The largest city in Westchester County, Yonkers offers visitors the best of all worlds. From its major shopping district along Central Avenue to the peace and tranquility of the Lenoir Nature Preserve, Yonkers has something for everyone.
The Hudson River Museum of Westchester is one of the county's jewels, offering historical and environmental displays and learning centers as well as the county's only planetarium. A highlight in the downtown is the state-of-the-art Riverfront Library situated across the street from the fully restored Yonkers Train Station, designed by the same architects who designed Grand Central Terminal. Outside the train station, visit the park honoring Yonkers resident “Ella Fitzgerald: The First Lady of Song.”
Take a leisurely stroll along Esplanade Park and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Hudson River and the Palisades. Be sure to walk out onto the Recreation Pier, the last Victorian steel Pier on the Hudson, with views of the Manhattan skyline to the south and the Tappan Zee Bridge to the north. Walk south to the Sculpture Meadow on the Hudson and take a moment to sit on the bench and reflect at the 9-11 Memorial with its bronze plaque showing the Manhattan skyline as it appeared from Yonkers before the Trade Towers fell.
A growing number of restaurants and cabarets are offering musical entertainment and the popular Jazz @ the Hudson Riverfront in the Amphitheatre adjacent to the City Pier offers smooth sounds and beautiful Hudson River sunsets. The St. John’s farmer’s market, a staple in downtown for 20 years, takes place in the historic courtyard on Thursdays from June through November, offering produce from regional purveyors. Parts of this magnificent church date back to the original construction sponsored by the Philipse family in the 1750s.
So whether you're looking to shop 'til you drop, admire the breath-taking vistas of the river and Palisades, enjoy a quiet stroll through a nature preserve or enjoy a play, concert or the unique cultural heritage sites found here, Yonkers is a must-see stop on a tour of the Historic Hudson River Towns. For more information, see www.yonkerschamber.com and www.cityofyonkers.com
Hudson River Museum is a cultural complex of galleries; a planetarium, featuring weekend star shows; Glenview, a restored Hudson River home on the National Register of National Historic Places; the whimsical creations of artist Red Grooms, Hudson Riverama, a permanent environmental teaching gallery about the Hudson River, showing its complex web of human, animal and plant life, and how we must care for it. The museum maintains a year-long roster of exhibitions and programs. Gift Shop and Museum Café during museum hours. Free parking, admission fee. Group tour discounts. Hours: Wed - Sunday, 12 noon to 5 pm. Friday, 12 noon - 8 pm. 511 Warburton Ave. (914) 963-4550. www.hrm.org
Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site: This Georgian Style mansion, designated a “Save America’s Treasure” by the White House, was originally the manor house of the Philipse Family from the 1680s to the 1780s and contains one of three surviving papier-mâché ceilings in the country. From the 1880s to 1908, the Hall served as Yonkers’ City Hall. “Slavery: The great and foul stain,” an extensive installation that traces the role of slavery in the United States from ancient to modern times, is currently on display. Special events, concerts and a lecture series are scheduled here, as are walking tours and after-school programs for children. Closed all holidays and holiday weekends. Admission fee. 29 Warburton at Dock Street. (914) 965-4027. www.friendspmh.org
Beczak Environmental Education Center: Located right on the banks of the Hudson River, Beczak provides hands-on educational experiences about the ecological, cultural and historic aspects of the Hudson River. Located within Westchester County's 2 acre Habirshaw Park, Beczak's outdoor classrooms include a sandy beach and a demonstration tidal marsh, giving visitors a rare opportunity to actually “touch” the Hudson. Indoors at Beczak's Hudson River Interpretive Center, visitors are invited to interact with various permanent and seasonal displays, including aquaria housing Hudson River species and a 300 gallon tank modified as an indoor marsh complete with tides. Park hours are Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Center is available for group tours and rental; there is a Saturday evening lecture series based around Hudson-Fulton Quadricentennial topics. The Center and Park are accessible for people with disabilities. 35 Alexander Street, 1 block north of the Yonkers Train station. (914) 377-1900. www.beczak.org.
Sculpture Meadow on the Hudson: This grouping of stone and marble sculptures is on the banks of the Hudson River in Yonkers in Esplanade Park just south of the Yonkers City Pier. The artwork executed by local artists creates stone interpretations of "rooms" in a house. A great place for a stroll or a light picnic. A September 11th memorial is situated in the southwest quadrant of the Sculpture Meadow and offers a view of the Manhattan skyline for quiet reflection. Park closes at dusk.
