A few hours north of NYC, Albany is something of a hidden gem in New York.
Despite being the capital of the entire state, it doesn’t receive as many visitors as other cities, and its attractions are lesser known.
Once you discover it, however, you’ll never want to leave!
For starters, Albany has many notable attractions that date back centuries.
These include warships, governor’s mansions, historic homesteads, and Underground Railroad stations.
Alexander Hamilton’s wife grew up here.
The State Capitol is here.
Other attractions in Albany range from underground caves to high-flying ziplines.
You can watch a ballet, take a ghost tour, go for a cruise, and much, much more.
It’s the kind of destination that can suit a wide range of travel experiences, so whether you’re interested in a romantic honeymoon or a corporate retreat for your business, you can make it work in Albany.
Are you ready to experience all of the fun things to do in Albany, New York?
Let’s talk about some of the best attractions in the area!
Things To Do In Albany, NY
1. Washington Park
Designed by the same landscape architect as New York City’s Central Park, Washington Park is located in the heart of Albany, and it often serves as the city’s heart as well.
People come from all over to enjoy its many different features, events, and activities.
Springtime brings the annual Tulip Festival.
Summer ushers in farmer’s markets and outdoor theater productions.
Fall is the time for the annual Lantern Parade, and winter transforms the landscape into a wonderland of holiday lights, ice skating, and Santa shops.
Year-round attractions at the park include a lake, a playground, and a number of nature trails.
Special events can range from New Year’s Eve masquerade balls to Fourth of July fireworks shows.
Long story short, Washington Park is one of the top things to do in Albany.
No matter when you’re visiting, it’ll be hopping with some kind of fun!
Address: Madison Ave and Willet St, Albany, NY 12210, United States
2. New York State Capitol
The New York State Capitol is one of the biggest points of interest in Albany, and it’s also a rare find in terms of architecture.
You’re probably used to seeing domed buildings as state capitols, but this one looks more like a storybook castle from a distant land.
The three-acre, five-story building is dominated by arches, chambers, corridors, staircases, skylights, fireplaces, murals, and other touches of opulence.
If its design seems a little haphazard, that’s probably because it took several decades and a half-dozen architects to complete.
The end result is a blend of multiple architectural styles that range from Romanesque Revival to Neo-Renaissance.
At the time of the capitol’s construction, the press sneeringly called it “The White Elephant.”
Today, however, its grand and multifaceted style is part of its legacy, especially since it’s still active as a site for government work.
When it comes to famous Albany attractions, it doesn’t get any better than the New York State Capitol.
It’s been mystifying visitors since 1867.
Address: State St. and, Washington Ave, Albany, NY 12224, United States
3. Thacher State Park
Covering more than 2,000 acres, Thacher State Park is full of fun stuff to do for outdoor enthusiasts.
You can go biking, boating, hunting, golfing, and more!
The natural scenery of the park is stunning.
You won’t even believe that you’re near the city when you’re surrounded by sky-high pine trees and the calls of hawks and warblers.
Its beauty evolves from season to season, so you’ll be hiking fields of wildflowers in the summer and snapping ice crystals off the trees in the winter.
In terms of activities, the sky is the limit.
In addition to the usual types of fun outlined above, there are also unique places like the WildPlay Elements Park, an adventure destination outfitted with ziplines, rope bridges, log ladders, and obstacle courses in the treetops.
If you’re wondering where to go with kids and adults who love being outside, try Thacher State Park.
It’s a gorgeous destination with a lot to offer thrill seekers of all ages.
Address: 830 Thacher Pk Rd, Voorheesville, NY 12186, United States
4. Albany Institute of History and Art
The Albany Institute of History and Art is one of the top places to go for art lovers in the city.
Not only is it home to more than 20,000 objects, but it’s also the result of several cultural institutions merging together over time, giving it a diverse collection that represents not just Albany but the entire Upper Hudson Valley region.
Exhibitions range from “The Mystery of the Albany Mummies” to “Fashionable Frocks of the 1920s.”
Objects include paintings, sculptures, ceramics, furniture, fabrics, and more.
