Kingston will always be the first capital of New York, but we decided to turn our gaze to the north and see what’s going on in New York’s fourth capital, Albany. We discovered that Instagram is very much an Albany thing (in addition to the steamed hams).
As a digital marketing agency based in the Hudson Valley (check out our work with some recent political campaigns), we’re always striving to understand how real life activities and places are driving the most activity online, and vice versa. One of the ways of doing that is with social media data; we looked at over 80,000 Instagram photos taken throughout the Capital Region in the last year, and organized them by how many times people geo-tagged themselves at different locations (we didn’t count posts by the places or business owners themselves).
We ended up counting the photos taken in places like Albany, Troy, Cohoes, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Colonie, Delmar and all of the places in between (sorry Saratoga Springs!) and came up with the 66 places below.
To get some local tips and perspective on our list, we interviewed the following Albany and Capital Region influencers:
Nellie Ackerman, FeedMe518
Liz Benjamin, Host of Capital Tonight, Editor of State of Politics
Jack Carpenter, Co-Founder of Two Buttons Deep
Craig Earle, DJ TGIF, owner of Albany Urban Arts Gallery
Ann Pfau, Writer/Editor at 98 Acres in Albany
Raheema Robinson & Justin Lee, creators of local food ordering app Zoombeeto
Georgette Steffens, Executive Director, Albany Business Improvement District
Tim Stevens, Editor-in-Chief, CNET Roadshow
Mike Vitali, Curator, Cats on Amps
Vivian Yeap, @vivithefoodi
While most of the photography and commentary featured in this post is positive, we also have to acknowledge that the social media bubble distorts the struggles that many people are going through. For example, almost half of the households in our own Ulster County are one paycheck away from financial ruin.
If you’re reading this and thinking about spending money to visit the region, you should also consider pre-ordering Brenda Ann Kenneally’s upcoming book Upstate Girls: Unraveling Collar City, where she documents the rise and fall of the American working class while photographing a group of women in Troy, and their struggles and victories of making ends meet in our society. 100% of the proceeds go towards her non-profit, A Little Creative Class, which helps provide disadvantaged young people with access to the creative economy that has a high cost of entry.
On to the list!
1. Adirondack Mountains
(Editor Note: We realize the Adirondack Mountains are actually outside of the core area that we focused on for this post, but they have such an outsized impact on the region that we included them).
Georgette from ABID: I think the Adirondacks are a big selling point for the Capital Region. We have incredible urban areas, but we’re also an adventure destination with hiking and skiing up there.
Jack from Two Buttons Deep: A lot of people do Prospect Mountain. It’s the easiest hike for the most glamorous view. It’s an easy 45 minute slow steep hike, but you get to see Lake George, and it’s definitely ‘gram worthy.
Liz from Capital Tonight: I did Iron Man Lake Placid in 2014, and I’ve spent a lot of time training there. I’ve done about half of them, between snowshoeing and regular hiking. There are a lot of issues that we cover on the show around keeping the Preserve wild, and I feel very strongly about it. I also own a house with my husband in Sacandaga in the western park of the park. It’s an incredible asset of the state. I do think they’re being loved to death, because they’re getting a little bit overhiked.
Tim from CNET Roadshow: My favorite time to go there is in the winter. I go ice racing in Adirondack Park with the Adirondack Motor Enthusiast Club… I use a Subaru STI personally, but there are also Porsches and Audis out there. We race on the lakes that are a little sleepy in the winter time, and the club is very careful about measuring the ice beforehand.
2. SUNY Albany
Georgette: We get incredible interns that go through that program. They’re really equipping future business leaders.
Jack: I think SUNY Albany is the most underrated campus by a long shot. It’s perfectly symmetrical. Every time I go there I have a hard time not taking a picture.
Liz: I train there a lot too! I used to be an adjunct professor there. As a campus, it’s an unusual architectural landmark. It’s a great education bang for your buck. I’m pretty proud to have SUNY in my family; my dad was actually the dean of Arts and Sciences of SUNY New Paltz.
Mike from Cats on Amps: I love SUNY Albany, I got my Masters degree from their school of social welfare. They have great faculty and staff, and the campus is a lovely place to jog and to take your family dog.
Craig (DJ TGIF): When the fountains are on, it’s a nice place to take pictures.
Raheema from Zoombeeto: That’s our place, we met there freshman year! I think one of the coolest things is the tunnel system. Most people never talk about it. It’s how you get to class. There’s a brand new hallway where they have purple and yellow lights on the side and it’s a great place to take pictures.
