Albany (New York)
Albany is the capital of New York and the county seat of Albany County. It is home to just under 100,000 residents, most of New York State's key government offices, and seven colleges and universities. Albany is an interesting showcase of several centuries' worth of architectural styles, including the modernistic Empire State Plaza. Before the first European settlement by the Dutch in 1614, Albany and its surroundings were home to the Iroquois Five Nations group of indigenous Americans. Albany is the longest continually chartered city in the United States, the original eastern terminus of the Erie Canal, and was a center for the smuggling of alcohol from Canada during the U.S. Prohibition. Writer and journalist William Kennedy, an Albany native, uses the city and its history as the setting for most of his novels, plays and nonfiction books.
- Albany International Airport (IATA: ALB), 737 Albany Shaker Rd, ☎ . is technically an international airport due to a handful of flights from Canada. Several expansion projects since 1995 have transformed this formerly spartan little airport into a very attractive port of departure/arrival. Airlines that operate are Delta, Southwest, United, US Airways, Air Canada, and Cape Air. Getting from the airport to the city is best done by pickup from a friend or by taxi; in 2006, a taxi to downtown Albany was about $20 to $25. See also "By bus" below.
- Amtrak, 525 East Street, Rensselaer, toll-free: . The Albany-Rensselaer station is Amtrak's 10th busiest. It is not in Albany itself but directly across the river in Rensselaer. Taxis from the train station are pricey due to a cab company monopoly, so get a ride if you can. Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) bus route 214 connects downtown Albany to the station 6AM-11PM Monday-Saturday, 9AM-7PM Sundays. Bus route 24 service to the station has been discontinued. An additional bus route 114 connects downtown Albany, the University at Albany, St. Rose College and Crossgates Mall. Trains serving the stations include the Maple Leaf (New York-Albany-Toronto), the Adirondack (New York-Albany-Montreal), Empire Service (New York-Albany-Niagara Falls), the Ethan Allen Express (Rutland-Albany-New York), and the Lake Shore Limited (Chicago-Buffalo-Albany-New York/Boston).
- Interstate 90 (I-90), the strip of highway that crosses the upper United States, cuts right through the north side of Albany. There are many exits into Albany from I-90, and a lovely view of the skyline between exits 6 and 7.
- Interstate 87 (I-87), which connects New York City and Montreal, intersects with I-90 in Albany. South of Albany, I-87 is a toll road called the Thruway. North of Albany, it is a toll-free highway known locally as the Northway which leads through Montréal (as Québec's autoroute 15) into the Laurentian Mountains.
- Taconic Parkway This 4 lane, rural limited-access highway winds from Interstate 287 in Westchester County up to Interstate 90 near the Massachusetts Border. It can be a pleasant road to travel on to Albany, since there are no trucks or toll plazas.
- Greyhound Bus Lines, 34 Hamilton St, ☎ . The Albany Greyhound station is located downtown near the waterfront. Boston, New York City, Buffalo and Montreal are all well connected by bus. The NYC-bound Greyhound is invariably cheaper and more punctual than Amtrak.
- Megabus, North Surface parking lot off of East Street, Rensselaer (The entrance to the lot is located on East St., just north of Wendell St.). Megabus connects Albany with New York City. Fares start at just $1 when reserved far in advance. Parking is available in the surface lots adjacent to the stop.
- Capital District Transportation Authority, +1 518 482-8822. CDTA offers very limited bus service to the Albany International Airport. Routes 610 operates from around 6AM to around 11:30PM every 25–30 minutes during the day and almost every hour at night. Weekend service is very infrequent. Route 737 serve the airport during weekday rush hours only and is infrequent as well.
Getting around Albany and the Capital Region entirely depends on where you are staying and what you want to see. If you plan on spending most of your time within the city of Albany, most downtown sights are within walking distance of each other.
Most residents and visitors get around by car. By the standards of larger cities, traffic is light and traffic jams are rare. Finding parking in some neighborhoods, particularly the Center Square area around Lark Street, can be a challenge.
Taxi cabs in Albany are not metered and go by a zone fare within the city limits. Some places are geographically not in the city limits but still may be referred to as "Albany" such as Colonie Center which is in the town of Colonie and Crossgates Mall which is in the town of Guilderland. This may at times leave you open to getting ripped off by the driver. It's best to call the company and ask for the fare prior to getting into the cab.
- Yellow Cab, ☎ . Offers a flat fee between different areas of the city.
- Capitaland Taxi, ☎ .