It also boasts a library with literally hundreds of thousands of texts and photographs!
During your visit to the museum, you can browse its many exhibits, enjoy a bite to eat at its cafe, and partake in special events such as classes and workshops.
If you time your trip just right, you might even be able to attend a gala.
The Albany Institute of History and Art can be quite the high-class establishment for appreciators of art, culture, and New York’s legacy!
Address: 125 Washington Ave, Albany, NY 12210, United States
5. The Egg
With its distinctive oblong shape, The Egg is one of the most unique tourist attractions in Albany.
Opinions are divided over whether it’s a brilliant example of postmodern architecture or just a really bizarre building.
No matter what you believe, however, The Egg is a great place for date night.
Formally known as the Center for the Performing Arts, it’s home to multiple theaters that put on plays, concerts, dance performances, and other works of art and education.
You can watch a musical; you can attend a lecture.
You can even take yoga classes in the mornings!
Another great thing about The Egg is that it’s located within the Capital Complex of downtown Albany.
This is an area known for its entertainment venues, so even if you can’t find something on The Egg’s schedule to interest you, you can probably strike gold nearby.
The Egg is one of the most idiosyncratic things to see in Albany, but its building is only half of it.
The next time that you feel like wining and dining someone special, take them to see a ballet at The Egg.
Address: Agency Building 1, S Mall Arterial, Albany, NY 12203, United States
Visiting other parts of New York? Why not check out some of the things to do in Buffalo, NY & some of the things to do in Brooklyn?
6. Gus’s Hot Dogs
You can’t visit New York without trying a New York hot dog.
It would be a culinary crime.
When you’re done with the traditional dog, however, you should also check out Albany’s unique version of it: the mini dog.
The mini dog is exactly what it sounds like, and it’s ubiquitous around Albany.
Gus’s Hot Dogs is far from the only establishment to sell them; it’s just one of the best.
At Gus’s, you can enjoy a frank smothered in onions, yellow mustard, and chili sauce, all of it fitted to a four-inch bun.
The price is just $1, something that hasn’t changed in the decades since the first Gus.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is the casual, hole-in-the-wall atmosphere of its painted red shack with its wooden picnic tables out front.
Gus’s Hot Dogs has been a staple of the neighborhood for years, and it’s also one of the most fun places to visit for an authentic, Albany-style mini dog.
Swing by for lunch one day, and you’ll see for yourself why it’s so beloved by the locals.
Address: 212 25th St, Watervliet, NY 12189, United States
7. USS Slater
You might recognize the USS Slater from wartime films like Last Operations Under the Orion.
Once upon a time, it was a destroyer escort used in World War II, and it’s among only a dozen surviving ships of its kind.
Today, the USS Slater has been converted into a floating museum, making it a rare treat for fans of maritime history or weaponry.
You won’t find any other Albany attractions like it.
It’s already a one-of-a-kind experience to tour a destroyer escort, but doing it on the water is even more amazing!
To visit the USS Slater, just show up and buy a ticket.
No reservations are required.
You’ll be treated to a guided tour of the entire ship, and you’ll have the opportunity to lay in the bunks, aim the cannon guns, and otherwise bring the past to life through interactive immersion.
A trip to the USS Slater can be one of the most fun things to do in Albany.
After all, how many times in your life do you have the chance to explore rare and near-obsolete warships?
Address: 141 Broadway, Albany, NY 12202, United States
8. Huck Finn’s Playland
If you’re traveling with kids, you’re probably wondering what to do that can burn off some energy.
The answer is Huck Finn’s Playland.
Open only in the warmer months, Huck Finn’s Playland is like a summer vacation for kids and adults like.
It’s a place where you can shed your responsibilities and unleash your inner five-year-old through rides, games, snacks, and other hallmarks of youthful fun.
Many of the attractions are vintage, including an old-fashioned carousel and a number of teacups and tilt-a-whirls.
There’s also a newer, sleeker Ferris wheel that’ll make you dizzy just to look at it!
Huck Finn knew what childhood was supposed to look like, and so does his playland.
