Albany doesn't have a ton of hustle and bustle but there are are several parks and trails a short distance from the City.
- Thatcher Park for the beautiful Indian Ladder Trail with lookouts from the Helderberg Escarpment: http://nysparks.com/parks/128/details.aspx
- Saratoga National Historical Park for history and walking trails http://www.nps.gov/sara/index.htm
- Grafton Park is also nice if you want to swim: http://nysparks.com/parks/53/details.aspx
There is the Adirondack Mountains is nice especially Lake George http://www.visitlakegeorge.com/home
Also the Catskill Mountains are close by as well as well as Vermont and Western Massachusetts.
We were surprised an impressed with all that we saw in the New York State Museum. We enjoyed the birds, animals, minerals, plants & the people upstate. Rooms were filled with NYC memorabilia from the South Street Seaport, Black Harlem, subway cars, Ellis Island and recent ground zero. Photographs and memorabilia were well displayed; a lot being hands on & interactive. The 400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson was well displayed also.
Every Thursday evening at 5pm during the summer (June-August), make your way downtown to the Albany Riverfront Park for a lovely outdoor free concert right on along the river!
This night has become HUGELY popular in recent years, and the place gets PACKED, so arrive as close to 5pm as you possibly can. Vendors sell all the good treats of summer: ice cream, hot dogs, beer, lemonade, BBQ.... many locals use the event to catch up with their friends, so don't feel bad about chatting through the concert, it's very informal. But the music is always great, and I love to listen! Each week is an entirely new type of music, from classic rock to disco to Irish to acoustic guitar...
Cherry on top is the beautiful river setting and the park's easy access. If you're not sure where to go, just park anywhere downtown and follow the crowds of people!
You simply can't miss one of the most beautiful and simply fun festivals in the whole state!
Albany celebrates its Dutch Heritage with the Tulip Fest in May, a three day event. The beauty of thousands of brightly colored tulips (my favorite flower) thickly covering Washington Park is enough of a draw for me, but there are plenty of events at this festival to attract more than just tulip-lovers.
There are multiple stages with musical performances, activities for kids, lots of food and local art, and of course, the crowning of the Tulip Queen and the royal court's subsequent luncheon and ball.
Simply too gorgeous for words. If you miss the Fest, at least get yourself to the park sometime before June to catch the tulips in their prime!
Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza commissioned his friend Wallace K. Harrison (see Rockefeller Center) to be principal architect of the Plaza. The Empire State Plaze is one of the most fantastic capital centers in the country. The Plaza encompasses 98 acres of land, and provides jobs to 11,000 people in 10 buildings. Construction of the Plaza began in 1965 and was completed in 1978. Thousands of tourists visit the Plaza every year. It also hosts the New York State Museum, festivals, concerts, ice skating during the cold weather, and many, many other events.
Tours of the Plaza are conducted Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m and are free of charge. They last about one hour. Tours begin at the Plaza Visitor Center in the North Concourse.
Resembling a church, Albany's City Hall is one of city's oldest buildings. It was constructed from 1881 to 1883 by architect Henry Hobson Richardson, one of the architects who created the state capitol building. The building is made of Rhode Island granite and features a 200-foot bell tower.
In front of City Hall is the statue of General Philip Schuyler, Commander of the Northern Department of the Continental Army in the early days of the American Revolution.
The Schuyler Mansion is one of the homes built by Revolutionary War general Phillip Schuyler. Right now, the staff is finishing up a large restoration project, and most of the interior of the Mansion has been restored to it's original Georgian decor. It is open for public group tours in the summer, and gives group tours by appointment from November to March. There are also frequently lectures and living history programs on the week-ends in spring, summer, and early fall.
We passed through security and took an elevator to the Corning Tower Observation Deck located on the 42nd floor; the tallest building in New York State outside of New York City. The building dominates the Albany skyline with its glass, marble and angular forms.
We had good views of Albany, the Plaza, and surrounding areas. Also visible are the Hudson River Valley, the Port of Albany, large portions of the city and its historic buildings, the foothills of the Adirondacks, the Catskills, and the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.
The NYS Capital looked quite majestic & has served as the seat of government since the 1880s. The building is a marvel of late 19th century architectural grandeur. Under the direction of five architects, the Capitol was built by hand of solid masonry over a period of 25 years. When Governor Theodore Roosevelt declared the Capital completed. Its is the most expensive state capital with a cost exceeding twenty-five million dollars.
Paul, our tour guide whisked us through the Senate chambers, flag room, assembly chambers & war room for almost an hour. A very notable architectural feature is the "Million Dollar Staircase" containing ornate faces and animals.
From October through May, Capital Rep puts on quality theatre in an intimate setting. This is a professional theater in the League of Regional Theatres (LORT), which means the talent and the creative artists are a cut above. The theater space is relatively small and the stage is a thrust (seating on three sides), so you get to feel very close to the production no matter where you sit. It's a wonderful feeling!
Both plays and musicals are produced here.
Spend an evening downtown at the theatre and then head next door to the Bayou Cafe to relax at the bar (or eat an affordable dinner there beforehand).
Check out the current season and buy tickets on their website, listed below.
Every summer, Park Playhouse presents a staged musical in its outdoor amphitheatre in Washington Park, and it's free and lots of fun. The shows begin about 8pm, just as the sun is setting, and they generally run until 11pm or so. Every musical is big and bright, the popular ones the draw your average theatre go-er, and the production level varies from year to year, some better than others, as you might expect.
Being camped outside under the stars on a picnic blanket, snuggling with friends, munching popcorn while watching a free show tends to make occasional lapses in talent less painful. It's a great place for locals to run into tons of people they know. I managed to attend a show the same night that was also attended by 7 old friends, completely unplanned.
Note: Don't forget to bring a sweatshirt and/or a blanket, because no matter how warm the night is at 8pm, it almost always gets pretty chilly by intermission. Bring your own drinks and snacks to make a true picnic out of it, and a lawn chair or cushion to sit on.
The New York State Capitol was built in 1899 and was declared a national historic landmark in 1979. Inspired by the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) in Paris, France, it houses the New York state legislature. The 220 foot tall building is one of just 10 US State Capitol Buildings without a domed roof. Three different groups led construction in different phases of the facility's 32 years of building 1867 and 1899, maybe explaining its both Romanesque and Renaissance styles. It was built during a period of prosperity and confidence following the Civil War, and is considered one of this countries most extraordinary buildings of the 19th Century.
Tours are available.
On just about any street you walk down in Albany you are bound to find a beautiful church you will want to stop and admire. When SES and I were taking a brief walk up State St. I saw this wonderful church and just had to snap a picture or two, OK three, but who's counting. The current church was built in 1859 after two other churches had been built and demolished for various reasons. The present day church was designed by Richard Upjohn and built nearly identical to his specifications, the exceptions were the placement of the vestry room and the tower. The church is constructed from Schnectady Blue Stone. For further detail about the architecture of the church see the web site.
In a city with some amazing and beautiful architecture, the Empire State Plaza has a few of the ugliest buildings I have ever seen on display for the great people of New York. The ugliest of the ugly is "The Egg," Albany's Center for the Performing Arts. As its name implies, the Egg is shaped like a gigantic freakin' egg propped up on a pedestal. What a terrible joke. Construction on the Egg began in the drug-induced haze that was 1966, but it was not completed until after the weed wore off in 1978. You'd think one of the people involved would have sobered up over the course of 12 years... The Egg houses two theaters, one seating 450 people and the other seating 982.
The Empire State Plaza is also home to the State Capitol Building, the Corning Tower, and the New York State Museum. The central platform of the Plaza is six stories high and 1/4 mile long.
The state capital building in Albany is one of the most beautiful capital buildings in the US. It is actually the result of over 30 years of work by 4 different architects; Thomas Fuller, Leopold Eiditz, Henry Hobson Richardson and Isacc Perry. Thomas Fuller designed the first two floors with an Italian Renaissance influence, Leopold Eiditz, Henry Hobson Richardson and Isacc Perry used a Romanesque style on the 3rd and 4th floors. Perry is responsible for what has become known as "the million dollar staircase". The capital building at the time it was built was the most expensive public building to be built. On On March 28, 1911 a disatrous fire hit the libray in the state captial building destroying over 450 thousand books and 270 thousand manuscripts.
Here are some interesting facts about this wonderful work:
1.The original capitol was designed by Philip Hooker and the cornerstone was laid on April 23, 1806, on the site of the existing Capitol park.
2. The original Capitol had a time ball which fell every day at noon. It was placed at the top of the building.
3. It took 32 years to build the present capital building and cost 25 million dollars.
4. The cornerstone of the present capitol was lost during renovations after the library fire in 1911 and still has not been found.
5. The Million Dollar Staircase cost more than one million dollars and has no where near one million steps. The faces in the the walls and columns of the staircase are of governors, famous people, and children of the stone carvers.
6. Each senator receives a new chair, made of red Spanish leather, for the Senate Chamber when he/she is elected. The darker the leather the longer the senator has held office.
7. In the Governor's Red Room there is gold plate painted on the walls, and a hidden elevator that was built for one of New York's famous governors.
The Capital Building is currently undergoing extensive renovations, but you can still get free tours during regular business hours.