Herkimer is a historic town that started off as a small village in the Mohawk Valley region, located in New York under Herkimer County.
The roots of this town date back to the 1700s, as its lands were formerly occupied by German Palatines.
Besides its rich history, Herkimer is well known for its scenic outdoors, most prominently the Mohawk River, which acted as the center of its early civilization.
Because of the Mohawk River, the city created the Erie Canal, which acts as its prime tourist destination.
Besides the Mohawk River, there are also plenty of interesting nature sites in Herkimer, such as nature preserves and a diamond mine, making it a prominent place to shop for jewelry.
Here’s a list of the best things to do in Herkimer, New York:
Visit Herkimer County Historical Society at the Eckler House
Herkimer County Historical Society has made their home in Eckler House since the 1900s—a historic home that shows plenty of traces of the past centuries.
Built in the 1880s, the Eckler House was once a mansion of its namesake family, boasting intricate architectural designs, such as its terra cotta ornamental roofing and its vintage red brick walls.
Inside Herkimer County Historical Society, you’ll see a lot of preserved documents, such as pamphlets, maps, newspapers, and books depicting the history of Herkimer County as a whole.
There are also several paintings, sculptures, and relics that you can see in this museum.
Herkimer County HIstorical Society is a cool addition to any itinerary, as it gives a glimpse of the early settlers in Herkimer.
Give it a visit along North Main Street.
Go on a Cruise at Erie Canal
Erie Canal is Herkimer’s most famous tourist attraction, known for its history and scenic beauty.
The canal was constructed back in the 1820s, acting as a waterway connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.
Now, you can tour this Erie Canal and get access to its rich heritage through the cruise tours available here.
Not only is it a great way to learn about a critical juncture in the country’s civilization, but it’s also a relaxing way to enjoy the serenity of Herkimer.
You can start your cruise at Erie Canal by checking their website for available slots.
The boarding dock is located along Mohawk Street, along the Mohawk River.
Check the Souvenirs at Gems Along the Mohawk
Right where the Erie Canal cruises are lies a lovely little souvenir shop called Gems Along the Mohawk.
With various retail associates, this rustic-looking store has all sorts of knick-knacks that’ll keep you occupied for several minutes.
Gems Along the Mohawk is also well known to house a good selection of jewelry.
There are also all sorts of products here, like clothes, food, and unique home decor and houseware.
Be sure to visit Gems Along the Mohawk; you’ll easily get lost with their wide selection of merchandise.
Do Some Diamond Mining at Herkimer Diamond Mines
Herkimer is known for its minerals-rich lands, and Herkimer Diamond Mines is one of the unique attractions that utilizes this natural resource.
Located in the Herkimer Diamond Resort along West Canada Creek, this place lets you witness firsthand how quartz diamonds can be mined.
Herkimer Diamond Mines will give you some sledgehammers that you can use to wreck through the rocks that may potentially be a hotbed for quartz diamonds.
Additionally, it’s also a fantastic area for camping with friends or family.
Before setting up camp, you can trek its vast lands, offering sweeping views of the rocky hills and woodlands in the area.
Visit Fort Herkimer Church
Fort Herkimer Church is another historical landmark in the town, known for its beautiful architecture and old cemetery.
The church is one of the best ways to learn about the rich civilization left by the town’s early settlers—the German Palatines.
In fact, Fort Herkimer Church is the oldest building in the entirety of Herkimer County and one of the oldest in New York State.
Built between 1753 and 1767, this church is a treasure trove of history—having served as a fortress during the French and Indian War and the American Revolution.
You can visit this church for tours or simply stroll along its walking trails, located along New York 5S highway.
Go on a Food Trip at Myers Park
Located a few minutes west of Crazy Otto’s Empire Diner lies Myers Park, a great place to just get a feel of the busier districts in Herkimer.
During certain times of the week, several food trucks pop up in Myers Park, making it an awesome place for a little food trip during your adventure.
While trying all their delicious food trucks here, the experience is complemented by live music.
During the days when the food trucks aren’t around, Myers Park makes for a great relaxation spot.
It’s generally quiet and has great amenities for families.
Do Recreational Activities at Arc Herkimer Business Park
While Myers Park offers food trips and relaxation, Arc Herkimer Business Park is a great alternative for children who are gearing to break a sweat.
Arc Herkimer Business Park is known for its playgrounds, as they are spacious and offer several obstacles for children.
There are also exercise stations here for adults, including a basketball court and jogging trails.
Dogs are also allowed, making this place an all-rounder for all kinds of families.
Arc Herkimer Business Park can be accessed on East German Street near West Canada Creek.
Dine at Crazy Otto’s Empire Diner
Crazy Otto’s Empire Diner is more than just a restaurant, as it embodies the rich food history of Herkimer’s local community.
The overall vibe of the diner is lively, but you’ll also go down memory lane here because of the sheer number of memorabilia, like license plates displayed across its dining area.
