Best of Brooklyn

It’s all downhill from here: Brooklyn’s 5 best sledding spots

prospect park sledding
It’s winter, so get out to Prospect Park with a garbage can lid and have some damn fun. via Flickr user Atomische * Tom Giebel

Before we get started here, we first have to ask you a question: Why and when exactly have you become so terrified of the snow? Is the reason we all freak out at the mere mention of snow because of last year? Just because it was a bad winter last year doesn’t mean that we need to cower in fear at the very idea that Brooklyn might be covered in the wintry powder. Don’t stay inside all winter and whimper whenever it snows outside; make that stuff work for you, before it becomes horrible grey slush, anyway. It’s not only suburbanites that got to enjoy a good day of sledding while growing up; even lifelong Brooklynites like this very author hit the slopes up.

So go on, get your very own Rosebud, or just use a garbage can lid, whatever. We’ll see you at the park. We remember what it’s like to be kids, and so should you. Forget for a moment the fact that snow in Brooklyn has about a 30 minute shelf-life before it comes a slushy horrible mess that’s covered in dog piss. Embrace your inner kid (or take an actual kid with you) and actually have some damn fun at Brooklyn’s best sledding spots.

Prospect Park

The way to get there is easy: the F, the Q, the B, the G, the 2/3, a whole mess of buses, and of course, you can bike there.

What’s so great about it? SO MUCH SPACE. Just because half of Brooklyn and chunks of people from places that aren’t Brooklyn descend upon Prospect to enjoy the sledding when it snows, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find a spot to enjoy a healthy slope. There’s one near the 9th street entrance at the tennis house, another near the picnic house by the 16th street entrance, and a small handful of others if you walk around, all at different grades so you can pick and choose based on how adventurous you’re feeling.

When you’re done, warm up by heading to the Central Library at 10 Grand Army Plaza and enjoying some of that fancy book-learnin’ we east coasters are always bragging about. If you’re hungry or thirsty and want a treat after you check your books out, the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Café has you covered with mac and cheese ($3), the soup of the day and a piece of bread ($4), and hot chocolate ($2.50). Maybe don’t have all three together if you respect your gastrointestinal system. And of course, why not walk a little further and go to the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway), featuring a café and art old and new.


sunset park
It’s steep, so be careful. Photo by Rebecca Schaffer

Sunset Park

The way to get there is to take the R to 45th St. and walk east to 5th avenue. If it’s snowy but not “bus-paralyzingly” snowy, you can take the B63 which will drop you off right outside. Climb the stairs and take in the excellent view.

What’s so great about it? Not only is it the highest point in Brooklyn not in a cemetery from which you can take in a breathtaking view of Manhattan, but this park has one steep-ass hill to fly down, if you don’t mind waiting a few minutes for your turn. It’s not the absolute biggest park ever so there might be a little competition for space, but once you’re screaming down that hill, realizing that you’re headed straight to a fence, you’ll be having a terrifying blast. You’ll quickly gather speed, but be prepared to bail near the bottom because yes, that fence will more or less end your day. And what’s sledding without the very real possibility of personal injury?

When you’re done, warm up by heading over to the very cozy Cafe Zona Sur (4314 4th Avenue) and having a cup of semisweet or Nutella-freakin’-flavored hot chocolate ($4.25) or, if you’re hungry, go to the always spectacular Tacos Matamoros (4508 5th Avenue) and chow down on a plate of chicken, veggie, carnitas, and al pastor tacos with a great average price of $1.75.


owls head park
If it’s good enough for Eleanor Friedberger, it’s good enough for you. Photo by Rebecca Schaffer

Owl’s Head Park

The way to get there is to take the R to Bay Ridge Avenue, walk due west towards the waterfront to 68th street and Colonial Road, and you’ll find the somewhat hidden (but sprawling) Owl’s Head Park.

What’s so great about it? The subject of a lovely Eleanor Friedberger song, Owl’s Head Park has a great steep hill (and a few other, smaller hills) that’s also nice and wide, so even if it’s crowded you won’t have to wait too long for your turn, if at all. Show everyone how it’s done by flying down this long hill, giving you plenty of time to pick up speed and then immediately start to wonder if what you’re doing is a good idea. But it’s OK! You most likely won’t get hurt, as there’s still plenty of space at the bottom of the hill to slow down to a full stop. Another great perk of this place is, once you’re done, you can walk a couple of blocks over to the American Veterans Memorial Pier and rack up some Instagram likes with a quick photo of the Verrazzano Bridge from a distance.

When you’re done, warm up by grabbing a cup of hot chocolate at The Coffee Lab (6903 3rd Avenue). This post-modern nearby coffee shop has a cup of the good stuff for $4 or, if you’re in the mood for more nutty goodness, they offer a Nutella latte for $5.


fort greene park
Beyond this fence are plenty of hills for you. Photo by Rebecca Schaffer

Fort Greene Park

The way to get there is to realize you have about a dozen options that will leave you within a couple of blocks, experience a moment of mental paralysis, then just pick one. How about the R, the Q or the B to DeKalb? Maybe the 2, 3, or 4 to Nevins is more your speed? You can even take the A, C, or G to Fulton, but no matter which option you choose, it’s less than a 5 minute walk from any of these stations.

What’s so great about it? Fort Greene Park is a super hilly place, which means you have plenty of room to go nuts and let your inner kid fly. Plus, this being Fort Greene Park, you can bask in the rich history of what is the oldest park in Brooklyn containing a memorial erected just after the Revolutionary War. Wrap your head around all that while you narrowly avoid smashing into a 7-year-old on the slopes.

When you’re done, warm up by indulging your sweet tooth by going over to Brooklyn’s own Nunu Chocolates (529 Atlantic Avenue). The original location of this chocolatier which now has a second outpost in Park Slope, Nunu is a cozy little space where you can sit back and have a hot chocolate, an assortment of chocolate candies filled with whatever you can think of, or even beer. And when we say cozy, we really mean it, so maybe leave that sled outside.


mckinley park
Just picture this with snow on it, we weren’t gonna Photoshop it. via Flickr user emilydickinsonridesabmx

McKinley Park

The way to get there is to… well, this one’s trickier to get to. You can either grab the N to the Fort Hamilton Parkway stop and walk on over to 73rd street, take the R to 77th street and walk west along Bay Ridge Parkway, or hop on the B70 or the B16, the latter of which drop you off right outside the entrance.

What’s so great about it? If a little bit of extra speed worries you, this Dyker Heights park has a pretty level hill that will keep you from flying out of the park and directly into busy Fort Hamilton Parkway traffic. If it’s still the holiday season, you can check out the neighborhood’s famous Christmas lighting within walking distance. And you’ll want to walk there, because if you drive, you’ll burn a tank of gas by the time you travel 3 blocks.

When you’re done, warm up by eating some delicious wings over at South Brooklyn Beer Book pick Bean Post Pub (7525 5th Avenue). Of course, wings aren’t the only item there, as they also offer just about any kind of pub grub you can imagine, including burgers, fries, sliders, and other delicious-yet-heart-clogging fare.

Follow Dave for more news about things going downhill at @DaveRosado

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