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Revision as of 16:27, 31 March 2011
Empire State Plaza: Corning Tower, left; New York State Museum, center.
Albany  is the capital of New York and the county seat of Albany County. Albany is a vibrant mix of dense urban neighborhoods, colleges and universities, historic buildings, and distinctive architecture, including the much criticized but nevertheless interesting Empire State Plaza. As the starting point of the Erie Canal, and as the location of the historically famous Fort Orange, Albany was important in early American history. During the Prohibition era, Albany was a center for the smuggling of alcohol from Canada. Pulitzer Prize winner William Kennedy wrote a series of novels about Albany that bring it to life and will make the visit of any casual traveler far more engaging.
Albany International Airport, 737 Albany-Shaker Road (Exit 4 off I-87), (IATA: ALB)  is hardly international, except for a few flights from Canada. Several expansion projects since 1995 have transformed this once dowdy little airport into one of the more attractive and efficient in the nation. The addition of low-fare carrier Southwest has made this airport quite popular. 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 St., Rensselaer, 1-800 872-7245. The Albany-Rensselaer station is Amtrak's 10th busiest. Unfortunately, it is not in Albany itself but directly across the river in the small city of Rensselaer. Amtrak is the best way of reaching Albany from New York City, and offers frequent service, although it is expensive compared to other modes. Cabs from the train station are expensive because one company has an exclusive contract. It is far better if you can arrange for someone to pick you up. Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) routes 14 and 24 connect downtown Albany to the station, Route 14 running more frequently including nights and weekends. 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. The Arbor Hill exit (Exit 6) is probably the least-scenic entrance to the city since it runs through a poorer area, although like much of Albany there are some nice, if decaying, historical buildings to see including the Ten Broeck Mansion.
- 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 free highway known to locals as the Northway.
- 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 is a pleasant road to travel on to Albany, since there are no trucks or toll plazas.
- Greyhound Bus Lines, 34 Hamilton St, +1 518 434-8461, . The station is downtown, near the waterfront. The area around the station can be seen as seedy so using a taxi or a friend to get to your hotel (if it is not near a bus line) may be a safe bet.
- Megabus, .Megabus connects Albany with New York City. Fares start at just $1 when reserved far in advance. Arrivals and departures are located at the North Surface parking lot off of East St. The entrance to the lot is located on East St., just north of Wendell St. Parking is available in the surface lots adjacent to the stop.
- TheLuxBus , offers value priced high end, luxurious ground transportation connecting Albany with Saratoga Springs, Plattsburgh and Montreal to the north, and New Paltz and Manhattan, New York to the south. TheLuxBus operates on Thursday, Friday and Sunday and departs from the SUNY campus and Wolf Rd. at noon and 9PM heading southbound and at noon and 7:30PM heading northbound. Increased frequency available during holidays, semester breaks and Spring/Summer/Autumn. Reservations required +1 646 895-0219.
- Capital District Transportation Authority, +1 518 482-8822 . CDTA offers scheduled commuter and ShuttleFly service. ShuttleFly buses leave the Airport M-F several times each hour between 6AM and 11:10PM. ShuttleFly operates from Sa 7:10AM-11:10PM and Su 7:40AM-11:40PM.
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Albany is a very walkable city, but 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.
Car Rental Agencies
- Enterprise, +1 518 472-1111
- Hertz , +1 518 454-9701
- Avis , +1 518 785-3081
- Thrifty , +1 518 782-7654
- Yellow Cab, +1 518 434-2222, offers a flat fee between different areas of the city.
- Capitaland Taxi, +1 518 455-8888, is metered, and should only be used to go short distances from the airport.
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. Many sights outside of downtown and even outside of the city of Albany can be reached by the public bus system, the 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.
Great Western Staircase, State Capitol building.
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 (designed by reknowned architect H.H. Richardson, in the Romanesque style he popularized)
- Cherry Hill, Schuyler and Ten Broeck mansion
- Cathedral of All Saints
- Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
- 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.
- Former Union Railroad (now offices for Bank of America)
- Masonic Temple
- New York State Capitol, +1 518 474-2418, . 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 with its impressive neo-classical colonnade
- State Street is 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 Court of Appeals
- State University of New York headquarters building (formerly the Delaware and Hudson railroad building)
- St. Peter's Church
- Van Ostrande-Radliff House (built circa 1728, is the oldest remaining Dutch building in the city)
- 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. Free. 10AM-2:30PM daily, closed holidays. Check-in at the security desk in the concourse under the Corning Tower, photo ID required. Plaza information office +1 518 474-2418.
