By Jessica Allen
The weather might be frightful, but that’s no excuse to stay inside. Here are our picks for the city’s best winter sports and where to participate. Bundle up and have fun!
171 East Drive
Brooklyn, NY 11225
Like boules or shuffleboard, curling involves sliding an object into a specific area—in this case, players take turns sliding stones on ice into four concentric circles. The sport got its start way, way back when in Scotland (evidence of curling dates to the early 16th century). It’s very popular in Canada, but teams from all over the world send talented players to the Olympics, where it’s been a featured sport since 1998. Check out the clinic at Prospect Park to play here.
Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers
61 Chelsea Piers
New York, NY 10011
Open year-round, the Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers has become the city’s most popular skating rink. Here you can play hockey, ice skate, and even try a triple axel. You can rent skates for an afternoon of family fun, as part of the general skating hours, or sign up for skating school (all ages welcome). There’s also a hockey league for children and adults (separate teams, of course) and an intensive training program for figure skaters who want to take their spins to the next level.
Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street
New York, NY 10021
There are plenty of great sledding spots in Central Park, as you’ll see every time the snow falls, but Pilgrim Hill just might be the best. What makes it so great? A steep rise that ends gently, meaning you can go fast without worrying about hitting someone or landing in traffic. The hill gets its name from the bronze statue of a pilgrim that sits atop the hill (which makes for prime picnicking in the summer). If Pilgrim Hill is too crowded, try the Great Hill, the Conservatory Garden, or Cedar Hill.
Coney Island Polar Bear Club
801 Riegelmann Boardwalk
Brooklyn, New York 11224
Founded in 1903, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club is the oldest winter bathing club in the United States—and, yes, “winter bathing” means exactly what you think it does. The hearty members of this club swim in the Atlantic Ocean, rain, snow, sleet, or sun, every Sunday from November to April. You have to apply for membership, but once in you’ll join a crew of swimmers who prefer to the winter chill to a balmy summer breeze any day of the year.
New York, NY
Crazy as it sounds, New York City is a premier destination for bird watchers. The best areas for birding include Pelham Bay Park, in the Bronx, home to all manner of owls and ospreys; Queens’ Highland Park, where dedicated watchers have cataloged more than 150 species in the skies; and Central Park, where some 230 species fly, particularly in and around the wild area known as the Ramble. Check the calendar for a range of guided talks and walks, and bring your binoculars and your camera.