Are you planning a visit to Albany, New York, and wondering what to do in the capital of the Empire State? Luckily, Albany offers a variety of exciting activities, attractions, and events to make any visit memorable.
One standout experience the whole family can enjoy is attending an Albany FireWolves game, but there’s a lot more to Albany than just sports. Let’s dive into some of the city’s best highlights.
Albany, NY, Things to Do
Although it may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of tourist attractions, world class dining, and the great outdoors, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be. The truth is that Albany features plenty of activities to enjoy. Indeed, just about any type of visitor, from sports fans and foodies to history buffs and art aficionados, can find fun things to do. Take a look and start making plans for your Albany adventure.
Albany FireWolves Game at MVP Arena
Anyone visiting Albany during professional lacrosse season (between December and April) should certainly consider taking in an Albany FireWolves Game at MVP Arena. Located in the heart of downtown Albany, the arena is surrounded by local eateries and breweries for fans to explore before and after the game.
FireWolves games are fun for avid fans and total newcomers alike. Visitors can grab tickets for the Michelob Ultra Party Zone for a tailgating experience that is close to the action or arrive early to visit the arena’s Kid Zone, offering games and activities for lacrosse fans of all ages. An Albany FireWolves game offers all the fun of a professional sports experience, including delicious arena food, drinks, and performances by the FireWolves Wolf Pack Dance Team.
Single game tickets are available for all home games and vary in cost which is perfect for families with young children to enjoy an entertaining and fun-filled family outing. Get your game tickets here.
New York State Capitol
The New York State Capitol is less than a 10-minute walk from MVP Arena. Located at the top of State Street Hill, the New York Capitol took more than 30 years to construct and has served as the seat of government for the state since the 1880s. During the week, free tours of the Capitol Building are available on a walk-in basis. The building is both a working government office and a National Historic Landmark.
Albany Institute of History & Art
The Albany Institute of History & Art is one of the oldest museums in the United States. The museum was first founded in 1791 in New York City but moved to Albany in 1797, where it continues to serve as a valuable repository of art and history as well as cultural enrichment for the community and visitors. According to the museum, it houses “the best collections in the United States documenting the life and culture of the Upper Hudson Valley region from the late seventeenth century to the present day.”
The local collection includes the best of the Hudson River school paintings as well as furniture, personal objects, correspondence, and other articles from daily life to help visitors truly experience the past of the area. In addition to guided tours, the museum offers art classes, workshops, and cultural events in-person and online. The museum is located in downtown Albany, just a short walk from the Capitol Building and less than a mile from MVP Arena.
Located just outside the central downtown area, Albany’s Washington Park is an 81-acre oasis. In 1869, the New York firm Olmsted, Vaux, and Company — of Central Park fame — was hired to design the park. Although they created an original vision, their designs were not ultimately the basis for the park, which instead came from Bogart and Cuyler.
In addition to strolling tended paths and enjoying the wide-open public space, visitors to Washington Park can participate in many outdoor sports and activities, including tennis and basketball. Some Albany travel tips advise a visit in the spring, when Washington Park hosts a Tulip Festival and more than 200,000 tulips bloom throughout the park. The residential neighborhood surrounding the park is also home to many historic homes and is worth a visit on its own.
Empire State Plaza
Empire State Plaza, which is formally named Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza, is a complex of government buildings that are integrated with the Capitol Building. Although an office complex may seem like a questionable tourist destination, visitors to Empire State Plaza can explore the Empire State Art Collection, a public collection of monumental abstract artworks, and take in a show at the Egg, a performing arts venue located in the plaza.
Albany Pine Bush Preserve
There is certainly plenty of natural and manmade beauty to explore in downtown Albany, but visitors only need to travel a short distance from the city center to really get away from it all. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is made up of more than 3,000 protected acres nestled between the Catskills and Adirondack Mountains, just 15 minutes from downtown. The preserve is one of the few remaining inland pine barrens ecosystems in the world, making it a fascinating place for ecological enthusiasts.
The preserve is also home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, some of which are rare and endangered. Be sure to stop at the Discovery Center for trail maps, event calendars, educational exhibits, and a gift shop. Plan a visit to explore all kinds of outdoor recreation, including hiking, snowshoeing, hunting, and mountain biking.
Hudson River Exploration
The Hudson River is a crucial waterway that has been instrumental to life in Albany and the Hudson Valley for far longer than the United States has existed. No trip to Albany would be complete without spending some time by the river. One way to get close to the Hudson River is by taking a walk on the Hudson River Way pedestrian bridge, which connects downtown Albany with the Corning Preserve.
The Riverfront Preserve, just north of the bridge, is another scenic waterfront area to explore. Several companies offer boat tours and cruises along the Hudson River, as well. Tourists can book sightseeing cruises that provide historical and scenic information about the river and the surrounding area.
Between downtown and the Hudson River is the Palace Theatre, which hosts acts from around the world. First used as a venue for vaudeville acts and silent films, the theater now offers movies, comedy shows, and special events like Summer in the City and community block parties. The original Palace Theatre closed in 1979, but a nonprofit brought it back to life and was able to preserve much of its original architecture, which makes it worth a visit no matter what’s on the stage.
Local Cuisine / Breweries
There is no greater pleasure when traveling than exploring the local cuisine. Albany offers a diverse culinary scene with a range of restaurants catering to various tastes. Some popular dining spots include:
- Lost & Found Bar and Kitchen: A casual dining establishment with an impressive craft beer and cocktail selection as well as burgers and brunch.
- Café Madison: A favorite for brunch with an extensive menu featuring classics like pancakes, omelets, and creative dishes like stuffed French toast.
- The Hollow Bar + Kitchen: A gastropub offering a mix of comfort food and innovative dishes, along with live music in the evenings.
- Yono’s Restaurant: Renowned for its upscale Indonesian cuisine fused with local ingredients, providing an elegant dining experience.
- Druthers Brewing Company: This brewpub offers a wide selection of craft beers brewed onsite and a menu featuring burgers, sandwiches, and pub fare.
- Taiwan Noodle: A casual spot serving authentic Taiwanese cuisine, especially known for its noodle dishes and bubble tea.
- Olde English Pub & Pantry: A British-style pub serving classic pub fare and a vast selection of beers in a cozy atmosphere.
- 677 Prime: A high-end steakhouse known for its prime steaks, seafood, and extensive wine list.
- El Mariachi: A popular Mexican restaurant offering traditional dishes like tacos, enchiladas, and flavorful margaritas.
There is plenty to do in Albany, no matter what your interests are. If you do decide to make the journey, be sure to review the schedule and check out an Albany FireWolves game at MVP Arena.