 72nd Street in Central Park. Others head to Carl Schurz Park at 86th Street. We like Hippo Playground in Riverside Park, with its rocky outcroppings and commanding views of the Hudson River. All we need is Mother Nature to give us some snow . . .

(credit: Coney Island Polar Bear Club)

(credit: Coney Island Polar Bear Club)

Those made of truly tough stuff might consider joining the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. Sundays from November to April, its members meet at 1 pm, strip off their winter layers, and hop in the Atlantic for a refreshing dip. In 1903, Bernarr Macfadden founded the club, convinced as he was that swimming in the freezing cold increases immunity, virility, and stamina. He lived into his 80s, so perhaps he was right.

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