Albany, New York

The capital of New York, Albany is a beautiful city to explore on your weekend trip, home to amazing museums, historic attractions and a vibrant performing arts scene. Best things to do in Albany, NY with kids include the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza, USS Slater and the Corning Tower. Photo: andreiorlov/Fotolia

»New York State Capitol

New York State Capitol

Located on State Street and Washington Avenue, the New York State Capitol houses the New York State Legislature and is a part of the Empire State Plaza in Capitol Park.

Built between 1867 and 1899 under several governors, the ground floor features Classical Romanesque Style, the second and third floor in Renaissance Classical style, and the fourth and roof floors Victorian Romanesque style.

The building is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Tours last between 45 and 60 minutes. Contact: State Street and Washington Avenue, Albany, New York, Phone: 518-474-2418 Photo: demerzel21/Fotolia

»The Egg Performing Arts Center

The Egg Performing Arts Center

Located on State Street, The Egg is a performing arts center, a part of the Empire State Plaza project and one of the top Albany attractions. It is named for its unusual shape and has become an icon of New York’s Capital District. Built between 1966 and 1978, the Egg appears from a distance to be a piece of sculpture rather than a building.

It houses two theaters: the Kitty Carlisle Hart Theatre can seat 982 is used for large productions such as dance performances, music concerts, and musical theater. The Lewis A. Swyer Theatre, with a seating capacity of 450, is used for smaller events such as chamber music concerts, lectures, and solo performances. Contact: 1 State Street, Albany, New York, Phone: 518-473-1845 Photo: Ritu Jethani/Fotolia

»Washington Park, Albany, New York

Washington Park, Albany, New York

Spread across 84 acres, Washington Park is one of the most beautiful and well-maintained parks in the region. More than 100 species of trees such as giant oaks and miniature bonsais create a picturesque space for a range of activities such as strolling, picnicking, jogging, biking, bird watching, and fishing.

Every spring, the celebrated Tulip Festival brings people from all over the country to enjoy the spectacular display of colorful blooms. The park, especially the unique Lakehouse Amphitheatre, provides a wonderful venue for many special events and concerts.

Enjoy the original statues and important monuments that are displayed all along the paths in the park. Bring the kids for a day of fun in the playground area or enjoy a game of tennis on well-maintained courts. Photo: Ritu Jethani/Fotolia

» New York State Museum

New York State Museum

The New York State Museum explores New York State’s cultural and natural diversity through its significant collections, unique exhibitions, programs, and publications in the fields of history, science, art, and anthropology. After moving to several different buildings, the museum found its current home in the Cultural Education Center with more than 300,000 square feet of exhibition space, superb collections, and public program facilities.

The museum is home to four million scientific specimens such as fossils, minerals, gems, plants, insects, and so much more. Among its eight million artifacts, the museum holds tools, pottery, furniture, Iroquois objects, and farm tools, among other exciting items. Contact: 222 Madison Ave, Albany, New York, Phone: 518-474-5877 Photo: Ritu Jethani/Fotolia

»USS Slater, Albany, New York

USS Slater, Albany, New York

USS Slater is a destroyer escort historical museum ship moored on the Hudson River. Launched in 1944, the ship served in the U.S. Navy and then in the Greek Navy.

It is a cannon-class destroyer escort ship named after Frank O. Slater, a sailor killed during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The ship is the only one of its kind still afloat and it was designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

After its use by the Greek Navy, it was returned to the U.S. in 1993. After major restoration, the ship arrived in Albany in 1997. There are one hour guided tours of the museum as well as youth group overnight camps. Contact: 141 Broadway, Albany, New York, Phone: 518-431-1943 Photo: Mark/Fotolia

»Things to Do in Albany, NY: Historic Cherry Hill

Things to Do in Albany, NY: Historic Cherry Hill

Historic Cherry Hill was built in 1787 as a home for Philip and Maria Van Rensselaer, and it served as the home of five generations of this rich and powerful Albany family. It is today one of the most important landmarks of this period of Albany history and the history of this remarkable family.