3. Empire State Plaza
Georgette: It is the number one thing people see and recognize when they talk about Albany.
Jack: I love it. There’s a lot of controversy around it, they built it in the 1970s and they tore down a bunch of neighborhoods. They totally weren’t fair, pretty corrupt. but as someone who wasn’t around at that time, it makes Albany such a cool place. It’s a beautiful view, they built the Egg so that the Albany skyline wouldn’t be like any other. It makes Albany a really unique place. The story I’ve heard is that Rockefeller or Corning were embarrassed to bring the queen of another country to the city, so they built the skyline that way to impress her. You should fact check that.
Liz: A lot of people have mixed feelings about it. It’s an edifice to Nelson Rockefeller, who tore up a unique neighborhood to build it. It’s a cool place for festivals, the ice skating rink is awesome. It’s an asset overall, but not everyone loves it. The juxtaposition between the Capitol and the 1970s architecture of the plaza is not loved by everyone, but I’m a fan.
Mike: I love it; I’ve done internships in the building, and I frequent the Egg all the time. My family went ice skating there this fall. It’s great for little kids.
Vivian: It’s really pretty there. That’s where the ice skating is and I’ve done that. It’s really pretty at night with all the lights.
Ann from 98 Acres in Albany: The Plaza was really for us a kind of shock when we came to Albany eleven years ago. I had never been here before, and we came off the highway onto the south mall arterial. I was looking down on the buildings in the downtown, like the old train station. I was surprised to look up and see the Plaza looming over us. It kind of envelops you as you drive over to it. I’ve done work in the library there in the archives, and there are beautiful views from there. One of the nicest things are the sunken gardens on the side of the plaza. They’re an escape from the unrelieved marble and spiky sculptures on the platform. I’ve run into a tai chi class down there, along with readers and state workers eating lunch. The Francois Stahly labyrinth (recently restored) is also pretty impressive. Also, there was originally supposed to be a 336-foot tall Arch of Freedom in the Plaza that we wrote about on our blog.
(Note: 98 Acres in Albany “focuses on the roughly 7,000 persons displaced and the emotional and economic losses they suffered as a result of the Empire State Plaza being built.”)
4. New York State Capitol
Georgette: There’s the million dollar staircase inside. There are incredible haunted tours, and some people say that it’s always haunted. It’s also a big wedding photograph place. To have your wedding pictures taken on the steps of the Capitol is one of the #1 stops of people having weddings downtown.
Jack: That building is an architectural threshold. It’s incredible. I feel very royal when I walk around there, and I love the food trucks outside.
Liz: I don’t spend enough time there as I’d like now, but I’ve witnessed a lot of historic events there as a reporter, like the passage of gay marriage. I was outside the chambers, and we took it live. I’ve spent my share of nights in that building waiting for budgets to come through. I’ve never failed to feel awestruck by being there.
5. John Boyd Thatcher State Park
Jack: That’s probably the best view in Albany.
Liz: Thatcher is amazing. I train there too…I ride up there, I run the trails. My dog really enjoys running around up there too. There’s an incredible view of the plaza that is really unparalleled. They put in a new visitors’ center, and it’s a fantastic venue. The Indian Ladder Path is beautiful. People should really get there. You don’t have to be a rugged outdoors person to enjoy it.
Mike: Back when I first moved to the area almost 20 years ago, I’d bike out there from Albany all the time. I love the park, it’s a great place to hang out and do picnics and go hiking. Nice place.
Craig: That waterfall is dope.
Jack: My favorite part of RPI is the million dollar staircase, which I believe cost a million dollars.
Nellie: It’s a great college. As far as Troy goes, a lot of business comes from the college students at RPI.
Craig: If you can stand walking up the hills to get to a good spot, it’s pretty nice. You might have some nice calves after walking around that campus for a while.
Raheema: You can stand on one of the hills, and you can literally see over Troy into Albany, and it’s the most gorgeous view. The perfect time to go is when it’s nighttime.
7. Washington Park Historic District
Jack: It’s definitely the place to live in Albany, if you’re going to live somewhere. One of the coolest things you can do is lights in the park; around Christmas-time, they have a really cool maze that you drive your car through, and it transports you to the North Pole.
Liz: I lived there for many years. It’s certainly the jewel of the city in terms of the park. It’s unusual, sort of like Central Park in miniature. It’s a great little place to have a moment of greenery in the city. Beautiful particularly when the tulips bloom.
Ann: I love Washington Park, I live there! It is lovely. I’m so excited about the apple orchard going in not far from where I live thanks to Ninepin; I think they’re going to be planted on April 15.