- Watervliet Arsenal Museum in Watervliet, about a 20 minute drive north of Albany, . For military history buffs.
- USS Slater (DE-766), Broadway, Waterfront. +1 518 431-1943, . 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 Av., +1 518 474-5877, . The largest state museum in all the 50 states, has some really nice collections. Daily from 9:30AM-5PM, closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. Admission is free, donations welcome.
- The Albany Institute of History and Art, Washington Av.,  is another nice museum well worth a visit.
Parks and preserves
- Washington Park, located in the Center Square area, is a delightful, and for the most part safe, park (care should be taken at night, but no more than any similar city). 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 tagged as Albany's equivalent of NYC's East Village. Lark Street is the hub of Albany youth culture, and it can be a nice visit. Lark Street is between Washington Park and the Empire State Plaza, and the region between the plaza and park is attractive and reminiscent of Albany's better days. In September, Lark Street is the site of one of Albany's most treasured events called "Larkfest", when Lark Street is closed off between Washington and Madison creating a very well attended and popular street fair .
- Albany Pine Bush Preserve, Western edge of the city. It's a 3000 acre unique 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).
- Thacher State Park  is a nearly 2,000 acre park located about a 25 minute drive west of Albany. It's located on the Helderberg Escarpment (an escarpment is a cliff or steep slope, and the Helderbergs are a group of mountains/hills west of Albany) and has some lovely trails, an olympic-sized pool, playgrounds, lots of areas for picnics (including reserveable outdoor pavilions) and it boasts some great views out towards Albany and the Hudson-Mohawk valleys.
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- Tulip Festival: It takes place in May each year. Besides showcasing American tulip flowers, there are many food and art vendors.
- The Capital District Scottish Games are held every Labor Day weekend at the Altamont Fairgrounds, about 25-30 minutes west of Albany. The Scottish Games are always a fun time, featuring pipe and drum bands from all over North America; Celtic folk & rock music; lots of food and drink (Scottish and otherwise); highland dancing and highland sports (like caber tossing) exhibitions and competitions; Scottie dog, sheep and/or horse exhibitions; demonstrations/talks on various aspects of Scottish culture; numerous vendors offering Scottish-themed clothing, food, genealogy information and anything else you imagine; information tents for Scottish clans; etc. etc.
Albany for free
- During the summer there are many free public concerts at the Empire State Plaza, in Washington Park and in the Corning Preserve/Albany Riverfront Park on the Hudson River.
- There are also free plays at the Park Playhouse in Washington Park during the summer.
- Hudson-River Bikeway is a 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 Preserve is an approximately 5-mile long park along the Hudson River, with picnic areas, a boat launch and trails for biking, skating, jogging and walking.
Albany's professional sports teams include the Albany Firebirds, Albany Patroons, Albany River Rats, and Tri-City Valleycats.
- Albany Firebirds: The Firebirds are Albany's professional arena football team. They compete in the Arena Football League (AFL). The Firebirds play their games at the Times Union Center. Tickets range in price from $10-$35.
- Albany Patroons : The Albany Patroons play in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA). The patroons play at the Washington Avenue Armory. Tickets range in price from $7-$52.
- Albany Devils : The Albany Devils are the professional hockey team of Albany. They play in the American Hockey League (AHL). Games are hosted at the Times Union Center. Tickets range in price from $13-$17.
- Tri-City Valleycats: The Valleycats are neighboring 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, N. Pearl St., .
- The Palace Theatre, N. Pearl St. and Clinton Av. .
- The Egg in the Empire State Plaza, downtown, .
- The Times Union Arena, S. Pearl St., formerly the Pepsi Arena and Knickerbocker Arena
- Proctor's Theatre, Schenectady about a 25 minute drive west of Albany, .
- Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy about a 25 minute drive north of Albany, .
- The reflecting pool of the Empire State Plaza becomes a skating rink in the winter. It's like a little brother to the Rockefeller Center rink.
