With 843 acres of bare trees, dormant plant life, and empty playing fields, you might think that in wintertime, New York’s Central Park is closed for the season. How wrong you would be! With frost-covered meadows, landmark architecture, a world-class skating rink, fine dining, and cultural experiences all connected by 58 miles of scenic hiking trails and walkways, Central Park in the wintertime is bustling with activity–it’s part of what makes it the most visited public park in the country.


Don’t let the chill in the air prevent you from getting the most out of your trip to Central Park. With hidden spots like the Swedish Cottage and Discovery Center, year-round attractions like the Zoo and Carousel, the romance of cocktails and a light bite at Tavern on the Green—not to mention winter fun like skating, sledding, and bird watching—there is as much to see and see in February in the Park as there is in July. 


Thinking about spending a winter afternoon in The Park? Try these ten terrific options.


Central Park Zoo

Located on seven acres in the southeast corner of the Park are animals to enjoy every season. Snow monkeys, red pandas, snow leopards, grizzly bears, puffins, and sea lions all call this midtown address home. But on a snowy day, you won’t want to miss one of the country’s largest colonies of Antarctic penguins.


Ride the Carousel

Immortalized in JD Salinger’s novel “The Catcher in the Rye”, the Central Park Carousel attracts over 250,000 riders every year. As one of the largest merry-go-rounds in the country, the Park’s carousel boasts 57 hand-carved horses and two ornate chariots, all lovingly maintained or restored to when they were first built in 1908. 


Ice Skating at Wollman Rink

You’ll have plenty of room to glide around the 30,000-square-foot Wollman Skating Rink located in the southeast section of the park. But besides being the largest skating rink in Manhattan, it’s by far the most scenic. Open seven days a week with evening hours on Wednesdays through Sundays, it’s the perfect location for a FOMO-inducing Instagram post.


The Gift Shop at The Dairy Visitor Center

What great attraction doesn’t have a great gift shop? Originally built as a working dairy that distributed fresh milk usually not available to 19th century urban families, The Central Park Visitor Center is a great place to get maps of the Park, ask questions, and get directions. It’s also the Park’s gift shop loaded with Central Park-branded apparel, books, and sundry tchotchkes.


Check Out the Marionettes at the Swedish Cottage 

Want to have fun with strings attached? Check out the Marionette Theater inside the Swedish Cottage on the west side of the Park at 79th Street, where innovative productions of children’s classics have been brought to life by world-class puppeteers. Thursdays through Sundays, with shows at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.


Visit the Arsenal Gallery

On 64th Street at Fifth Avenue, one mile south of New York’s famed Museum Mile, you’ll find the Arsenal–one of two buildings inside Central Park that predates the Park itself. The original home to the American Museum of Natural History, today the Arsenal is the headquarters for the Central Park Zoo, NYC Parks, and the Arsenal Gallery where several fine art and photography exhibitions are mounted each year.


Birdwatching in The Rambles

With diverse native plantings, naturally managed woodland, and a freshwater stream, The Ramble–located on the west side of the Park between 66th and 79th Streets– attracts hundreds of migrating birds viewable at close range. Keep your eyes peeled. Red-tailed hawks and a Great Horned Owl have both been spotted in the area in recent months.


Discover the Discovery Center 

Located on the east side of Central Park at 110th Street in the scenic Harlem Meer section is one of the newest additions to the Park. Offering free year-round educational programs, tours, and seasonal celebrations, the Charles Dana Discovery Center. Stop by to borrow a Central Park discovery kit. Or check out the ongoing exhibition, “Open to All: The Story of Central Park’s Gates”.



Now that Gotham’s 701-day snow drought has officially ended, sledding may return to Central Park if Mother Nature cooperates. When six inches of snow are on the ground, the Park turns into an urban sledder’s paradise. Favorite spots are Cedar Hill and Pilgrim Hill located on the east side of the Park between 72nd and 79th Streets.


Fine Dining at Tavern on the Green

What could be nicer after a chilly afternoon enjoying Central Park than sitting down to a well-cooked meal and carefully crafted adult beverage? Now celebrating 90 years in Central Park, Tavern on the Green is one of the most famous restaurants in the country and a must-visit destination for any Gotham visitor. Stop in for a cozy meal in this historic building, once used as a stable for the sheep that gave their name to the Sheep’s Meadow, or grab a quick to-go bite or drink in the back of the restaurant. Located at 67th and Central Park West.