Craig: That’s Washington Park to me. You gotta talk about The Graveyard… it’s the basketball court. There’s also Latin Fest and Tulip Fest.
8. Upstate Concert Hall
Jack: That place is on the up and up. I grew up in Clifton Park, and it used to be called Northern Lights. They hosted a lot of gnarly acts, I’ll put it that way. Now they’re getting bigger names, and I think they need to expand. I can’t believe it’s in a strip mall, but it is.
Mike: I love playing there, haven’t played there in a while. They should bring Clutch out more often. We have this terrible thing in Albany where we normally get the third tier bands at best, other than Clutch.
Craig: That’s one of my favorite places, I love DJing there. There are usually younger people going to the shows, and they’re always into the acts, so it’s always a super fun environment.
9. Union College
Jack: It’s cool. They’ve got that one circular building, it’s one of the first pictures that pops up when you look at it. They recently found a lock of George Washington’s hair in their library, so they’re hiding a bunch of stuff from us.
Liz: We have used Union for a location for a debate. The campus is kind of amazing, sort of situated in an urban center. We’ve had a really good relationship with them.
10. Palace Theatre
Georgette: The Palace is an anchor in downtown Albany. The events have hit all of the socioeconomic diverse cultures and age groups for decades. My grandmother took my uncle and my mother when they were little kids to the theater, and I had the opportunity to bring my daughter for her first movie there. It’s generational. They’re about to undergo a renovation and expansion which will be an even bigger draw.
Jack: It transports you into another world when you’re on the inside.
Liz: The Palace has been refurbished, and it’s well worth a visit. They book surprising acts, and it’s a fun place to have downtown. It’s really a good venue, and unusual. Not all upstate cities have a historic downtown theater.
Craig: Oh man. DJing from that stage and looking out to the crowd is always a thrill. I’ve DJed some big shows there, and I saw Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld on that stage too.
11. Albany International Airport
Jack: It’s our best-kept secret. It’s perfectly sized, and you’re able to go, park and be on the plane in 30 minutes. That’s what I want. You can go most places, but not everywhere.
Liz: I fly out of there fairly frequently. It’s easy. It would be nice if it had more international and direct connecting flights. It has great art gallery with really good installations and the only Chick Fil-A in the area. You have to go through security to get there, which is a travesty. For a small area, it’s punching above its weight.
Tim: I’m a frequent traveler, I fly out of there all the time. I can get from my car to the gate in less than five minutes.
Craig: Everybody wants to show that they’re leaving Albany (with an Instagram post). “I’ll see y’all later.”
12. Siena College
Craig: Actually, out of all the colleges, Siena has the best food. Their regular food court food is the best.
Raheema: It’s in a nice really area. There are really nice houses by there. We’re currently in the process of spreading our app to Siena as we speak with more student ambassadors.
13. Crossgates Mall
Tim: I think that they have some of the best cinemas for new releases in the area.
14. Times Union Center
Georgette: That is another venue that brings world-class entertainment into Albany whether it’s sporting events or music; Paul McCartney kicked off his world tour a couple years ago there. It brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to downtown each year.
Jack: We just shot a video there yesterday. They were hosting the NCAA Womens’ Elite Eight. They did some really cool renovations to the front part, it’s a ginormous atrium. There’s a giant waterfall coming down the front. I think they’re gonna attract many bigger names in the future.
Ann: I used to love the hockey games there.
Craig: I’ve always wanted to DJ a Siena game there. I haven’t tried it officially, but I’m super down for that.
15. College of Saint Rose
Jack: Jimmy Fallon went there, that’s about all I know.
Ann: They are good neighbors. They do a good job of taking care of the properties they own in Albany.
Craig: I like Saint Rose too… their midnight madness that they do for the basketball team is pretty dope. My little cousin goes there and I keep an eye on her.
Raheema: It’s in the middle of downtown Albany. You can always see people walking to and from campus, it’s really a part of the city.
16. New York State Museum
Jack: That was a mandatory field trip for everyone in this region.
Liz: Pretty much everybody who grew up within an hour or two hour radius went there on a class field trip. It’s a great place to visit and bring your kids. I’ve been there many times. It’s got a great carousel, and the area around it is an event space. The Mastodon alone should draw people to see it.
Mike: It’s great for kids, fun thing to do when the weather is bad.
Ann: I don’t know which is my favorite place, probably Adirondack Hall. I’ve been to several receptions there, and you get to hang out with the animals. I also love the Beneath the City exhibits. I saw they had the remains of some sort of distillery that was once in Albany, and they also kind of recreated human faces from recovered skulls.
