In an alternate universe, no one knows who Rocky Balboa is. Instead, Philadelphia is known worldwide for a film about a champion luger who honed his craft sliding down the Art Museum steps. At the base, there would be a statue of Sylvester Stallone sledding. People would only run up the steps so they could sled down them.
But no, there isn’t a movie about a plucky sledder who wins Olympic gold. But Philadelphia is still a great sledding town! We surveyed the area and collected some of the best sledding spots in the five-county area and South Jersey. We here at Philadelphia magazine urge you to sled safely: Look to make sure the path is clear, and make sure you’re securely in your sled before going down a hill. And if it’s really icy, maybe don’t sled! Two decades ago, the ice storms of 1994 sent tons of people to the emergency room after sledding accidents.
With that PSA in mind, here’s our guide to the best places to sled the next time Philadelphia gets snowed in.
Art Museum Steps
This is the mecca. A place you must sled. It’s the old Giant Slide on Morey’s Pier, but with snow. It has to be pretty snowy for this to work — these are steps, after all, plus the Art Museum will have them cleared eventually — so the best time is at night during a huge snowfall. Get a sled in at the Art Museum steps before Frank Gehry changes them forever.
There are hills out back, too.
Broad Street and Pattison Avenue
Yes, there are actually places to sled in South Philly. Well, we came up with one, anyway. The hills aren’t that steep at the lakes, but its expanse will give you plenty of room to slide around.
Fairmount Park, Belmont Avenue and Montgomery Drive
The same feature that makes Belmont Plateau one of the premiere, challenging cross country courses on the East Coast is the same that makes it one of the best spots for sledding in the city: The hills. Oh, the hills at Belmont Plateau are impressive. While some of the running hills on the cross country course might be too rocky or steep to sled down, the main hill closest to the street (called Flagpole) could keep you occupied for hours.
43rd and Chester
If you’re not in the mood for something quite so steep, the bowl at Clark Park is almost a big half-pipe of snow. Since it’s a bowl, even at its most crowded there is always ample room to sled.
5400 Lindbergh Boulevard
The historic garden encourages sledding on snowy days, and has a few hills you can glide down.
Saint Joseph’s University
5600 West City Ave.
Come on, St. Joe’s kids: Your school’s campus is nicknamed Hawk Hill. Grab a lunch tray from the cafeteria and have a blast.
Cobbs Creek Golf Course
7400 Lansdowne Ave.
You can’t golf when it’s snowing, but the city’s golf courses can remain in use: The rolling hills of the public Cobbs Creek Golf Course make a great spot for winter sledding.
Fairmount Park, Lemon Hill Drive
Located in East Fairmount Park, Lemon Hill always fills up with sledders at the first snowflake. Just take more care than the unfortunate sledder in the video above.
Dead Man’s Hill
Fisher Park Rec Center
600 W. Spencer Street
Olney’s Fisher Park has been the center of North Philly sledding for years. Don’t take my word for it. Take this old quote from a Daily News article: “When my dad told me that we didn’t have school, I started thinking about going sledding at Fisher Park.” The large sledding area is called Dead Man’s Hill, but you’ll survive it.
Juniata Golf Course
1391 East Cayuga St.
If you see a golf course in the city, you should know it’s likely an amazing place to sled. Plus: No greens fees!
Thomas Mansion, Lincoln Drive and Wissahickon Avenue
As you build up speed sledding on the hill next to Thomas Mansion, you’ll convince yourself it just goes on forever. What’s great about this long hill is it’s not all that steep. It works for all sledders, no matter how young or risk-averse you are.
Walnut Lane Golf Club
800 Walnut Lane
Walnut Lane is another public golf course with great hills for sledding. Just watch out for the sand traps! Actually, it’s probably safe to slide into them as well.
Wissahickon Avenue and North Mount Pleasant Road
Carpenter’s Woods is not just a birding hot spot. It contains one of the more exhilarating sledding hills in the city.
Water Tower Rec Center
Ardleigh Street and East Hartwell Lane
Call this Art Museum Steps Light. The undulating hill at Water Tower is another carnival ride — with snow.
Germantown Avenue and Apsley Street
When rich Philadelphians built their mansions so long ago, did they know they would all become such great sledding spots? Since they’re no longer alive to tell us, I’m going to go with, “Yes.”
Central and Cottman avenues
If you’re from the Northeast, you know Burholme Park is the place to sled. I think the reason people didn’t want Fox Chase Cancer Center to expand onto the park a few years ago was mainly because they worried about the impact on the sledding hill.
Austin Meehan Middle School
3001 Ryan Ave.
Located next to Pennypack Park, Austin Meehan Middle School is not only shaped like five interlocking gears — it’s built on top of a giant hill. If things are crowded at Austin Meehan, Lincoln High School (3201 Ryan Ave.) next door also has a large field.
Wissinoming Park, Frankford Avenue and Comly Street
Yes, this is our second Deadman’s Hill on the list. I’ve decided to call the one in Olney “Dead Man’s Hill” and the one in Wissinoming “Deadman’s Hill” so you can keep them straight.
John Byrne Golf Course
9550 Leon St.
Just off Grant Avenue in the Northeast, there is a giant hill on the outskirts of the public Byrne Golf Course. This hill gets packed with sledders from the Far Northeast (and even the suburbs) during huge snowfalls.
The Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush
11081 Knights Road
The hill behind Benjamin Rush school, adjacent to the track, is steep. Really steep. It’s so steep people fall down it when it’s not even snowing. If you’re going to sled here, we’d advise strapping on a helmet beforehand.
Brandon and Academy roads
This short, gentle hill on the side of Brandon Road in the Far Northeast is great for little kids. You won’t go that fast, and you won’t go that far — but it’s sledding.
490 Darby-Paoli Road
A favorite of pretty much every Main Liner I’ve ever talked to, The Willows is another long, wide sloping hill that can hold a seemingly endless amount of sledders.
Valley Forge Park
1400 North Outer Line Drive
King of Prussia
Is there any proof George Washington sledded here while camped out in the winter of 1777-1778? Well, no. But is there any proof he didn’t? There’s no law against telling your kids (or yourself) that you’re recreating the actions of the future first president. Until they start letting you sled off the Liberty Bell, this is easily the most patriotic sledding spot in the area. Maybe the country.
Mill Hill Preservation Area
1704 Pillsbury Road
The Mill Hill Preservation Area has the highest point in Montgomery County. No doubt, then, that it’s a great place to bring your sled.
Editor’s Note: Lankenau Medical Center informs us that they have banned sledding on the campus due to safety reasons.
Lankenau Medical Center
100 East Lancaster Ave.
One advantage of sledding on the hill across from Lankenau Medical Center? If you do happen to get injured, the emergency room is right there! Just make sure you don’t build up so much speed you fly into Indian Creek.
Abington Art Center
515 Meetinghouse Road
I’m not sure why art and sledding seem to go hand-in-hand, but they do. And there is a wonderful hill behind Abington Art Center (between the Art Center and Alverthorpe Park).
Fort Washington State Park
420 Militia Hill Road
Two of the most common names for sledding hills are Deadman’s and Suicide. In Fort Washington they went with Suicide. The sledding hill near Lot 5 in the Militia Hill Day Use Area is about 400 feet long.
Green Lane Park
2144 Snyder Road
Go look at the Montco website for Green Lane Park. That’s right: Green Lane Park is a giant, gentle sledding hill.
Ridley Creek State Park
1023 Sycamore Mills Road
It’s not like I need to tell you that state parks are great for sledding, but I will here: Ridley Creek State Park is great for sledding. Especially fun is the long, tiny hill shown in the video above.
Strath Haven High School
205 South Providence Road
Clayton Park and Golf Course
1 Conchester Road
If you’ve read this far, you know the rules: Anything with the words “golf course” attached means you’re in for a good sledding hill.
Rose Tree Park
1671 North Providence Road
Rose Tree features a wide hillside that’s perfect for low-key sledding.
418 Fairview Drive
Odorisio Park has three hills that surround the baseball field, creating a situation similar to Clark Park in West Philly.
Tyler State Park
101 Swamp Road
Tyler State Park is one long hill down to the bottom, and there are slopes all over the place. The two best are near the Upper Plantation Picnic Area parking lot, and the slopes west of the covered bridge.
Chapel Road and River Road
You know it’s a good hill when it has a name. The steep, wide hills at this five-acre park make for excellent sledding.
Abrams Hebrew Academy
31 West College Avenue
There is a great sledding hill right behind the school.
Helen Randle Park
236 Swamp Road
Helen Randle Park is across the street from Bucks County Community College, and fills up with kids every snowfall. “If kids pick up enough speed they’ll do double hills,” reads an enthusiastic online review.
The Mercer Museum
84 South Pine Street
Art and sledding go well together, don’t they? While not a particularly steep hill, the Mercer Museum has been a popular spot to sled for years.
425 Wells Road
This is the only sledding spot in the area where you can sled next to a giant playground castle.
Nockamixon State Park
1542 Mountain View Drive
The best sledding spot here is just above the marina. This gorgeous 5,286-acre park also offers a wide variety of winter sports: Cross-country skiing, ice fishing — even ice skating, if the lake is frozen enough.
Pocopson Elementary School
1105 Pocopson Road
Not to be confused with any of the Deadman’s Hills in the area, Pocopson Elementary’s Devil’s Hill is right in front of the school.
New Garden Township Park
299 Starr Road
Based on what we know from the media, children slide down this hill in wrestling masks. So, it’s a pretty good place.
Ron Jaworski’s Valleybrook Country Club
200 Golfview Drive
According to many sources, the staff at this private country club does not care if you sled on the property. (Wary of blowing up everyone’s spot, I didn’t inquire with the club.) YouTube videos confirm that there are sledders all over the property. Thanks, Jaws!
Chestnut Branch Park
Main and Center streets
Chestnut Branch features two wooded areas with rolling hills. And, yes, there are bathrooms.
Fort Mott State Park
454 Fort Mott Road
Fort Mott can get crowded, but the hill at Fort Mott is large enough to accommodate everyone. “And in the winter there wasn’t a better spot for sledding,” Theresa A. Husarik wrote in a piece about the park.
Frank Donio Memorial Park
Between Chews Landing and Cross Keys roads
Though the directions aren’t that exact, this one is easy to find: It’s behind the ShopRite. And it’s steep! Get here early before all the snow is worn away by sledders.
Valley and Goat Hill roads
This is broaching North Jersey, but let’s include it here because it’s worth the trip: Belle Mountain used to be a small ski resort. That means Belle Mountain has some of the best sledding around.
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