Thanks to its history as a tony estate, Untermyer Gardens is a grand urban oasis worth exploring. Photo courtesy of the Garden
Thanks to its history as a tony estate, Untermyer Gardens is a grand urban oasis worth exploring. Photo courtesy of the Garden

5 Things To Love About Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers

Located just a few miles north of the Bronx border, Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers is a sprawling, scenic urban oasis that can be enjoyed by the whole family year-round.

Living as close to the park as we do, I would take my children there at least once a week, and they always enjoyed a trip to the “fountains park,” as they called it. They loved running around the Walled Garden, with its beautiful flowers and pools filled with goldfish, climbing up to the Temple of Love for a spectacular view of the Hudson River, or just hiking the many trails which crisscross the grounds.

Read on for five reasons to love this natural gem and find more ways to enjoy the great outdoors with Westchester kids in our Guide to Parks and Playgrounds.

Editor's note: While we are trying to promote safer activities that occur outdoors or with social distancing guidelines in place, please keep your family and others safe by always wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

1. Untermyer's Deep Roots

Like Wave Hill in the Bronx, Untermyer Gardens sits on the site of a former estate, overlooking the Hudson River and the Palisades beyond. The gardens date back to the early 20th century.

In 1916, Samuel Untermyer, a prominent New York attorney, hired William Welles Bosworth, a trained architect, and landscape designer, to create the "finest garden in the world." In the years following, Bosworth created the formal gardens, and in 1946 the Untermyer family donated 16 acres of the estate to the City of Yonkers to be used as a public park.

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untermyer garden grand illumination
Wintertime brings the Grand Holiday Illumination to the grounds at Untermyer. Photo courtesy of the garden

2. An Ever-Changing Canvas

One of the wonderful features of Untermyer Gardens is that you can visit it throughout the year and always experience something new. In the spring and summer, flowers bloom throughout the park. In the fall, the trees, both in the park and on the Palisades across the Hudson River, are ablaze with color. During the holidays, the Walled Garden comes alive with the Grand Holiday Illumination, a celebration of the season featuring an elaborate display of lights and holiday music.

The walled garden at Untermyer garden
The Walled Garden is an elegant, color-draped section of Untermyer Gardens, striking in any season.

3. The Walled Garden

The highlight of any visit to Untermyer Gardens is the Walled Garden. Step into this large, two-level, open space, and you're transported to another era. A long, narrow pool runs the length of the upper level, ending in a larger pool with goldfish, water lilies, and fountains. Overlooking the pool is an amphitheater whose columns are crowned by winged creatures.

In the spring and summer, a spectacular array of flowers bloom, including tulips, hydrangeas, roses, geraniums, irises, magnolia, and cherry trees. My boys always enjoyed wandering around this vibrant, colorful space.

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the temple of love at Untermyer Garden
The Temple of Love is a stunning sight and plenty of fun for adventurous kids to climb.

4. The Temple of Love

Fully refurbished and restored in 2016, the Temple of Love is a stupendous fantasy in rock, capped with a round, open-air temple that offers a breathtaking view of the Hudson River and the Palisades. This is the place to bring your children if they love to climb. There are bridges, a tunnel, and a bench all hewn into the rough stone, which they can explore. In warmer months, a waterfall cascades down from the temple base into pools and smaller waterfalls below.

5. Free Performances and Guided Tours

In the spring and summer, Untermyer Gardens presents a series of concerts, held on the great lawn just outside the Walled Garden, featuring a diverse range of musical acts, including kid-friendly performers, jazz musicians, Broadway stars, classical music, ballet, international and multicultural performers, and more. Bring a blanket or lawn chairs, sit out under the stars and enjoy an evening of great music.

If you're interested in learning more about the gardens, you can take a 90-minute guided tour on Sundays from late April through late October. Tours alternate focusing on the history of the grounds and the gardens themselves. A $10 fee applies, but children 12 and under are FREE. Reservations are required and can be booked online. Untermyer Gardens also offers art classes and workshops for kids and adults—some of the kids' programs are even FREE—so bookmark the calendar to see what's on tap.

A long pathway at Untermyer Garden
Untermyer Gardens' beauty beckons visitors to enjoy a return trip. 

Know Before You Go to Untermyer Gardens

  • The Gardens are open daily from 9am-5pm; currently, timed-entry tickets are not required but may return later in April. Admission is FREE.
  • Visitors are only allowed to enter and exit from the main gate.
  • Masks are required at all times, including performances, and one-way guest circulation throughout the garden helps promote social distancing. During special events, guests’ temperatures are taken.
  • The gardens are closed on major holidays from November through March, except during the Grand Holiday Illumination. The gardens are open on major holidays from April through November. The gardens are also closed in icy conditions.
  • Parking is FREE, though if the lot is full, you'll find metered (coin-operated) and unmetered street parking along North Broadway.
  • The Westchester Bee-Line No. 6 bus stops right in front of the Gardens.
  • Food and drink are not sold at Untermyer Gardens, but you can bring your own, and picnic tables are available.
  • There are restrooms on-site at the Cola Community Center, just inside the main entrance.

Unless noted, photos by Susan Miele

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