I was hosted by the Travel Hudson Valley Campaign. All opinions are my own.
Our whirlwind trip through New York’s Hudson Valley began in Albany County, site of New York’s capital city. Albany was an easy four hour drive from the Buffalo area. We had never spent time in Albany before and were excited to see what the city and surrounding area had to offer.
Today, I’m sharing an overview of our day in Albany. We saw several attractions in one day, but I’d allow at least two days to really take in these destinations. These stops were only the tip of what Albany County has to offer! More detailed looks at certain attractions will be coming over the next few weeks as I couldn’t possibly fit everything into one post.
We started the day at the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center , located minutes from downtown Albany. The Discovery Center is open year-round ( closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day). Admission is free. The Discovery Center does offer special events, most of which carry a minimal cost of around $5 per person. The center is bright, clean, and full of hands-on learning activities suitable for children of all ages.
I highly recommend stopping at the center before heading out for a walk/bike around the Pine Bush Preserve in order to really appreciate what you’ll find on the miles of Pine Bush trails. You’ll want to block out an entire morning in order to explore the Discovery Center and have time on the numerous trails of the Preserve.
I was told the Pine Bush Commission is in the process of renaming and reorganizing the trails, so be sure to check with the center for the latest maps and information. They’re also adding a longer mountain bike trail over the next year. I also recommend bug spray and sunscreen for your time on the trails, especially during the summer months.
Our next stop was the USS Slater, a World War II Navy ship.
The USS Slater is open seasonally from April through November. The Slater is the only functional, floating destroyer escort ship in America. Tours are available Wednesday through Sunday, from 10am-4pm. Children under 5 are free, children ages 6-12 are $6, and adult admission costs $8. If you want the most bang for your buck during your tour, be sure to request Bob Dawson as your tour guide.
Mr. Dawson was stationed on a destroyer during Korea and is a wealth of knowledge and trivia. Save at least two hours for your tour of the USS Slater. The Slater is the only warship I’ve visited where you can actually access the majority of the ship. Many ships turned museums are not fully restored, but the Slater offers a great overview of what ship life was really like. Be sure to note: the ship is not wheelchair accessible and you will be going up and down ladders/steps. Wear sensible footwear. I do not recommend this attraction for very young children who will be tempted to run/touch everything or who can not make it up and down the ladders on their own.
Our final stop was The New York State Museum, located in downtown Albany. Museum admission is free and it is open Tuesday-Sunday from 9:30-5 (closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day). Save at least half a day to really explore the museum and all of the exhibits. If you’re visiting with younger children, a stop at Discovery Place is essential, as is a ride on the historic carousel located on the top floor of the museum.
The World Trade Center- Rescue Recovery Response exhibit is one of the most comprehensive 9-11 exhibits I’ve seen. Be sure to visit the family trailer, tucked away in the Adirondack section of the museum (strange placement, but my understanding is the trailer was to be a temporary exhibit and has yet to move).
For accommodations, I highly recommend The Desmond Hotel, located conveniently near Albany International Airport and many Albany County attractions. The rooms are spacious and elegant, but not stuffy or pretentious.
The hotel is home to two restaurants and a lounge. The Scrimshaw restaurant is the only AAA Four Diamond Award winner in the greater Albany region. Even if you’re not staying in the hotel, I recommend a visit to dine here. I’ll have a detailed look at our accommodations and the hotel in a future piece, but to suffice to say, The Desmond will be our go-to hotel for Albany.
Like I mentioned earlier, we really packed a lot into our day in Albany County! Stay tuned for more details on these attractions as well as our visits to Dutchess and Orange Counties as we “followed the river” and discovered Hudson Valley.
Have you visited Albany County before? What was your favorite attraction?