Yonkers boasts natural and cultural attractions that blend well within its enigmatic urban landscape.
It is one of the best cities in Westchester County, New York, to enjoy the best of both worlds.
The places of interest along the historic Hudson River are undoubtedly on top of that list.
Still, the scene downtown also offers a good bit of entertainment and historical value to would-be travelers.
As a result, the best things to do in Yonkers are as naturally dynamic as any and can be pretty intriguing, depending on your current preference.
There are a lot of opportunities for a memorable stay.
Like always, this collection of activities and local attractions is here to help you map out your visit in the best way possible.
Take a Relaxing Stroll at Untermyer Park and Gardens
A famous historic landmark along North Broadway and the Hudson River is Untermyer Park and Gardens.
The original place was built in 1916 by order of Samuel Untermyer, a prominent lawyer and civic leader.
However, only the 43-acre Untermyer Park and Gardens remain of the initial 150-acre estate that the lawyer intended to donate to Yonkers.
Some gardens have been restored, re-imagined, and preserved since the government took over.
One is the Walled Garden, whose concept was based on the four gardens of Paradise or Eden mentioned in the Qur'an and the Bible, respectively.
The garden is masterfully divided into quadrilateral sections by waterways, again representing its religious ties.
Past the Walled Garden, you will find the Vista, one of the park’s picturesque landmarks that will also point you to a flight of stairs that leads to the Overlook, which then offers a majestic view of the Hudson River.
Other gardens to look out for are the Six Color Gardens, Sundial Garden, and the Rose and Dahlia Garden.
Enjoy a Peaceful Time at Lenoir Preserve
The 40-acre Lenoir Preserve is located on Dudley Street, standing out for its woodlands and spacious field habitats.
The sanctuary is next to the Old Croton Aqueduct on slopes overlooking the Hudson River, thus, providing scenic views of the river and the surrounding neighborhood.
Visitors of Lenoir Preserve can walk the grounds for walking, birdwatching, or observing wildlife exhibits.
Lenoir Preserve also boasts species of trees from all over the world, including ginkgo trees from Asia, copper beeches from Europe, and Douglas firs from the Pacific Northwest, to name a few.
These trees are joined by native red oaks, hemlocks, sugar maples, tulip trees, and more, which provide natural shelter to visiting and resident wildlife like woodpeckers, owls, and bats.
Float on the Hudson River via the Science Barge
The self-sufficient greenhouse on the Hudson River is an unusual attraction that is worth checking out if you have the time.
The Science Barge is a working farm and interactive science museum exclusively powered by renewable energy.
It even recirculates its water supply from purified river water and collected rainwater.
The Science Barge took its inaugural tour of New York City in 2007.
Since then, it has found a permanent home in Yonkers, where it continues to educate the public and serve as an offbeat tourist attraction.
Ride a Bike along the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Trail
Many of Yonkers's famed attractions are seen along the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Trail.
There are many access points to the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Trail, which famously connects Hudson River communities, including Yonkers.
You will see famous landmarks along the trail, such as Untermyer Park and Gardens, Lenoir Preserve, and Untermyer Park and Gardens.
Meanwhile, going further will bring you to other places of interest just outside the city.
The Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Trail is one of the best places to bike, jog, and walk as you will be constantly surrounded by relaxing shades of greens from the museum up to Lenoir Preserve.
Explore the Outdoors at Habirshaw Park
The two-acre Habirshaw Park is a hidden gem along the riverbanks of Yonkers.
Moreover, the riverfront park is free and open most of the year.
Visitors will appreciate an unobstructed view of the historic George Washington Bridge, the Hudson River, and the iconic New Jersey Palisades on the opposite side.
The restored tidal marsh and small beach are like an oasis in the metro, offering locals and tourists a unique place to picnic, sunbathe, fish, and observe wildlife.
You can access Habirshaw Park via Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at Beczak along Alexander Street.
See the Hudson River at Esplanade Park
Esplanade Park is a scenic river walkway with a beautiful view of the Hudson River and the Palisades.
The park also has many local restaurants nearby.
The activities might be limited to sightseeing, but the park can be an excellent place to relax if you're not in a hurry.
In the summer, the park hosts small concerts and art exhibits.
You can access Esplanade Park via the Municipal Pier.
Take a Breather at the Van der Donck Park
Van der Donck Park is a small park at the center of Yonkers that features an isolated view of the Saw Mill River, a tributary of the Hudson River.
It’s also a popular spot for locals because of its proximity to the Yonkers Train Station and the local pier.