By bus (CDTA)
- Central District Transportation Authority (CDTA), ☎ . Many sights outside of downtown and even outside of the city of Albany can be reached by the public bus system, the Central District Transportation Authority(CDTA). CDTA fares are $1.50 each way or $4 per day, no matter the distance traveled, and can be paid in $1.50 notes, coins or with prepaid cards of various denominations. CDTA tends to operate between 6AM and 12AM Monday through Friday. Saturday bus service is much more limited, depending on which route is taken,(some routes do not run on Saturday). Sunday bus service in Albany is extremely limited is a few routes that run in the city, and between Albany and Schenectady & Albany and Troy. Most places are on bus lines that run about every 20 minutes or less during the day on weekdays and every 30 minutes at night, while on weekends buses run about every 20 minutes or more. It is highly advisable to go the CDTA web site, and/or get a bus schedule before trying to get a bus that does not run where you want go or when you want to catch it. $1.50-$4.00.
Albany is an architectural haven, from historic buildings to newly built high rise skyscrapers to churches and temples, Albany has got it all for architectural buffs out there.
- Albany City Hall, 24 Eagle St, ☎ . Designed by renowned architect H.H. Richardson in the Romanesque style he popularized
- Empire State Plaza, Madison Ave, ☎ . The Empire State Plaza is something to behold. It lies between the New York State Capitol building and the New York State Museum. While many critics have found that the Plaza is architecturally intimidating, at best, it can be quite beautiful. Free concerts are often held on the plaza during the summer, ranging from Blues Festivals to Rock concerts. And the Fourth of July fireworks are spectacular.
- New York State Capitol, ☎ . Free guided tours, M-F 10AM, noon, 2PM, and 3PM; Sa & Su 11AM, 1PM, and 3PM. Free self-guided audio tours M-F, 9AM-3PM (driver license or passport must be left as collateral for audio player). Plaza Visitor Center, Rm. 106 Concourse, Empire State Plaza. Security screening will confiscate pocket knives and other sharp objects.
- New York State Education building, 1 Commerce Plaza, ☎ . with its impressive neo-classical colonnade
- State Street. The main street that runs to the Albany Waterfront. Though much of the lower portion is decayed and empty, it retains a regal air and is well worth a visit, particularly as revitalization of the area takes hold. State Street is home to may of the stately 19th century homes that can be seen in Albany and was once home to writer Herman Melville. Nearby lies Pearl Street, which has recently undergone a renewal, and which caters to the 20-something bar and club scene. During the summer, the Alive at 5 concert series is an open festival on Broadway near the base of State Street. It draws quite a large crowd, and is generally a fun time for all. You can no longer bring your own beer, however—you must purchase it on site.
- State University of New York (SUNY) System Administration Building, The Plaza on State St. Formerly the Delaware and Hudson Railroad Building
- Van Ostrande-Radliff House, 48 Hudson Ave. Built circa 1728, it is the oldest remaining Dutch building in the city.
- Corning Tower Observation Deck, Erastus Corning Tower, ☎ . 10:00-14:30 daily, closed on holidays. The view from the 42nd floor Corning Tower Observation Deck encompasses not only the city of Albany but the foothills of the Adirondacks, the Catskills, and the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. Check-in at the security desk in the concourse under the Corning Tower, photo ID required. Plaza information office Free.
- USS Slater (DE-766), Broadway, Waterfront, ☎ . Retired WWII US Navy Destroyer Escort, offering tours Wed-Sun during the summer. Recommended ability to climb and descend stairs.
- New York State Museum, Madison Ave, ☎ . Daily from 9:30AM-5PM, closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. The largest state museum in all the 50 states, has some really nice collections. Admission is free, donations are welcome..
- Albany Institute of History and Art, Washington Ave. another nice museum well worth a visit.
- Shaker Heritage Society, 25 Meeting House Rd, ☎ . February to October, T-Sa 9:30AM-4PM. November and December, M-Sa 10AM-4PM.. Watervliet was the first Shaker community in the United States. Shaker leader Ann Lee is buried here. Guided tours June through October, Sa at 11:30AM and 1:30PM, when available. Other tours available by appointment; two weeks notice required. See other Shaker villages in the northeast United States through the itinerary Touring Shaker country. Admission is free, donations accepted. Guided tours: adults $3, children under 12 free..