When Emily Rankin, the last family descendant, died, she bequeathed the house and all its contents to the state of New York, and the house was opened as a museum in 1964. It contains more than 70,000 personal objects, art pieces, documents, decorative arts, furnishings, arts, and photographs that paint the life of the Rensselaer family and the times they lived in. The house has a range of educational programs and guided tours for visitors. Contact: 5231/2 South Pearl Street, Albany, New York, Phone: 518-434-4791 Photo: Historic Cherry Hill

»Palace Theatre, Albany, NY

Palace Theatre, Albany, NY

Palace Theatre is a historic theater on Clinton Avenue and North Pearl Street in the Clinton Avenue Historic District. The theater has a seating capacity of 2,844 and is operated by the Palace Performing Arts Center. Built between 1930 and 1931, it was restored in 1960 and again between 2002 and 2003.

The theater is known for its Austrian Baroque style interior that includes murals on the walls, red marble staircases and a chandelier in the lobby. Home of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the theatre presents over 150 events each year including a classic movie series, comedy acts, concerts, plays, and more. Contact: 19 Clinton Avenue, Albany, New York, Phone: 518-465-3334

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»The Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center

The Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center

The Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center is an information center, museum, and planetarium located on Quackenbush Square at the corner of Broadway and Clinton Avenue in Albany.

Housed in an old water pumping station, the center provides information to help tourists during their visit to Albany. The center contains museum galleries with exhibits of Albany’s history, the USS Albany Heritage Exhibit, and other special exhibits and events.

The Henry Hudson Planetarium is also located at the center and offers public planetarium shows once per month; private group shows can also be arranged. The center has several spaces, including an outdoor courtyard that can be rented for special occasions such as meetings and parties. Contact: 25 Quackenbush Square, Albany, New York, Phone: 518-434-0405 Photo: Johnny Lye/Fotolia

» Albany Institute of History & Art

Albany Institute of History & Art

Located on Washington Avenue, the Albany Institute of History & Art is devoted to the art, culture, and history of Albany and the Upper Hudson Valley area.

The museum was founded in 1791, making it one of the oldest museums in the U.S. It merged with the Albany Historical and Art Society and became Albany Institute of History & Art in 1926.

The museum is housed in three buildings: the Rice Building, a late 19th century Beaux-Arts mansion; the main building, a 1920s Classical Revival structure; and a modern glass building that connects the two. Its collection of over 20,000 objects includes ceramics, drawings, furniture, historical artifacts, paintings, sculptures, and more. Contact: 125 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York, Phone: 518-463-4478 Photo: Albany Institute of History & Art

»Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza

Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza

The Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza is a complex of state government buildings located on Madison Avenue. Also known as the Empire State Plaza and sometimes as South Mall, the complex was built between 1965 and 1976. Buildings that make up the complex include the Cultural Education Center, The Egg, the Legislative Office Building, the Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd Tower, the Robert Adams Building for Law and Justice, and the Swan Street Building.

The plaza also features shade trees, water fountains, memorials, and a skating rink. There are many special events that are held at the plaza, including craft fairs, farmers’ markets, school performances and summer festivals.

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» Albany Pine Bush Preserve, Albany, New York

Albany Pine Bush Preserve, Albany, New York

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is a 3,200 acre nature preserve that is known for its rare inland pine-barrens ecosystem. This is one of the few remaining examples of this type of ecosystem in the world. The terrain consists of pine-scrub oak barrens, sand dunes, hardwood swamps and forests, ponds, and deep ravines.

Wildlife includes coyotes, deer, foxes, hawks, owls, and an endangered butterfly called the Karner blue butterfly. The preserve has over 18 miles of trails and offers several activities including biking, cross-country skiing, hiking, and horseback riding. The Discovery Center includes interactive displays and indoor and outdoor classrooms. Contact: 195 New Karner Road #1, Albany, New York, Phone: 518-456-0655 Photo: sayanphayom/Fotolia

»Things to Do in Albany, NY: Corning Tower

Things to Do in Albany, NY: Corning Tower

Located at the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza on Madison Avenue, the Corning Tower is a skyscraper and state office building with an observation deck on the 42nd floor.

Completed in 1966, it is also known as the Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd Tower. Corning was the mayor of Albany from 1941 to 1983 and the tower is named after him. Standing 589 feet high (180 meters), it is the tallest building in the state of New York outside of New York City.

