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9 Best Central Park Activities in Winter


Visiting New York City in the winter? While the weather outside may be frightful, you’ll find that Central Park remains delightful. There are plenty of fun activities which you can do in the park even when the snow is falling. 

Below are some ideas which are perfect for the whole family, but first, here are a few quick tips for visiting Central Park in the winter:

  • Check to make sure that the park is open before you show up. This is only an issue on days with inclement weather.
  • Check on restroom status. A number of park restrooms are seasonal only, and there are some which may be closed in case of snow.
  • Do not forget that even in the wintertime, it is still possible to get a sunburn or get dehydrated. If you will be spending hours outdoors, plan accordingly.
  • Only skate on ice rinks. Do not skate on frozen water bodies or head out on them for any other reason.
  • Bring your camera. Central Park during the winter is beautiful and also less crowded than it is during other times of the year. That can make for some fantastic photographic opportunities. 
Now let’s get on to some activity ideas.

1. Ice skate at one of the famous rinks in Central Park.

Central Park is home to the iconic Wollman Rink. Even if you have never visited NYC, you probably have seen the Wollman Rink. It has been featured in numerous TV shows and films. Some examples are Home Alone 2, Serendipity, Limitless, Gossip Girl and Love Story. 

If you love the idea of ice skating in Central Park, but you do not want to be packed in with the crowds, you might try the Lasker Rink as an alternative. 

2. Stop by the Central Park Zoo.

Most people think of a trip to the zoo as a summertime outing, but that is exactly why you should think about dropping by the Central Park Zoo during the winter. It is open year-round and closes only when the weather is especially harsh. 

The crowds are less dense during this time of year, so you can enjoy a more leisurely stroll through the zoo with better views of the animals. Many of the zoo’s critters enjoy playing in the snow or taking advantage of the hot tubs and heated stones which the zoo staff provides for their comfort.

Adjacent to the zoo, you will find the Delacorte Music Clock. Be sure to check it out when the clock turns to the next hour to see a musical performance from the mechanized bronze animal sculptures which adorn it. 

3. Take a winter ride on the carousel.

The famous Friedsam Memorial Carousel also is open during the winter. Formerly located on Coney Island, it now delights children (and adults) visiting Central Park. It is a great way for kids to get off their feet for a few minutes to enjoy a magical wintertime experience.

4. Go skiing, sledding, or snowshoeing.

You probably think of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing as country activities, but Central Park is so spacious that you can enjoy these outdoor rural pastimes right in the middle of the bustling city. Both allow you to get your exercise while exploring more of the park than you’d be able to otherwise.

Sledding is another popular wintertime activity in Central Park. Head over to Cedar Hill or Pilgrim Hill if you want to sled. Just make sure you check in advance to make sure that there is enough snow (6 inches) on the ground.

5. Play in the snow.

Speaking of snow, you do not necessarily need to bring anything with you (i.e. skis or snowshoes or a sled) to enjoy fresh powder on the ground. Make a snowman with your kids, or join in a snow fight. Kids can entertain themselves for hours in the snow, and Central Park in the winter has plenty of it.

6. Visit the Swedish Cottage for a show.

While there is a lot of fun to be had outdoors in Central Park during the winter, sometimes you really do want to get out of the cold. For those looking for a warm, relaxing, comfortable way to spend an afternoon, think about taking in a show at the cozy Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre.

This beautiful little theatre looks like something out of a storybook. Indeed, the marionette shows the theatre puts on often feature classic stories for children. Performances during the winter often have a wintry theme as well. For example, at the time of this writing, the current show on at the Swedish Cottage is Yeti, Set, Snow!

7. Visit a museum.

Another option for getting out of the cold in Central Park is to visit one of the museums nearby. Some world-class museums accessible from the park include the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Met Breuer. 

You can also see a show at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Even if you do not have plans to attend a performance however, you may want to drop by just to take in the stunning glow of the Lincoln Center Holiday Tree.

8. Shop and dine.

There is no more enchanting time to hit the famous shops of 5th Avenue than during the holiday season. Enjoy the dazzling window displays of Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany & Co, Henri Bendel, and other iconic brands as you shop for gifts for your loved ones (or yourself). 

During your shopping run, take a seat at any of the delicious cafes or restaurants close to Central Park to indulge in a hot cup of coffee or cocoa and maybe enjoy some pizza, pastries, or other culinary delights. Watch the snow fall outside the window, and enjoy feeling toasty and warm indoors!

9 . Take Buddy The Elf’s Central Park Pedicab Tour.

A winter’s day in Central Park can be the highlight of a holiday trip or simply a wonderful way to celebrate the season as a local. But there is no denying that tramping around in the cold and the snow takes up more energy than a leisurely walk on a warm day. 

How can you conserve your energy and get the most out of a winter visit to the park? By taking Elf’s Central Park pedicab tour. You can kick back and simply enjoy the snowfall and the scenery as he takes you around, suggesting activities and showing you the most spectacular holiday light and window displays.