What to do in Albany, New York

Albany New York
The Empire State Plaza in Albany, New York is one of the most beauiful and architecturally stunning capital building complexes in the United StatesCredit: Adobe

The capital of New York State has a plethora of cultural buildings filled with history and natural beauty that emerges through reflecting pools and parks. On the banks of the Hudson River, there is always something to do or see in Albany.

Best Time to Visit

June through late August allows you to enjoy the warmer weather of the capital, and comfortably visit the various attractions scattered throughout the city

Places to Go and See

New York State Museum

What to do in Albany, New York
Credit: UpstateNYer

Built in 1836, the New York State Museum is the oldest and largest state museum in the country. Dedicated to learning more about the people and natural history of the state, the museum has attracted established researchers from all over along with thousands of visitors. The museum itself contains both permanent collections and temporary exhibitions, so each time you visit there will be something new.

  • Hours: Tues-Sun 9:30-5; closed all state-observed holidays
  • Best Time: Anytime; indoors
  • Price: Free, but suggested donation of $5

New York State Capitol

What to do in Albany, New York
Credit: Beyond My Ken

Situated on top of Albany’s State Street hill, the Capitol building has served as the seat of New York State’s government since the 1880s. Built over 32 years, there are plenty of architectural marvels to explore. You can either take a tour and learn about the history of the building or walk through by yourself.

  • Hours: Mon-Fri 7-7
  • Best Time: Anytime; indoors
  • Price: Free

Washington Park

What to do in Albany, New York
Credit: X-Weinzar

Located right next to Central Avenue, Washington Park has eighty-one acres, ten tennis courts, basketball courts, and a playground. There is plenty of space to just walk around or have a picnic next to one of several beautiful trees on the property. There are also festivals and events held here throughout the year, including the Tulip Festival during Mother’s Day weekend.

  • Hours: Sunrise to sunset
  • Best Time: Warm, sunny day
  • Price: Free

Palace Theatre

Presenting a range of different performances including award-winning artists, broadway shows, ballets, orchestras, and much more, the Palace Theatre is a great place to enjoy an exquisitely decorated building while watching a unique performance on the stage. Check out the website to see what events will be taking place during your vacation to Albany.

  • Hours: Doors open one hour before showtime
  • Best Time: Check the schedule for interesting shows
  • Price: Depends on what show you see

The Egg

What to do in Albany, New York
Credit: Nitant23

Also home to the performing arts, The Egg is as much of a sculpture as it is a venue for artists, comedians, and several others. Built between 1966 and 1978, the Egg’s curved exterior lends to no sharp edges within any of the theaters, making the venues inviting and unique.

  • Hours: Evenings when shows occur
  • Best Time: Buy tickets to your favorite show; indoors
  • Price: Depends on the show

Times Union Center

What to do in Albany, New York
Credit: Matt H. Wade

Now known as the MVP Arena, the Times Union Center is still what many locals will refer to as they describe this entertainment venue. Home to the Siena Saints and the Albany Firewolves, plan your vacation to watch basketball or lacrosse, respectively. Or, enjoy one of the many other events held within the arena’s walls.

  • Hours: Depends on what show you see
  • Best Time: All year
  • Price: Depends on what show you buy tickets for

Also Read: Vermont Vacation: Things To Do And See in Every Season

Hidden Gems

Schuyler Mansion

What to do in Albany, New York
Credit: Matt H. Wade

History buffs should check out the Schuyler Mansion, which was home to Philip Schuyler, the Revolutionary War Major General, and his wife Catharine Van Rensselaer. In this house they raised eight children while holding several social affairs such as balls, and military strategizing meetings. The mansion has both temporary and permanent collections to peruse during your visit.

  • Hours: May 17-Oct 29; Wed-Sun 10:30-5
  • Best Time: Guided tours are at 11, 12, 1, 2, 3, 4 by reservation
  • Price: $5

Albany Institute of History & Art

What to do in Albany, New York
Credit: UpstateNYer

Collecting art and historical artifacts from the Upper Hudson Valley for over two hundred years, the Albany Institute of History & Art aims to preserve and teach younger generations about how this area changed and grew during the Revolutionary War and after. This includes a deep dive into the Van Rennselaer family, which was one of the most prominent families in upstate New York at the time.

  • Hours: Closed Mon & Tues, Wed-Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5
  • Best Time: Anytime; indoors
  • Price: $10

USS Slater DE-766

What to do in Albany, New York
Credit: UpstateNYer

Used during World War II to defend against Nazi U-boats and Japanese submarines, the USS Slater is the last destroyer escort that is still afloat in the United States. Restored to its former glory, the ship is now a museum and offers tours and events within its metal walls.

  • Hours: Apr 5-Nov 26 Wed-Sun 10-4
  • Best Time: Warm, sunny day
  • Price: $10

C.H. Evans Brewing Co.

What to do in Albany, New York

With the original brewery being created in Hudson, NY in 1786, the Evans family has been creating signature ales and malts for three generations. Stopping during prohibition but later coming back, there is a rich history that can be explored at the new facility.

  • Hours: Wed-Thur 12-8, Fri-Sat 12-10, Sun 12-8
  • Best Time: Anytime; indoors
  • Price: Depends on what you buy

The Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence

What to do in Albany, New York
Credit: Matt H. Wade

If you’re more interested in the Underground Railroad and its history, make sure to stop by the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence. Serving as the center of the Underground Railroad in Albany, the house was also used for The Albany Vigilance Committee which was an abolitionist organization.