Craig: Between getting on the old school NYC trains, and digging quarters out of the ponds where the moose is, you can have a good time.
17. The Egg
Jack: It’s definitely a unique place to see a concert.
Liz: It is kind of a strange encapsulated place to be, it has no windows, but the acoustics are really good. It adds to Albany’s skyline.
Mike: I absolutely love the Egg. I can’t wait to be old and retired so I can volunteer to show people where to sit at the Egg. The first time Darlingside came to the Egg was among the top 10 shows I’ve ever seen. They just destroyed the Egg.
Ann: I’m fascinated by The Egg. We heard the construction workers were calling it King Kong’s toilet for a while.
Craig: Is it really an egg, or it a bowl of ice cream?
18. Rivers Casino
Nellie: I’ve been there a few times. Maybe it’s created jobs for Schenectady? They do have some nice restaurants in there.
Justin: It’s actually nice… it’s the newest attraction around here.
Raheema: It’s located right on the water so that’s a great feel as well.
Nellie: Proctors is amazing, you can’t say anything bad about Proctors. Proctors makes downtown Schenectady. They bring in shows that are so unique to this area. These are like Broadway shows that come in.
Tim: Proctors is a gorgeous theater. I’ve seen many great shows there over the years. It’s a fantastic place to go, and great movies too.
Craig: It has like mad theaters inside this one theater. You can go in and see a hip hop concert and a poetry show and an orchestra thing happen at the same time.
20. Hudson Valley Community College
Jack: I think it’s a very cool looking campus, and it’s underrated in terms of community colleges. If it wasn’t called a community college people would have no idea, because it’s better than most colleges.
Craig: I end up playing ping pong there every time I step on that campus.
21. Troy Waterfront Farmers Market
Jack: It’s the best farmers market in the land, no question. Every Saturday, Troy is transformed into a wonderland of fruits and vegetables and dogs.
Liz: Yeah, that place is awesome. A huge community event, they sell flowers and baked goods, there’s music, and food you can eat on site. It’s a great event to stroll through and meet your neighbors.
Mike: Get the pesto from Buddhapesto.
Ann: It was actually one of the first ways Dave and I got to know this area. I remember Googling Troy Farmers Market and found an article in the New York Times that was something like “12 hours in Troy.” It gave us a list of things we needed to do, including getting Thunder Mountain Curry at the market, and we went on to walk around Troy’s Washington Park and checked out the library which has a lovely Tiffany window.
22. Peebles Island
Georgette: It’s an awesome place to hike. I’ve seen an eagles nest as I’ve walked along the hike.
Jack: The best escape spot within the Capital Region. You feel like you’re in the middle of the Adirondacks. It’s a great place to go and feel isolated.
Liz: That’s an underutilized one, I brought the dog there, and he had a great time. You have amazing views of Cohoes Falls. It’s an easy hike to get outdoors and enjoy the city, it’s an urban oasis. It’s really an unusual kind of a thing. You can walk around the island and be around the water.
Mike: We have done the first day hike there many times, and I’ve hiked with a baby there.
Tim: Peebles has some great kayaking as well. you can paddle around some old factories and waterfalls.
23. Joseph Bruno Stadium
Jack: It’s grade A minor league baseball. They know everyone isn’t there for the baseball necessarily; it’s a great fan experience. The food is cheap, there’s a lot of fan interaction, and there’s always good weather somehow when I go.
Liz: The person it’s named after was a really significant individual in this area. He was found guilty of corruption and beat that charge. Love him or hate him, he did a lot of amazing things in this area. It’s a testament to his strength of driving economic development dollars to the district. It’s inexpensive to go, there’s fireworks, you can watch decent baseball and enjoy yourself, and the kids can run the bases afterwards.
Justin: It’s actually really nice, we’ve been there for a Valley Cats game. The atmosphere is fun.
24. The Hollow
Georgette: A premier live music venue that offers high caliber vegan options for downtown. And they offer Pints and Poses for yoga enthusiasts.
Jack: I met my girlfriend at The Hollow. It’s a good spot. They’re picking up some good names, and good food as well.
Raheema: I love The Hollow. I’ve gone there at night to kind of pre-game. The vibe is always nice. It has a city vibe, like a bar someplace in downtown Manhattan.
25. Albany Medical Center
Georgette: Definitely a huge driver of jobs for the region. The increase and expansion of life sciences there is driving new people to the area.
Jack: My uncle just had brain surgery there and he’s still alive, so I think they’re pretty good.
Vivian: I basically live there as a med student. The pillars can be pretty Instagrammable; they’re on one of the main entrances.
