Ten ways to spend a perfect day in beautiful Albany

By Sage Scott 

Only 150 miles north of New York City, Albany feels worlds away from the commotion of the Big Apple. Tucked into the west bank of the Hudson River, with one of the prettiest capitol buildings in the country, several notable colleges, and plenty to see, do, and eat, here’s how to spend a perfect day in beautiful Albany, New York.

  1. Tour the New York State Capitol

State Street And Washington Avenue

While many state capitol buildings are stately structures incorporating thick columns topped with an impressive dome, the New York State Capitol in downtown Albany looks more like a European castle. The white granite building on State Street is an eclectic mix of Italian Renaissance and baroque styles because five different architects worked on the building’s design over the span of more than three decades. When finally completed in 1899, it was the most expensive government building in the U.S.

You can take a free tour Monday through Saturday to learn more about the hand-carved statues that adorn the interior and the spirits that allegedly haunt the halls where four future presidents once governed the Empire State.

Fun Fact: When Theodore Roosevelt served as governor of New York, his fitness regime included running up and down the 77 steps of the east entrance.

  1. Stroll the Empire State Plaza

279 Madison Avenue

On the State Street side of the capitol building, a courtyard of stones that resemble the stripes of a starless flag waving in the wind leads to the Empire State Plaza. Initiated in the mid-1960s, the square connects the capitol building to the New York State Museum, providing the downtown area with green space, memorials, and public works of art.

  1. View from the Corning Tower

100 S. Mall Arterial

Zip up to the observation deck on the 42nd floor of the Corning Tower for a panoramic view of the capital city, the Hudson River, and the foothills of the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains. While you can expect to pay at least $40 to ascend the Empire State Building in New York City, this stop on the Empire State Plaza in downtown Albany is free.

  1. The New York State Museum

222 Madison Avenue

With exhibits showcasing New York’s history dating back to prehistoric times, the New York State Museum is an impressive place, with more than 100,000 square feet of displays covering a wide range of natural and human history in the Empire State. Learn about the Mohawk people who called this area home when Henry Hudson arrived in 1609, and relive the heartbreak and horror of September 11, 2001, in the World Trade Center gallery.

  1. See the Schuyler Mansion

32 Catherine Street

Before Lin-Manuel Miranda penned Hamilton, visiting socialite Eliza Schuyler’s childhood home might not have been that high on the average American’s Albany itinerary. But the musical’s wild success immortalized the two-story, red brick Georgian mansion as the location of Alexander Hamilton and Eliza’s wedding in 1780. Built on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River, the home was originally an 80-acre farm with an orchard.

  1. Albany Institute of History And Art

125 Washington Avenue

Dating to 1791, the Albany Institute of History and Art is one of the oldest museums in the U.S. With limner portraits of early Dutch settlers, artifacts highlighting Albany’s role as a transportation hub in the early 19th century, and the works of a variety of present-day regional artists, the museum showcases life in the Upper Hudson Valley over the past two centuries.

Perhaps not surprising given its location, just a mile west of the Hudson River and a short drive from the scenes captured on canvas, the Albany Institute of History and Art features a large collection of paintings by the Hudson River School artists.

  1. ‘Ride’ on the Underground Railroad

194 Livingston Avenue

Just 180 miles south of the U.S.-Canada border, thousands of slaves traveled through Albany prior to the Civil War in search of freedom. Learn more about the Underground Railroad movement with a visit to the Underground Railroad Education Center.

Then, tour the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence. One of the newest National Park Service sites focused on African American Civil Rights, this tall narrow, red brick building was once the home of two of the most prominent Black abolitionists in the Capital Region who helped hundreds of freedom seekers cross the border.

Pro Tip: Contact the Underground Railroad Education Center to coordinate a guided walking tour of Underground Railroad sites of interest in downtown Albany.

  1. Relax in Washington Park

613 Madison Avenue

New Yorkers in the Big Apple enjoy Central Park, and in Albany the locals love Washington Park. And if this green space reminds you a bit of the larger park in the Big Apple, that’s not a coincidence. When it was established in the 1870s, Washington Park landscape architect Frederick Olmsted leveraged many of the concepts he incorporated into Central Park more than a decade earlier.

Fun Fact: Washington Park was originally a cemetery. When it was designed, the remains of approximately 40,000 people were relocated to the Albany Rural Cemetery.

  1. Hike the Albany Pine Bush Preserve

195 New Karner Road

Nestled between the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains on the northwestern edge of town, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve protects thousands of acres of important habitat and the flora and fauna that call it home. It’s open year-round, allowing visitors to enjoy outdoor activities and explore its beauty in all seasons, but it’s especially beautiful in autumn when brilliant fall colors are at their peak.

  1. Go for a Bike Ride

From riverfront rides to bike trails in the heart of downtown Albany, it’s easy to explore New York’s capital city on two wheels. For water views, hit the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. This paved shared-use path is part of the state-wide Canalway Trail that runs along the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany. There are additional trails in several parks in and around Albany including Albany Pine Bush Preserve and John Boyd Thacher State Park about 30 minutes west of downtown Albany.

(Text Courtesy: TravelAwaits.com )

Images courtesy of (Image: Travel Awaits), (Image: Albany.org), (Image: I Love NY), (Image: IN.gov) and (Image: Trip Advisor)

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