Visit the observation deck which offers panoramic views of the city, the Hudson River, and the surrounding area. Contact: Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza, 279 Madison Avenue, Albany, New York, Phone: 518-473-7665 Photo: andreiorlov/Fotolia

»Capital Repertory Theatre

Capital Repertory Theatre

Capital Repertory Theatre is a professional regional theater located on North Pearl Street in Albany. With a seating capacity of 286, it is the only theater in New York’s Capital District. Established in 1981, the theater is housed in a former abandoned supermarket called the Grand Cash Market.

Volunteers donated materials and labor to refurbish the building so that it could be used as a theater. In addition to the main hall, the theater also contains a rehearsal hall, a costume-making shop, and a cafe. The theater has presented over 5,000 performances including plays and musicals such as A Christmas Carol, Gypsy, My Fair Lady, and many more. Contact: 111 North Pearl Street, Albany, NY, Phone: 518-445-7469 Photo: shocky/Fotolia

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»Schuyler Mansion, Albany, NY

Schuyler Mansion, Albany, NY

Located on Catherine Street, Schuyler Mansion is a historic museum house in Albany. Built between 1761 and 1765 for Philip Schuyler, a Revolutionary War general and a U.S. Senator, the Georgian-style brick mansion is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The mansion is a large two and a half story house that faces east toward the Hudson River. The interior of the historic mansion features artifacts of family members, decorative arts, furniture, and paintings, all from the 18th century. There is an orientation exhibition in the Visitor Center and guided tours are available. Contact: 32 Catherine Street, Albany, NY 12202, 518-434-0834 Photo: Schuyler Mansion

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»The Albany Distilling Company

The Albany Distilling Company

The Albany Distilling Company is a small locally-owned distillery located on Montgomery Street next to the Pump Station in downtown Albany. Established in 2011, the distillery is situated close to Albany’s original 18th century distillery.

The company produces Ironweed Bourbon Whiskey made from water, New York state whole grain, and yeast, aged in oak barrels; Quackenbush Still House Original Albany Rum made from water, wild yeast, and Caribbean cane; Coal Yard New Make Bourbon Whiskey made from New York State grain and aged in American white oak barrels; and many other products.

The company offers tours of its distillery. Contact: 78 Montgomery Street, Albany, NY, Phone: 518-621-7191 Photo: roostler/Fotolia

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»Lark Street, Albany, New York

Lark Street, Albany, New York

Lark Street is a historic street located two blocks west of the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza and one block east of Washington Park Sometimes referred to as the “Greenwich Village” of the Albany Capital area, Lark Street is home to many antique shops, art galleries, bars, coffee houses, restaurants, and shops.

There are some 19th century brownstone buildings, and cobblestones from past days can still be seen at some intersections on Lark Street. Upstate Artists Guild has been instrumental in bringing in more galleries and artist studios to Lark Street.

Local musicians frequently perform on the street and there are several major festivals that take place on Lark Street each year.

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»Albany City Hall

Albany City Hall

Located on Eagle Street, Albany City Hall is a historic building and the seat of government for the city of Albany. Built in 1883 by Henry Hobson Richardson in Romanesque style, City Hall features a 202 foot (62 meter) tall carillon tower which is one of few municipal carillons in the U.S.

The carillon, built by the John Taylor Company from England, was added in 1927 as a memorial to the soldiers who lost their lives during World War I. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the building houses the office of the mayor, city and traffic courts, and other city service offices. Contact: 24 Eagle Street, Albany, NY, Phone: 518-434-5075

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»New World Bistro Bar

New World Bistro Bar

New World Bistro Bar is located in a meticulously renovated 1910 building in the lively Delaware Avenue neighborhood. Exposed brick, plaster and black pipes are kept as a reminder of charming and simpler times, and the heart of the place is the beautiful 1939 Art Deco mahogany bar.

This modern “new world” gastro pub was designed as the new generation of neighborhood gathering places, where people come to get a bite to eat, have a chat, and see what’s going on in the community. Chef Ric Orlando is an absolute prodigy and uses seasonal, regional, organic, and sustainable ingredients. He uses the best recipes and ideas from all over the world and gives them his own fresh interpretation.

For example, of the three dinner entrees, one is Korean, one is Latino, and one is Indian. Simply looking over the menu will make you hungry, and everything is exciting, innovative, and delicious. Contact: 300 Delaware Avenue, Albany, NY, Phone: 518-694-0520

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»Paesan's Pizza, Albany, NY

Paesan's Pizza, Albany, NY

There is much to be said about a well-established family restaurant, and Paesan’s Pizza is a great example. Operating from the same location since 1994, Scavio family took over hearts and stomachs of pizza lovers in the neighborhood, and is still going strong 20 years later.

Their secret is high quality pizzas and other Italian goodies made from scratch using the trusted, tried, and true family recipes. Their pizzas are traditional in the best sense, affordable, and always delicious. They give all their clients exactly what they want – great pies with ingredients they love, including lots of meats and fresh veggies.

They have several very popular variations on the pizza theme such as Stromboli rolls, which are fresh bread stuffed with pizza fillings, and calzones, which are pizzas folded and closed into little breads. Their starters are also very popular. Most of their business is catering and delivering to the local families – everyone has Paesan’s phone number on speed dial. Read more Contact: 289 Ontario St., Albany, NY, Phone: 518-435-0312

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»Things to Do in Albany, NY: Times Union Center

Things to Do in Albany, NY: Times Union Center

Times Union Center is an indoor arena located on South Pearl Street in Albany. Opened in 1990 and originally known as Knickerbocker Arena, the center has a seating capacity of 15,500 people for sports events. The center also contains 25 luxury suites at the top of the inner bowl.

The Albany Devils of the American Hockey League and Siena College’s men’s basketball team both use the center as their home. The center is used for other sports events such as professional wrestling, tennis tournaments, and college and high school sports events. The center hosts music events including Frank Sinatra who opened the center with a concert in 1990. Contact: 51 South Pearl Street, Albany, NY, Phone: 518-487-2000

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»Grappa'72 Ristorante

Grappa'72 Ristorante

Hidden in a mall in the suburbs, Grappa is one of Albany’s best-kept secrets. This elegant Italian restaurant is an excellent place to bring a family for a celebration or to impress a new client.

The décor is tasteful and understated with crisp white tablecloths, and the main focus is on their superb, extensive menu of traditional Italian food with specialties from different regions.

Their selection of Italian wines is outstanding, and you can always finish your meal with one of their great signature grappas. For a more casual meal, dine on their lovely, spacious patio. Grappa frequently has live music, and they host some very good musicians with eclectic repertoires. Contact: 818 Central Avenue, Albany, NY, Phone: 518-482-7200

More NY destinations: 50 Best Things to Do in the Hudson Valley, New York. Photo: Grappa'72 Ristorante

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»Yono's, Albany, New York

Yono's, Albany, New York

Yono’s is a luxurious foodie heaven that has been delighting Albany’s gourmets since 1986. Their opulent dining room with a fireplace, magnificent curtains made of Indonesian silk, huge floral arrangements, and gilded mirrors set the stage for a celebration of American-Indonesian cuisines, blended to perfection by the Executive Chef Yono Purnomo.

Savor delicious little complementary morsels while you go through the exciting, extensive menu and sip your fabulous cocktails. If you do not know what to choose, the Nasi Rames is your best bet; it is a tasting menu of the best the chef offers, such as chicken satay, marinated chicken, grilled and drenched in peanut sauce or kepiting goring, crab meat cake served with noodles, citrus mayo, and chipotle chilies. Choosing the wine is going to be equally challenging – they have over 700 labels from all over the world. Contact: 25 Chapel Street, Albany, NY, Phone: 518-436-7747 Photo: Yono's

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»Things to Do in Albany, NY: Ten Broeck Mansion

Things to Do in Albany, NY: Ten Broeck Mansion

Located on Ten Broeck Place, the Ten Broeck Mansion is a historic house museum in Albany. Originally called “Prospect,” the mansion was built between 1797 and 1798 by General Abraham Ten Broeck.

Overlooking the Hudson River and surrounded by formal gardens, the mansion was originally built in Federal style but was renovated thirty years later in Greek Revival style. The house museum has been owned and operated by the Albany County Historical Association since 1948; the mansion is also the home of the Association.

Its decorations and furnishings date from the mid-19th century. Tours are conducted and the museum hosts many events throughout the year. Contact: 9 Ten Broeck Place, Albany, NY, Phone: 518-436-9826 Photo: Ten Broeck Mansion

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23 Best Things to Do in Albany, New York