Craig: If this is one of the most Instagrammed places, it’s because people are looking for sympathy likes with the hospital wristband.
Justin: They have really nice apartment buildings around it. There’s a bridge connecting it to the hotel next door. It’s an area that was heavily under construction but the revamping is pretty nice.
26. The Desmond Hotel
Nellie: The food is great at the restaurant, and it’s a very unique venue. It’s inside but it looks like you’re outside in pictures.
Tim: I’ve been to a friend’s wedding there. It was absolutely gorgeous, and I’ve been to a few holiday parties there. They have a good selection of food and a great venue.
Justin: They have a really nice big conference room building, they have a lot of events there. They actually had a business pitch contest that they had there. We didn’t win, but we came close.
27. Grafton Lakes State Park
Mike: Absolutely very cool. If you go to Grafton you also have to hit the Peace Pagoda. It’s right there next to the park. There are a couple hundred worldwide that are built by monks. We actually did my middle daughter’s birthday party there last year.
Tim: Grafton Lake has some great kayaking, beautiful still and clear waters. If you get to a quiet corner of the lake you can see the rocks below and all the fish.
28. Browns Brewing Company
Jack: Their cherry razz beer is my favorite beer in the world.
Nellie: I’m addicted to their pretzels with cheese. I usually try a different beer every time I go. Everybody’s been there. They have great beers, great food. I’ve never had a bad experience there.
Tim: They have amazing root beer, and amazing fish and chips as well. I’m a vegetarian, but I remember from before how amazing those fish and chips were.
Craig: That used to be a different club… Skyline! I miss Skyline. It was a multi-level club, I was really young and I used to do teen events there too.
Justin: That’s where StartUp Tech Valley is, it’s once a month there on Wednesday.
29. Russell Sage College
Ann: It’s a gorgeous campus. I’ve mainly been there for the conferences held by the Underground Railroad History Center. It’s a beautiful space. My husband has told me that Russell Sage was actually an opponent of women’s education, but after he died, his wife helped build the school.
Craig: Shoutout to the Fashion Club for booking me.
Raheema: I actually got stuck in there one time because I drove down the wrong way. They really have a unique campus feel in the middle of the city of Troy.
30. Plotter Kill Preserve
Jack: It’s proven to be quite dangerous, but it’s a good adventure.
Mike: I’ve hiked that, and I’d say it’s dangerous and for experienced hikers only. I haven’t been there in 15 years since I got married and had kids.
31. The Ruck
Nellie: The Ruck, oh gosh. I basically live there. Can’t wait for $1 wings on Wednesdays. They have something called a Fatboy; any burger they have, pay an additional $5, and the chef creates something unique to add to your burger that will make you fatter. One time they added a stack of pancakes and bacon. Another time they put it in a wrap, and then deep-fried it. It’s whatever the chef feels like doing.
Raheema: They have really good wings and fries. The owner is really cool too, and they make their own brews sometimes.
32. Troy Kitchen
Jack: The coolest place in Troy for a bite under $10. They have phenomenal entertainment five nights a week, and it’s pretty much always free. It’s the one place in Troy where you can go with a group of people and everybody will be happy with the food because there are five different places to choose.
Liz: That is interesting, the whole concept of food courts was a little late in coming to the Capital Region. This is on a smaller scale than in Boston or NYC but the food is great and it’s a cool concept.
Vivian: We have been there, I have yet to try any of the food there. The last time I went everything was closed so I was kind of sad.
Craig: That place, I’m at every week. Between Halal Palace and Chopped Cheeses, I don’t know, it’s a tough decision every time I’m in there. I also dj Wine Down Wednesdays every Wednesday there.
33. The Glen Sanders Mansion
Jack: I’d like to live there.
Nellie: The owner of Glen Sanders Mansion, at one point ran a pizza place called Papa Chico’s and I can still remember the phone number. He went from this guy who owned a pizza shop with his brother to opening up the Glen Sanders Mansion, and it’s a fine dining establishment that’s so well known in this area. He also opened up Angelo’s 677 Prime in downtown Albany, and it was one of the first fine dining places in the area. He really built an empire, and he’s one of the most well-respected restauranteurs in the region. It kind of all started with Glen Sanders Mansion. The food is great there.
Craig: I’ve DJed a few weddings there, and it is gorgeous.
34. Fuze Box
Jack: Definitely a place to discover the undiscovered.
Craig: I feel like the Fuze Box is really cool, but it could be even more cool if they did more stuff. It’s kind of an eclectic club/bar thing, they’ll do rock shows or EDM or hip hop from time to time. It’s a cool spot. If you ever wanted to do a photo shoot while they were closed it just looks cool.
