Best Wintertime Activities in Central Park

Located in the heart of manic Manhattan, Central Park welcomes around 37.2 million visitors annually. With holiday decorations, sporting events, and other fun activities, the park is particularly lovely to visit during New York City’s winter season. From snowboarding to enjoying the snowy scenery, there’s something for everyone when touring this sprawling 834-acre park. And if you’re planning a trip to the Big Apple during the colder months, here are the best wintertime activities that you’ll find in Central Park.

Ice Skating

Lace up your skates and hit the rink at one of Central Park’s two skating areas.

One of the best ways to enjoy the cold city temperatures of winter is to bundle up, lace up your skates, and head to the nearest Central Park rink! There are two main ice skating rinks in the park:  Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink. The 33,000-square foot Wollman Rink is located in the southeastern part of the park and hosts ice hockey, skating parties, and even skating lessons. Lasker Rink is located in the mid-section of Central Park between 106th and 108th Streets and is composed of two oval-sized rinks. Hockey players use one of these rinks exclusively, while the other rink is open to everyone. And no matter which rink you choose, you’re bound to have a memorable time when gliding around one of these NYC rinks.

Central Park Zoo

For those of you who love snow leopards, polar bears, penguins, or sea lions, head on over to the Central Park Zoo on 64th Street and 5th Avenue. Not only do these animals love the colder weather, but they become much more energetic during the winter season as well. There’s also an impressive indoor 4D theater in the zoo where you can relax and warm up before braving the city’s wintry chill once more.

Winter Jam NYC

One of the most famous winter festivals held in Central Park each year is the Winter Jam. And whether or not the weather provides a dusting of snow, the NYC Parks Department always supplies plenty of white fluff on the ground for this fun event. A few popular activities held at the Winter Jam include snowshoeing, snowboarding, sledding, and, as the name suggests, incredible live music. Both equipment rentals and professional lessons are entirely free for festival participants; all organizers ask is that guests bring a positive attitude with them when signing up for winter sports. And with an ice lodge, winter market, ice bowling, and even a Doggie Snow Zone, it’s the perfect activity for the whole family to enjoy.

Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride

Sit back and relax on a snowy ride through Central Park’s winter wonderland.

Last but not least, why not take a romantic, winter horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park? Just imagine it: the snow lightly falling, a cup of hot cocoa in your hands, and your loved one seated beside you, all while taking in the beauty of America’s finest park in wintertime. Most horse-drawn carriage rides last around 45-minutes and cover all the major tourist draws. You’ll pass by Cherry Hill, Strawberry Fields, the Carousel, and more. And if you’re looking to surprise someone special, you can always purchase add-ons such as boxes of chocolate, photos, or even flowers. Because these rides are extremely popular in the winter season, make sure to reserve your ride online before heading to NYC.

Ways to Stay on the Move in NYC’s Central Park

Central Park is a fantastic place for the fitness enthusiast living in or visiting New York City. With plenty of activities that are excellent for staying in shape (other than taking a leisurely carriage ride!), here are a few ways to stay active and on the move in the Central Park area.

Special shout out to our friends at Imperial Moving for their help putting together this informative article. As Manhattan’s premier moving company, these guys do a lot of cardio and heavy lifting, so it’s important that they stay in shape. Central Park is one of their favorite places to do just that. If you are in need of an NYC moving service, give these guys a call, or check out their blog for pro tips on everything from how to take apart a bed to the down-low on the best moving apps.

Running and Jogging

With a soft surface trail that encircles the park’s reservoir, running and jogging are popular exercise options in NYC. The entire trail is 1.58-miles long and provides a low impact surface for those who are worried about their knees and shins. If you aren’t concerned about the high impact levels on your joints, there’s also a paved upper loop that’s 5.2-miles long as well. The best time to run on this top loop is while the park is closed to vehicle traffic.

Cycling

Cycling in Central Park is favorited by locals and is also typically best done when the park is closed to vehicles. There are plenty of serious early-morning weekend cyclists on the same loops as runners, and it’s easy to meet other bikers and make new friends in the city. With a hilly terrain that’s perfect for both racing cyclists and recreational bike riders, it’s a good workout for staying in shape. Just remember to bike in a counter-clockwise direction and yield for pedestrians. For those who don’t own a bike, there are rentals offered at 208 West 80th Street.

Cycling is a great way to stay in shape and explore more of the park.

Cycling is a great way to stay in shape and explore more of the park.