Parks and preserves
- Washington Park, Madison Ave (located in the Center Square area). is a delightful, and for the most part safe, park (care should be taken at night). In the park's center is the Park Playhouse, which offers free, good musicals and plays throughout the summer. May offers "Tulip Fest" a nod to Albany's Dutch heritage that consumes Washington Park with (mostly) tulips as well as a craft fair.
- Lark Street. is a center of Albany youth culture and an interesting place to visit. Lark Street is between Washington Park and the Empire State Plaza and is the main drag for a vibrant residential neighborhood. In September, Lark Street hosts one of Albany's most treasured events, "Larkfest", a popular street fair .
- Albany Pine Bush Preserve, 195 New Karner Rd, ☎ . western edge of the city. It's a 3,000-acre inland pine barren maintained by controlled fires (which clear out invasive plant species and cause the native pine cones to release their seeds). Trails through the preserve are open to non-motorized uses year-round (except during burns, of course
Albany for free
- Public Concerts. Held at the Empire State Plaza, Washington park and in the Corning Preserve/Albany Riverfront Park on the Hudson River during the summer.
- Playhouse, Washington Park. Plays held at the park playhouse during the Summer.
- First Fridays, ☎ . 11:00-14:00,17:00-21:00. Held every First Friday of the month, this event aims to bring to a wider audience the local artists and local shops of Albany. Artwork exhibitions, live entertainment and gallery openings bring Albany to life. For transportation; A trolley will stop at participating venues throughout Albany. The Trolley leaves from the Upstate Artists Guild at 5PM and duration of the round trip is approximately 30 minutes. After the First Friday event, live music and original films are played from the Capitol Region Film Makers and people dancing.
- Mohawk Hudson-River Bikeway. A 86 mile long trail for biking, walking, jogging or skating which starts in the Corning Preserve in downtown Albany, right along the Hudson River, and stretches out to Rotterdam Junction in Schenectady County.
- Corning City Preserve. Trails for biking, skating, jogging and walking in the 5-mile long park along the Hudson River, with picnic areas and a boat launch.
Albany's professional sports teams include the Albany Devils (ice hockey) and the Tri-City ValleyCats (baseball):
- Albany Devils, Games are hosted at the Times Union Center.. The Albany Devils are the professional hockey team of Albany. They play in the American Hockey League (AHL).
- Tri-City Valleycats, Troy. The Valleycats are nearby Troy's minor league baseball team. The team is a Single A team that competes in the New York- Penn League (NYPL). The major league team associated with the Valleycats are the Houston Astros. The Valleycats play at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium. Tickets range in price from $5–$15.
- Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 North Pearl St, ☎ . N. Pearl St.
- The Palace Theatre, 19 Clinton Ave (corner of N. Pearl St.), ☎ .
- The Egg, State St (in the Empire State Plaza), ☎ . Downtown.
- The Times Union Arena (formerly the Pepsi Arena and Knickerbocker Arena), S. Pearl St.
- Pick Apples!. Autumn is always a good time for apple-picking at any one of the orchards in the area
- Ice-skating. The reflecting pool of the Empire State Plaza becomes a skating rink during the winter, which might be an equivalent of the Rockefeller Center rink.
- Captain JP Cruise Line, 278 River St., Troy, NY 12180, ☎ . The Captain JP can accommodate up to 600 passengers and is by far the most lavish vessel in the Capital District. The Capt. JP II has three climate-controlled enclosed decks, along with full service bars and dance floors on each deck. They regularly feature live entertainment on the music cruises and also hold private events.
- The Linda - WAMC's Performing Arts Studio, 339 Central Ave. The Linda is located on Central Avenue in Albany. Visit the venue for many kinds of events or rent out the space for your own event
- Tulip Festival: 9-10 May 2015 . Showcases the beauty of American tulips, and not to mention the feast on food and art.
- Capital District Scottish Games: 5-6 September 2015 , Altamont Fairgrounds (20-30 minutes West of Albany). Labor Day Weekend. Scottish culture get showcased this time of year from pipes and drum bands to feasting and drinking over Scottish delights or just viewing an exhibition of horses, going back to your routes through genealogy information or maybe getting fashionable through tradition Scottish clothing. Though far from Scotland, this festival might give you an introduction to what your next destination may like be.
- The Albany Chefs' Food & Wine Festival: 15-17 January 2015 . Regional chefs, restaurants, wines and beers.
- Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival: 12 September 2015 .
- Lark Street. has a few gift shops and other unique stores with an alternative vibe. If you're downtown take a gander and support local shopkeepers by buying a glass pipe, a bustier dress with cherries on it, or a rainbow flag to hang in your front window.
