Photo byÂ ZachÂ Copley
Albany, NY is not a booming metropolis but donâ€™t worry; New Yorkâ€™s Capitol City has plenty to offer both cultural and culinary.
Arrive in Albany (Megabus, Amtrak, Greyhound, plane or driving) and check in wherever youâ€™ll be laying your head. Letâ€™s face it; youâ€™re either there on business or to visit friends. If youâ€™re staying in the Center Square district, give yourself plenty of time to find parking. The narrow and cobblestone streets fill up right after 5pm and no one budges till Monday morningâ€™s commute.
While considerably North of the border, Albany is home to some authentic and some not so traditional Mexican restaurants worthy of a try. Choose between the authentic El Mariachiâ€™s Cantina and the hip and casual Bomberâ€™s Burrito Bar, or take the recommended Goldilocks approachâ€”El Loco. With a menu full of delicious specialties and enough tequila choices to make your head spin, you wonâ€™t be disappointed.
The great thing about Albany is that most of the dining and nightlife is within walking distance of each other. So after enjoying yourself at El Loco, walk some of your dinner off on the way to Eldaâ€™s on Lark for a cocktail. Italian restaurant by day and undoubtedly one of the nicest lounges and bars in the area, Eldaâ€™s also has a very warm atmosphere. Owned and operated by the establishmentâ€™s namesake and family, after a few drinks youâ€™ll feel like family.
After a full night of partying, Iron Gate is your go-to destination to swap stories and nurse a hangover with a full meal in the Capital region. Enjoy eggs Florentine, wild omelets, daily eclectic specials and the highly recommended and indulgent John Denver Breakfast (Eggs over butter grilled corn bread drenched in a Pepper Jack Hollandaise.) Â The waitstaff is friendly, the food is to die for and in the summer months the garden patio area is the best to sip Mimosaâ€™s.
After all the eating and drinking, take a break and head to the New York State Museum located at the State Plaza. Walk through the Empire Stateâ€™s historical journey, both political and geographical, that includes Sesame Street, a giant mastodon found in an Albany suburb and ends in a moving exhibit dedicated to 9/11 First Responders. Take a few minutes and head upstairs to a fully functional carousel for some extra fun.
Not gotten your fill of New York State history? A short walk across the Empire State Plaza will bring you to the state Capitol building. Extravagant and unique, the Capitol has free tours that bring you up The Million Dollar Staircase, down the hall of Governors and into the Senate Chamber lined with gold. It is one of the most expensive and gorgeous buildings youâ€™ll ever see and the seat of powerâ€”just donâ€™t let it rub off on you!
Head on downtown to McGearyâ€™s Irish bar for happy hour to relax and clear your mind from the dayâ€™s history and back into partying. This local pub has some of the best bartenders and staff youâ€™ll find anywhere and a jukebox full of all your favorite songs.
Hop in a cab and head out of the heart of downtown to the Capitol City Gastropub on New Scotland Avenue. Though newly opened, the chef and owners have already established themselves with the Lark Street Wine Bar. Grab a bottle of wine or try one of their large selections of Belgian beers and microbrews, and decide whether you want innovative street food, vegetarian delicacies, or French cuisine. Also available are a wide selection of â€œFritesâ€ and charcuterie plates that would whet any palate.
Saturday nights are home to one of the coolest weekly dance parties in Albany– 80â€™s Night at The Fuze Box (an old converted diner). Depeche Mode doesnâ€™t strike your fancy? Head to the Pearl Street area for a more typical club scene. DJâ€™s, live bands and in the case of Savannahâ€™s, an abundant selection of beers will greet you.
Lets face it, after last night you wonâ€™t be out of bed till noon. When you do wake up, New World Bistro Brunch is the only option. Only available Sundays, New World will blow your mind with their selection of local and creative items. Clam hash, blackened steak and eggs, ropa vieja benedict and Bloody Maryâ€™s with cucumber vodka are only a small sampling of what they have to offer.
Finish out your visit with an Albany AquaDuck tour that will drive you around in an amphibious WWII style vehicle and then splash into the Hudson River. A little bit history, a little bit comedy and a lot of fun!
If you time your trip just right, you may be able to enjoy some of these monthly events:
- Laughs on Lark- The coolest and best monthly comedy showcase of local and New York City talent. The second Wednesday of every month at Eldaâ€™s on lark, 9pm $5
- Bing Bamboo Room Burlesque- The perfect blend of traditional Albanian burlesque, comedy, drag queens, singers and side show performers. The third Monday of every month, 8pm $10
- Karaoke- Get your rock on at any of these weekly locations: Eldaâ€™s On Lark every Monday and Thursday, Bombers Burrito Bar every Wednesday and Pinto and Hobbâ€™s Tavern every Wednesday.