TO GET STARTED:
ALBANY HERITAGE AREA VISITORS CENTER Albany. 518-434-0405 Hands-on exhibit, audiovisual presentation portrays Albany’s past, present. Guided tours of city landmarks, attractions. Self-guided walking tours.
ALBANY INSTITUTE OF HISTORY & ART Albany. 518-463-4478; www.albanyinstitute.org
Dedicated to preserving history of Albany, upper Hudson Valley. Permanent collections of Colonial portraits, Hudson River School paintings, sculpture, furniture, silver, porcelain. Research library open Thurs. or by appt. Museum open Wed.-Sun. (Open Tues. to groups by appt. only.) $8, $6 students & seniors, $4 children 6-12, under 6 free.
NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM 518-474-5877; www.nysm.nysed.gov Nation’s oldest, largest state museum. Exhibits recreating state’s history include turn-of-the-century Adirondack logging operation; Ice Age Hudson Valley landscape; collections of insects and minerals; Iroquois longhouse; working historic carousel; and World Trade Center: Rescue, Recovery, Response exhibit. Open daily exept for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day. Discovery Place for children. Free.
EMPIRE STATE PLAZA/NEW YORK STATE CAPITOL. 518-474-2418; www.ogs.state.ny.us. Observation deck on 42nd story of Corning Tower. American abstract art in tower and on quarter-mile indoor concourse; large sculptures on plaza. Capitol tours include state senate and assembly galleries, the Senate’s “Million Dollar Staircase” constructed of stone imported from Scotland, it is 119 feet high and is illuminated by a 3,000-square foot skylight. The pillars have the faces of over 75 important historical figures carved into them, including George Washington, Christopher Columbus, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Walt Whitman, and Susan B. Anthony. Reservations required for groups of 10 or more. Call for hours and art collection tours.
The egg Empire State Plaza. 518-473-1845; www.theegg.org
Unusual, ovoid-shaped arts center designed by renowned modern architect Wallace Harrison presents comedy, dance, film, music, and theater.
BY LAND AND BY SEA:
FEELING AMPHIBIOUS? Albany. 518-462-DUCK (3825); www.albanyaquaducks.com
Discover Albany, both onshore and off, without moving from your seat. The Albany Aqua Ducks are a unique fleet of tour buses that seamlessly take sightseers from cruising the historic streets of our state’s capital to splashing into the shores of the Hudson to check out the city skyline. The hydra-terra amphibious vehicles, as well as smaller land-only trolleys, are also available for parades, festivals, birthdays, and other special occasions. $23, $18 seniors, $12 children 4-12, free under 3 on parent’s lap.
PALACE THEATRE Albany. 518-465-3334. www.palacealbany.com
Opened in 1931 as Albany’s largest and grandest movie theater. Recently renovated Austrian baroque interior imparts feeling of being outdoors. Presents pop stars, classical musicians, children’s events, theater, and films.
PROCTORS THEATRE Schenectady. 518-346-6204; www.proctors.org
Built as a vaudeville house in 1926 (it once hosted the likes of George Burns and Red Skelton), Proctors now presents touring Broadway productions as well as opera companies and symphony orchestras.
SARATOGA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER Saratoga Spa State Park (Rte. 50), Saratoga Springs. 518-584-9330. www.spac.org Open-air Amphitheatre is summer home of New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra; also hosts Freihofer’s Jazz Festival and pop, rock, and country acts. Saratoga Chamber Music Festival and Lake George Opera take place in Spa Little Theatre. Call for box office hours.
TIMES UNION CENTER. 518-487-2000; www.timesunioncenter-albany.com
Formerly the Pepsi Arena, the center has an enormous adaptable seating area that can hold anywhere between 6,000 and 17,500 people. It hosts an average of 165 events a year, including major concerts and sports events.