- Stuyvesant Plaza, 1475 Western Avenue, Westmere (located between Western Ave. and Washington Ave), ☎ . is the most upscale shopping venue in the area. Independent boutiques and brand stores like Crabtree & Evelyn dominate, with a few chain staples; there is a T.G.I. Friday's right next to the Starbucks. Color Me Mine is a neat little DIY craft shop where you can paint your own ceramics.
- Crossgates Mall, Westmere, ☎ . otherwise referred to as "the mall," is the biggest shopping center in the region and at one point was among the top ten largest shopping malls in the United States. The best spot to park is by Best Buy, which is in the center of the mall. Flagship stores include Macy's, JC Penney, a recently expanded Forever 21 superstore, Best Buy, H&M, Borders and the Apple store. Crossgates has a Regal Cinemas complex with 17 standard stadium-seating theaters and one IMAX Experience theater. No thanks to local hooligans, after 4 pm on Friday and Saturday you must be 18 or older to enter the mall unsupervised, with the exception of the movies.
- Crossgates Commons, 161 Washington Avenue Extension. is an overflow of chain stores located across Washington Ave Extension from Crossgates Mall. Here you'll find what was once the largest Super Wal-Mart store in the country, which looks unremarkable until you realize there is an entire underground level devoted to grocery and toiletries. Worth a visit if you've never seen a shopping cart escalator.
- Colonie Center, ☎ . remodelled in an effort to combat its former reputation as a ghost town mall. CC has a new Regal Cinemas complex with 13 stadium-seating theaters. Major stores include Macy's, FYE as well as Boscov's, Sears, LL Bean, Barnes & Noble and Christmas Tree Shops. Eat at PF Chang's or the Cheesecake Factory, which are conveniently adjacent to one another between Sears and LL Bean. Colonie Center draws a more suburban crowd than Crossgates due to Crossgates' better accessibility by public transportation.
- Latham Farms Shopping Center, 579 Troy Schenectady Rd. Retail part, includes Wal-Mart, Dick's sporting goods and Home Depot as well as a number of restaurant chains.
In the suburbs surrounding Albany, particularly on the drive down Central Ave toward Schenectady, you can find a strip mall wherever you go with chain stores like Target, Marshalls, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Some of the larger ones are Westgate Plaza, Northway Mall, and Mohawk Commons which used to be an indoor mall (Mohawk Mall)
- Cafe Cappriccio, 49 Grand St, ☎ . is an upscale NYC-Style restaurant. Wonderful staff, beautiful live jazz. Dress accordingly, you won't be disappointed.
- C.H. Evans Brewing Company (Albany Pump Station), 19 Quackenbush Square, ☎ . is a restaurant and brewpub in downtown Albany. It serves American style fare burgers, fish and some upscale dishes as well. The highlight is their microbrew, of which they make upwards of 10 different styles and types. The Hefeweizen is outstanding as is their American Brown Ale, Belgian Style Ale and Pale Ale (honestly, all of their beer offerings are good). The building itself is the old Albany Pump Station, which used to pump the water from the Hudson River up to the reservoir, so the building has a ton of atmosphere and history. This place is a local favorite - no trip to Albany is complete without a visit here.
- Debbie's Kitchen, 456 Madison Ave (just west of Lark St), ☎ . Superb for healthful, super tasty and interesting sandwiches and wraps. Beautiful desserts to tempt you if you have room after their generous salads and sandwiches. Highly recommended, an outstanding value.
- El Loco, 465 Madison Ave, ☎ . is a good Mexican Restaurant, loved by locals. The food can sometimes be a bit expensive for what's being offered.
- El Mariachi 1, 144 Washington Ave, ☎ . authentic Mexican cooking. It's not expensive, and the food is exquisite. Recommended!
- El Mariachi 2, Hamilton St (corner of Swan St), ☎ . authentic Mexican cooking. It's not expensive, and the food is exquisite. Recommended!
- Gandhi, 1 Central Ave (corner of Henry Johnson Blvd and Central Ave), ☎ . Indian restaurant boasts the best weekday lunch buffet in the area.
- Jack's Oyster House, 42 State St, ☎ . An Albany classic, its walls are adorned with misty photos of Albany's interesting past. The quality and prestige of Jack's has gone down in recent years, though it still may be the best place to get fresh seafood at a place that has defined downtown for almost one hundred years. Don't dress like a slob.
