Last week we missed having three feet of snow in the city as the storm veered east by about 50 miles, but we still had enough snow to make Central Park a winter wonderland. This made me think about the advantages of living near the park, and that they are not limited to warm weather months. My sister, who lives in Vermont, says that it’s important to find a winter weather sport to enjoy there so that one doesn’t get too much cabin fever during the long winter. There are far too many things to do in New York City for anyone to get cabin fever (although most cabins are larger than the average NYC apartment, I would speculate!), but it is important to be able to enjoy the outdoors and commune with nature year-round even in the city with so many indoor things to do.
There are two outdoor skating rinks in Central Park: Wollman Rink (now Trump Rink) in the southern part of the park, and Lasker Rink near the Harlem Meer in the northern part. Both rent skates and have a fee to enter, but Lasker Rink is less expensive and often less crowded. However, the views of the skyscrapers looming over the edges of the southern part of the park do make the views a little more picturesque at Wollman (Trump).
Every time it snows, certain areas of the park are well known as prime sledding spots. The best are both mid-park on the east side, Pilgrim Hill (enter at Fifth and 72nd) and Cedar Hill (enter at Fifth and 76th). Pilgrim Hill is steeper and Cedar Hill a little more gentle, but both get very crowded on a snow day. Bring your own sled, of course (or use a garbage bag or an empty pizza box in a pinch).
Every year, Central Park hosts a Winter Jam one weekend, mid-park near the Bandshell. Snow machines are brought in to create (or augment) snow and there are opportunities to learn snowshoeing, skiing, and kicksledding (equipment provided for all of these but lines can be long). There are also snowman building contests and a chance to sled, as well as pop-up food vendors.
After the park has received enough snow, you will see cross-country skiers and snowshoers in the park, but you don’t even need special equipment to truly enjoy the spectacular beauty of Central Park covered in white. Whether appreciating the permanent residents of the park (statuary) with a new layer of frosting to upgrade their look, seeing that someone has already cleared the Imagine mosaic in Strawberry Fields (do it yourself if no one else has), or appreciating a fresh look at the contrast of the stately buildings surrounding the park with the dazzling white of the park itself, Central Park in winter shows that the value of living in New York City within walking distance of the park is a year-round benefit.