The diner actually dates back to the 1950s, and prominent figures have dined here, such as Elvis Presley.
While everything on the menu is highly rated, their biscuits and gravy, sweet potato fries, and mushroom burger are the ultimate experiences.
Located along West Albany Street in the heart of Herkimer, this is a can’t-miss destination.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Tour the Herkimer Home
Situated in the neighboring town of Little Falls, Herkimer Home is another splendid place to learn about the history of the county, as it’s the home of pioneer Nicholas Herkimer.
Nicholas Herkimer was a war hero, having served during the height of the American Revolution until his death during the Battle of Oriskany.
You’ll see plenty of artifacts during his time at the Herkimer Home, including a monument dedicated for the military officer.
Tour guides are highly knowledgeable, making this tour a worthwhile experience, especially for history buffs.
The nicely-sized gardens and paved paths at Herkimer Home also add to the experience, as it’s right next to the Mohawk River.
Cycle along Mohawk River at Plantation Island Wildlife Management Center
If you want to experience the Mohawk River at its purest, Plantation Island Wildlife Management Center is one of the best places to go.
The area is mostly untouched, making it a perfect place to immerse yourself in the raw beauty of the river while riding a bike.
Just be prepared to encounter a lot of bugs here, so dress accordingly and make sure you have a first aid kit.
Nonetheless, this is a beautiful place for any outdoor adventurer—especially for those looking to do wildlife photography.
Plantation Island Wildlife Management Center is accessible from Highway 5.
Hike at Russell Park Mountain Biking Trails
What makes Herkimer a great place to visit is also its proximity to neighboring towns like Little Falls and Ilion, both of which have other interesting attractions.
In Ilion, you can easily reach the Russell Park Mountain Biking Trails in just around 5-10 minutes from Herkimer.
It’s a large and lush forest with many untouched woodlands—an ideal place for the outdoor adventurer.
You can either hike here on foot or bring your mountain bike.
Whichever you do, come prepared, as this place can get muddy and has a lot of bugs.
You can access Russell Park Mountain Biking Trails along Frederick Street, which connects to Highway 51.
Explore Utica Zoo
Only a 20-minute ride from Herkimer, Utica Zoo is a fantastic place for children to learn about a wide range of animals.
They have over 200 species here, many of which can be seen up close without any window barriers.
The zoo isn’t huge, but there are a lot of crowd favorites to see here, including all sorts of wild cats, gators, and even large herbivores like camels.
Utica Zoo is a must-visit if you’re a big fan of animals, accessible along Utica’s Memorial Parkway.
Watch a Play at Ilion Little Theater Club
Another place you can check during your stay near Herkimer is the Ilion Little Theater Club.
It’s nowhere near as big as usual town theaters, but that’s where this place gets its charm.
Small and quaint, the experience of watching a live performance at Ilion Little Theater Club is an intimate one.
It’s an excellent place for couples but also ideal for solo travelers with a penchant for theatrical performances.
If you want to add a bit of variety during your Herkimer trip, check what’s happening at Ilion Little Theater Club, located along Remington Avenue.
Shop for Rare Items at Little Falls Antique Center
Little Falls Antique Center is a massive shopping center specializing in all sorts of vintage and antique items, ranging from figurines to tableware.
Here, you’ll get lost in the amount of products on display at Little Falls Antique Center.
The antique center is also a charming place, as it’s an 1855 building initially used as a paper mill building.
Also, it’s situated right along the Mohawk River and Erie Canal.
So, this place is definitely a must-visit if you’re an antique collector or even someone looking for a souvenir.
You can visit Little Falls Antique Center via Little Falls’ West Mill Street.
Visit Little Falls Historical Society and Museum
Little Falls Historical Society and Museum is the neighboring history organization of the Herkimer Historical Society.
If you’re the kind of traveler, who’s after the history of the county, adding Little Falls Historical Society and Museum to your itinerary is recommended.
Similar to the one in Herkimer, you can learn a lot of things about the history of the county, with added knowledge about the town of Little Falls.
There are lots of artifacts, documents, and other relics here from the early 1900s.
Some displays show some notable international and nationwide historical events.
Little Falls Historical Society and Museum is found just a few minutes north of Little Falls Antique Center.
Herkimer is one of the country's oldest towns, home to several historical landmarks dating back to the 1700s.
While only a small town, it’s packed with so much heritage to uncover, making it a fantastic stopover or addition to your New York itinerary.
It’s also one of the best places to enjoy the Erie Canal and Mohawk River, one of the most historical landmarks of U.S. civilization on the East Coast.
Neighboring towns in the Mohawk Valley region add to the charm of Herkimer, as they’re all just within a few minutes via car and have tons of other things to do.
Before going to the Mohawk Valley, recheck this list of the best things to do in Herkimer, New York, for a comprehensive overview of all the attractions in the region.