35. Colonie Center
Nellie: You gotta love Colonie Center, they’ve got everything. from a massive movie theater to all the big stores… they have a PF Changes and Cheesecake Factory.
Tim: I used to work there back in high school at a store called Computer Etc., running a virtual reality demo in the 90s. It’s much more high end than it used to be.
Craig: That’s the mall if you’re a little older or going to the movies. They’ve been trying to jazz it up the last couple of years.
Raheema: It’s a really nice mall. It’s a different feel than Crossgates, and Whole Foods is really nice.
36. City Beer Hall
Georgette: They have one of the most creative menus and really engage the community through the Biggie Brunch and its meat and craft beer pairings. They offer a wide diversity on food, beer selections and events and programming all within a really cool environment.
Jack: My favorite part of the City Beer Hall is that you get a free personal pizza with every drink order. That’s enough incentive to get me there.
Vivian: I have been, it’s a pretty chill vibe. I like it.
Craig: That used to be Ballingers. They got the mechanical bull over there so it’s a good vibe.
37. Wolffs Biergarten
Jack: It’s phenomenal. They have really good peanuts that are kinda dangerous because they make you dehydrated. It’s an authentic German beer experience, they have darts and shotskis, and if you don’t go for the Birthday Boot, you aren’t really celebrating your birthday in Upstate NY.
Craig: Damn that used to be something too, Noche. I haven’t been since it’s been the Biergarten.
Raheema: We went to the one in Troy, and they have really good beer. It was a different experience and was nice.
38. Lucky Strike Social Club Albany
Jack: It’s my favorite part of the mall. It’s a new place, that’s a club and a music venue, and it’s kind of like Upstate Concert Hall. You hear about it, you go to it and realize it’s a very cool place. It’s the first time I’ve ever wanted to go clubbing in a mall.
Craig: Lucky Strike is so big that they put a whole club inside of it and you walk past it all the time. I tell people there’s a club in there, and they’re like no, seriously? There’s a little door you walk into, there’s a corridor that’s like the Matrix. There’s a big stage, there’s lights, there’s tables. I also did a photo shoot in there because that corridor looks dope.
39. Superior Merchandise Company
Raheema: I love it, because it’s weird. It’s a fuse between a coffee shop and you can go shopping in there. It’s different. It’s like something you’d find in SoHo that they’re doing in Troy. We went there once to meet with people.
40. The Low Beat
Craig: Nitty gritty Poetry Slam that goes down there is dope. Felina is an awesome cook. I’m actually about to get some food from her today
Jack: It’s a good place to find undiscovered artists.
Mike: Awesome place, a+++ tiny venue if you’re coming into Albany and need a place to play. Reach out to Howard who books their music.
41. Cohoes Falls
Liz: I don’t think enough people know about them, they’re pretty amazing for Albany.
Ann: They’re gorgeous. I love the remnants of the old textile works, as well as the worker housing. There are also the remnants of the power canal system, which once carried water to power the mills.
Tim: It’s absolutely gorgeous. If you can find the small parking lot behind the old factory, you can park right there by the river and see the falls. It used to be a hotspot for axe manufacturing because they could easily transport them up and down the river.
42. Cider Belly Donuts
Georgette: The best thing about Cider Belly is they pump out a smell onto the street while they’re baking. It draws you in, and you can smell it from a block away. They have really innovative flavors and combinations (my favorite is Orange Kiss) and it’s a big destination in downtown Albany. From single doughnuts, to a dozen, to catering events and weddings, they can do it all.
Mike: Can’t go wrong with Cider Belly donuts. There should be a jingle related to that.
Vivian: I do really like their cinnamon sugar donut. They have a special name for it. It’s delicious especially when it’s warm. I love how creative they are about changing out flavors often.
Ann: Ooh, love them. They’re actually an aspirational walk for me. I’ll walk down there, get a donut, walk back up, and that’s a good 2-3 mile round trip with a good hill.
Craig: Freaking delicious. Just the regular apple cider donut with a cup of warm apple cider, you’re set.
Raheema: I just got it yesterday! I love Cider Belly, the inside is really cool. I got a baker’s dozen. I’m newly trying to be dairy free, and the vegan donut tasted just as good if not better than the regular donuts. We also got a Doh’nut, a pink moscato, butter me up rum, french apple cider glazed donuts and a few others.
43. Emma Willard School
The Emma Willard School is located in Troy and is an independent university-preparatory day and boarding school for young women, founded by women’s rights advocate Emma Willard in 1814.
