Drawing: You're New Here Week local food and fun package

map with Albany push pin

Drawing's closed! Thanks for all the great answers!

In honor of You're New Here Week, AOA has put together a prize package that includes food and experiences in the Capital Region's four core cities:

+ A $50 gift card to New World Bistro Bar
+ A pair of passes to The Spectrum
+ A pair of passes to The Albany Institute of History and Art
+ A pair of season passes to Albany Civic Theater's 2016-2017 season.

+ A $50 gift card good for either The Ruck or The Next Level
+ A four pack of "loaded" tickets to see the Tri-City ValleyCats. Each ticket comes with a $10 voucher for food/drink.
+ $10 gift card for the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market and a market bag.

+ A $25 gift card to Perecca's
+ Proctors movie passes
+ A pair of season passes to Schenectady Light Opera Company's 2016-2017 season.
+ A pair of season tickets to Schenectady Civic Players' 2016-2017 season.

+ Four indoor tickets to any New York City Ballet or Philadelphia Orchestra ballet performance inSPAC's 2016 classical season.
+ Gourmet boxed picnic lunches for four from Putnam Market in Saratoga ($75 value)
+ Pair of tickets to any Home Made Theater production in the 2016 season.

To enter the drawing, answer one of the following question in the comment section of this post:

If you've lived here a while: What's something people should know about this place to help them understand it? Maybe it's a location, an experience, a history -- just something you'd share with others to help them better understand the place we live.

If you're relatively new to the area: What's something you've learned about this place that's helped you understand it better?

We'll draw one winner at random. That person gets the whole prize. Yep, the whole thing.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 11:59 pm on Thursday, June 16, 2016 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by noon on Friday and must respond by 5pm on Monday, June 20.

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Albany is a "small" city with lots of things available by foot, bike, and bus; including green spaces like Washington Park, Tivoli Park, Five Mile Waterworks, Lincoln Park, Swinburne, Ridgefield, Westland Hills (Frank Waterson Park), etc. There's a lot of history (USS Slater, Cherry Hill, Schuyler Mansion, etc.) and lots of new things going on too. Albany has an amazing library system with lots of resources. Beyond Albany there are other cities with their own treasures as well. Explore and have fun!

I grew up here, left, and came back. I realized when I left that the Capital Region and surrounding areas have so much to offer. While I was gone I missed the eclectic festivals (apple! strawberry! garlic!). I missed SPAC. I missed the wide variety of theaters and museums. I missed the food and the fact that if I looked hard enough, I could find just about anything I was in the mood for. I missed the fall colors. I missed cider donuts being an obvious fall tradition. I missed the tulips. There were so many small things that seem so nonchalant to us that so many other places don't offer. So my advice would be follow AOA, explore the hilltowns and beyond, go to the unique festivals- you just never know what will be a surprisingly enjoyable day.

I'm new here from Russia. There seem to be plenty of people who put this area down. They have no idea what they are talking about. Go live in Russia for a few weeks and you will be amazed at all the things to do and see here, how easy they are to get to, and how clean the forests, roads, and beaches are. Our taxis are better, that is all.

Wow - what an insanely amazing giveaway! Thank you AOA for putting this together!

I grew up slightly south of Albany and have lived in Schenectady for nearly five years now. Whenever someone asks why I stayed in the area I always talk about in the incredible access to SO MANY different things. If you want to get to a big city, NYC, Boston, Montreal and Philly are all within roughly three hours. If you want to get to the mountains we have TWO mountain ranges within two hours of Albany. If you want good food you have a variety of options. The parks are plentiful, there are multiple options for theater and there always seems to be something going on!

To someone new to the area, I would highly recommend taking a nice summer day and enjoying the race track in Saratoga. It is the ultimate experience. Going there early with a cup of coffee and watching the horses warm up. Then enjoying the races with family and friends. It is a wonderful experience.

This area has some of the best farmers' markets anywhere, from large ones in Troy, Schenectady and Saratoga to smaller, almost as impressive ones such as Delmar's. The markets exemplify our region's abundance and community spirit, and have become a defining characteristic of my seven years living here.

