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Albany sits on the famed Hudson River and is the perfect place for history buffs to spend a few days. Different seasons bring foliage spectacles, like its display of golden yellow leaves in fall and an abundance of spring and summer flowers. New York’s Capitol has it all, from food, art, museums, to outdoor fun. So veer away from the big city for a bit, and retreat to this New York gem.
Albany’s state capitol building rivals most with its intricate 125-year-old architecture, which took years to complete. Grand staircases, details carved into the walls, period chandeliers and rich history make for an immersive afternoon into the governmental past of the city. Tours of the magnificent marvel are free, whether taking the tour on your own or opting for a guide.
Washington Park is a serene nook in the city where one can experience the foliage of New York State. Iconic fall foliage can be taken in amongst the ponds and paths, but the main draw is the spring tulips that emerge in an abundance of vibrant colors. The annual Albany Tulip Festival centers around 150 types of the lovely blooms come May, where food vendors, performances by local artists and a touch of Dutch culture are on display.
Within the history infused area of Albany, you’ll find many pre-revolutionary war mansions and buildings. The Schuyler Mansion is a great example of the building style, and guided tours of the charming interior offer a glimpse into family life before the war. Many museums exist in Albany, like the Albany Institute of History and Art, and this is a great place to start when setting out on an enriching, educational journey.
Hop aboard a boat and traverse the Erie Canal System, a strip of water weaving through Albany. A trail also hugs the banks, and is another way to enjoy the flowing waters—biking is a scenic option for taking in the views as well. Watch boats chug by, enjoy the occasional native animal, and soak in the peaceful surroundings of yet another historic feature of the city. The canal continues to other portions of the state as well.
Built in the 30s, Palace Theatre is a jaw-dropping movie palace with Baroque-style, an extravagant type of design that has 17th-century European origins. People come here to hear the orchestra, a concert or to delve into classic films of the past. But just a warning, you may not be able to look away from the embellished ceilings and walls as you envision the fancy premiers that must have taken place here in its earlier days.
Walk aboard USS Slater, which went into commission in 1944 and served in the United States and Greece. It now floats on the Hudson River and is a museum and U.S. Historical Landmark. Tour this piece of war history and just imagine the things this cannon destroyer has endured.
Another way to get outside in scenic Albany is to visit the Pine Bush Preserve. The particular ecosystem that defines the pine laden acres is extremely rare, with very few like it remaining on earth. Pine barrens, sand dunes, hardwood swamps and ponds fill the forests, and it’s quite striking. Butterflies, foxes and a variety of raptors roam the grounds, which might be seen while you hike, bike, ski or horseback ride the paths within the preserve.
Lark Street, aka Greenwich Village, is the place to go for basement shopping, food, cute coffee cafes and glimpses of historic buildings like 19th-century brownstones. One could explore a wide variety of cuisine just by traversing up and down Lark. Festivals bring in thousands of visitors, especially the annual LarkFest, which livens the streets during the Fall. Expect excellent musical performances, food trucks and unique art vendors.
Albany can be a great place to fish, and the Hudson River can be a prime spot depending on the time of the year. One minute you could be browsing historic neighborhoods, then the next you could be tossing your line into the water. Around the first of April, striped bass begins to spawn, after making a nearly 200-mile trek from the ocean. This is the time to hook some serious catches. Keep in mind, the window for this type of fish in this location is short, wrapping up around Memorial Day.