For a fascinating glimpse into America's industrial heyday, and to enjoy a surprising mix of cultural, historical and natural attractions, Albany deserves to be at the top of your East Coast travel list. The state capital's location on the storied Hudson River has heavily influenced its development through the years. Today, the river continues to feature prominently while providing a beautiful backdrop to a city that's studded with incredible, architecturally significant buildings and crisscrossed by networks of well-maintained trails and parks.
Albany International Airport (ALB) is about 20 minutes from downtown, so you can easily and affordably take a taxi, hop on a bus or rent a car to get where you need to be. The airport offers a wide array of domestic flights, and airfare tends to be quite reasonable.
Getting to Albany by car is simple. From the east and west, Interstate 90 delivers travelers to various parts of the city. From the north and south, Interstate 87 is the route of choice for most.
If you'll be traveling by train, you'll arrive at the Albany-Rensselaer station, which is across the river in Rensselaer, NY. For bus travelers, there's a Greyhound station near the waterfront in downtown Albany. There's also very affordable Megabus service to and from New York City.
More than 100,000 brilliantly colored tulips bloom in and around Washington Park, where the May event is held. Simply seeing these incredible blooms is reason enough to attend, but there's more. In addition to performances by nationally recognized musicians, the festival boasts kids' activities, a wide array of food, contests and the decidedly decadent Royal Tulip Ball.
As the country's oldest and largest state museum, the New York State Museum is not to be missed. It houses a vast array of art, artifacts and eco-facts, and is a great way to get a strong sense of the history of the Empire State.
Visit the 42nd-floor observation deck at the Corning Tower to not only enjoy views of the city but also to take in views of the Adirondack foothills, the Catskills and even the Berkshires, which are located in western Massachusetts. You'll feel like all of New York State is laid out before you.
Nestled between the New York State Capitol Building and the New York State Museum, this plaza bustles with people throughout the day and well into the night. In the winter, the reflecting pool is turned into an ice rink that rivals the one at NYC's Rockefeller Center.
At the time it was built, the New York State Capitol was the most expensive government building ever constructed. It didn't just cost a fortune; construction took more than four decades, so it was a work in progress for some time. It was all worth it, though, as the building is one of the finest examples of 19th-century architecture in the United States and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1979.
Albany has a moisture-heavy continental climate that's characterized by very cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers. During the course of a single winter, the city receives an average of 60 inches of snow. Annually, the city receives about 40 inches of rain, the majority of which falls from late spring through the middle of summer.
To explore the city on foot, it's best to visit when the weather isn't too extreme. For milder temperatures and less precipitation, visit during the fall or spring. Hotel prices don't tend to fluctuate much throughout the year, so you can expect to enjoy reasonable rates throughout all four seasons. In general, hotels in Albany range in price from around $70 to upwards of $200 per night. Wolf Road hotels, which are just south of Albany Airport, tend to be the most affordable.