Van der Donck Park was once a mere parking lot.
However, it was renovated into a beautiful park around a previously underground section of the Saw Mill River.
The park has a lovely boardwalk and a good river view where you can observe its resurging wildlife on a good day.
Visit the Urban Studio Unbound
Urban Studio Unbound was initially founded as a place for graduates to share their ideas and craft and find a network that will allow them to work together on their creative endeavors.
Currently, you’ll find contemporary art by artists from Yonkers and collaborators from Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.
The art studio also hosts performing arts and other live events.
You can view their calendar for information on upcoming exhibits, performances, and general schedules.
Check out Urban Studio Unbound!
Discover Local History at Sherwood House Museum
Tour at the Sherwood House Museum is generally free, although the house may be closed at different points during the year.
Check their social media page for announcements, so you can visit when the museum opens.
Typically, the site is open on Sunday afternoons from the first Sunday in April through the last Sunday in September.
Following Labor Day, the museum is reopened until December for public viewing.
The Sherwood House Museum at 340 Tuckahoe Road was built around 1740 by Thomas Sherwood.
It was purchased in 1801 by Yonkers’ first physician, Doctor John Ingersoll.
Some objects inside the rustic house are old paintings, preserved home decor, historical documents, and more.
Stop by Ethan Flagg House-Blessed Sacrament Monastery
The Ethan Flagg House-Blessed Sacrament Monastery at Park Avenue was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
In 1855, industrialist Ethan Flagg built the original house; Flagg was one of the most influential people in Yonkers.
Meanwhile, the monastery was added to the building in 1922, while the connecting structure between the house and the monastery was built in 1954.
The property was later sold to the Greyston Foundation as a medical and social service center.
Landmark hunters can still take photos of the historic building along Park Avenue.
Visit St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church
St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church is the first church in Yonkers and the second oldest in Westchester County.
It was constructed in 1752.
The St. John's complex now includes the church, rectory, chapel, parish house, and school following multiple modifications and renovations.
Fredrick Philipse III first built St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church, also credited for another famous local landmark in Philipse Manor Hall.
You will find St. John’s on Underhill Street.
Explore St. Mary's Church
Established in 1848, Immaculate Conception St. Mary's Church is the oldest Catholic parish in Yonkers.
The church features two side altars, a chapel, a baptistery, and a small tower or turret with a winding staircase to the chancel organ loft.
Unlike the more elaborate Romanesque sculpture seen in the latter half of the eleventh century, St. Mary's Church showcases an earlier and more straightforward style similar to the first Romanesque churches.
You can find St. Mary's Church along South Broadway.
Take a Stroll at Yonkers Greenway
Yonkers Greenway is a new urban trail for walking, running, and cycling along the abandoned Putnam Railroad branch.
The trail runs from Van Cortlandt Park to the downtown Yonkers waterfront, invigorating the neighborhood with an alternative recreational spot for guests.
Besides trails and playgrounds, the Yonkers Greenway also features several art installations for public viewing.
Groundwork Hudson Valley continues to develop the park, which had its groundbreaking in 2018.
Visit the Yonkers Trolley Barn
The former Yonkers Trolley Barn on Main Street is on the National Register of Historic Places as the last remaining trolley barn in Westchester County.
The Yonkers Trolley Barn was initially built as a storage and maintenance facility before it helped the trolley network grow in the city.
It also connected Yonkers with other third avenue railway systems in neighboring cities.
This towering Renaissance Revival-style brick building is the only remaining structure in Yonkers' trolley system.
This historic site is an essential spot for people who want to follow the history of Yonkers.
Check out the Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden
The Lenoir Preserve is also home to the Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden, started by Beverley E. Smith in 1995.
Today, the Hudson River Audubon Society maintains the garden.
The fenced garden might be easy to miss, but it's one of the popular spots in Yonkers for observing wild birds, including the rare Rufous hummingbird.
Besides butterflies and birds, the garden is home to rare plants and flowers that attract various butterfly species, some of which spend their entire life inside the sanctuary.
Note that the Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden typically closes in the winter, reopening around early spring.
Yonkers is one of those cities that is a treat to explore during the day because of the outdoors and outstanding urban landscape.
On top of all that, there seems to be a concentrated effort to preserve local history and culture, not just in museums but in businesses and recreation parks.
At night, the city comes alive with its adequate food and entertainment industry built around the iconic Empire City Casino and the bustling food scene at the local pier.
Enjoy the best things to do in Yonkers, New York!