20 Outdoor Adventures in New York City to Enjoy This Winter

Bust a move during the action-packed Winter Sports Day at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo by John Eng
Bust a move during the action-packed Winter Sports Day at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo by John Eng

Despite the frigid temperatures, there's no shortage of fun outdoor adventures in NYC for the entire family to enjoy. Don't let the chill in the air stop you and your crew from getting out and about this winter! Make time to discover all the incredible ways to keep busy and get moving during the winter months in New York City with these fun outdoor adventures.

We've rounded up 20 fun outdoor places to play this winter. Find more all-seasons fun in the great outdoors in our Guide to Parks and Playgrounds.

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As always, if an event piques your interest, click through to our listing for all the details, including addresses and times.

1. Grab tickets to NYC Must-See Week

Through February 13, you can grab 2-for-1 tickets to some awesome local attractions. Two of our outdoor favorites are the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises and tickets to the New York Botanical Garden. If you miss this week, take note: Must-see week happens twice a year!

2. Go Birding at Your Local Park

NYC is home to more than 200 bird species, and there are plenty of opportunities to play I-spy with your kids. Be sure to bring your binoculars and check out an introductory walk with the Brooklyn Bird Club, watch for waterfowl at Crotona Park, and bald eagles in Inwood Hill Park. There's also the four-day Great Backyard Bird Count, which gets kids involved in creating a real-time snapshot of where the birds are.

RELATED: The Battery Playscape Brings Nature-Inspired Playground to Lower Manhattan

Enjoy an outdoor adventure at the Lunar New Year Parade
The Lunar New Year Parade attracts throngs of visitors annually, and you can see it march through Chinatown on Sunday, February 20.

3. Watch a Parade

Celebrate the Year of the Tiger on Sunday, February 20, when the New York City Lunar New Year Parade & Festival returns to the streets of Chinatown.

4. Get Moving During the Winter Games

Brooklyn Bridge Park hosts its own version of the Winter Games, where kids of all ages can burn off some energy with a dance class, enjoy arts and crafts, and visit the environmental education center. If you're looking to have a socially-distanced good time, grab your crew for a scavenger hunt. Once completed, the prize is FREE hot chocolate from Ample Hills!

5. Explore Nature with the Urban Park Rangers

Kids Week takes over NYC parks during Midwinter Recess—and it's jam-packed with activities. Kicking off on Monday, February 21, this series is an excellent way for children to engage in hands-on activities while experiencing what makes their neighborhood parks cool with the guidance of local park rangers. Children ages 12 and under will enjoy crafts, geology hikes, storytelling events, puppet shows, animal tracking, birding, and more! FREE

RELATED: 10 Family-Friendly Ski Areas Near NYC for Your Next Winter Getaway

Head to Governors Island for an outdoor ice carving demonstration
Blocks of ice come to life thanks to the handiwork of Okamoto Studios at Governors Island's Winter Ice Sculpture Show. Photo courtesy of Okamoto Studios

6. Judge an Ice Carving Show

The Trust for Gov­er­nors Island and Low­er Man­hat­tan Cul­tur­al Coun­cil host the inau­gur­al Gov­er­nors Island Win­ter Ice Sculp­ture Show. Although they'll have official judges on-site, you'll undoubtedly be amazed by the creations made out of clear ice blocks. Be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, February 26! FREE

7. Watch Creativity Bloom

The Queens Botanical Garden has myriad activities for the entire family all winter long. Grow plants, search for bugs, go on nature walks, and get crafty.

8. Take a Spin Around the Ice!

New York has tons of ice skating rinks. Hit up the Governor's Island Winter Village to visit the new 5,000-square-foot rink, which offers FREE skating on Fridays. Central Park's Wollman Rink is always magical and newly renovated, and the Brooklyn Children's Museum's ArtRink marries interactive art installations with a rooftop rink.

RELATED: Best Sledding Hills in NYC

Hiking is an all-seasons outdoor adventure
Hit the trails at Alley Pond Adventure Park in Queens, or another local park. Photo by Diana Kim

9. Head Out for a Group Hike

There's no shortage of parks to explore while hiking, and everyone will have a good time. We bid farewell to 2021 with a family day at Alley Pond Park and played a few of these adventurous hiking games to keep the younger ones entertained. You can never go wrong with catching Pokemon!

10. Get Cultured at an Outdoor Sculpture Gallery

Plan a trip to these 11 sculpture gardens and outdoor art destinations with larger-than-life art pieces.

11. Cross Your Fingers for More Snow!

We still have a few weeks until spring, so hope for more snowy days then hit the city's best sledding hills or a nearby snow tubing hill.

RELATED: 20+ Restaurants For Family-Friendly Outdoor Dining in NYC

All this time outdoors means you'll need a cuppa hot cocoa to warm up
When you get chilled from outdoor adventures, pop inside for a cup of sweet hot cocoa. Photo by Jody Mercier

12. Go on a Hot Chocolate Crawl

Where to get the best hot cocoa in the city is surely up for debate with so many tasty options. You're certainly in for a sweet experience with options like rich Mexican chocolate, hot cocoa over espresso, and flower-shaped marshmallow topped choices.

13. Enjoy a Staycation at NYC's Only Working Farm

While celebrating Queens County Farm's 325th anniversary, junior makers ages 5-12 can visit during the Midwinter Break and have loads of fun. The staycation junior makers event teaches children how alpaca and sheep keep warm and the process for spinning fleece into clothing. They’ll visit and feed farm animals, ride on a tractor-drawn hayride, get hands-on experience churning butter, and so much more!

14. Celebrate Valentine's Day

We could all use some extra love and appreciation. Make heart-shaped "love locks" to tie onto park fences showing your love for Battery Park City on this special day.

RELATED: Midwinter Break: 25 Fun Things To Do in NYC With Kids

Explore The Pool outdoors in NYC this winter
Artist Jen Lewin lights up Industry City with The Pool. Photo by Alex Barreto

15. Immerse Yourself in Incredible Public Art Installations

One of the most extraordinary things about NYC is you can discover unique works of art around any street corner. Pop by Industry City to check out The Pool, an interactive light-up installation of motion-activated circular pads. You can also head to the Garment District's Passage to explore its 20 colorful rings and interactive sounds.

16. Pay as You Wish at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Visitors can pay what they wish on winter weekdays at the kid-friendly Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

17. Pretend to be Winter Royalty

Head a few hours away from the city to the Adirondacks and check out massive ice castles made up of 20 million pounds of ice illuminated with colorful LED lights.

RELATED: Go for the Gold: 16 Olympic-Inspired Venues in NYC Where Kids Can Train

Let your pooch romb outdoors on Governors Island this winter.
Let your pooch romp outdoors on Governors Island this winter. Photo courtesy of the Trust for Governors Island

18. Take Your Dog for Walk

Governor's Island is now open year-round, and on Saturdays from 7am-3pm, you can bring your pups! Your city-savvy, four-legged friends can visit the 172 acres of car-free space and enjoy a new fenced-off dog park during Winter Dog Days.

19. Learn the Process of Making Maple Syrup

If your kids ever wonder where their food comes from, they'll be intrigued by maple syrup Saturdays at Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve. The bonus is the yummy tasting reward. FREE

20. Bump it Up

Bryant Park's Winter Village is once again home to bumper cars on ice and you can have a wild outing through Sunday, February 27. Book your tickets in advance.

Lights Up on Lincoln Square
Lincoln Square - 5:00 PM Pick
Bushwick Holiday Tree Lighting and Parade
Knickerbocker Plaza - 5:00 PM Pick
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights - various times Pick
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides