As the legislative capital of New York, Albany instantly demands respect. However, the city offers more than simply politics. It also has a thriving arts scene, an eclectic mix of restaurants and several historical gems.
Visit Empire State Plaza to admire strikingly modern government buildings and see politics in action, with occasional peaceful demonstrations by concerned citizens. In summer enjoy free concerts or the spectacular July 4th fireworks.
Look beyond the square in any direction to notice how the architecture takes on an older style. Albany was first settled by the Dutch in 1614 and is one of the oldest continually chartered cities in the United States. Walk to State Street to admire 19th-century homes or pay a visit to City Hall, a fine example of Romanesque architecture.
Summer is the best time to enjoy Albany’s well-kept green spaces. Visit Corning Preserve and stroll along the Hudson River or head to Washington State Park. A playhouse within this park holds regular free concerts and theater productions.
When winter cold arrives, explore the city’s museums. New York State Museum features varied exhibitions including Birds of New York and the floating Day Peckinpaugh canal boat. Albany Institute of History and Art also has excellent exhibits, such as the Hudson River school paintings.
For shopping, head to Lark Street, known as "Albany’s Greenwich Village," where you’ll find alternative, boutique stores with one-of-a-kind jewelry and contemporary art. This popular student area has many good restaurants and bars. Finish off a day’s shopping with Buffalo wings and a variety of local craft beer.
Visit in June for the week-long Capital Pride LGBT festival or September for the larkFEST, New York’s largest one-day street festival.
Most of Albany’s major sights are within easy walking distance. Public buses serve a broad area throughout the city and beyond.
Fly to Albany International Airport or drive 2.5 hours north from New York City. Albany offers access to the four seasons in New York’s upstate area, with Adirondack Mountain skiing and summer hiking just two hours away.