Come here and buy an armful of tickets to experience one of the best things to do in Albany.
Address: 25 Erie Blvd, Albany, NY 12204, United States
9. Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site
If you’ve ever seen the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, you’re familiar with the Schuyler sisters, one of whom married Alexander Hamilton.
The Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site is their childhood home.
Covering 80 acres, the mansion was originally a site of grandeur, including gardens, orchards, and courtyards.
While these features have been lost to time, the building remains, and it’s been converted to a museum where you can see how the upper echelon of society lived in the 1800s.
You can also learn more about the early American Revolutionary period in general.
Rooms are decorated with real objects, artifacts, and antiques, and tour guides are available to really bring their history to life.
You don’t have to be a fan of Hamilton to enjoy the Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, but if you are, it’ll definitely be one of the best places to visit in Albany.
Belt out your favorite number on the ride there!
Address: 32 Catherine St, Albany, NY 12202, United States
10. Lark Street
Lark Street is a busy destination located just a few minutes from Washington Park.
Framed by charmingly historic townhomes, it’s also dotted with shops, restaurants, coffeehouses, art galleries, antique sellers, and more.
The charm of Lark Street dates back to the ’70s when it was known as a hub for new wave punk and alternative music.
It still carries that feeling of funk and soul today; it’s just been channeled into offbeat businesses, many of which are mom-and-pop shops that you won’t find anywhere else outside of Albany.
Go shopping for rare books and handcrafted jewelry.
Grab a bite to eat at one of the authentically ethnic cafes.
Stick around in the summertime and experience Art on Lark, an annual arts festival that draws thousands.
Lark Street is definitely among the top 10 of Albany’s attractions, so you won’t want to miss it!
Address: Albany, NY 12210, United States
Exploring other areas of New York? Why not check out some of the things to do in Rochester, NY & some of the things to do in Lake George?
11. Fuze Box
Albany has a small but vibrant nightlife scene that includes strong ties to the LGBT community.
You can attend drag shows just as easily as ballet and opera performances!
If you’re more into the traditional nightclub experience, however, you want Fuze Box.
Fuze Box is a neon-soaked affair from the moment that you walk through the door.
The lights are strobe; the dance floor is a black-and-white checkerboard.
The bar is stocked with all of the classics ranging from light cocktails to “knock you on your butt” liquor.
Events at the club include an ’80s night once per month as well as live music on the weekends.
DJs rotate in and out to keep the scene alive.
If you’re looking for things to do in Albany this weekend, you won’t want to miss Fuze Box.
It’s the perfect slice of nightlife for visitors who want to have fun in the city after the sun goes down.
Address: 12 Central Ave, Albany, NY 12210, United States
12. New York State Museum
Located on the other side of the State Capitol, the New York State Museum is an equally impressive building, and its historical significance makes it even more of a standout.
It’s the single oldest museum in the state!
Its collections are amazing, too.
Life-sized dinosaur skeletons share space with firetrucks and Native American longhouses.
There are galleries of flowers, fossils, minerals, and gemstones.
An old-fashioned carousel offers rides throughout the day.
A replica of New York City includes the front stoop of Sesame Street.
Another fantastic feature of the New York State Museum is that it doesn’t charge admission.
A gift shop is available if you’d like some souvenirs to take home, and a cafe with an outdoor terrace can feed you, but you don’t have to spend any money during your visit.
If you’re looking for free things to do this weekend in Albany, consider the New York State Museum.
It can be an educational experience for people from all walks of life, and the experience doesn’t have to cost you a dime.
Address: 222 Madison Ave, Albany, NY 12230, United States
13. Ghosts of Albany Haunted Walking Tour
Did you know that Albany has a surplus of spirits?
While there aren’t a lot of traditionally haunted houses, there are a number of urban legends connected to local landmarks, making Albany a great destination for ghost tours.
One of the most well-known is the Ghosts of Albany Haunted Walking Tour.
Exactly what it sounds like, this walking tour will take you by foot to some of Albany’s most supernatural sanctums.
