Albany, New York – Things to do in Albany, NY State Capital

When I mentioned I was going to New York for the holidays, I was met with a lot of excitement about how much fun New York City was going to be. I quickly proceeded to tell them I was going to Albany. Oops. Not as exciting as NYC. Not as known as the other cities in New York state, Albany’s major claim to fame is the fact that it is the capital of NY.

Even though I had family that lived in Albany, I had never visited and this holiday season I was going to remedy that. With a week to spend in Albany, I decided to experience the city as much as I could.

Even though I was coming from Edmonton, Canada I was still surprised at how cold it was in Albany. Temperatures were on average around 1°C , or with a low of -4 °C . There was also rain on about 3 days out of my 7 day stay.

Given what mother nature gave me (rain), I resolved to see as much of Albany as I could see.

New York State Capitol Building

I really like visiting capitol buildings even though I know next to nothing about politics. A lot of capitol buildings boast of stunning architectures but the NY state building takes the cake. Built mainly by hand with intricate designs, it has been referred to as the most expensive building of its time. Its style is Romanesque but it also features other influences.

The construction of this building far exceeded the budget and schedule allocated, that they eventually decided to leave some of the last finishing details uncompleted. The senate chamber walls are wallpapered with 23k gold (Real Gold …the hustler in me emphasizes 😉.

One of the true treasures of the building is their staircase aptly dubbed the million dollar staircase which features delicate carvings of past American presidents in sandstone.

Other parts of the Capitol building I enjoyed seeing include the Hall of Governors, on which hang commissioned paintings of all past NY Governors. The paintings would also have an additional emblem underneath if these Governors went on to become president of the United State.

The war room is in reality just the reception, but the extensive and colorful murals on the walls and ceilings depict different periods of war and warriors both real and mythical.

The capital is very complex, and the doors to the house and senate are typically locked, so the best way to see the capital is through a guided tour. Just stop by the visitor’s center in the concourse to sign up for a free tour, it is unlike any other capital.

New York State Museum

The museum is located just at the City center and they have a stunning gallery and a variety of exhibits. What I most enjoyed where the renditions of the indigenous tribes and settlements from early times.

The Egg

Check out a show at the Egg. Albany has a thriving arts culture and a lot of the performances are held at the egg.


A pedestrian bridge connecting Albany’s historic downtown to the Hudson River and Albany Riverfront Park. Lampposts along the bridge explain Albany’s history through a series of trompe l’oeil paintings, many depicting historic artifacts discovered in various excavations.

Visit the Capital Holiday Lights

If visiting Albany during the holidays as I was, make sure to visit Washington Park for a spectacular, awe-inspiring show with over 125 light displays and scenes. After you drive through this amazing holiday attraction, enjoy all sorts of crafts, costumed characters, refreshments, and even Santa himself at the Washington Park Lake house. Bundle up though as it is wicked cold.

Corning Tower Observation Deck

I didn’t get to experience this even though it was also at the city center, but it promises to provide breathtaking views of Albany and surrounding areas.

Other mentions

If shopping is your thing – then check out the cross gates mall. I don’t usually go out of my way to shop in North America, especially since we have the same stores in Canada, but that’s just me.

I found Albany to be really nice, It felt very safe, it was very walk able. I really enjoyed my time here and I will be visiting during the summer when I can also enjoy some outdoor activities.

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