- Justin's, 301 Lark St, ☎ . is a very popular spot that offers live Jazz Wednesday though Sunday. Lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch.
- Lombardo's, 121 Madison Ave, ☎ . Fine Italian dining complemented by a welcoming staff.
- Mamoun's, 206 Washington Ave (near Lark Street), ☎ . A wonderful Middle Eastern restaurant. The dim lighting and brick walls gives this place a unique classy atmosphere. Food is healthy and reasonably priced.
- McGuire's, 353 State St (corner of Lark St.), ☎ . An upscale restaurant, a bit expensive, but the food is terrific.
- Wolff's Biergarten, 895 Broadway, ☎ . Wolff's offers a number of authentic German food and beer selections and there is always a futball game on.
New Scotland and Pine Hills area
- Anton's, 577 New Scotland Ave, ☎ . They call themselves the King of Gyros. Anton's is a small Greek takeout hole-in-the-wall across from Saint Peter's Hospital. Delicious and inexpensive! Friendly staff. Try their daily specials.
- Capital Q Smokehouse, 329 Ontario st (between Morris and Myrtle), ☎ . BBQ take out, has 3 different Pulled Pork, Brisket, Ribs and a whole lot of tasty sides
- The Ginger Man, 234 Western Ave, ☎ . A nice atmosphere, a good, diverse menu, a nice selection of wine and beer and it isn't too expensive.
- Honest Weight Food Co-Op, 100 Watervliet Ave, ☎ . For health food shopping, has a variety of health-minded dishes and baked goods made daily. Grab a "meal deal" for under $5. Check out the amazing cheese selection.
- Cafe Italia, 662 Central Ave, ☎ . is an upscale Italian Restaurant.
- Junior's, 1094 Madison Ave, ☎ . Is a good bar and restaurant. Many will argue their wings (as opposed to Wings Over) are the best in the city. Great burgers and grilled sandwiches.
- Cafe Madison, 1108 Madison Avenue # 1, ☎ . This is a wonderful restaurant that serves a brunch that is unparalleled in the capitol region. Enjoyable patio dining is available during the warm months. Try their breakfast cocktails (their bloody mary is unmatched.) Part of the menu is on a weekly rotation which features creative takes on eggs benedict.
- Midtown Tap and Tea Room, 289 New Scotland Ave, ☎ . Located in the peaceful University Heights neighborhood on New Scotland Ave., it features some of the highest quality food and largest wine menus in Albany. Weekends feature local jazz bands and other musicians. Midtown also participates in the famous "First Friday" event where artwork from local artists is featured on the restaurant's walls
- My Linh, 272 Delaware Ave (near the Spectrum Theater), ☎ . This is an upscale, authentic Vietnamese restaurant. Dress accordingly and the place can be quite romantic.
- New World Bistro, 300 Delaware Ave, ☎ . Is an upscale restaurant near the Spectrum Theater. Wonderful food and service, their specials are heavenly. It's never too crowded, the service is always friendly. One of the city's best spots to go out on a date.
- Pepper Jack's, 192 North Allen St, ☎ . Recently moved from their long established place on Quail, Pepper Jack's has a large variety of inexpensive delicious food. College students and professionals alike love this place. Try their breakfast wraps, simply amazing!
- The Point, 1100 Madison Ave, ☎ . Restaurant and Lounge , a new restaurant built where the old Peking Restaurant once existed. Great beer selection and food.
- Restaurant Paradiso, 198 Central Ave (Corner of Robin), ☎ . upscale Italian restaurant featuring superb food.
- Mr. Pio Pio, 160 Quail St (between Washington and Western), ☎ . features Columbian and Ecuadorian Cuisine.
- Ragonese Italian Imports, 409 New Scotland Ave, ☎ . This is an excellent Italian and Greek deli. You can get sandwiches, subs, soups, and even lasagne. There isn't really any place to sit down, so virtually every customer gets take-out.
- Salsa Latina Restaurant, 315 Central Ave, ☎ . Is a well established Mexican restaurant. Great food, worth a visit.
- Sam's, 125 Southern Blvd (US 9W), ☎ . offers reasonably priced, but still satisfying and tasty Italian food, as does Mangia in Stuyvesant Plaza on Western Ave., (Mangia now has several locations throughout the Capital District - they're also on New Scotland Ave. in Slingerlands, and in the Shoppers World Plaza off NY 146 in Clifton Park).
