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Welcome to Albany!
A fact perhaps not known by many people: New York City is not actually the capital of New York. The beautiful town of Albany, NY, is! The state capital is home to over 100,000 people, and although not located too far from the big apple, Albany is much more low-key and easy-going than New York City.
Albany is one of the oldest chartered cities in the United States as it was settled by Dutch colonists in 1614. Even before that, the area was home to the Iroquois. Those with a keen eye can spot several centuries worth of architectural styles throughout the city, which certainly adds an interesting element to the city. The Albany International Airport ensures that new people and customs are always arriving. A worldwide local knows that oftentimes just outside of big cities you’ll find some amazing locals, great scenery, and plenty of culture, often overlooked. Albany should absolutely be on your go-to list if you’re in the New York area, and our guide will give you an inside look at its biggest draws!
Worldwide Local Tip: Most tourist attractions in Albany are centered around the downtown area and, luckily for those traveling without a car, the city center is very walkable, though the most convenient way to get to and from the Albany airport is by cab. Most downtown sights are within walking distance of each other and from most of the Albany hotels, so you can easily hit up a few landmarks on any given day.
What’s really great about Albany is that there is so much natural beauty that surrounds the city, it doesn’t really matter what season it is, or how the Albany weather is, chances are the greener spaces around town will be very picturesque. If you’re looking to dip your toe into nature, heading to Washington Park is the nicest place around town. The park is over 84-acres of well-maintained greenery with hundreds of different kinds of trees, from giant oaks to miniature bonsais. The park is always full of locals going about their day, having picnics, jogging, or playing tennis. The park is filled with important statues and monuments, which are fun to find and read about. Pack a picnic and try to find them all!
Worldwide Local Tip: The park is full of things to do in the summer, from free shows and music festivals to free food. During the spring, the annual Tulip Festival is a popular attraction, celebrating Albany’s Dutch heritage with spectacular displays of colorful blooming tulips. The park is very safe, but precautions should be taken at night.
Upstate New York might not be as hip and cool as New York City, but it does have some amazing craft alcohol: everything from whiskey to beer and cider. If you consider yourself a bourbon connoisseur, check out one of Albany’s best locally owned distilleries. The Albany Distilling Company is located on Montgomery Street in the heart of downtown, which is coincidentally close to Albany’s first whiskey distillery, which was built in the 18th century. The company makes Ironweed Bourbon Whiskey from locally sourced water, New York State grain, wild yeast, and Carribean cane sugar. Finally, it’s aged in American dry oak barrels for a wooden-smokey taste. Tours of the distillery are offered, as well.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re not into sipping bourbon, there are still some amazing Albany restaurants and places to grab a bite. If you’re looking for a little culture with your dinner, hit up New World Bistro Bar. The restaurant was meticulously renovated in a building dating back to 1910 and is in the trendy Delaware Avenue neighborhood. Sip cocktails at the 1939 Art Deco mahogany bar and drool over Ric Orlando’s delicious menu.
Arts and Culture in Albany
A worldwide local knows to take in culture when the opportunity presents itself, so if you can, make sure to visit the Palace Theater. Located on Clinton Avenue’s historic district, the theater was built in the 1930s and has a stunning Baroque interior with painted murals on the walls and a grand red marble staircase in the lobby. Officially, the theater is home to the Albany Symphony Orchestra, but tons of comedy shows, concerts, plays, and movies are shown here.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you can’t catch a show and you want to check out some grand opulent architecture, then the New York State Capitol Building is the place for any architectural geek. Built between 1867 and 1899 the building was created in classical Romanesque, Renaissance, and Victorian style, on the fourth and third floors. The building is a National Historic Landmark and tours are offered. Some even say the building is haunted.
Enjoy Your Stay!
A worldwide local knows that sometimes a little trip out of the big city can do the soul good. Albany is a perfect place in between the big city and small-town life, where there’s always something happening but it still feels very home-like. Even if you are a visitor, you won’t feel like one for long.