How to Spend a Snow Day in New York City

A photo of a stone bridge in Central Park with Falling Snow.New York is many things—bright, loud, busy. As some visitors have noticed, it may not be the cleanest metropolis America has to offer. But it’s alive and exciting and for all its flaws, the city gives back in so many ways. One of those ways is when the snow starts to fall, dusting the city’s concrete in a clean, new layer of fresh snow, a layer that seems to mute the honking horns and draw at least a little bit of joy out of everyone, even frenetic New Yorkers. So if you’re lucky enough to be in New York on a snowy day, think about heading outside, where you’ll find plenty of others doing the same. Here are a few ways to spend the day.

Practice Your Ice Dancing Moves

Winter Village Bryant ParkThrow on your skates (or rent a pair) and take a spin on one of the city’s most iconic ice rinks. Wollman Rink in Central Park is located near Fifth Avenue, so skaters are treated to city skyline views while gliding around. Skating under the gaze of the famous Prometheus sculpture at The Rink at Rockefeller Center is also a popular choice, though the line can become long during peak seasons. Another good option is Winter Village at Bryant Park, where admission is free, though skates are available to rent. For a small city park, the rink is a good size, and skaters from beginners to pros seem to enjoy themselves. And if it’s really just too cold to lace up your skates outdoors, there’s always Sky Rink, the year-round indoor facility at Chelsea Piers.

Embrace Your Inner Child and Go Sledding

winter sledding in Central ParkIn Manhattan, as you travel further north, the terrain becomes hillier, so it makes sense that many of the best sledding hills are uptown. The most obvious place to play in the snow in such a densely packed city as New York is, of course, Central Park. For Pilgrim Hill, enter from the east side at 72nd Street. The hill is identifiable by the bronze statue of a Pilgrim perched at the top. A little further north, at 76th Street, is the wide, gentle slope named Cedar Hill. Another popular spot is inside Riverside Park. Enter at 91st Street and look for Hippo Playground. The hill is just to the playground’s east. And if you find yourself at the very northern tip of Manhattan on a snowy day, you’ll find plenty of kids and grown-ups flying down the hills of Inwood Hill Park. See here for an extensive list of sledding locations in all five boroughs.

Go on a Gallery Crawl in Chelsea

West Chelsea is loaded with art galleries, which means on a cold day, you need not walk for long stretches from place to place. Warmth (and chic art) is always only steps away. 303 Gallery was one of the first to move to the area and has been there since 1984, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the gallery scene in Chelsea boomed. Prior to that, SoHo had been the center of New York’s art world, but predictably, artists eventually got priced out of the neighborhood. Because many warehouses in the Meatpacking District were no longer in use, West Chelsea, especially between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, had a lot of empty space. SoHo gallery owners gradually began migrating here and it soon became one of the most important art districts in the city. Unfortunately, the same rent spike has begun to happen here, and artists are once again escaping to lower-cost neighborhoods, but for the time being, there are still plenty of galleries. See here for a map.

See an Art House Movie

A snow day is a movie day, always. In New York, why not take advantage of the many movie houses that offer experimental, independent films. Film Forum, one of the early art house cinemas, opened in 1970 with one projector and 50 folding chairs. It has evolved into a three-screen theater, showing political, cultural, and historical films that are part of today’s most important conversations. In SoHo, Angelika Film Center specializes in independent and foreign films, and also has a café in the lobby. IFC Center is a Greenwich Village favorite; in addition to their many movie selections, they host the country’s biggest documentary festival each fall. The film series at Museum of Modern Art is worth a look, too—their movies reflect the museum’s goal of promoting experimental art.

Get Toasty in Front of a Fireplace

New York City’s food scene, while world-class, can be overwhelming at times, so on a chilly day, it makes sense to limit your choices to those restaurants that will have a crackling fire ready to warm you up. And don’t worry—you’re not sacrificing quality for ambience. Many restaurants with a fireplace are also top notch eating establishments. Here are some favorites: The Writing Room, whose literary-themed décor only adds to the coziness; The Lamb’s Club, located conveniently in midtown, with a huge 18th century fireplace in its main dining room; Top of the Standard, the glitzy supper lounge in the penthouse of the Standard Hotel; One if by Land, Two if by Sea, recently voted one of the most romantic restaurants in the world; and finally, and the most modestly priced on the list, La Lanterna Caffe, a charming Italian restaurant with a year-round garden.

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