- Captain JP Cruise Line, 278 River St., Troy, NY 12180, ☎ (518) 270-1901, . 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. Regularly feature live entertainment on the music cruises as well as hold private events
- 1st Friday's, ☎ 518-426-3501, . 1st Friday in Albany featuring numerous galleries, one-night shows, local shops, restaurants, and live entertainment takes place on the 1st Friday of EVERY month. * Autumn is always a good time for apple picking at any one of the several apple orchards in the area. What: The goal of first Friday is to bring a wider audience to the artists and venues of Albany. Come see local artists, check out local shops and enjoy live entertainment. The event is entirely FREE. When: This event takes place the 1st Friday of each month. 11 am to 2pm: Check out exhibitions in Downtown Albany. Many venues will showcase artwork for the downtown lunchtime crowd. 5 pm to 9pm: Enjoy the rest of 1st Friday throughout Albany including many gallery openings and live entertainment. Transportation: A trolley will stop at participating venues throughout Albany. The Trolley leaves from the Upstate Artists Guild at 5 pm and duration of the round trip is approximately 30 minutes. After 1st Friday: Looking for something to do after 1st Friday? Starting at 9PM there is live music, dancing and orignal films from the Capital Region Film Makers
- The Linda - WAMC's Performing Arts Studio, 339 Central Avenue, Albany, NY, ☎ +1, . 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
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 is the most upscale shopping venue in the area, located between Western Ave. and Washington Ave. 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, 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 is an overflow of chain stores located across Washington Ave Extension from Crossgates Mall. Here you'll find the largest Super Wal-Mart stores in the country, which looks unremarkable until you realize there is an entire underground level devoted to grocery and toiletries.
Colonie Center was recently 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.
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)
- Midtown Tap and Tea Room is one of Albany's classiest restaurants. 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. http://www.midtowntapandtearoom.com.
- Peaches Cafe, Stuyvesant Plaza, ☎ +1-518 482-3677. 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.
- Koto Japanese Steak House 260 Wolf Road, (518) 869-8888 is an Upscale Hibachi Restaurant and Sushi Bar located about 5-10 minutes north of Albany in nearby Latham, NY. Koto is the most popular Hibachi Restaurant in town. Bear in mind there are also several less crowded (and sometimes cheaper) similar restaurants like Shogun in Delmar and Hana on Western Avenue.
- Ragonese Italian Imports 409 New Scotland Ave, Albany, NY 12208, 518-482-2358. This is an excellent italian and greek deli. You can get sandwiches, subs, soups, and even lasagna. There isn't really any place to sit down, so virtually every customer gets take-out.
- Saati Deli and Catering 586 New Loudon Road, (518) 783-1600. Located in Newton Plaza in the nearby suburb of Latham, NY. Excellent homemade salads, soups and sandwiches. Prices are comparable to places like Panera Bread, but you have much better atmosphere and quality here.
- Phoenicians Restaurant, 1686 Central Ave (518) 464-4444, is a relatively new 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.
- Anton's ,577 New Scotland Avenue (518) 453-9191. 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.
- 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.
- New World Bistro 300 Delaware Ave (518) 694-0520 is an upscale NYC-style restaurant next door to the indy 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.
- Wine and Diner 544 Delaware Ave. This is a typical run-of-the-mill diner with a few quirks. First off, it's a diner that serves alcohol. Second, the walls are filled with great local art. Lastly, turducken sandwhiches! For those of you who don't know, turducken is a turkey stuffed with duck, stuffed with chicken. Worth a visit!
- Professor Java's Coffee Sanctuary 217 Wolf Road (518) 435-0843. This is a wonderful cafe and a local favourite. 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 indy-college crowd, many of whom come here to write papers and leech of their free Wifi. Very friendly staff. Sometimes, Java's hosts open-mic nights.
- Wings Over Albany 1704 Western Avenue (518) 862-9464. 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).
- Junior's 1094 Madison Avenue (518) 935-2024 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.
- Sutter's Mill and Mining Co 1200 Western Avenue, 518-489-4910, a great local bar and restaurant. It's inexpensive and they have arguably the best burgers in town. They can be pretty large like their Bunker Buster, a mammoth 16 oz. Thermobarrick Burger. Their menu has daily specials and you can get items like Elk Burgers, Ostrich Burgers and occasionally Alligator Burgers. This isn't really a place to bring children as it is foremost a bar. Theres live music occasionally. It's highly recommended you come here in the summertime because there's an large outdoor patio -> Smoke, drink, eat burgers, what more can you ask for?
- The Point Restaurant and Lounge 1100 Madison Ave (518) 729-5383, a new restaurant built where the old Peking Restaurant once existed. Great beer selection and food.
- Salsa Latina Restaurant 315 central ave (518) 426-7050, is a well established Mexican restaurant. Great food, worth a visit.
- Pepper Jack's 192 North Allen St, (518) 426-5505, 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!