Explore the wonderful nature in the area. As someone who has lived in NYC and Chicago, I love the amount of amazing outdoor options in this area. Thatcher park and Landis Arboretum are two must sees.

I have lived in the capital region my entire life, and definitely took all the things we have here for granted. I drove across country a few years ago and was in awe of how beautiful the rest of the country was. When we first entered back into New York and were driving along I 90, I realized that New York and the capital region are just as unique and beautiful as many places in the rest of the USA. I've lived here for 30+ years and I find new and exciting things to do all the time!

I have lived in this area (Saratoga County and city of Albany) my whole life. One thing I cherish is our history, both "macro" (Battle of Saratoga was the turning point of the Revolutionary War; Albany was founded in 1686, etc) and micro/personal (the house my father was born in in 1912 is still in the family). There seems to be a fair amount of interest in and respect for our history, which I share and appreciate.

We are a very attractive part of the world, both natural and man-made. As others have pointed out, we are a few minutes from rivers, mountains, and lakes, and only a few hours from an ocean. We have scores of lovely, walkable neighborhoods in our cities and villages, and some remarkable civic buildings.

We also have great restaurants, a vibrant music and theater scene, a wealth of museums, an outstanding library network, some interesting sports teams, and a rich array of spiritual resources, if you are religious or want to be.

All accessible, with minimal traffic headaches and crowds to battle.

Oh, and four seasons! What's not to like?

There's an old section of the Erie Canal in Vischer's Ferry that, at least in 1992, was always deserted. This made it the perfect place to be an angry high schooler, watching muskrats and moping while reading Sylvia Plath.

As a long time resident, I think the best thing you can do to help understand the region is to walk. I'm always amazed when I walk around my own neighborhood and can actively observe my surroundings. I see so much more than when I'm in the car. Downtown Troy, Albany, Schenectady, and Saratoga all offer unique architecture. Even the uptown neighborhoods of these places have interesting housing stock--you just need to look.

The Capital Region is in such a unique location. Choices for day trips abound for pretty much anything you would like. Driving to major cities for a weekend trip is so accessible.

And then of course, there is so much to do in this region, in all seasons. AOA really helps to catalog it all.

This week is actually my 10 year anniversary moving to the area. Came
for a job opportunity and thought to myself 'just give it 6 months' and here I am. i love being in a small city rich with history and beautiful architecture, but also being so close to nature. There is also so much to do which I remember being such a surprise to me! I would say to a newcomer that the people of this area drew me in and helped me call this place home. Meet as many people as possible. Get out and about as much as you can! See new things. Soon you will call it home as well :)

There are so many people with local pride around here. It's a tight knit community in which you can almost always find that you know someone in common if you grew up in the area. It's that spirit an support that makes things like farmer's market a wonderful draw to the community that continues to grow. My friends from out of town love the culture and community of the Troys farmers market.

My advice would be to spend time with an older person who grew up here. Volunteer at a nursing home or meals on wheels, spend time with veterans, hang out at the historical society- and listen to folks' stories.

I was born around here but my family moved away when I was young- but I feel very fortunate to have moved back to this area four years ago to be closer to my grandparents, who taught me a lot about local history that I never otherwise might have known.

There is so much history right under your nose in every part of the Capital Region and a lot of stories to be shared and preserved. I love living here no matter what, but it's helped me appreciate this place in a deeper way.

Location location bullseye! It's a wonderful area to live not just because of what's going on in the cities themselves, but because of the easy proximity to places as varied as the Adirondacks, Montreal, the Berkshires, the Hudson Valley, NYC (of course), and so on. If you aren't taking advantage of the area's geography, you aren't fully living here.

I've lived in the Albany area for less than a year. For me, walking around and spending time outside has been key in understanding my new community. I love walking on the rail trail or at Colonie Crossings, spending time in Washington Park, getting doughnuts at Cider Belly, and hiking at places like Thacher State Park, Schodack Island, the Pine Bush, or Peebles Island. There are festivals all the time, there are farmer's markets everywhere and the food is great. I feel like I find new things to love about the Capital Region everyday!

