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Day Trip - Albany

Discover, enjoy, spend the day!

Capital District, Albany, New York, Hudson Valley, Day trip, Family friendly, Places to go, Things to do, Kid friendly, dining, museum, picnic, city, amusment park, hiking, playgrounds, carousels

New York's Capital District has no shortage of things to do or explore. My family grew up in this area, and considered ourselves lucky to be surrounded by so much culture and entertainment. Located north of the Hudson Valley it's a very short drive and can easily be made into a day trip that your family will remember. Wouldn't it be so fun to play tourist and explore a new city without boarding a plane?

First up on our day trip adventure is one of my most favorite free museums; The New York State Museum in Albany.

This museum is free (they request a small donation) and has plenty for all ages to see and enjoy. The museum has an impressive collection of fossils, a kid's play area, local animal habitats, locomotives, 9/11 exhibit and your children can board an old subway car. One of my most favorite things about the museum is on the second floor, a historic carousel that gives free rides to any age, rides are every 15 minutes, daily. There is plenty of parking nearby for the museum that is reasonably priced.

After visiting the museum my next stop is the Empire State Plaza. Located right outside the museum, the Plaza is a large open space that your family can leisurely walk and explore. Your kids will love the interesting architecture, sculptures and reflection pools. There are places to sit, run and play as well as being home to some of Albany's most iconic buildings, such as The Egg and the Capitol Buildings. The Plaza is open year round, with ice skating in the winter and a parade of great food trucks in the warmer months.

Our next stop is a beautiful green space in the middle of Albany, and just a short stroll from the Museum and Plaza. If your family feels up to it, a 20 minute walk away is Washington Park (parking is difficult to find at the park so I do suggest walking). This park is 90 acres of tree lined walking paths, lakes and flower gardens. Your children can stretch their legs on the playground, or you can just sit on one of the many benches and take in the views. They host many concerts, festivals and events in the park and it's a well deserved respite from all the hustle and bustle of Albany.

If your family has had enough of the city feel then my next stop will revive and refresh you. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is the perfect place to hike and explore a rare ecosystem only found in Albany. There are 18 miles of marked hiking trails, and a free nature center that caters to children. The nature center has lots of interactive and hands-on activities that will engage your family in learning about the local flora and fauna of this very unique, local area. There is plenty of free parking on site at the Pine Bush.

The last stop on our Capital District adventure is one that I have been going to since I was little and I love being able to now bring my own daughter to ride on the same vintage rides. Huck Finn's Playland is a small amusement park that has free entry. You can buy tickets for the rides, so your whole family can go and ride every ride for about 30-40$! No need to pay for adults or older kids who don't want to ride. I say that is definitely worth checking out! The playland has plenty of free parking.

Here is a list of some of our favorite, family-friendly places to eat in the Albany area:
  • The Albany Pump Station is a magnificent place to take kids, the building is historic and has so much to see. The menu is great for everyone and parents will love the extensive brew list, all brewed in house! It's great for lunch or dinner and is located within a 5 minute drive from the museum, plaza and playland.
  • The New World Bar and Bistro is a great place for adventurous eaters. The global menu is locally sourced and seasonally inspired. The chef has won lots of awards and accolades, but don't worry the food is still reasonably priced!
  • Within walking distance of the museum and the plaza is the perfect place to satisfy your sweet tooth, Cheesecake Machismo. This place is a must stop for really unique sweet treats! Call before walking over as they often sell out before closing time.
  • If you are like our family and love great, local ice cream then you will want to check out Emack & Bolio's. This charming ice cream shop has everything you could want and more, after choosing your treat they have a cute outside courtyard for enjoying and taking in historic Albany.

Tips for visiting the Albany area:

  • Parking is difficult in downtown Albany so I suggest parking in one of the parking garages near the museum and walking around that area first and then drive over to the Pine Bush or Huck Finn's who both have free, private parking lots.
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