The State Capitol, for instance, experienced all kinds of mysterious phenomena in its three decades of construction.
Washington Park used to house a graveyard before it housed a playground.
Another fun aspect of the tour will be your fully costumed actor who’ll guide you through Albany with style!
A ghost tour can be one of the coolest and most unique things to do in Albany.
If you aren’t afraid to say “boo,” call the Ghosts of Albany Haunted Walking Tour and find out where they’re heading out next.
Address: Albany, NY, United States
14. Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail
Stretching for almost 100 miles, the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail connects many points of interest in the Upper Hudson Valley region.
It’s also interwoven with several other, longer trails, including the Empire State Trail and the New York State Canalway Trail.
The pathway starts along the Hudson River and continues through everything from shaded parks to bustling city blocks.
It’s all paved, so you can walk, run, skate, bike, or push a stroller as you please.
If you veer off onto the Canalway Trail, you can even find trails meant for snowmobiling and horseback riding!
Go sightseeing in a brand new way with the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail.
You can take your time, explore landmarks and attractions at your leisure, and get in a little cardio to help you digest all of those New York hot dogs.
It’s a win-win-win!
Address: Albany, NY, United States
15. Mt. Greylock Campsite Park
The northeast coast is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the US.
Aside from a few places like Thacher State Park, however, Albany isn’t close to the lush forests and waterfalls that make up New York’s wilder edges.
You’ll need to travel a bit if you’re interested in a true mountaineering experience.
Enter Mt. Greylock Campsite Park.
Located about 50 minutes from Albany, Mt. Greylock Campsite Park rests in the foothills of Mount Greylock, a rugged summit that’s primed for all kinds of outdoor activities.
You can go camping, climbing, hiking, skiing, and sledding, and that’s just the beginning.
The campsite offers basic amenities as well as designated areas for both tent and RV camping, so it doesn’t matter if you’re roughing it or “glamping” it up.
You can find a spot for you and your family.
Albany isn’t considered one of the top vacation spots for nature lovers, but if you’re willing to go outside of the city limits, you’ll find that the natural world isn’t far off at all.
Just point your compass in the direction of Mt. Greylock Campsite Park!
Address: 15 Scott Rd, Lanesborough, MA 01237, United States
Looking for more thrills around New York? Why not check out some of the best things to do on Long Island & some of the best things to do in Manhattan?
Modeled after the famous music festival Lallapalooza, PearlPalooza is held on Albany’s Pearl Street every September.
It’s a single-day, all-day event, and it’s welcoming of all ages, making it one of the best places to visit for the family who loves listening to music together.
Both local and international musicians participate, so you’ll enjoy a wide range of talent as you wander from stage to stage.
Some people put on fully planned concerts while others just have jam sessions with their instruments.
As you explore, you can snack or sip on beer and other beverages from the vendors lining the street.
Admission is free, but the refreshments will cost you.
All in all, PearlPalooza is one of the most fun places to go for music lovers in Albany.
Just remember that it only lasts for a day, so make sure to time your vacation correctly if you want to catch it!
Address: 79-39 N Pearl St, Albany, NY 12207, United States
17. Underground Railroad Education Center
Albany was a little-known stop along the Underground Railroad, but that’s exactly what made it so efficient.
For years, African-American residents Stephen and Harriet Myers were able to help slaves reach freedom by sheltering them at their home, and no one knew about it.
Today, the Myers are heroes, and their home has been converted into a museum about the Underground Railroad and the legacy of the abolition movement.
It’s one of the top places to visit if you’re interested in how anti-slavery efforts unfolded in the northeast during the 1800s and 1900s.
Collections include texts, photos, artifacts, and other important objects.
You can also call the education center and arrange for guided walking tours around Albany to see other sites of interest related to the Underground Railroad.
It’s a grim history at times, but it’s an important one to remember.
Visit the Underground Railroad Education Center to learn more about the costs and quests of freedom for slaves in America.
Address: 194 Livingston Ave, Albany, NY 12210, United States
18. Dutch Apple Cruises
Dutch Apple Cruises is a top-rated tour company based along the Hudson River.