44. Albany Pine Bush Preserve
Liz: That one is fascinating because this ecological wonder is in the middle of the city. They really went out of their way to protect it. They’ll do controlled burns which can freak a lot of people out. You can see the preserve from the mall. It’s right smack in the middle of a fairly developed area.
Justin: It’s a nice park. It’s pretty big… it’s the closest park to SUNY Albany. We walk around there.
45. Albany Train Station
Jack: It’s definitely the lifeline of people working in New York. It serves a purpose, and you can buy beer before getting on the train so I like that too.
Ann: It’s conveniently located and nice to have Amtrak around here. It’s convenient to go to NYC for the day. I also love that we have Uber now to get to and from there, and there’s also good bus transportation.
Tim: I definitely use it a lot to get down to the NYC. I’m a frequent traveler on it for sure. It’s one of the nicest train stations that I’ve been to.
Craig: Just be careful taking pictures there… don’t go on the tracks.
46. Albany Marriott
Nellie: It’s all about the weddings. They had the best nightclub back in the 90s.
Georgette: Ninepin and Albany Distilling and Druthers have created a craft beverage trail in Albany that is truly becoming a destination. They’re leading the way for state legislation and state recognition and being local. They’re really creating a powerful movement and new industry.
Craig: It’s just like a really cool eclectic vibe over there.
Raheema: It’s a really cool industrial area. I love drinking Ninepin but I’ve never been there.
48. Dave & Busters
Nellie: It is a family-friendly place. It’s definitely conveniently located. I don’t know anyone that has a family that hasn’t gone there at some point in this area.
Craig: Half-priced games on Wednesdays, come get beat in some basketball. That’s an open invitation for anybody, before wine down Wednesday.
Raheema: We love Dave & Busters. It’s probably one of the best attractions in the mall. You know the game where it’s a fish, and it’s a play on Wheel of Fortune and you pull down the handle.
49. Olde English Pub
Georgette: They’re great, they are a dog-friendly bar in downtown they have a great fenced in patio in the backyard where folks can bring their dogs and have great food in a warm, welcoming environment inside the historic Quackenbush House. Also a great place to catch the World Cup games.
Jack: If you’re really good at drinking, on your birthday, after you do the Birthday Boot at Wolffs, the Olde English will give you a gigantic teacup. It has dry ice in it so it’s steaming, and then you’re supposed to go to Bombers for a giant margarita. You’re supposed to do all three and they call it the trifecta. I’ve never seen anyone complete it successfully.
Vivian: I have been there… when it’s your birthday they give you a really large teacup of beer that’s bigger than your head. That makes for a great picture.
Craig: That place looks cool. I DJed my high school’s ten year reunion there… it looks like where Harry Potter Hermione and Ron would meet in between semesters.
50. Bombers Burrito Bar
Nellie: Bombers does that giant birthday margarita. They were one of the first places in the region to do some giant drink on your birthday. They’ve been a main attraction there for a very long time. Other businesses have opened and closed, Bombers has just stayed there on Lark Street.
Craig: How can you not love Bombers, except for the fact that it’s 12 people’s birthday every night.
Raheema: It’s fun for your birthday. Their quesadillas are good too.
51. Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
Ann: That is gorgeous. It’s a really beautiful space; I’ve been to a couple of shows there.
Nellie: Proctors brings in the big amazing Broadway shows, but Troy Savings Bank Music Hall bring in the more unique electic acts. it’s just adds to troy. i really like them.
Tim: I’ve been to some great shows there. Really small venue where you feel like you’re an arm’s length away from the artist
Craig: I’m actually doing a show there soon, it has that older theater feel. There’s a grand piano on the stage, and it just feels like you’re supposed to do something at the top of your ability. It’s not the most famous stage, but you go there and get inspired to do something dope
52. Albany Institute of History & Art
Liz: A number of years ago, they went through a renovation. They do a lot of locally-focused exhibits, and it’s a beautiful building. People don’t avail themselves of it enough.
Mike: Love it. We were just there a couple of weeks ago. I can’t believe how much shit I do. I thought I was going to know nothing on the list, but because of our kids we do everything.
Ann: My husband and I are members there, we use the library for some of our research. They have wonderful volunteers.
Craig: They have some really cool exhibits. I always feel weird when I’m in there, but it’s dope stuff. It’s right there in the middle of Albany, it’s like, “the hell is this doing here?” You kind of forget it’s there.
53. Legislative Office Building
Ann: I’d never been in there until my collaborator Stacy came up to visit. The three of us decided to go take a look there, and it’s actually pretty impressive.
