The immense Empire State Plaza has its admirers and detractors in almost equal parts but for all that its scale can be imposing, it is incredibly beautiful and has great programming. During the summer, free rock and blues concerts frequently grace the square and in the winter, the reflecting pool becomes a great public skating rink.
The plaza is flanked by the impressive New York State Capitol on one side and the large New York State Museum on the other. Guided tours of the Capitol highlight the grandiose architectural elements and hand-hewn masonry of the building. The New York State Museum is a natural history and science museum much like any other. However, it is the largest state museum of its kind in America.
Also on the plaza is the impressive Corning Tower, the tallest building in New York State outside of Manhattan. The 42nd floor of the Tower has an Observation Deck with gorgeous views over the whole city to the Adirondacks, Catskills, and Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts.
Fans of US military history will want to visit the USS Slater, a retired and restored World War II Destroyer Escort now permanently docked on the Hudson River. The USS Slater is the only Destroyer Escort remaining afloat from the US fleet that battled German U-boats in the Atlantic and fought off Japanese kamikaze attacks in the war. Hour-long guided tours are available.
One of Albany’s nicest green spaces is Washington Park, a delightful recreation area with walking and cycling trails and more than 100 species of trees. The park is also home to lovely outdoor sculptures and fountains. In the summer, be sure to check out the Park Playhouse, located in the center of the park, where free plays and musicals are performed. In May, the park is taken over by Tulip Fest, which celebrates Albany’s Dutch heritage with tulips and crafts.