Tennis

While many people aren’t aware that Central Park has tennis opportunities, the area boasts 26 clay courts and four hard courts for those who love the game. The Tennis Center is located near West Drive between 93rd and 96th Street and opens from April 4th to as long as weather permits. Seasonal passes are $200 each ($20 for seniors) or $15 for single-play.

Winter Skating and Skiing

Ice skating and cross country skiing are terrific winter activities that are sure to make you sweat. Skaters will find two options in Central Park to show off their skills, which include the Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink. Wollman is picturesque arena located on the East Side near the 59th Street entrance and has an entry fee that ranges from $6 to $19, depending on a skater’s age and day of the week. Lasker is located between 106th and 108th Street and is actually a large public swimming pool that gets converted into an ice rink when temperatures drop. Both rinks have large spaces to skate on, provide skate rentals, and are open late fall through the winter season.

For those who prefer to ski, wait for a minimum of 6-inches of snow and strap on your boots! Skiers typically head to Sheep Meadow on the West Side of the Park at 66th Street for the trek across the park’s large open spaces and fun hilly areas.

There's an entire tennis center with dozens of courts for those who wish to channel their inner-Andy Roddick.

There’s an entire tennis center with dozens of courts for those who wish to channel their inner-Andy Roddick.

Yoga

With gorgeous surroundings and natural scenery, Central Park is an excellent spot to practice yoga. It contains several large areas such as the Great Lawn and Sheep Meadow that are perfect for meditation practices and also provides peaceful lakeside hills for focusing thoughts. Fitness gurus will also love vast array yoga classes that are offered in Central Park and can find a list of sessions here. Just don’t forget to bring your mat!

5 Can’t Miss Central Park Events

With sweeping skyscrapers and people with briefcases rushing through the streets, the New York City metro area seems to be all business. And although New Yorkers tend to work hard, they also know how to have a lot of fun as well. Most residents find their kicks at Central Park, which is always hopping with seasonal events. Whether you’re looking for something to do in the summer or winter months, here are five events in the park that you simply cannot miss!

1. SummerStage

There’s nothing quite like summer in Central Park, and for those of you who are visiting between the months of May and September, get ready for one of the largest music events of the year: SummerStage! Hosted by the City Parks Foundation, this huge festival runs throughout the summer with a killer line-up of artists and musicians and features everything from jazz to hip-hop to circus performances. This exciting event is sure to have something for everyone, and the best part is that admission is completely free!

2. Central Park Film Festival

This August, grab your blanket and head over to the park for a week’s worth of outdoor flicks at the Central Park Film Festival. With a large, mounted silver screen, you’ll be able to watch some of Hollywood’s greatest films while relaxing under the city’s skyline. Fun movie classics showed in past years have included Tootsie and School of Rock. This is another free event that’s perfect for the whole family to enjoy.

The Central Park film festival is perfect for relaxing with friends and family.

The Central Park film festival is perfect for relaxing with friends and family.

3. New York Philharmonic Concerts

For a few nights out of the summer, some of the best classical music can be heard live out of Central Park. The New York Philharmonic concerts bring to life the music of Mozart, Beethoven, and many other legends within the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. Shows take place on the Great Lawn and are always a huge hit with both locals and tourists alike. Even if you aren’t a diehard fan of classical music, these free concerts are a peaceful and relaxing backdrop to enjoying the sights of Central Park.

4. Shakespeare in the Park

Every summer, Central Park runs two big Shakespeare productions that attract thousands of audience members each year. It’s an NYC tradition that allows guests to experience the plays in a gorgeous setting with other Shakespeare enthusiasts. Because NYC is filled with famous Broadway theater actors, the productions often feature Tony Award winners and other big names to play the leading roles. The performances are held at the Delacorte Theater in the park and are always free for anyone to attend.

With a beautiful garden backdrop, Shakespeare in the Park is a must-see in NYC.

With a beautiful backdrop, Shakespeare in the Park is a must-see in NYC.

5. Holiday Sights Tour

NYC is perhaps the most beautiful when it’s all lit up for the holiday season. And with the buzz of merriment that fills the park during this time, visitors love taking advantage of the Holiday Sights Tour between the months of November and January. Always guided by a fun personality, the tours take guests all around the park and its outskirts to see all of the city’s festive decorations. From the famous Rockefeller tree to the annual Christmas Light Show, you’ll get to see it all while sipping the world’s best hot chocolate.