When you're new here, it can seem difficult to make new friends, but if you dig a little, there are so many great civic groups that make it easy to find people who share your interests...Albany Running Exchange, book clubs at your library, ADK Club, Capital Region Chamber, between AOA and Google, you should be able to find almost any niche group.

We have the Mohawk & Hudson rivers to enjoy. Many lakes and parks.
Thatcher Park is awesome. Several farmers markets for fresh food.
Lots of places for a nice hike. Activities for all seasons.

Thank you AOA, this is great!

I have left, returned, left, returned, left, returned, left and recently returned to the area and each time I am greeted by great friends and family. There is a lot to see here, you just need to discover it.

Grew up in Latham, moved away and came back and settled in Ballston Spa. One of the great things about this area is just the close proximity to everything. 3 hours to NY/Boston/Montreal if you need a big city fix. 1+- hours to the Catskills or the Adirondacks and some of the best nature you're ever going to see. Tons of cultural events from bands playing great house shows all the way up to the Ballet and Orchestra at SPAC. Like our weather, many of the great things to do here are seasonal and if you learn to embrace each season and it's different events and offerings then you will never be at a loss for something to do. And yeah, AOA is a great resource for finding a lot of great things.

A great way to understand the history of the area is to take a walk in Albany Rural Cemetery and learn about some of the people buried there on Paula Lemire's Albany Rural Cemetery- Beyond the Graves facebook page. You can learn so much about the people, their families, their occupations, the wars they fought in, and the types of diseases prevalent during the 19th and early 20th century.

This area is a gem, and don't let people from downstate talk down to those in smallbany. There are great things happening, great places to visit, and greater history here in New York's second capital. Also, get a cinder doughnut when Fall arrives. And, yes, doughnut is spelled that way -- unless you work for the Dunk, which rules the Northeast. Welcome newcomers.

It is possible to walk almost everywhere in Albany. It is not the friendliest city for pedestrians due to some drivers, but, if you are capable of walking, you may wish to consider walking as much as you can. This is a good way to understand the city better. One of my favorite walks is Central Avenue in Albany as it gives you a good sense of how diverse the city can be.

I learned the most about the region by reading All Over Albany and the local news. Also, check and see if you have a neighborhood association, it's a great resource and a way to meet people.

Smallbany. I heard it my first day ever in Albany looking for apartments 5 years ago and I was like "huh"? Then understood when I (unknowingly) picked an apartment next door to a friend from law school, went out and met people who knew people from back home who were sons and daughters of various commissioners and state senators, who are friends with the guys who own the bar, and their brother was on the crew team with you in college. Woah, Smallbany.

I'm from a very small town and the % of people I see just walking around town that I know is way higher here than it was back there. It is probably part of the reason for one broad generalization of an attitude I've noticed from people from the Capital District; if you've grown up here you want out. If you're new you love it.

Many options for a fun filled day or weekend here in the Capital Region. Take a walk around downtown Albany and remember to look up, take a bike ride on a rail to trail routes, window shop in Saratoga, and read AOA for local events.

To understand our history-walk around Quackenbush Square, the Capital, Downtown Troy, Oakwood and Albany Rural Cemetery. To understand where we are now, visit "The Track", SPAC, and any of our county fairs. Go to a State Park for a swim and a BBQ. Visit an Apple Orchard in the Fall. I am a transplant here, and these are all the things that make me love living here! Enjoy!

I tell folks who are new here a few things:
1. This is a company town. Learn about state government, learn about its acronyms, and get interested!
2. The capital region is a region. Get out of your little piece of it and explore. Find a hike, find a pond. This is the gateway to the Adirondack.
3. Spend your money only on the really exciting, seasonal, high quality food places. You could spend your life in mediocre pubs here, but if you look harder, there is deliciousness.

i've lived on the outskirts of troy my whole life and i think the best advice i can give to anyone new to the area is to continue to be curious, explore places and be open minded about new experiences. because this is such a great place to live, it's easy to find comfortable things to do and places to visit. but that can sometimes lead to getting into a rut and not taking advantage of everything. mix it up, say YES when offered a new social experience and keep exploring!

Thanks AOA. What everyone else has said.
Pine Bush is a unique ecosystem.

