September 1, 2015
Boston is not a city to do winter by halves. Just look at this past year for evidence: thanks to a quick succession of truly historic blizzards, the city smashed its all-time seasonal snow fall record, clocking in a total of 110.6 inches (or 280.9 cm) of the white stuff. If you’re embarking on a trip to Beantown during the winter months, then, plan on making the frozen most of it: these 10 snowy slopes welcome sledders, tubers, and tobogganists of all stripes. Combine a day out sledding in Boston with many warming mugs of cocoa and you’ve got yourself the makings of an East Coast winter wonderland.
You don’t have to travel far for top-notch sledding in Boston. The centrally located Boston Common – which also happens to be the oldest park in the country – attracts snow-suited families in the winter with its Flagstaff Hill. Though gentler than the steep slopes of other sledding spots, the hill still lets you build up some good momentum. Given the park’s history, we’re willing to bet that the Founding Fathers themselves used to make snow angels here.
Gorgeous, glacier-carved Jamaica Pond was transformed into a public park by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (who’s perhaps best known for co-designing Central Park in New York City). Given the natural wealth of the area, though, he didn’t have to do much. Just look to the Sugar Bowl for evidence: a striking inverted hill, it’s a high-octane sledder’s dream.
Though located out in Brookline, Larz Anderson Park draws snow enthusiasts from all across the Boston area – it’s frequently ranked by locals as the best sledding spot around. Green and sprawling in the summer, the park’s many hills turn into perfectly slick and snow-covered launching pads come wintertime. An ice skating rink also adds to the frosty recreation.
A research arboretum affiliated with Harvard University, Arnold Arboretum is also one of the loveliest members of the so-called “Emerald Necklace” of public green spaces that includes six parks in the Boston area. Stretching across 281 pretty acres, it’s also home to Peters Hill, a favourite of winter sports lovers for its city views – and the fact that there are almost no trees for sledders to dodge.
Another member of the Emerald Necklace – and another public space designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, as its name suggests – historic Olmsted Park has a distinctive old-timey, New England charm. Though the photogenic Ward’s Pond and forested areas throughout the park are less friendly for sledders, an array of open spaces and gentle slopes cater to young adventurers.
Frequented by the South Boston set, Dorchester Park is a verdant oasis during the warmer months (given that this is Boston, it’s also officially on the National Register of Historic Places – this is one of many local parks with old-school cred). In the winter, its winding paths and many trees are coated with a picturesque layer of snow. For first-time sledders, the gentle slopes here proffer the perfect blend of low-key fun.
Officially the largest open space in Boston, the expansive Franklin Park stretches across an impressive 527 acres – it was considered a country park back when it was founded in the 19th century. Today, Franklin Park is accessibly sandwiched between the Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, and Roxbury neighbourhoods. Such are the park dimensions that there are plenty of sledding hills to choose from, as well as flatter stretches on which to ski (or tromp along in snow shoes, if you’ve got ’em).
Happily for Boston locals and visitors, the President’s Lawn at Tufts University‘s Medford/Somerville campus isn’t just reserved for students. It’s a good thing, considering the incline of this slope is ideal for those who are looking to build-up some speed on their sleds. And don’t worry about crashes: hay bales ensure any collisions with trees are painless.
Beautiful, red-bricked Cambridge – probably most famous for being home to Harvard – is one of the prettiest corners of the Boston area, particularly when it’s frosted in a fresh coating of snow. The view is one reason to head to local Danehy Park, which is one of the highest points in the area and overlooks the city. That elevation also means that it’s an ideal spot for sledders after that perfect velocity.
If you like your sledding hills like you like your snowfalls (read: big), then Millennium Park, located in the West Roxbury neighbourhood of South Boston, is where you should get your winter sports on. Though the park is certainly scenic all year long – it’s served as a host for the Boston Kite Festival in the past – its wide expanse of open spaces seems tailor-made for the winter loving among us. Sledding in Boston? It doesn’t get much more thrilling than this.
Virgin Atlantic operates daily flights to Boston – be sure to pack your snow gear.
Have you been sledding in Boston? Which hills are your favourite? Share your tips with us in the comments section below.
Written by Claire Bullen