  • Hours: Mon-Fri 5-8, Sat 12-4, Closed Sun (must call ahead with tour guide)
  • Best Time: Anytime; indoors
  • Price: $10

Erastus Corning II Tower

What to do in Albany, New York
Credit: Beyond My Ken

Named after a long-time mayor of Albany in 1983, the Erastus Corning II Tower is the tallest building in New York State not in the city. Its image is striking, made out of glass and marble in several angular forms. Travel to the forty-second floor and head out onto the Observation Deck to see views of Albany, along with the foothills of the Adirondacks, and the Catskills.

  • Hours: Mon-Fri 10-4, Closed Sat & Sun
  • Best Time: Warm, clear day
  • Price: Free

Top Restaurants

City Line Bar & Grill

Located right next to SUNY Albany’s campus, the City Line Bar & Grill is a great spot to hang out with friends, or watch your favorite sports team on one of thirty-two TVs. Choose from classic bar foods, or try some of City Line’s unique creations on their large menus.

  • Hours: Sun-Thurs 11-9, Fri & Sat 11-10
  • Featured Food: Buffalo Chicken Skillet Mac and Cheese / Salmon Zoodles
  • Featured Drink: Fizz-iotherapy / Drink Outside the Box

Athos Restaurant

Voted in the top fifty Greek restaurants in America by the National Herald, Athos only serves the best classic Greek dishes. Venture into their restaurant and choose from several different rooms, and sit back and enjoy your meal.

  • Hours: Sun-Thurs 11-10, Fri & Sat 11-11
  • Featured Food: Moussaka / Grilled Whole Bronzino
  • Featured Drink: Lavender Daisy / Clover Club

Barcelona Restaurant

What to do in Albany, New York
Credit: Jez Timms

Right across the street from SUNY Albany, the Barcelona Restaurant is also just minutes away from the center of Albany. Serving Mediterranean dishes in an upscale environment, choose to sit in the dining room, outdoor deck, or second floor perfect for a more intimate setting. Along with sustainable ingredients, each of their dishes are prepared to perfection for every customer.

  • Hours: Dinner Mon-Sun 4-9, Lunch Mon-Fri 11-2
  • Featured Food: Drunken Swordfish / Pollo al Citron
  • Featured Drink: Juan Gil Red Blend 2019 / The Jack Red Blend 2020

Iron Gate Cafe

If you’re looking for a restaurant with a unique atmosphere, try going to the Iron Gate Cafe for breakfast, lunch, or brunch. Opened in 2004, explore the garden patio, or one of the several indoor dining rooms and try homemade soup, wraps, or sandwiches that are sure to fill you up.

  • Hours: Mimosa Mon 8-3, Closed Tues, Wed-Sun 8-3
  • Featured Food: The Mother Clucker / Blue Sky Salad
  • Featured Drink: Sparkling Blackberry-Mint Lemonade / Strawberry-Mango Sangria

Grappa ’72

Opened in the summer of 2010, Grappa ‘72 aims to do two things while you are dining there – serve affordable Italian food and have great hospitality. Along with Italian dishes, they also  include many Mediterranean meals and flavors to make a memorable experience.

  • Hours: Mon-Thurs 4:30-9:30, Fri 4:30-10, Sat 4:30-10, Sun 3:30-8:30
  • Featured Food: Ossobuco / Fettuccine Bolognese
  • Featured Drink: Large option of white and red wines

The Cuckoo’s Nest

Southern cuisine is exactly what The Cuckoo’s Nest prides itself on, being one of the few restaurants in the capital region serving this type of food. Opened in 2017, this newer restaurant still knows how to create great dishes that will leave your taste buds wanting more.

  • Hours: Tues-Fri 11:30-3 lunch, 5-9 dinner; Sat brunch 10:30-2, Sat dinner 5-9; Sun brunch 10:30-3
  • Featured Food: Crispy Red Snapper / Jambalaya
  • Featured Drink: Southern Belle / Blood Orange Spritz

Top Hotels

Tru by Hilton Albany Crossgates Mall

  • ~$120/night
  • Featured Amenities: Free WiFi, Free Breakfast, Casino, Indoor Pool, Fitness Center, Pet-friendly
  • Hotel Information: Check in 3pm, Check out 12pm, Free Parking

Hampton Inn & Suites Albany – Downtown

  • ~$125/night
  • Featured Amenities: Free WiFi, Free Breakfast, Fitness Center, Pet-friendly, Air-conditioning, Coffee maker
  • Hotel Information: Check in 4pm, Check out 11am, Extra charge parking

The Argus Hotel & Cocktail Lounge

  • ~$160/night
  • Featured Amenities: Free WiFi, Free Breakfast, Bicycle rental, Tennis, Pet-friendly, Air-conditioning
  • Hotel Information: Check in 3pm, Check out 11am, Free Parking

Renaissance Albany Hotel

  • ~$220/night
  • Featured Amenities: 
  • Hotel Information: Check in 4pm, Check out 11am, Extra charge parking

Albany is full of history, right from when New York was just part of a bunch of colonies and the Dutch inhabited the now-capital of New York. Take a moment to explore the various museums, or walk around the city and see what other activities you can find.

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Alexandria is a News Editor, writer, and reader of all things literature. She graduated from the State University of... More about Alexandria Wyckoff

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