While it might not look all that exciting from an outsider's standpoint, I've been to many places over the years, and the capital region will always be home. There are so many hidden gems that get overlooked, but if you take the time to really explore and research, I think anyone can appreciate living here.

Climb the hills. Between the Catskills, Berkshires, and Adirondacks you've got to get higher after exploring the cities.

People should know about alloveralbany.com. It's the best site to get information about things happening in the Capital Region.

Each county has so many special things about it- you just have to put in a little effort to find out what that is. Alloveralbany does a wonderful job at posting cool things going on- TU blogs have some good info too. You just have to know where to look!

I moved here a little over 3 months ago and at first concentrated on how small town the area felt, but there is really so many things to do in the area and right outside of it. I actually stumbled across All Over Albany and searched past articles to find recommendations on all different things to do. I made a list of restaurants to try, local breweries/wineries/distilleries in the area, hiking locations, historical spots, and various other activities. We use the list to try new things and visit new places. I have lived here only 3 months and have already introduced my boyfriend to places he has never visited and he has lived here all of his life. I can't wait to keep exploring all around the area and have new adventures here. I also feel like something comes alive when the weather changes to the Spring/Summer season, I noticed compared to where I lived in the south everyone truly appreciates the different seasons and welcomes the warm weather.

We have a great roller derby community! Albany All Stars have the hearts (and bruises) of many!

As someone who's lived here for a while, I would recommend that people look beyond the core Albany City area and really explore some of the other neighborhoods and nearby towns/cities/villages. There is so much diversity in terms of small towns with great outdoors opportunities, villages with cutesy shopping, and cities that are really quite different from one another in terms of character and offerings. So do lots of exploring! Don't just stay in Albany (although there's great things to do there too)

New-ish here. (Lived here for almost 3 years now)
I love how passionate the people are about everything in the area. Food, sports, culture, politics....Everything.

And the one thing I learned is how everyone knows everybody. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't find unique connections between people I had no idea that they knew each other.

I have lived here since I was 5 years old and one of the things that I think make it so great is not only the opportunities here, but our accessibility to so many other incredible places. 2 1/2 hours to NYC, 3 hours to Boston, 3 hours to Montreal, quick access to the Adirondacks, only a few hours to the ocean. From Broadway to the High Peaks we truly have everything right at our fingertips.

Awesome giveaway! I'm newish here - went to UA undergrad and returned when I got engaged to my husband - a native. Albany is convenient - to get around, to get to other states and parts on NY, to access great dining and mountains and theatres and lots of other attractions, to afford living in. The main thing I've had to learn is to stop comparing it to NYC. They're totally different places.

Sometimes there is simply too much to do around here (especially spring/summer weekends). We are really lucky that way.

I've been here 10 years, but sometimes I still feel like a newbie!

My advice is get out there and find the people who share your passions. No matter who you are, you can find like minded people here. Like trivia and hate paying for drinks? You can do it every night of the week. Like role-playing or table top games? There's a community for that. Love gardening? So do we!

There are a lot of resources to find these people and events too -- Reddit, Facebook, and of course (in my opinion, the best source) AllOverAlbany.

My dad taught me, and now I have taught many friends that Albany is a hand.

Downtown is the palm and all the main streets sprout out.
Pinkie- New Scotland Ave
Ring finger - Madison Ave
Middle finger - Western Ave,
Pointer finer - Washington Ave
Thumb - Central Ave

I left Albany for college, thinking I would never come back, and sure enough, I missed this small city and couldn't find a match to it. I needed to get back. There's something about that city-feel, with tons of bars, restaurants and activities to do, while also being surrounded by so much nature- it makes all other cities seem like they're missing something.

It's small enough to walk through the Troy Famer's market and see familiar faces of friends, but also big enough to step into a swanky bar downtown and meet new people.

With the perfect mix of city and nature, there is truly something for everyone, and with that comes a huge mix of really cool people.

The Albany area is a great place to live and explore. While there is a lot to see here, I'd encourage people new to the area to explore Albany and its nearby communities, and also make sure to experience the Adirondacks and Berkshires - great hikes, museums, music venues and places to eat make this area a great place to live whether you want to do something in your neighborhood or on a day trip.

