When the sun emerges after the first snowfall of the season, children in New York City long to get out and enjoy the winter sports available in the area. Toddlers love romping in snow drifts, but might not yet have the skills to go skiing or skating. Snow tubing offers the thrill of sliding down a frosted slope without lessons or expensive equipment.
Snow Tube Basics
Snow tubes can be purchased at most sporting goods stores or online. The best models are made of heavy gauge PVC plastic for durability and have handle grips and a recessed seat. Retail models come in single, double or triple sizes and some ski resorts offer family-size snow tubes that can carrying up to six people. As in all sports, safety on the tube is the first priority. Adults need to accompany toddlers on the snow tube and both tubers should wear helmets. Tubes can flip over or slide out of control even at moderate speeds.
Manhattan and Brooklyn
Snow sliding can be found in many of the city’s public parks. Pilgrim Hill in Central Park, near 72nd Street on the east side of Manhattan, has been favored by generations of New York children for its steep slope that levels out gently at the base. Inwood Hill Park at the northern end of Manhattan has long gradual hills facing down toward the Hudson. It is less crowded than Central Park and visitors can reach the park using a car or public transit. Long Meadow, in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, has close to a mile of slopes suited to gentle sliding for toddlers. Enter the meadow at Ninth Street and Prospect Park West.
On snowy days, parks in the Bronx fill with children sliding down hills on everything from Flexible Flyers to plastic lunch trays. Two parks in the Riverdale section of the Bronx can accommodate toddlers and their tubes. Ewen Park, along W. 232nd Street between Riverdale and Johnson Avenues, is a small neighborhood park with the advantage of a staircase next to the sledding hill making the trip back up a little easier. Van Cortlandt Park, on the border between the Bronx and Westchester, is big enough for every kid to have their own private slope. The hill at Broadway and Jerome Avenue is a good starting point and the No. 1 subway line stops right at the park entrance at 242nd Street.
Queens and Staten Island
Snow falls in all five boroughs and little snow tubers can spend hours on the hills in Crocheron Park in Queens. The park terrain has low hills for toddlers and steeper ones for their older siblings. Crocheron Park is in the Bayside section of Queens and is accessible by car or the Long Island Railroad. Lucky Staten Island toddlers get to ride the ferry back and forth to Manhattan and slide down hills at Clove Lakes Park. The slopes here are fairly steep and the park rangers place hay bales around the edges to buffer any stray tubes. The park is on Victory Boulevard between Clove Road and Brookside Avenue.