54. Washington Ave. Armory
Jack: That’s a great venue where you go to get weird. The Albany Patroons play there, and I’ve always had a great time.
Nellie: I’ve been to the church there, I’ve been to a lot of the concerts there. They host a lot of entertainment.
Craig: I threw my birthday party there one time. People were like, “who the hell does this kid think he is, throwing his birthday at The Armory.” I told them to come find out, and we had 1200 people there.
55. Old Daley on Crooked Lake
Nellie: The owners are great people, the food is delicious. They own the catering part of the business, which is in Troy. They have an amazing reputation in this area. Not only are they a business that offers great food and service, there’s integrity behind the owners and what they offer.
56. Berben and Wolff’s Vegan Delicatessen
Tim: I am a huge fan of Berben and Wolff’s. The vegan chicken wings are phenomenal and they make a killer reuben as well. One of my favorite restaurants in Albany.
Raheema: I’ve been in there, and it’s always packed.
57. Albany Funny Bone
Nellie: I’ve been there a couple of times. For a comedy club venue, the ticket prices are really good. It’s not outrageous, it’s affordable to go there, they have a bar, they have food, and the acts are always funny.
58. Center Square
Ann: Center Square is great… actually our first trip we took to Albany, my husband had taken a job at the college, and we were gonna move. I was really not keen on it, but we came and stayed in Center Square at the Morgan State House. I thought you know, I guess I could live here. It convinced me… even after there were 24 inches of snow.
Craig: I almost lived there, it’s above the Governor’s Mansion. The brownstones are really nice to look at. They’re all beautiful, all different colors, I would take a picture standing in front of anybody’s house on any given day.
59. Indian Ladder Farms
Jack: We did a cider donut tour that went through there, and this place was a crowd favorite. I believe they also have a cidery there. It has a very cool view of Thatcher Park.
Mike: I love it, I just moved nearby, in that neighborhood, and am super happy about it. It’s a great place to visit with family and friends.
Vivian: I have been there… their donuts are pretty good. I like the variety of apples.
Tim: Really great apples and amazing cider donuts. Do not leave without getting a cider donut.
60. 3fish Coffee
Liz: That place is new. It’s a very cool concept co-located with a bike shop. The coffee is fantastic and the vibe is really cool and relaxed. The women who started it are great.
Vivian: I like the avocado toast.
61. Albany Capital Center
Georgette: The convention center has been open for a year. They are projected to bring in 80,000 people annually. It is driving the construction of another hotel as well as new retail in downtown. They don’t just have weddings, they also have sporting events. Before some basketball tournaments you can catch the practices in there. The Albany All Stars Roller Derby holds their competitions there. They really are a part of the community beyond conventions.
Jack: It’s everything you want a convention center to be. Big. Wide. Chairs. They do have a very cool mural when you walk up. It fades from old Albany to present-day Albany.
Craig: I did my birthday party this year there, and we had 2000 people. The lights in the ceiling are literally the best thing you can ever see. You can program them to do almost whatever you want. Imagine a couple thousand square feet of LED lights in the ceiling.
62. Pauly’s Hotel
63. Peck’s Arcade
Nellie: Love Peck’s! The owners have created so many great businesses in downtown Troy. Downstairs, they have small plates that are very different from anything in the Capital Region.
Craig: Peck’s Arcade is DOPE. It’s just the way it’s constructed. They have this rose soda that they gave me. It was a soda made from roses.
Raheema: Peck’s is so nice. It’s really beautiful in there.
Justin: We went to the opening of little Peck’s. It’s connected to Lucas Confectionary too.
64. Via Aquarium
Jack: Definitely the coolest aquarium outside of Boston. They have a tunnel that you walk through and all the fish and sharks swim around you. They let you pet stingrays which is a little scary.
Craig: In Rotterdam… I’ve DJed there too. There’s an entertainment space in there. It’s so open, so you’re just roaming around looking for fun.
65. Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve
Tim: Really beautiful walking trails, but they can be a little muddy in the springtime. If you bring your dogs, make sure they’re ready for a bath afterward.
66. Stuyvesant Plaza
Jack: It’s a good place to carpool from, and they have good stores.
Liz: I spend way too much time there. It’s a nice break from the mall. It has some upscale stores that you probably won’t find elsewhere. It’s easy with a lot of parking, and there’s a lot of walkability.
Mike: My record label’s PO box is there!
Craig: Alright, so if Colonie Center is the old people mall, then Stuyvesant plaza is the older people mall. BUT, Cold Stone is there, and Chipotle is there.