I just moved here two months ago from NYC, and people in NYC are really hard on upstate. Everyone told me there's nothing going on, it's a bleak place, etc. But I've found that the Capital Region is exciting in a very different way from NYC. There is so much space and room for new ideas and exciting restaurants/start-ups here. People can really take their ideas and find an opportunity to pursue them because of the seemingly lower start-up costs. That's what I see with a lot of the exciting new restaurants in Troy, like Sunhee's, Little Pecks (and the entire Peck's empire), Troy Kitchen, and at places like Berben & Wolff's, Tap Asia, and Lark + Lily. I think it's a really exciting time to live in the Capital Region. There are a lot of people trying to make it a great place to live!

I've lived here for about 12 years, and it's taken me a while to truly understand how hidden of a gem this area is. One thing I'd say that new people should know is just how much nature is around them. There are so many parks and trails to explore that you'll never get bored! Combine that with the local farms around every turn, and you'll come to realize that the capital region is a place where you can truly connect with the essence of life, if you so choose.

As someone who's lived in this area most of my life, I'd tell people new to the area to explore the wonderful outdoor areas that are right in our backyard - between parks like The Crossings of Colonie and Washington Park, Indian Ladder trail, to more natural areas like the Plotterkill, Lisha Kill preserve - there are tons of places to explore! And even better when you stop at local places to sample some of the best in our area - like cider donuts at Indian Ladder farms.

Every year after the final college bell tolls the sea of sweatpants dissipates and there begins a glorious period where Albany belongs to the residents again. Parking spots are plentiful. Area watering holes are tolerable. Uncommon Grounds' door can fully shut. What a wonderful time to be alive in Albany!
Cynical generalization? Absolutely. But in the darkest of times dear neighbors hold out hope...for there is a light at the end of the semester.

...also smallbany.

I don't know if we're new here or old... we lived in the Capital region for almost ten years as college students and new professionals, but then moved away for another ten years. We've just returned to the area and have not yet gone to any of the venues included in this package!

I've found this website to be a great resource for getting reacquainted with the area, so I guess reading All Over Albany would be one tip. I've also found it helpful to find a local MeetUp group... even if I don't attend a lot of the meet ups, just reading them gives me ideas for places to go.

I've lived here for over 25 years now and find something new and interesting about the area all the time. My advice would be to get out and explore - take a ride to Cherry Plain State Park, wander around a small town, Chatham or Round Lake, go to an outdoor concert or a farmers market but most of all, learn to embrace the four seasons - winter is a great time to get outside, dress warm and you have the most beautiful places all to yourself.

Albany is what you make it. You can grumble about all of the things Albany doesn't have (yet), such as reliable taxi service/rail within the region, river access, great Dominican (or insert cuisine of choice here) food, but Albany can be a wonderful place to live if you are willing to see what it does have to offer.

Albany was not always home for me. I was not born here, I did not grow up here, but after going to school here, leaving, coming back, and now living here for nearly five years, I now tell people that I am "from" Albany, that Albany is my home.

There is so much to do in this area if you just take a little time to seek it out. I can't stand when people say the capital region is boring!

Albany Medical center provides some of the best care available to patients with Cystic Fibrosis. This is a major reason my family moved to the area almost 40 years ago and also why my wife and I moved back in 2001. Every time my brother was admitted to the hospital, someone from the Donna Crandall foundation would show up to his hospital room. They always came with a gift bag. Movies, music, books, anything to make a stay in the hospital easier. This great charitable organization is representative of so many people from the capital region, there to help others.

I'd tell people that this place isn't a big city, slapping you in the face with reputation and attractions. It has sometimes subtle charms that are easy to become accustomed to if you haven't lived someplace dirtier, less safe, more expensive, with less accessible nature and proximity to those big cities. Do we have what New York City /Boston/Montreal have? No, but few people can afford to live in those cities anyway, and here we are in a fairly peaceful, pretty place, but close enough to come and go to those in a day. Lots of free/low cost activities to enjoy, lots of diversity--we love it here!

