DonorsChoose Payoff: The Capital District

Another DonorsChoose incentive claimed: Ewan asks for a blog post about “the neatest attractions in Albany and the surrounding area.”

“Neatest” is in the eye of the beholder, of course, and as is the case with any area, the worst people to ask about local tourism are local residents (ask a Manhattanite how often they visit the Statue of Liberty). Kate and I don’t do a lot of sight-seeing.

What culture we do get mostly comes in the form of concerts and the like, and there are several venues for that sort of thing in the area. The Egg hosts a lot of different sorts of shows, and the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall has to be seen. Big acts tend to play either the Times Union Center or SPAC. Proctors Theater in Schenectady is a restored vaudeville-era theater, that puts on concerts, movies, Broadway shows, and the like.

If museums are more your thing, there’s the New York State Museum in the capital plaza complex downtown; I haven’t been there since I was a kid, so I can’t say much about it. A little farther afield, though, there’s the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, only an hour away in the Berkshires, and well worth the drive. I haven’t been to MASS MoCA, as modern art has a very high Sturgeon Fraction for me, but people who like that sort of thing rave about it. In the other direction, Cooperstown has a whole slew of attractions, from the Baseball Hall of Fame to the Farmers Museum, to a Belgian-style brewery.

For parks and other natural-type attractions, there’s Howe Caverns, which is pretty cool. Saratoga Springs, about 30-40 minutes north of Albany, has a State Park based around the old spas, and a National Historical Park built around the battlefield, one of the turning points of the Revolutionary War. This might not appeal to Ewan, who is of a UKadian persuasion, but for the rest of us…

Lake George in the Adirondacks is an hour or so north, and Lake Placid, site of the 1980 Winter Olympics, is something like an hour and a half away. If you like hiking and outdoor sports, the whole Adirondack region is spectacular.

And that’s about all I’ve got. Others can add more, but right now, I hear SteelyKid making a fuss upstairs, and need to go calm her down.

3 thoughts on “DonorsChoose Payoff: The Capital District

  1. Whitehall, about 75-90 minutes northeast of you, claims to be the birthplace of the US Navy. I think there is a small museum there, but I’ve never visited (I’ve only driven through; it’s on the way from here to my cousin’s house near Glens Falls).

    I visited the State Museum once, about 15 years ago. I also have been to the Adirondacks once, when my cousin got married (her husband’s family is from the area around Wevertown). That’s about it; when I visit my cousin it has always been a quick trip (day trip or overnight), usually around either Thanksgiving or Christmas.

  2. The New York State Museum is excellent. Free, too. National Chemistry Day will be there on Sunday, and my workplace is hosting a table.

    Another high point is John Boyd Thacher state park, about 15 miles SW of Albany. Very high bluffs overlooking the region; nice views.

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