New to the area, how to meet people and find activities?

crowd at an AOA partyBrian emails:

I recently moved to Albany from Manhattan and I am looking to get involved in the area and meet new people. Do you have any suggestions on local groups, leagues, clubs, events, etc? I am open to almost anything - sports (softball, dodgeball..), classes (cooking, painting, sewing, music..), outdoor (running, fishing, hiking...), bar leagues (corn hole, darts..), art shows, wine/food events, etc. Is there a good resource that aggregates info on this (other than AOA of course)?

We suspect moving here from a really big metro area -- especially one like NYC or San Francisco or Seattle -- takes a bit of an adjustment in terms of finding the sort of stuff Brian's looking for. Sure, there's a smaller number of total options and the range is maybe not as wide. But there is plenty of stuff to do around here -- it's just that, unlike one of those big metros, you maybe have to put a bit more effort into finding them.

It sounds like Brian's looking for some specific suggestions, and if you have some, great. But we're also curious about more general strategies you might have. Maybe you can share a little bit about your own experiences finding your niche or crowd here. It could be a big help to Brian and other people who move here. Please share!

photo: Andy Kainz Photography

Comments

When I was new to the area I used Meetup.com. There are lots of groups in the capital district for all types of activities. As with any large group of people, you have to weed through some strange ones to find your buddies but it makes for great stories.

Albany Running Exchange!

Become a member worker at the Honest Weight Food Co-op. You'll meet a wide range of people there. You can work a weekly or monthly shift, depending on how much time you've got.

In general I've found there is more potential for developing friendships when you interact with a group regularly than events that are one shots. Also anything interactive instead of just being in an audience will yield more social contacts.

Get a dog! Getting a dog helped me meet my neighbors and gave me a reason to really get to know them through dog park hang outs. Though I got the dog because I wanted a dog, not friends.

Also volunteer and get involved. Albany Barn needs docents and volunteers. Capital District Community Gardens needs volunteers (speaking of - community gardening helped me get to know lots of people who live near me).

Get a dog and walk it multiple times a day! Great way to get exercise and meet your neighbors.

Check out live music! The Low Beat, Pauly's Hotel, Fuller Roadhouse, The Linda are just some smaller venues for great music. The Egg, The Pepsi, The Palace are bigger venues!

First Friday events in Albs to see art! Last Friday in Troy!

Farmer's Markets all over the place!

Cooking classes at Different Drummer's Kitchen!

When it's warmer: Larkfest, TulipFest, Empire State Plaza Events

Food Swaps in Troy and Albs!

And that's just a few things...

Many local bars do trivia nights (check out City Beer Hall, Center Square Pub, Graneys, Juniors, Suzies, etc.), and this may be a good way to meet people.

not just a shameless plug -- the albany all stars roller derby league is a super nice group of people (not just ladies- we have refs and volunteers of all kinds!) there is also the capital district trauma authority, a men's league that skates out of the armory as well. there is also a curling club in the area which is quite popular, Albany Scenario paintball club, and darts leagues at a lot of the area bars. You might also want to check out the Albany Society for the Advancement of philanthropy- they hold events throughout the year, not just the speedo sprint.

Check out any events that http://albanysociety.org/ might throw.

Lionheart has a fun dart league. I ended up joining a random team that needed teammates one year.

Food swaps are pretty great too.

There are a couple places that do dart leagues - Lionheart has mixed leagues and a women's league, Wolff's Biergarten did, might still have one too.

I would encourage checking out Ultimate (frisbee) this spring/summer, http://albanyultimate.com runs 3 summer leagues (social, competitive, women's) and it's a sport that I've found to be great exercise, and very fun. The people are very inclusive & helpful and the sport is self-officiated with "spirit of the game" mentality.

Do what you like, and look the part / show it off. There are lots of passionate people and if you're identifiable about some common interest it's more likely to create an interaction.

If you're having trouble finding something, take a little initiative and try to start something. Running anything will leave you no choice but to get to know new people. And if it turns out your idea exists already, you can link up with the existing crew.

To echo some of the previous suggestions, ARE, Farmer's Markets and classes at both the Different Drummer't Kitchen and the Co-op are all great!

I can also suggest the Albany Chapter of the ADK Mountain Club and the Albany Vegan and Vegetarian Meetup Group. Troy Night out is always a blast with a wide range of activities downtown.

Ladies (natives and those who are new to Rensselaer County like I am) are welcome to check out the Junior League of Troy. We are a group of volunteers dedicated to improving childhood literacy.
I moved to Troy two years ago and have met several new friends through the Junior League.

I really enjoy helping my new community and enjoy giving children's books away to young people. I love reading and the excited looks on their face make me feel so happy!