I've lived around Center Square for a few years now and I like to tell people that Albany offers all the amenities of a big city but with a small town feel. I love that you can walk to get just about anywhere and you will probably see a few people you know on the way. And if you have a car and want to get out of the city for a little while there are so many destinations just a few hours away!

One thing that I figured out the capital region when I moved here is that people really care about horse racing and the track. It's a serious part of the culture.

I am a recent transplant to Troy and I am so excited to discover the Capital Region! I have lived much of my life within an hour of Albany in Columbia, Warren, and Dutchess Counties, but never new much about the Capital District beyond what you see on the news, which was never super positive. I've found it interesting to see peoples' reactions when I tell them I've moved to Troy. It is typically either "oh, yikes, why are you living there it is so dangerous!" or "Wow, cool! There is so much great stuff happening there!" I look forward to discovering all that the area has to offer, learning about the rich history of this part of the state, and becoming part of a community that will continue to change peoples' perceptions.

There are so many WONDERFUL outdoor parks and places to explore, that as a long time resident, I'm just finally realizing and I wish I had taken advantage of them more sooner. Thacher Park is without a doubt my favorite place, and there is so much more than just the popular overlook!

Also there are so many activities to take advantage of in the summer that are free or low cost that I think a lot of people don't know about and we are lucky to have that available!

I moved here a few years ago. Exploring the bits and pieces of history around me and how the various municipalities were designed specifically for their geographical advantages really helped me to "get" the capital region as a place. (I'm a historian, so I may have an odd way of meeting places). I live in Lansingburgh and now love taking visitors to Oakwood Cemetery for the view and a sense of the historic wealth of the area, to Peebles Island for dynamic natural landscapes at the intersection of the Mohawk and Hudson and a hint at the industrial strength of the region, to Lock 2 in Waterford to imagine the value of being the end of this invaluable economic and transportation route, and to Harmony Mills and Cohoes Falls for again that juxtaposition between natural beauty and resources and industrial power. Downtown Troy's lovely architecture came from somewhere, and I find the enjoyment and experience of it becomes deeper when you see what helped to feed the growth of this hub along the Hudson.

Albany is a small familiar place, it has a lot of great hidden gems. It has a lot of up-and-coming areas that I have great hopes for, and you should too! There are so many different neighborhoods, from old gorgeous brown stones, to charming old family homes.

There are so many fun activities and free events that go on all throughout the year from Alive at 5, to Tulipfest, to Larkfest, and so on! The list goes on and on! So if you're new to the area you won't be disappointed and bored, you'll be busy and happy!

Born and raised in the Capital District I would love for new arrivals to the area to EXPLORE the outer regions. Visit all of our wonderful parks and take advantage of all the great programs and events the cities are running all summer long. Our music scene is fantastic, as our the restaurants.
Also utilize public transportation. CDTA is clean and reliable. I regularly use it to go in and out of Albany and Troy instead of driving.

Albany is one of those cities that you have to give a second chance too. At first glance it's just another city. But if you look deeper theres so many different and amazing resturaunts and bars. You're only a couple hours outside hudson, the city, the famous Lake George, and more. If you're bored you can go to Saratoga for the day, or hit up the local thrift shops to find something for your latest project. Once you put the resources this location has into perspective, I'd be surprised if you would want to go anywhere else.

Wow, insane giveaway!
I'd like to share a story. I've lived in this area my whole life and tried to get away from it at least half of that time. I was always on my way somewhere else but never actually getting there. One day I was at Bombers on Lark eating a burrito and there was a guy setting up the window display. I started chatting with him, and he asked if I was from the area. I told him yes but I was leaving. He asked me why and I told him that I just couldn't find my sense of place here, I couldn't seem to discover things that made it worth staying, and I didn't feel like I had "people" here. He asked me where I was going and I rattled off a list of cities that I thought must be better than Albany. He asked me what I thought I was going to find in those cities and I ran off a list of things like community art, gardening, singing and dancing, a tribe of my own, natural beauty today and urban adventures tomorrow... And he asked me when I arrived, how I would go about finding those things in my new city. I had a pre-formulated answer for that too! Told him all the things I would do when I arrived to discover and establish that new life for myself somewhere else.