Colonie, Westmere and Latham areas
- Beff's, 95 Everett Rd (about a 10 minute drive from downtown), ☎ . They have really good burgers, nachos and a great selection of unique pizzas.
- Blu Stone Bistro, 661 Albany Shaker Rd, ☎ . Is an upscale restaurant next door to the Indigo Hotel, on the corner of Albany Shaker and Wolf Road. Wonderful live music and the food is great too. Blu Stone Bistro can be expensive and the crowd tends to be older.
- Karavalli Restaurant, 9 Johnson Rd (Route 9R in suburban Latham), ☎ . For spicy south India cuisine, this is a nice place to visit. Many will say the atmosphere is lacking but the food will keep you coming back.
- Koto Japanese Steak House, 260 Wolf Road, Latham, ☎ . Is a hibachi (teppan-style cooking) and sushi restaurant located right by Albany Airport, and is probably the most popular of its kind in the area.
- Little Anthony's, 1095 Central Ave (near the Albany Indoor Rockgym), ☎ . Serves pizza catered to omnivores and vegans.
- Peaches Cafe, 1475 Western Avenue, Westmere (Stuyvesant Plaza), ☎ . A local favourite, reasonably priced and has excellent breakfast food. Try their Irish Eggs Benedict, it's the best in New York. Careful, this place can be very busy around lunchtime or weekend mornings, although weekdays aren't too crazy.
- Phoenicians Restaurant, 1686 Central Ave, Colonie, ☎ . Lebanese restaurant. The food here is wonderful and the service is always friendly. Highly recommended. The lunch menu is reasonably priced. Their dinner menu can be on the expensive side, but you get what you paid for -> a lot of food and excellent quality. Great healthy option.
- Professor Java's Coffee Sanctuary, 217 Wolf Rd, ☎ . This is a wonderful cafe and a local favorite. Great atmosphere, the walls are filled with photography or paintings from local artists, all of which are available for sale. The food is excellent. The baked goods are divine. And their coffee and tea selection is endless. Try the Russian Caravan Tea if you dare! Java's typically hosts the indie-college crowd, many of whom come here to write papers and leech off their free Wifi. Very friendly staff. Sometimes, Java's hosts open-mic nights.
- Saati Deli and Catering, 586 New Loudon Road, Latham (Newton Plaza), ☎ . Excellent homemade salads, soups and sandwiches. Prices are comparable to places like Panera Bread, but you have much better atmosphere and quality here.
- Smokey Bones BBQ & Grill, 1557 Central Ave., Colonie, ☎ . large place with plenty of TVs for watching whatever sporting event happens to be on
- Sushi Tei (Sushi Yokohama), 1800 Western Ave (in Cosimos Plaza), ☎ . An excellent place with wonderful food and a relaxed atmosphere. Serve lunch and dinner. Many different choices of Sushi and Japanese dishes. My personal favorite is the "happy ending platter".
- Wings Over Albany, 1704 Western Ave, ☎ . Are arguably the best wings in Albany. While this is a chain, Albany residents have claimed it as their own. Amazing wings with a large variety of flavors for cheap. Boneless wings are also highly recommended. Their physical location isn't ideal to eat at because its small and noisy. Rather, give them a call and have food delivered (or pickup).
Albany's bar scene is alive and well and, due to recent crackdowns with ID checks, the face of local nightlife has seen lots of change. Make sure you have your license, passport or ID handy.
SUNY Albany is no longer considered the #1 party school in the United States, but between its 11,000 students and the College of Saint Rose, you will meet lots of sloppy and belligerent 18-21 year-olds on a typical night out. Muggers and other opportunists capitalize on vulnerable drinkers, so avoid Washington Park after dark.
The most popular and concentrated place to barhop is probably Lark Street, where more than a dozen bars from cocktail lounges and dives are crowded between Ontario Street and Central Avenue. Good bets include:
- Oh Bar, 304 Lark St, ☎ . is a popular gay/lesbian bar that is friendly and has a nice happy hour. Check out Karaoke night on Thursdays.
- Bombers, 258 Lark St, ☎ . Popular burrito bar operates a pub upstairs. Its reputation is on the decline in recent years, but the burritos remain huge.
- The Lionheart, 448 Madison Ave, ☎ . Good on weekends when the Romans come down for their orgy, good happy hour specials, a good selection of beer, and they have dartboards and pool tables. Very crowded on summer weekend nights.
- Susies, 8 Delaware Ave. is a fun subterranean bar with several great microbrews, darts and a great patio during the summer.