- Bomber's Burrito Bar is one of Albany's gems. Downstairs, large burritos are made. They cost about $7.50, and are somewhat decent for somewhere so far from Mexico. The Red-Stripe Pork is positively divine. Also check out vegetarian and vegan fare consisting of their veggie burrito and veggie "chicken" nugget burrito; skeptics will be pleased. In addition, the upstairs has a comfortable and friendly bar, with a wide-ranging, sophisticated selection of beers, which are available for $2.50 a pint during happy hour, which stretches from 11AM-8PM daily. Some, however, have found the food somewhat lackluster.
- Jack's Oyster House, 42 State Street, +1 518 465-8854. 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. It is expensive and dress tends to be more formal. http://www.jacksoysterhouse.com
- Vegan pizza (and good vegan pizza at that) can be found at Little Anthony's on Central Avenue.
- Justin's is a very popular spot that offers live Jazz Wednesday though Sunday. In addition to great dinners and lunches, they also have a really good weekend brunch, however it's on the expensive side.
- Gandhi on lower Central Ave. features great selection of food from South India. Service can sometimes feel a bit unattentive, but the quality of the food is top-notch.
- Mamoun's (Middle Eastern) on Washington Ave near Lark Street is a wonderful restaurant. The dim lighting and brick walls gives this place a unique classy atmosphere. Food is healthy and reasonably priced.
- El Loco (Mexican) on 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 (Mexican/Spanish) on the corner of Swan St. & Hamilton St. and another location on Washington Ave., is authentic mexican cooking. It's not expensive, and the food is exquisite. Recommended!
- Mr. Pio Pio on Quail St. between Washington and Western features Columbian and Ecuadorian Cuisine.
- Saso's on Central Avenue features Japanese Cuisine
- My Linh on Delaware Avenue, near the Spectrum Theater. This is an upscale, authentic vietnamese restaurant. Dress accordingly and the place can be quite romantic.
- For health food shopping the Honest Weight Food Co-Op on Central Ave (between Partridge and North Main) 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.
- C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station (a.k.a. The Albany Pump Station) 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 microbrewr, 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, 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.
- Karavalli Restaurant, Route 9R off Latham Circle For a nice 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.
- The Ginger Man on Washington Ave. A nice atmosphere, a good, diverse menu, a nice selection of wine and beer and it isn't too expensive.
- DeJohn's on Lark St. has a good selection of beer, some nice wines and great food (mostly American and Continental fare, with some global influences thrown in for good measure). If you make a reservation and request the upstairs, you can have an incredibly romantic dinner with a great view.
- Dale Miller Restaurant 30 S Pearl St # 100 (518) 694-3322 is a new place owned and operated by a Michelin rated chef. The restaurant has a gorgeous penthouse view of the city and is very romantic. The food quality is top notch and is likened as one of the best restaurants in the state (including those in Manhattan). Can be expensive with main plates as much as $40. Call ahead to make reservations, dress accordingly.
- Restaurant Paradiso on central and robin. upscale mob-owned italian restaurant featuring superb food.
- Cafe Cappriccio on Grand St is an upscale NYC-Style restaurant. Wonderful staff, beautiful live jazz. Dress accordingly, you won't be disappointed.
'*Cafe Italia on Central Ave is an upscale Italian Restaurant.
- Sam's on 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).
- McGuire's, corner of Lark St. and State St. An upscale restaurant, a bit expensive, but the food is terrific.
- Le Canard Enchaine in Quackenbush Square is an upscale restaurant located in one of Albany's oldest historic building. They have an excellent menu and a nice outdoor dining area near the dumpster.
- Some great BBQ includes Jr.'s Barbecue on Saratoga Rd. in Burnt Hills and Smokey Bones BBQ & Grill on Central Ave. in Colonie are both quite good (the former is a smaller scale, "family friendly" place, the latter is a larger place with plenty of TVs for watching whatever sporting event happens to be on). A new BBQ take out place opened in midtown. Located on Ontario st between Morris and Myrtle the Capital Q Smokehouse has 3 different Pulled Pork, Brisket, Ribs and a whole lot of tasty sides. Their website is www.eatmypork.com and the phone is +1 518 GET-PORK.
- Beff's. Located on Everett Rd. in Albany (about a 10 minute drive from downtown). They have really good burgers, nachos and a great selection of unique pizzas.
- 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".