In hindsight, he was very patient with me and my silliness, and said he had an assignment for me. He said don't leave right away, stay for at least another six months. And pretend you just arrived. Pretend this is your new home and you've never been here before and do all of the things you just listed to find your place in it. And if you have not found it six months, go. Please.

So what do you think happened? I opened up the newspaper and looked in the back for events and activities because this was pre Google, Yelp and Facebook. I got brave instead of jaded and started just showing up at things by myself. I ended up finding community gardens, art galleries, opportunities to make music, to sing and dance with likeminded people. I found ways to volunteer for things that I loved, I found that I could be in a big city within a few hours, or deep in rural Americana in less than. I found fresh local food, art galore, places to hike and walk and climb and paddle. I found my people, so many like minded people in overlapping circles upon circles.

I bought a house and forgot all about Santa Fe and Austin and Raleigh and Portland and ...

When I moved here 10 years ago, I felt like I'd be so bored...after living most of my life in a big city. But soon enough I realized what a gem Capital Region is. There's so much to explore - from multitude of outdoor activities/parks, to culture, to dining. And if you want to get away, there are mountains and big cities within 2-3 hr drive. You can find plenty of indoor/outdoor activities year round. Amazing!

I moved into Albany to attend the college of Saint Rose 11 years ago and I fell in love with the fun options available to us (especially coming from a small town). As the years have progressed, I have peeled away the many layers that Albany and the surrounding cities have to offer. From joining the Empire State kickball league (great social opportunity) to moving to the suburbs (Delmar), the area never fails to delight me. Albany restaurant week and the summer plaza farmers market are a must. Not to mention our favorite place to frequent, the Merry Monk (mussles and frites). Love!

I've lived in the Albany area all my life and has always had something to offer each stage of my life. Colleges, concert venues, clubs. For kids parks, theaters, athletic teams, schools. Trails for bikes, hikes, running, pets. Restaurants of all kinds, fancy, cheap, hipster, gourmet, farm to table. Speaking of farms we have some of the best farmers markets around. My advice is take advantage of it all, try different things, enjoy all there is to offer in every season!

I always tell people to get outside! This area is so rich with outdoor activities: bike paths, beautiful parks, lakes, the Hudson, the Adirondacks. Enjoy it all and talk to the other people who are doing the same.

Ok, there is a specific awesome thing that comes to mind. The Troy farmers market is great but more specifically my favorite vendor there is "Dancing Ewe." They run a family farm where they make world class sheep's milk cheese and charcuterie. They spend part of the year in Italy where they harvest olive oil and bring back other treats like amazing sundried tomatoes and blisteringly hot red pepper cured in olive oil. Also the recipie for the merguez (lamb sausage) was developed with the help of world famous chef Daniel and holy-moly is it good. In fact I've just talked myself into taking some out of the freezer.

The Capital Region has many places and opportunities to experience art, history, and nature or a combination of all three. Thacher Park is a great place to explore and experience nature, with amazing views and great places to picnic with family. Troy Night Out is a great way to experience local art, music, and food. Albany and Schenectady boast many theaters both old and new.

We are fortunate to live practically in the Adirondacks. Get up there and enjoy it!!

Enjoy the number of free summer festivals held throughout the region! A great way to economically expose yourself to new areas, new music, and new people.

The Empire Plaza. It represents high modernism and the demolition of the past. The tension between how the Capital Region wants to present itself and the earthy underbelly that serves as the gritty foundation of its culture, whether it wants to admit it or not. It is beautiful and sad, old and new, and its secret history bestows a mystique that is exciting to discover.

I grew up in Niskayuna, went away for college and a few years teaching English abroad, and ended up in Troy.

Whenever I entertain visitors, they are really impressed by the architectural diversity in Troy and Albany, and by the fact that you can drive 15 minutes out of the city and be surrounded by mountains. I love how near we are to the Adirondacks, lakes and rivers, and are at the confluence of the major thoroughfares to Boston, western NY, Montreal and NYC.

I love that the sprawl that is growing around NYC hasn't touched things here. It feels comfortable and familiar - it's home. Winters are tough but we are close to skiing in Vermont and northern NY, and the weather in late spring, summer, and fall makes winter totally worth it.

