Great Winter Walks in New York City

By Ben Fractenberg on November 30, 2012 7:28am 

NEW YORK — Looking to walk through a winter wonderland without leaving the city?

December through February is a time many New Yorkers choose to hibernate, to curl up indoors with a warm drink and a good book. But it can also be a great time to get outdoors. Normally bustling paths are more serene, clear and bright skies can give amazing views and the brisk air can be invigorating.

Here is our selection of some great winter walks around New York City.

Roosevelt Island

The narrow island between Queens and Manhattan provides sweeping views of the city's skyline. A  path runs along the island's edge, both north and south of the tram and F subway station, and the path should be open and uncluttered during the colder months.

"Here I don't see crowds," said Sergey Chugunov, 48, who was visiting New York from Russia and traveled to Roosevelt Island after a friend he was staying with recommended the walk. "It's very cool."

Indeed, the path along the water seemed to be used primarily by locals heading to the subway or taking their children for a walk. Visitors can take their time strolling along the water's edge and not have to worry about someone bumping into them when they stop to take a picture.

The island is mainly residential, so you might want to consider bringing some snacks and maybe a thermos full of warm soup or cocoa. There is a Starbucks next to the subway station and some delis, but little further away.

Walking north from the Roosevelt Island subway station to Lighthouse Park is a little more than a mile.

The subway is an easy way to get there, but if you have more time, the tram — which you can get from 60th Street and 2nd Avenue — is highly recommended. The ride is quick and the views are stunning.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a popular spot in the spring and summer months for the cherry blossoms, fields for lounging and a massive selection of plants. But the winter can be just as picturesque.

Light in Winter, a series of activities including bird walks, garden tours and winter yoga, will take place at the garden from November through February.  The garden is free Tuesday through Friday from Nov. 1 to March 1.

If you are itching to find a walk to help beat the winter doldrums, the Botanic Garden is offering an hour-long narrated walk on Sundays at 1 p.m. by psychotherapist Lynne Spevack, who will talk about the importance of getting light during the dark months and other tips on staying positive until spring.

The Terrace Café, which is located in the Steinhardt Conservatory during late fall and winter, also provides a special seasonal menu with fare such as root-vegetable potpie, soups and paninis.

The garden is also good for just wandering on your own or with friends and family. While many plants are dormant until spring you can still enjoy the park's trees, classic architecture and pond — made even more beautiful if snow is falling.

The park, which is located along Flatbush Avenue, is accessible by the 2, 3, 4, 5 at Franklin Avenue; B, Q, at Prospect Park and S train at Botanic Garden. Check out its website for a full list of Light in Winter walks and activities and hours of operation.

High Line

The popular High Line park is a bit of a madhouse in the spring and summer, but in the winter it can feel like your own private path, meandering above street level through the Meatpacking District and Chelsea.

The park has stunning views of the Hudson River and New York architecture and seats for lounging with a warm drink.

The park, which was built on an old freight rail line, runs just under 1.5 miles from Gansevoort Street to 30th Street, west of 10th Avenue.

While there aren't likely to be food options on the High Line during winter, you do pass right by the Chelsea Market, which has plenty of food and beverage options. Hector's Café and Diner, located near the park's southern entrance on Little West 12th Street, is also a good spot to get some cheap food.

The park is also wheelchair accessible with elevators located at 14th, 16th, 23rd and 30th streets.

St. Nicholas Park

Harlem's St. Nicholas Park has one of the best hills for sledding in the city. The field slopes down from St. Nicholas Terrace to St. Nicholas Avenue at 135th Street, right where the B,C stop is.

Wait for a good snowfall to check out the sledders or walk around the park's trails, which wind their way from 128th to 141st streets. Walking along the higher part of the park below St. Nicholas Terrace, it is easy to forget you are in the city altogether, with just the tops of some buildings visible to the east.

There isn't food available in the park, but you can find lots of options just a block away on Fredrick Douglass Boulevard.  Lil' Bites Café on 135th and Fredrick Douglas is affordable and has a good assortment of salads, sandwiches and paninis.

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