- Wolff's Biergarten, 895 Broadway, +1 518 427-2461. Wolff's offers a number of authentic German food and beer selections and there is always a futball game on. http://www.wolffsbiergarten.com/
- Lombardo's, 121 Madison Avenue, ☎ +1 518 462-9180, . Fine italian dining complemented by a welcoming staff.
Albany's bar scene is currently in a bit of a transitional phase due to recent lockdowns on ID checks. Albany is now just as strict as New York City when it comes to getting into bars, so make sure you have your license 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 is a popular gay/lesbian bar that is friendly and far less seedy than Waterworks. Check out Karaoke night on Thursdays.
- Popular burrito bar Bombers operates a pub upstairs. Its reputation is on the decline in recent years, but the burritos remain huge.
- The Lionheart. 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 is a fun subterranean bar with several great microbrews, darts and a great patio during the summer.
- Hollywood Tavern 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.
- Envy Lounge - A good time. Great food with fair pricing. They also offer latin dancing and art auctions.
- The Albany Pump Station lets you dine with a few beers. Located just below Pearl St. toward the Hudson.
- Jillians, Massively popular chain restaurant\bar\nightclub\games etc. Dancing on weekends.
- Blue 82, a trendy but nice place to get a martini, or some other fancy drink, and look hot
- The Bayou Cafe, 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.
- Plastic, possibly the only 'night club' style bar in Albany.
- McGeary's 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:
- Mahar's - a drunken beer lover's paradise with a selection of literally hundreds of beers from all over the world. If you get to be a regular, you can earn T-shirts, cases of beer, and even your own cup on the wall.
- Red Square is a new live music venue that has a great atmosphere.
- Waterworks on Central Avenue is another popular gay/lesbian bar.
- The Fuze Box used to be a White Castle-style burger joint, but has since been converted to a club/event space. 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 or seduce hotties to Depeche Mode - it's about 50/50.
- Midtown Tap and Tea Room 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) is an upper classmen bar. It's usually pretty busy.
- Chubby's, Michael's,The Long Branch, and Bogies are hot spots for the college kids who aren't yet old enough to drink elsewhere. Bogies has live metal and hardcore music gigs.
- The Pub 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.
- Stone Crow caters to the slightly pretentious out of touch scene.
- The Desmond 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 it's 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. 660 Albany Shaker Rd, 1-800-448-3500, +1 518 869- 8100, . Free internet in rooms, free wireless internet in lobby. Entirely non-smoking.
- The Crowne Plaza is the major hotel in downtown Albany. 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).
- Microtel Albany Airport, 7 Rensselaer Avenue, +1 518 782-9161, . 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.
- Morgan State House - Luxury Inn, 393 State Street, +1 518 427-6063, . 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.
- Quality Inn Central, 1632 Central Ave., ☎ +1 518 456-0811, . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 11am. Offers guests free continental breakfast. Near Albany International Airport. $50-$200.
- 74 State, an Ascend Collection hotel, ☎ +1 518 434-7410, .
- 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), ☎ 518.785.5891, . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 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.
- Ramada Plaza Albany, 3 Watervliet Avenue Extension, ☎ (+1 518 438-8431, . 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.
- Homewood Suites by Hilton Albany Airport, 216 Wolf Road Albany, NY 12205, ☎ 518 438--4300, . Our Albany, all-suite hotel is minutes from Albany Airport and offers complimentary high-speed Internet access, hot breakfast, dinner and drinks, and 24 hour airport shuttle.
Like most cities, Albany has some areas of urban blight and associated drug and crime problems. Use normal precautions that one would use in any big city. The areas between Washington Ave. and New Scotland Ave. are generally safe to walk, especially if you stay 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 than Albany proper. The city of Troy offers well-preserved 19th century architecture (making it a popular location for period films) and fine antique shopping downtown. The Cohoes Falls are the second-largest in the state (a distant second to Niagara Falls, but an impressive sight nonetheless). The area in and around the city of Saratoga Springs (about 40 minutes north of Albany) features a number of 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. Saratoga is most known for its great horse racing track (oldest on the country) and harness racing track. Victorian visitors came to take the waters at springs. The spring waters are located at different pavilions around the city and surrounds. They vary tremendously in flavor from a light mineral water to frosty and hard. The city of Saratoga Springs is major tourist destination during its summer horse racing season. Yaddo, the famous writers retreat is located near the "flat trsack" on Union avenue. Call ahead you may be able to tour.
- 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 is also fairly close, as are the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains.
- Several state parks are within easy driving distance, among them Thatcher 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.
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