If you’re wondering what to do in Albany that’s a bit different than the norm, you might like this kind of new and novel experience on the water.
Your vessel will be an old-fashioned riverboat inspired by the ones used by sailors in 19th century New York.
You’ll cruise down the Hudson, enjoying a full food and drink menu while taking in fun historical facts shared by your tour guide.
If you’re coming to Albany with a group, you can also arrange private cruises for weddings, birthdays, corporate events, and other special occasions.
Pop a bottle of bubbly and marvel at the waves with a buzz!
There are many spectacular things to see in Albany, and a cruise can be a fun and unique way to experience them.
Get in touch with Dutch Apple Cruises to schedule your own excursion today.
Address: 141 Broadway, Albany, NY 12202, United States
19. Cohoes Falls
Who needs Niagara Falls when Cohoes Falls are so much closer?
Stunningly powerful, Cohoes Falls stretch more than a thousand feet across before thundering into the rocks below.
They’re accessible through several parks, but if you’re coming from Albany, you’ll probably want Falls View Park.
It offers vantage points with wide, panoramic views of the entire waterfall.
Other attractions in the area include an operational hydropower plant and a few defunct mills and buildings.
Some are available for touring and sightseeing while others are not.
Cohoes Falls are definitely a must-see destination when you’re in Albany.
While technically located about 20 minutes outside of the city in Cohoes, New York, it’s a short drive for a big payoff.
Address: 231-341 N Mohawk St, Cohoes, NY 12047, United States
20. Complexions Day Spa
With locations in both Albany and Sarasota Springs, the Complexions Day Spa is conveniently located for weary travelers all across New York.
You can come here for pampering of all kinds.
Treat yourself to a massage or manicure if you want the luxury spa experience.
Get a facial, skin treatment, or body wrap if you’re looking to improve your appearance.
Book a hair and makeup experience for a special event.
Sign up for med spa services like microdermabrasion or laser hair removal if you’re ready to leave Albany completely transformed from how you entered it.
A good spa day can leave you feeling like a brand-new person, and that’s exactly the kind of experience that you can enjoy at the Complexions Day Spa.
It’s especially true if you’re feeling worn down by all of your travels.
Brush off the dust, submit yourself to a hydrating face mask, and feel your best again!
Address: 221 Wolf Rd, Albany, NY 12205, United States
21. C.H. Evans Brewing Company
The C.H. Evans Brewing Company has been in business since 1786, so they know a thing or two about beer.
The good news is that they aren’t stingy with their expertise.
When you visit their brewery, you can enjoy tours, tastings, and many other experiences that’ll give you a deeper appreciation of what’s in your glass.
To start off, you’ll want to tour their headquarters.
It’s based out of the historic Albany Pump Station and is just as grandly industrial as it sounds, especially from the inside.
Once you’ve gained a little insight into the brewing process, it’s time to put your newfound knowledge to the test.
You can achieve this with both tasting tours and regular meals at the on-site restaurant, which serves everything from pub classics like beer batter onion rings to exotic specialties like pastrami kimchi reubens.
The C.H. Evans Brewing Company is a must-see for drinkers in the Albany area.
Not only is the location immensely impressive, but the taps are tasty and ever-flowing.
Address: 19 Quackenbush Square, Albany, NY 12207, United States
22. Cycle the Erie Canal Bike Tour
Are you struggling to fit everything into your itinerary?
Are there just too many Albany attractions that look interesting?
You might be interested in the Cycle the Erie Canal Bike Tour.
An epic adventure, this tour lasts eight days and will take you from Buffalo to Albany entirely by bike.
Accommodations are included, and so are trips to parks, museums, monuments, and other areas of interest around New York.
You’ll get to explore a wide variety of attractions in and outside of the city, and you’ll do it in a fun, unique way that’ll make for a great story when you get home.
You’ll need to prepare for something like this, of course, which means getting in shape and registering your place in the tour several months in advance.
But the effort is worth it.
There are many amazing places to see to Albany, and with the help of the Cycle the Erie Canal Bike Tour, you won’t have to pick and choose among them!