- Hollywood Tavern, 275 Lark St. attracts an average looking and refreshingly unpretentious crowd. It's more "meet your friends" than "see and be seen." Albany's largest patio in the summer and a large upstairs for the winter.
Pearl Street is another good place to go out. Closer to the large state offices, these bars draw a large after-work crowd, and after the Thursday afternoon waterfront concerts in the summer - Alive at 5 - the streets are cordoned off, made pedestrian-only, and overflow with revelers.
- Albany Pump Station, 19 Quackenbush Square, ☎ . lets you dine with a few beers. Located just below Pearl St. toward the Hudson.
- Blue 82, 80 North Pearl St, ☎ . a trendy but nice place to get a martini, or some other fancy drink, and look hot
- The Bayou Cafe, 79 North Pearl Street. New Orleans style fare and bands. Another good after-work crowd. Fills with older hepcat college students later in the evening, especially on weekends. Good live music.
- McGeary's, 4 Clinton Square, ☎ . often has bands playing Celtic folk and/or bagpipe rock and they have an outdoor area for eating, drinking and listening to live bands during the summer.
Some places of interest:
- Waterworks, 76 Central Avenue, ☎ . on Central Avenue is another popular gay/lesbian bar.
- The Fuze Box, 12 Central Avenue, ☎ . used to be a White Castle-style burger joint, but has since been converted to a club/event space. Here you find Thursday swing dancing lessons, goth nights, and best known for the weekly Saturday '80s nights. Excellent music, mixed and unpretentious crowds. Dance to Cyndi Lauper with your friends. GLBT friendly!
- Midtown Tap and Tea Room, 289 New Scotland Avenue, ☎ . is in one of the quieter parts of town and has one of the best wine menus.
For the College Crowd:
- The Washington Tavern (WT's), 250 Western Avenue, ☎ . is an upper classmen bar. It's usually pretty busy.
- Bogies, 297 Ontario Street, ☎ . Hot spot for the college kids who aren't yet old enough to drink elsewhere. Has live metal and hardcore music gigs.
- The Pub, 869 Madison Ave. is a nice place to hang out on weekends. It's very busy with the typical college scene, but slightly more subdued than some of the others.
- The Hilton Albany, 40 Lodge St, ☎ . It is close to the State Capitol, Times Union Center, and a burgeoning downtown area on Pearl Street (Pearl, Jillian's, Skyline, Mad River, the Victory Cafe, McGeary's and the Bayou Cafe are all located on or just off of Pearl Street).
- Holiday Inn Express Albany - Downtown, 300 Broadway, ☎ .
New Scotland and Pine Hills area
- Morgan State House - Luxury Inn, 393 State St, ☎ . The Morgan State House is an excellent example of late 19th-century elegance and design. It has been restored to provide the most unique accommodations in the Capital District. Voted "Best in the Capital /Saratoga Region", The Morgan State House is an inn in the European tradition. It is centrally located in downtown Albany, on a quiet, tree-lined residential street overlooking Washington Park and was the longtime home of the artist and suffragette Alice Morgan Wright (1881—1975), who lived here from 1888 (when she was 7 years old) until her death. The house was designed by R.W. Gibson, the architect of the Cathedral of All Saints, for her father, Henry Romeyn Wright, who made a fortune in dry goods during the Civil War. The multiple peaked gables and intricate interior details reflect the Japanese-influenced aesthetic of the 1880s. Alice Morgan Wright was a leading figure in the American suffrage movement and once was jailed in London with Emmeline Pankhurst. In 1921 she helped found the New York League of Women’s Voters. An influential artist of the Art Deco style, Wright maintained a studio on the fourth floor of the house, and her works can be found in museums and private collections throughout the country.
- Ramada Plaza Albany, 3 Watervliet Avenue Extension, ☎ . Pet-friendly. Offers full service restaurant, cocktail lounge, continental breakfast, meeting and banquet facilities. Provides extended stay amenities and services. Walking distance to restaurants and attractions.
- TownePlace Suites Albany, 22 Holland Ave. Downtown/Medical Center
Colonie, Westmere and Latham areas
- Albany Marriott, 189 Wolf Rd, ☎ .
- Comfort Inn Latham - Albany North, 981 New Loudon Road, ☎ .
- Courtyard Albany Airport, 168 Wolf Rd, ☎ .
- Courtyard Albany Thruway, 1455 Washington Avenue, ☎ .
