The capital of New York State, Albany is home to numerous historic attractions, performing arts centers, and excellent museums. Although the city is not as vibrant as the Big Apple, It’s still an excellent destination for a weekend trip. From visiting attractions such as the Governor Nelson A.
Rockefeller Empire State Plaza and New York State Capitol to admiring art at the New York State Museum and enjoying nature at the leafy Washington Park, there is plenty to look forward to when visiting the powerhouse of the NY state legislature. This list of things to do in Albany, NY allows you to experience the city from a unique perspective and takes you to some of its finest attractions.
1. Washington Park
Our first stop is Albany’s Washington Park, an 84-acre park with beautiful statues, fountains, and historic homes. The park boasts over 100 species of trees ranging from bonsais to giant oaks and offers an ideal setting for activities like picnicking, biking, and jogging. There is a nice playground area for the little ones, as well as basketball courts and an awesome skateboard park. Visit in spring when all of the park’s tulips are in bloom.
2. New York State Capitol
You will find the New York State Capitol on State Street and Washington Avenue. Built in the 19th century, this impressive building is home to the New York State Legislature. Join the guided tour of the building that lasts for about an hour and learn everything there is to know about this prominent landmark in Albany. Architecture buffs will love the fact that each floor of the building is designed in a different architectural style ranging from Classical Romanesque to Victorian Romanesque.
3. New York State Museum
There is no shortage of indoor things to do in Albany, NY and a visit to the New York State Museum is one of them. This 10-story museum is one of the largest museums in the United States and features a wide range of exhibits and programs that revolve around art, education, and history. Whether you wish to see the Natural History-Children’s Museum hybrid, discover exhibits such as Ancient Life of New York: A Billion Years of Earth History, or admire the Herschell-Spillman carousels, New York State Museum offers something for everyone.
4. Dutch Apple Cruises & Tours
Dutch Apple Cruises & Tours allow travelers to explore the capital region with their specialty tours of the Capital District, trolley excursions of Albany, and sightseeing boat cruises on the Hudson River. Our favorite cruise is the relaxing cruise on the scenic Hudson River where you can enjoy the boat’s open-air decks and see some of the finest attractions in Albany. Dutch Apple Cruises & Tours also offers personalized trips and private charter cruises.
5. The Egg Performing Arts Center
Located on State Street, The Egg Performing Arts Center is one of the most visited attractions in Albany and for a reason. Offering theater, dance, film, and music productions, the Egg is a real haven for culture vultures who wish to experience family-friendly events and admire the beautiful architecture of this historical building. There are two theaters inside the center: the smaller Lewis A. Swyer Theatre where lectures and music concerts are held and the Kitty Carlisle Hart Theatre which houses larger productions including dance performances and musical theatres.
6. Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza
Not many US capital centers in the US are as amazing as the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza. This complex of several state government buildings in the center of Albany has become a cultural center for both tourists and locals who come here to enjoy attractions such as the Corning Tower, a Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Egg. The plaza is home to dozens of other buildings, parks, and fountains.
7. Schuyler Mansion
When it comes to historical buildings in Albany, Schuyler Mansion is probably one of the most visited mansions in the region. The historic home of General Philip Schuyler and his family, this Georgian structure overlooks the Hudson River and offers guided tours. Once you step inside the mansion, expect to see 18th-century interior complete with paintings, decorative arts, and period furniture. Not to be missed is the mansion’s formal garden and the working farm.
8. Times Union Center
A visit to the Times Union Center is one of the best things to do in Albany NY at night. Located in downtown Albany, this large indoor arena is a popular sports and entertainment complex that can accommodate around 15,000 people. It is home to many local sports teams such as Siena Saints Men’s Basketball team and AHL Albany Devils. The center also serves as a concert venue and artists like Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and Celine Dion performed here.
9. Howe Caverns
The largest show cave in the state, Howe Caverns is a popular natural attraction that welcomes a large number of tourists per year. The guided cave tours are available throughout the year, as well as special expeditions including Family Flashlight tours and Lantern tours. Join the Signature Rock Discovery Tour and explore the mysterious dam doors or attend hands-on workshops for a personal glassmaking experience.
10. Mountain Ridge Adventure
A visit to Mountain Ridge Adventure is one of the best things to do in Albany, NY with kids. This treetop challenge course and zip line park is located just a short drive from the city and offers the ultimate adventure for the entire family. Whether you wish to enjoy an unforgettable zip line canopy tour with your kids or you want to join the Treetop Course, a visit to Mountain Ridge Adventure promises to be a memorable experience.
11. The Fun Spot
The Fun Spot is another awesome family-friendly attraction worth visiting when exploring the Albany region. From go-karts and laser tags to mini-golf, roller skating, and a ninja challenge course, this place has it all. Summer camps are also available and the Fun Spot can also be rented out for private events like birthday parties. In case you get hungry, the on-site restaurant serves delicious hot dogs, pizza, and burgers.
12. Colonie Center
Located in the suburbs of Albany, Colonie Center is a 1.3 million square foot shopping mall that features more than 100 specialty shops. This enclosed shopping center is home to popular retailers like the American Eagle, Aeropostale, Victoria’s Secret, Barnes & Noble, Express, New York & Company, Bath and Body Works, etc. After your shopping spree, dine at one of the mall’s restaurants and fast food joints such as Five Guys Burgers, Cheesecake Factory Restaurant, and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. If you wish to catch a movie in the evening, the center features a Regal Cinema.
13. Palace Theatre
Operated by the Palace Performing Arts Center, Palace Theater is a historic theatre built in the 1930s. It is home to the Albany Symphony Orchestra and hosts nearly 200 events every year ranging from concerts and theatre plays to comedy acts and classic movie series. The interior with murals on the walls, a giant chandelier in the lobby, and picturesque marble staircases look amazing.
14. Rocking Horse Ranch
There is no shortage of outdoor activities in Albany, NY, and visiting the amazing Rocking Horse Ranch falls into this category. This All-Inclusive Four Season Family Resort offers is nestled on a 500-acre piece of land and offers activities for the whole family. Enjoy everything from rides like the Big Splash indoor waterpark to children-friendly activities at their Winter Fun Park. Some of the other daytime activities here include mini-golf, mountain tubing, rock climbing wall, banana boat rides, paddle boats, and wildlife exhibits. The evening entertainment with jugglers, comedians, magicians, and bonfire special events is not to be missed.
15. The Great Escape & Hurricane Harbor
With over 140 rides and attractions including one of the best roller coasters in the world called the Comet, The Great Escape & Hurricane Harbor is a must-visit destination when exploring Albany. Visit their Hurricane Harbor water park that features stellar rides like Shipwreck Cove and Bucket Blasters. They also host several exciting events throughout the year such as Coca-Cola July 4th Fest, Fright Fest weekends in October, and German festival Oktoberfest.
16. Rivers Casino and Resort
Opened in 2017, Rivers Casino and Resort is a great place to visit for fans of slots and table games. It is owned by Rush Street Gaming which also operates some of the finest casinos in the US. Once you step inside the casino, expect to find more than 1,000 slot machines and around 60 table games ranging from craps and blackjack to roulette. There is also a poker room with 15 tables. As for dining options, they are plentiful. Dukes Chophouse specializes in steaks, while Mian offers Asian cuisine with a temporary twist. For specialty burgers and homemade milkshakes, visit the Flipt Restaurant.