Science Barge: This totally “off the grid” attraction was brought to the Yonkers waterfront by the cooperative efforts of the City of Yonkers, Groundwork Hudson Valley (with offices in downtown Yonkers), Con Edison and a number of local legislators and grant funding. Formerly housed on the Brooklyn waterfront, the barge offers a glimpse into the future of green energy and hydroponic and aquatic farming. Seasonal tours will be offered by Groundwork Yonkers. (914) 375-2151. www.groundworkyonkers.com
Tibbetts Brook Park, Midland Avenue. Swimming, picnicking, hiking and fishing are among the warmer-weather activities people can enjoy here. And the park doesn't sleep during the colder weather. Sledding, skiing and ice skating are among the winter activities to be enjoyed. Westchester County park passes are required for admission. (914) 965-1901.
Sprain Ridge Park, Jackson Avenue. This 270-acre park in the county's southern end boasts three swimming pools and two picnic areas. There are also many ponds and ravines here and three hiking trails with views overlooking the Sprain Ridge reservoir. A county park pass is required for admission. (914) 478-2300.
Lenoir Preserve, Dudley Street. A 40-acre nature preserve features a rolling lawn and unobstructed views of the Hudson River and majestic Palisades. A nature center staffed with a full-time naturalist and programs offered each weekend make this a great place to bring the family. Group tours are available by reservation. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. (914) 968-5831.
Untermyer Park, North Broadway (just south of St. John’s Hospital) This expansive beaux-arts garden offers unsurpassed vistas of the Palisades and the Hudson River. A Grecian “temple,” fountains, columns, canals, spectacular plantings and historic trees provide a majestic setting for a walk or simple relaxation. Saturday night summer concerts under the stars produced by the Untermyer Performing Arts Council (UPAC) have been a staple for 30 years. Bring chairs or blankets. A popular location for wedding photographs, permits can be obtained from the Yonkers Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. The park is open year round from dawn to dusk. Free admission. (914) 377-6450 www.untermyer.org
Old Croton Trailway State Historic Park. The trailway runs through parts of Yonkers, skirting the Lenoir Preserve and the western edge of Untermyer Park, where carved stone lions mark the ruins of the old estate. Owned and managed by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the trailway offers a scenic walk from northern Westchester County into New York City, or vice versa, following the path of the aqueduct that was once used to bring fresh water from the Croton Reservoir to the city. The trail traverses most of Westchester’s river towns and, while mostly a walking path, does have some sections suitable for horseback riding, including part of the stretch through Yonkers. No motorized vehicles are permitted anywhere along the trailway. Many points of access make it easy to walk sections of the trail. Train stations and bus stops are within walking distance, or a quick taxi ride, from almost any place along the path. The trail begins on the south side of the Croton Dam, farthest away from the spillway. Along the way walkers will see old ventilator shafts as well as a weir chamber, used to spill off waste water during floods. Various parts of the trail offer spectacular Hudson River views. The Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct have published an award-winning map detailing the route of the trail and attractions along the way available, for $5.75 by calling 914-693-4117. For general trailway information, call 914-693-0529, www.aqueduct.org
Dunwoodie Golf Course, Yonkers Avenue. This 18-hole course is open to the public from April through the second Sunday in December, offering a clubhouse with lockers, restaurants and halfway house, golf shop, golf professional and golf-cart rental. A driving range also is available on site and parking is free. County pass holders receive reduced fees. Cross-country skiing and sledding facilities are available here in season. (914) 476-5151. Sprain Lake Golf Course, Grassy Sprain Road. Sprain Lake offers the same amenities, costs and features as the above-mentioned Dunwoodie, with the exception of a driving range. Sledding and cross-country skiing also are offered here during the winter months. (914) 779-5180.
Ramada Yonkers, 125 Tuckahoe Road. (914) 476-3800. Hotel features 100 newly-renovated guest rooms, wifi, 3 meeting rooms, as well as an outdoor pool and lounge. Totonno's Restaurant specializes in authentic brick oven pizza and Italian cuisine. www.ramada.com
Royal Regency Hotel, 165 Tuckahoe Road, (914) 476-6200 or (800) 215-3858 Recently renovated, the hotel offers 92 deluxe rooms, a lounge and restaurant, as well as meeting space for 10 to 400 people. All guests receive free parking and a complimentary daily newspaper. The Royal Regency Hotel is conveniently located just off I-87 at Exit 6W or the Tuckahoe Road exit off the Sprain Brook Parkway. www.royalregencyhotelny.com