Albany Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing

(Albany, New York - NY, USA)

Presiding over downtown Albany and serving as a major tourist attraction, the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza or 'South Mall' is made up of a number of important state government buildings, found between Eagle Street and Swan Street, and Madison Avenue and State Street.

During the harsh winter months, the Empire State Plaza's very own reflecting pool is transformed into an ice skating rink and plays a central role in Albany's seasonal celebrations. Next-door, the multi-purpose stadium named the Times Union Center was built in the late 1980s at the cost of almost US$70 million, and sees audiences of up to 15,000 attending its huge concerts, basketball and hockey games, and football matches.

For some of the best views across the attractions of Albany and beyond, tourists are strongly advised to head to the Observation Deck of the Erastus Corning Tower. If heights aren't really your thing, then take a stroll along historic Lark Street, which is without a shadow of a doubt the most lively part of the city and belongs to several different neighborhoods, namely Arbor Hill, Center Square, Hudson / Park, Park South and Sheridan Hollow.

Empire State Plaza

Address: Madison Avenue, Albany, New York (NY), 12210, USA
Tel: +1 518 474 2418
These contemporary structures were built between the late 1950s and mid-1970s at the cost of roughly US$2 million, and cover an expanse of almost 40 hectares / 100 acres. The plaza was the brainchild of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who dreamt of creating a skyline that would be clearly visible for miles and be particularly attractive when viewed from the other side of the Hudson River. The main buildings and attractions here include the Corning Tower, the Cultural Education Center (home of the State Museum), the Egg (theater), the Legislative Office Building, the Robert Abrams Building for Law and Justice, and the Swan Street Building. Lots of trees are planted around the peripheries and within the gardens, while other features include fountains, memorials and a skating rink, along with free summer concerts and spectacular Independence Day fireworks. The plaza is intersected by the South Mall Arterial, on its way to the Dunn Memorial Bridge.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 08:30 to 17:00
Admission: free

Corning Tower Observation Deck

Address: Empire State Plaza, Madison Avenue, Albany, New York (NY), 12210, USA
Tel: +1 518 474 2418
The Erastus Corning Tower (Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd Tower) doesn't immediately jump out as being a leading tourist attraction, since from the outside it simply appears as a rather simple rectangular skyscraper. However, if you take an elevator to the 42nd floor, close to the top, then you will be able to soak in some glorious views of both the Albany cityscape and the snaking Hudson River, as well as the distant Adirondack Mountains, the Berkshire Hills and the Catskill Mountains. The tower itself was built in the middle of the 1960s, being clad in glass and marble, and measuring roughly 180 meters / 591 feet in height.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 10:00 to 16:00
Admission: free, photo ID necessary

Lark Street

Address: Lark Street, Albany, New York (NY), 12210, USA
Located on the northern / uphill side of the downtown district, on the western side of the Empire State Plaza, Lark Street is home to a very enticing selection of quirky independent shops, eateries, bars (including a couple of gay bars) and clubs, and really does come alive when the evening arrives. University students, locals and tourists all regularly frequent the street, day and night. Many of Albany's biggest events are centered around this part of the city, such as the Gay Pride parade and Art on Lark each June, followed by Larkfest each September, which is attended by literally tens of thousands and remains the largest single-day street festival in the whole of New York State.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free

State Street

Address: State Street, Albany, New York (NY), 12203, USA
The principal thoroughfare in downtown Albany is State Street, which runs close to the Empire State Plaza and connects the waterfront of the Hudson River. This spot is a good example of how planning, investment and much effort can completely revitalize and regenerate a previously somewhat decaying area. Many charming 19th-century houses line the road and inject a noticeable Victorian character. This is actually where you will find the former home of famous American novelist Herman Melville (1819 to 1891), who will always be remembered for his bestseller Moby Dick. Interconnecting Pearl Street offers a contrasting personality, with its vibrant bar scene and nightclubs. In the summer months, the Alive at 5 concerts around adjoining Broadway draw large crowds.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free

Theaters and Entertainment

The entertainment scene on offer around Albany is certainly an established one and New York's capital city comes with a good choice of theaters and performing arts centers. Particularly large and historic, the Palace Theater on Clinton Avenue was founded in the early 1930s as a cinema and is today able to seat audiences of more than 2,800 people. Musicals, comedy gigs, live music and ballets are all performed here on a regular basis, with the Albany Symphony Orchestra concerts being a very notable attraction. Something altogether more modern is the enormous indoor arena that is the Times Union Center on South Pearl Street, which was previously named the Knickerbocker Arena and the Pepsi Arena, and hosts both sporting events and concerts. Past performers here include musical legend Frank Sinatra, as well as Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Green Day and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.


Captain J. P. Cruise Line
Address: 278 River Street, Troy, New York (NY), 12180, USA
Tel: +1 518 270 1901 On a sunny afternoon, what could be nicer than sitting back and enjoying a cruise down the Hudson River whilst sightseeing at the same time? Captain J. P. Cruises is based on River Street in nearby Troy, roughly 15 minutes to the north of downtown Albany, and boasts the biggest cruise vessel within upstate New York. The boat is able to accommodate some 600 passengers and features three fully enclosed decks, dance floors and an open deck on the top. Various cruise packages are available and these include buffet brunches, Wednesday lunches, dinner dances, live entertainment and weekly trips. While you are heading down the river to the Port of Albany, you will be able to check out the oceangoing ships, listen to the captain's informative commentary and simply observe the changing riverside attractions and scenery.
Open hours: hours vary according to season
Admission: charge, photo on entry available for purchase