Just a hare's breath north of the Bronx borough line, Yonkers, New York State's fourth most populous city, is full of beautiful greenery and lush open space. From stately mansions to meandering bike paths, it is a city that is simultaneously steeped in history and accelerating into the future. Because there is just so much for families to do here, we are dedicating this post to amazing outdoor play spaces for kids in Yonkers--and keep your eyes peeled for our top picks for indoor play coming soon.
Yonkers has many great playgrounds for kids to frolic and play, and if you're looking for truly stunning green space, historic mansion grounds, trailways, bike paths and more--Yonkers has that, too!
Tibbets Brook Park
355 Midland Avenue
Nearly 100 years old, Tibbetts Brook Park is one of Westchester County’s oldest and most historically significant parks. It is also one of its most fun. Tibbetts Brook was one of the first parks in the country to offer a gigantic outdoor swimming pool to the public and contained a children’s playground long before such things were universal. Today, Tibbetts Brook is home to a mini-golf course, two artificial fishing lakes (which can be used for ice skating in winter), a playground, hiking trails, ball fields, bike paths, sledding, picnicking, fitness opportunities and, of course, a water park. That’s right. A water park. In 2012 the 81 year old pool reopened as a saline water park with a children’s spray pool, water slides, an aquatic playground, lap lanes, a lazy river and areas for aqua-basketball and aqua-volleyball. This is truly a park with something for everyone. A park pass is required for admission to the pool.
Sprain Ridge Park
149 Jackson Avenue
Sprain Ridge Park, located in the Northernmost section of Yonkers, is a Westchester destination for mountain bikers of all ability levels. The 5 miles of well mapped and maintained hiking and biking trails in this county owned park are rated for beginner, intermediate and advanced level riders and marked with colored blazes. The park also contains picnicking and playground facilities and a system of 3 swimming pools—which have been closed since the summer of 2011 (we'll let you know when/if that changes). Leashed dogs are permitted on the trails, but not in the picnic area.
Untermeyer Gardens Conservancy
945 N Broadway
Looking for beautiful flowers and plants, but can’t make it all the way to the New York Botanical Garden or Wave Hill? Visit Untermeyer Gardens in Yonkers and prepare to be wowed by the stunning grounds and gardens of this 19th century mansion. So long as they understand not to pick the flowers, these gardens are perfect for young botanists and explorers. With many paths to follow and lots of open space, there is room to run around between visits to carefully cultivated flower beds. Curious children (and adults!) will find magical little corners tucked away all across the grounds. Seek out the gazebo overlooking the Hudson for spectacular views. Keep your eyes peeled and you may even catch a glimpse one of the mansions former residents; there are many rumors that the grounds are haunted.
10 Water Grant Street
Scenic Hudson’s Esplanade Park is one of the many waterfront parks in Westchester County to have been redeveloped since the end of the 1900s. The park itself is a relatively narrow 1,000 foot esplanade along the Hudson River. Along the walkway, however, is the two year installation (currently ending in June of 2015) of the Yonkers Esplanade Sculpture Park. Life size people made out of rocks, metal trees reaching for the sky, wire-y tigers, transparent color fields and gigantic fish draw children in and encourage their imaginations to run wild.
19 Dudley Street
The Nature Center at the Lenoire Preserve is home to a number of nature exhibits and a rotating schedule of educational activities for children, schools and families. Because the presesrve is primarily a bird sanctuary the focus of nature programs at this center is, you guessed it, birds. In addition to bird programs, voluenteers from the Hudson River Audobon Society maintain a butterfly garden near the Lenoire Nature Center and a yearly “Nature Week” summer camp in hosted on site by the Westcheter County parks department.
Nature Paths and Trailways
Running South to North through Westchester, and often incorporating one another, the Bronx River Parkway Reservation, Bronx River Pathway, the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail and the South County Trailway all pass through the city of Yonkers. The trails are mostly paved making them great for for kids on bikes, scooters, roller skates or inline skates--or simply enjoy an afternoon walk. These trails are friendly, well maintained places to get out and get moving. The South County Trailway runs mostly along the former path of the Putnam Division or the New York Central Railroad. The Bronx River Pathway is within the Bronx River Reservation—the county’s oldest park. On Sundays in spring and fall, sections of the Bronx River Parkway, which runs alongside the Bronx River Reservation, actually close to vehicular traffic for a few hours to allow bikers, skaters and pedestrians to take over the road way. The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail follows the former water-supply path from Northern Westchester all the way down to New York City, passing through Lenoire Preserve and Tibbetts Brook along the way.