How to Spend a Weekend in Albany, New York

Albanys Egg Center for the Performing Arts
Albany's Egg Center for the Performing Arts | © John Cameron / Alamy Stock Photo
Siobhan Grogan

Pack a weekend with upmarket shopping, street art, historic sights and top-notch restaurants in this almost 400-year-old city on the banks of the Hudson River.

Once a small Dutch settlement, Albany became New York’s state capital in 1797 and now offers visitors a lively downtown area, buzzing nightlife, excellent museums and an array of historic landmarks. Enjoy a river cruise, heritage trail or craft brewery tour, then head beyond the city to hike and climb the trails, peaks and forests of the stunning Adirondacks and Hudson Valley.

Where to stay

1. Staybridge Suites Albany Wolf Rd-Colonie Center

Apartment

Staybridge Suites
Courtesy of Staybridge Suites / Expedia

A home from home near the crossroads of Interstate 87 and Interstate 90, the Staybridge Suites are a dream for long-term visitors to Albany. Spacious contemporary suites have all you need to settle in, including a well-equipped kitchenette, a work area, DVD player and complimentary breakfast, while dinner is even thrown in for free between Monday and Wednesday. A complimentary airport shuttle, fitness centre, and heated indoor pool are also all available.

2. The Morgan State House

Inn, Hotel

Cozy bedroom with cushioned chairs, wide-striped drapes and blinds at the Morgan State Hotel in Albany, New York
Courtesy of the Morgan State Hotel / Expedia

This handsome brownstone on a tree-lined street overlooking Washington Park isn’t just a tasteful hotel, moments from Albany’s restaurants and museums, but also a part of history itself. The house was once home to Alice Morgan Wright, the acclaimed artist and suffragette who was jailed in London with Emmeline Pankhurst and later founded New York’s League of Women Voters. The hotel now offers airy rooms and suites, plus a parlor laden with complimentary drinks and snacks and a refined English garden.

3. Renaissance Albany Hotel

Hotel

Renaissance 1
Courtesy of Renaissance Albany Hotel / Expedia

Check into the Renaissance Albany if you’re craving a chic city break in a top-notch location. The downtown hotel is at the base of the Capitol Steps, so within moments of the Empire State Plaza, Hudson River and handy walking tours of New York State’s capital. When you’ve finished pounding the pavements, head back to the hotel’s excellent all-day restaurant to sample the best local produce and classic cocktails with an Albany twist.

What to do

4. Hudson River Sightseeing Cruise from Albany

Tours

An on-board historian will bring this trip to life as you cruise the majestic Hudson River on a Dutch Apple boat once used to ferry passengers between Albany and New York City. Hear the history of the river and the important role it played in the area’s industrial past, while keeping your eyes peeled for eagles gliding overhead or barges chugging by on the water. Sightseeing doesn’t get much more relaxing.

5. Albany Scavenger Hunt: Empire State Of Mind

Tours

Fancy something more interesting than ticking off the main sights? This scavenger hunt is the most entertaining way to see the landmarks in this 400-year-old city, whether you’re a weekend visitor or a local looking for something a little different. Team up with friends, or compete against them, to answer quiz questions and solve challenges, and see a whole new side to this historic city.

6. Albany Sunset Sightseeing Cruise

Tours

Watch the sun slide beneath the horizon on board a Dutch Apple cruise boat sailing down the magnificent Hudson River. Sit back and hear the history of the region from an on-board historian who will regale you with quirky stories and unexpected facts, all while you take in views of the city skyline and peek at riverfront homes illuminated by the blazing sunset.

Where to eat

7. Iron Gate Cafe

Cafe, Contemporary

Buddha Bowl
© Charlotte Karlsen / Unsplash

Don’t be put off by the queue at the Iron Gate Café. It’s well worth joining to tuck into soups, salads, sandwiches and breakfast dishes at this family-owned café lined with vintage music posters on the edge of Albany’s Center Square. Grab a seat on the pretty patio if you can, then take your pick from vegan French toast, buddha bowls or lobster benedict topped with champagne hollandaise. Don’t skip the drinks menu – the apple cider mimosa and pumpkin pie latte are heaven-sent.

8. 677 Prime

Restaurant, Steakhouse

Expect craft cocktails, super-fresh seafood and prime cuts of meat at this glamorous steakhouse in downtown Albany. A no-brainer for date nights and celebrations, this buzzing restaurant is renowned for its Black Angus steaks served with everything from gorgonzola bacon butter to jumbo scallops. Save room for the giant desserts too, including caramelised bananas flambé or salted caramel gelato loaded with gummy bears, Reese’s Pieces and whipped cream.

9. McGeary's

Pub, Pub Grub

Beer taps
© Amie Johnson / Unsplash

Hearty pub food comes with live music, a friendly atmosphere and a choice of nearly 30 beers on tap at this popular Irish bar on Clinton Square. Arrive hungry and you won’t be disappointed with the substantial selection of sandwiches, burgers and soups on offer, alongside the pub’s legendary crab cakes served with wasabi dressing, fries and coleslaw.

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