- The Century House, 997 New Loudon Rd., Latham,, ☎ . an Ascend Hotel Collection Member
- The Desmond, 660 Albany Shaker Rd, ☎ , toll-free: . is one of the best places to stay in the Albany area (though it is a bit further away than one might like, near Albany International Airport.) The Desmond's charm is in its embracement of the historical group of Shaker's who once were a big part of the Capital Region. The Desmond often hosts weddings and has two quality restaurants on site, Simpson's and Scrimshaw. Free internet in rooms, free wireless internet in lobby. Entirely non-smoking.
- Holiday Inn Albany, 205 Wolf Rd, ☎ .
- Holiday Inn Express Albany Western Ave University, 1442 Western Avenue, ☎ .
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Latham, 400 Old Loudon Road, ☎ .
- Microtel Albany Airport, 7 Rensselaer Avenue, Latham, ☎ . The hotel is about 20-30 minutes from downtown Albany, and cab fare is about $20 on average. There is a bus stop about 100 feet from the hotel, but it can take almost an hour to get to the city this way, and the hotel doesn't provide bus schedules or seem very knowledgeable about the area buses.
- Quality Inn Central, 1632 Central Ave, ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Offers guests free continental breakfast. Near Albany International Airport. $50-$200.
- Quality Inn & Suites Albany Airport, 611 Troy-Schenectady Rd (1-87 North to Exit 6, make left turn onto Rt.7 West, hotel is on the right; I-87 South to Exit 6, make right onto Rt.7 West, hotel on right), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Features Q Corner Cafe breakfast w/hot items, seasonal outdoor pool, 24 hour fitness center, and three onsite restaurants including the very popular Filet 7 West (providing room service). Complimentary glass of wine or beer each M-Sa evening. Business center, wireless internet access in all areas, voice mail, large work desks and access to copy and fax Services. Banquet and meeting facilities are available. All spacious guest rooms feature irons, ironing boards, coffee makers, hair dryers, microwaves and refrigerators. $60-200.
Like most cities, Albany has blighted areas with crime problems. Use precautions that one would use in any big city. The areas between Washington Ave. and New Scotland Ave. are generally safe to walk, especially east of Lark Street. However, several acts of physical assault have been committed in recent years near the SUNY Albany downtown campus. Arbor Hill near Henry Johnson Blvd. is known as one of the most dangerous areas, though it holds no particular interest to travelers. Occasional muggings and armed robberies have been known to happen to drunk suburbanites on Lark, Madison and other bar streets.
The Albany metro area, the Capital District, has many more attractions.
- The city of Troy offers well-preserved 19th century architecture (making it a location for period films) and fine antique shopping downtown.
- About a 20 minute drive north of Albany is Watervliet and the military arsenal museum.
- The Cohoes Falls are the second-largest in the state (a distant second to Niagara Falls, but impressive nonetheless).
- The area in and around the city of Saratoga Springs (about 40 minutes north of Albany) features wonderful shops, restaurants and bars, a national park (about 15 miles from Saratoga proper) at the site of the Battle of Saratoga (the turning point of the Revolutionary War), a lovely State park with a mud and mineral bath spa run by the state, a par 29 and two championship 18 hole courses as well a stately restaurant.
- Just across the river is Rensselaer.
- Visitors to the Albany area should consider day trips to destinations in the Berkshires of western Mass., including Tanglewood, Mass MoCA, and the Clark Art Institute.
- The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
- Adirondack mountains.
- Catskill mountains.
- Several state parks are within easy driving distance, among them Thacher State Park. A scenic 25-minute drive south on route 85, it tops an escarpment and has great views of the city and several beautiful hiking trails, including a lower trail which winds and turns near the bottom of the escarpment and actually goes behind two waterfalls. Spring is the best time to view these falls due to the thaw and increased water volume. Steep inclines and rocky paths on the lower trail could challenge less robust hikers.
- Albany is at one end of the very scenic, and historically important, Erie Canal which runs all the way to Buffalo.
|Routes through Albany|
|Buffalo ← Schenectady ←||W E||→ Rensselaer → Springfield|
|Montreal ← Cohoes ← ends ←||N S||→ Saugerties → New York City|
|Troy ← Watervliet ←||N S||→ Merges into → New York City|
|Montreal ← Cohoes ←||N S||→ Rensselaer → New York City|
|END ←||N S||→ Saugerties → Fort Lee|
|Auburn ← Sharon Springs ← Jct W E ←||W E||→ Rensselaer → Pittsfield|
|Utica ← Schenectady ←||W E||→ END|