We are in the middle of a project that will install bookcases full of books for the children of Vanderheyden Hall in Wynantskill. Volunteers also encourage parents to read to their children. Visit the website for more details : http://www.jltroy.org

Playing kickball has increased my social circle in Albany from decently sized to huge. Spring and Summer leagues are usually a full 16 teams with 18-24 members, and hanging out at the sponsor bar afterwards helps you meet people beyond your team. I think last year we had over 300 people in the spring league.

Www.kickball.com

Softball leagues will be starting in the next couple of months. Andy's on New Scotland Ave and Lynn's Uptown Tavern on Colvin both host large leagues. I know that Lynn's has a mechanism for matching individuals with teams who need players and I assume Andy's does, too.

Afrim's has a ton of soccer leagues and I believe they have hosted dodgeball tournaments before, too.

softball or kickball leagues.....great way to meet people

Beer Bingo at City Beer Hall

First, go to Moveable Feast! Such a great way to meet interesting, passionate people who love Albany and know other great people to connect you with. It's Saturday, 3/29 and worth every penny. http://www.historic-albany.org/feast.html

(If you can't make it to this event I definitely recommend Historic Albany Foundation's fall event called BUILT.)

Second, to get a good dose of local music and events and general awesomeness listen to 97.7fm or stream it. http://www.exit977.org/

The season is just about over, but in the fall you can head over to the Schenectady Curling Club to try put the game. If you like it, there are lots of leagues you can join. Fun game, and a lot of good people.

There are a number of good suggestions above. I agree with those recommending the dart leagues at the Lionheart. I know they have a Wednesday night league as well as a Monday night league, and might also still have a women's league (I know they did in the past). The Wednesday night league is usually a lot of fun and has a handicap system so you don't have to be a dart master to play (though there are many talented players in it). The Monday night league is a bit smaller, but I've heard that it's also a good time.

And I would also second the recommendation to look into groups on Meetup.com. If you like hiking, nature walks and/or snowshoeing the Hiking Mates of the Capital Region is a really good meetup group based in the Albany area; there are local kayaking meetup groups; the Capital Region Volunteers is a meetup group whose members participate in various volunteer activities around the region; and the Hudson Valley Hikers is a great group for hiking, camping, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, etc. (they are based a bit further downstate in the Hudson Valley, but they do a lot of stuff in the Catskills and Adirondacks). There are many other Meetup groups catering to various other interests, as well.

If Volleyball is your thing then check out the "OCC" club at the Polish Community Center in Albany. If you get in touch with the organizer and say you're looking for a team, they might know of a team looking for a player. Or, just go there on Wednesday nights, which is the pick-up night. If you're halfway decent, people will let you know about other pick up opportunities (Clifton Park/Delmar/Niskyuna...) that are more ad-hoc.

During the indoor season, I recommend the Bethlehem Parks and Rec Club - three different levels on three different nights, and no need to form your own team.

When I first moved to town, I almost immediately started volunteering with a local theater - working backstage, the ticket booth, pretty much whatever was needed. Met amazing people I'm still friends with today and it opened up a huge community of like-minded people to me. And any of the community theaters are always looking for volunteers of all sorts, not just actors, if that's your thing at all!

Empire state kickball league. It is owned and run by a local who draws a lot of fun and interesting people. It is competitive but also really fun and a great way to meet new people (you can sign up and be put on a team as a free agent). Sponsored by lark tavern so free pitchers, cheap food and trivia after the games. Highly recommend it! The spring season starts in April. you would be surprised how many kickball enthusiasts there are in the area.

Www.empirestatekickball.com

reddit/r/albany

I moved here from NYC two years ago. It was brutal, and some days is still hard, but there is a great group of NYC transplants living right in Center Square.

Hey, b, way to put down the local population. I'm originally from Westchester so I don't know where I rate in your geo-social scale, but you might try giving the natives a chance instead of crying in your craft beer with the other NYC ex-pats.

I tried. You're all married with children and living in the suburbs.

(ahem)

This thread is getting off track. Please stick to helpful suggestions for the question at hand. Thank you.

If you like winter sports try the Out of Control Ski And Snowboard Club (late int he season now). They have xcountry skiing as well as downhill. And they continue meeting up and organizing events in the summer too including several great Volleyball league at the Polish Community Center on Washington Ave. extension.

Some great ideas here!

I think Brian is starting in the exactly the right place.
I'd keep checking in on AlloverAlbany.
Nobody does a better job of curating local culture, history, and events.

Welcome to Albany, Brian!

Thanks for all the suggestions and thanks AOA for posting! Looking forward to checking out a lot of these. I started running with ARE and just joined a softball league and signed up for a CSA share at a local farm. Once the summer hits I will definitely check out some of the MeetUp groups. I'm keeping an eye out for interesting art shows and ASAP events too.

Jenna - I would love to get a dog, but not sure my wife would go for it. Great suggestion though! I will pass along your advice

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