Address: 33 Elk St, Albany, NY 12207, United States
23. Albany Pine Bush
The Albany Pine Bush was once a wild and desolate landscape covering more than 40 miles.
Travelers would cross it at their own peril.
Today, the natural landscape of the bush has shrunk considerably, but it’s still one of the largest of its kind in the US.
It’s also gained prominence as a thriving pine barrens ecosystem that plays host to several endangered species, including the rare Karner blue butterfly.
Visitors are allowed in the pines as long as they follow the well-marked trails and don’t disturb the local flora and fauna.
You can choose from several paths that range in difficulty and take you for different distances.
If you’re traveling to Albany and wondering what to do that’s off the beaten path, consider a path that stymied travelers for centuries!
Go exploring in the Albany Pine Bush and see what you make of these once-wild landscapes.
Address: 195 New Karner Rd #1, Albany, NY 12205, United States
24. Crossgates Mall
Shopaholics, you might need a moment to brace yourself before you enter the Crossgates Mall.
It’s an absolutely gigantic retail space that covers more than 1.7 million square feet.
You could literally get lost among its hundreds and hundreds of stores.
Retailers include both big-name brands and small, eclectic shops owned by New York-based businesses.
You can find everything from luxury goods to cheap tinker toys at this particular mall.
If you’re wondering what to see beyond the commerce, consider stopping by the IMAX theater, the international food court, or the two hotels conveniently located nearby.
You can even purchase a “Stay and Save” pass for discounts on things like spa services!
The Crossgates Mall is among the elite things to do in Albany.
Whether you’re looking for full-fledged retail therapy or just a souvenir or two to take home, experience some New York glamor at a New York mall.
Address: 1 Crossgates Mall Rd, Albany, NY 12203, United States
25. Howe Caverns
Howe Caverns is another attraction that’s located outside of Albany, but it’s such an iconic destination that it’s often recommended as a day trip for visitors in and near the city.
It’s an underground cave system!
How cool is that?
Located more than 150 feet below the surface, Howe Caverns is a series of prehistoric caves made from limestone and brimming with gems, stalagmites, and other wonders.
They stretch for miles, and some old tunnels haven’t been open to the public since the old mining days.
An underground lake rests at their center.
As a visitor, you can take tours that range from “languid field trip” to “spelunking adventure with a helmet and a hand-carried lantern.”
You can also continue the fun above ground at an adventure park filled with ziplines, rock walls, and rope courses.
If you’re wondering what to do while traveling in Albany, how about traveling beneath it?
Check out the Howe Caverns for a fun, unforgettable experience underneath the earth.
Address: 255 Discovery Dr, Howes Cave, NY 12092, United States
26. Empire State Plaza
Home to several notable tourist attractions, including the State Capitol, the Empire State Plaza was designed to dazzle.
It was dreamed into being by then-governor Nelson Rockefeller after he took the Princess of the Netherlands on a tour of Albany but was embarrassed by its lack of splendor.
Several decades later, the Empire State Plaza is a gleaming metro.
Its architecture draws inspiration everywhere from Brasilia to the Palace of Versailles.
Its infrastructure includes everything from finance buildings to trendy boutiques and coffee shops.
Just walking around the plaza is a sightseeing experience, but if you’d like to dine, shop, or tour, that’s easily arranged as well.
There’s no cost for wandering, so it can be counted among Albany’s free things to do, or you can open your wallet and start buying tickets for various experiences.
A particularly popular one is the Corning Tower Observation Deck, which sits at the top of the 42-story Corning Tower with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Make time for the Empire State Plaza during your trip to Albany.
You’ll probably wind up there anyway if you’re interested in any of the city’s big landmarks, but it’s worth a visit on its own, too.
Address: 100 S Mall Arterial, Albany, NY 12242, United States
Start Planning Your Trip To Albany
These are just a few of the most exciting things to see and do in Albany, New York.
Whether you’re into caving, shopping, fine dining, or exploring Hamilton’s old haunts, this is a city that you can use to cross activities off your bucket list!