Born and raised in the capital district, there are many interesting places to visit,rich in history. I enjoy the Shaker farm which is located near the airport.The meeting house has displays of furniture and artifacts from the early Shakers who settled in the area. There are beautiful gardens as well. They have several seasonal craft fairs which are always fun! It is a little piece of history tucked in very close to Albany Airport.

I think the most important thing to know is that Albany has tons to do, but neighborhoods are kind of spread out so it's important to do your research if you're looking to live here. Pine hills (in my opinion) offers the best mix of bars/restaurants, safety and the feel of the city while still being residential.

Growing up here I couldn't wait to get out and see the world. After years of moving and travelling around the country and world, I finally settled back in the capital region 8 years ago. Over that time, I’ve come to adore the community we have here.

Whether it’s Albany, Schenectady of Troy, when you pop into a local shop or restaurant folks are friendly and helpful. Sure it’s not like Los Angeles or NYC, where everything and anything is right in front of you, but if you take a few minutes to look, you’ll discover things and people that will amaze and inspire you.

Yesterday I attended the Pride candlelight vigil in West Capitol Park in Albany. There were numerous people of all walks of life in attendance and their strength, positivity and stalwartness gave me such a deep sense of community and belonging.

Best way for someone new to understand it is to look at the big events on a month by month basis: Tulip Fest in May, July 4 fireworks at Capitol, Saratoga in August, apple picking in September, etc. Demonstrates the breadth of the region.

To newcomers, I would say, explore the surrounding areas to get a feel for how truly diverse the capital region is. You can go from experiencing downtown "city" life one minute, and in about an hour later be pitching a tent in a campground in VT.
The capital region itself has a tremendous amount to offer in the form of outdoor activities, food, and art. And our proximity to VT and Mass, makes this area a terrific place to live and visit.

I have lived here for awhile now and I love walking and biking around all of albany's neighborhoods. I love checking out all the historical homes and saying hello to the people I meet along the way.

Recently moved to Troy (just from Albany) and am loving all of the outdoor activities I've found! Whether it's a Saturday morning at the farmers market, a weekend hike at Peeble's Island or an evening on the Hudson-Mohawk bike path I feel like I've discovered so many things that have always been right in my back yard!

Before kids when we had free time, we used to just go for a random walk through Albany or hop in the car and see where we ended up. This is how I fell in love with all the little special places our area has to offer. Take the left turn you never see anyone pulling out from. Stop at the side of the road ice cream hut. Pick up a flier at Stewarts and try something new. It's amazing what adventures await!!!

I've lived in the Capital Region for about a decade now, and one of the standouts for me is the architecture and history of Albany and the surrounding areas. I still love walking around Center Square, Saratoga, or Downtown Troy and admiring the beautiful brownstones, quaint shops, and fabulous eateries. There's an awesome foodie culture here which I love! Everything from the local farmer's markets and the Honest Weight Food Co-Op to restaurants like New World Bistro Bar and Lucas Confectionery. There are SO many great options to choose from! And I like that there's always something going on- from live music to street festivals and of course, the race track. There's a little something for everyone here! It's great!

As a life long resident of Troy, I'd invite people to come and enjoy Troy. Troy a.k.a the "Collar City" from it's roots in shirt, collar and other textile manufacturing is alive and well. Troy is home to many cultural events like Troy Night Out, Rockin' on the River, River St Festival and don't forget the Pig out or the Chowder Fest. Good things are happening all over Troy

Our "tri-city" area and beyond is incredibly diverse in things to do. Where else can you find Broadway-level theater, exquisite landscapes for hiking, and a foodie's dream of incredible restaurants all within 30 minutes of one another?

I'd tell a newcomer to take the time to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the area. I'm convinced that most outside the area do not know just how gorgeous our neck of the Northeast is.

For newbies to Albany, I'd like you to know that there will ALWAYS be people who try to put Albany down (too political, too boring, too much blight, not enough nightlife). Those grumpy people exist no matter where you go, but I think it is evident in this comment thread that for every negative, there's multitudes of positives. Be open to new things, and try to take pride in whatever neighborhood you settle (or pass through). Each one can be so unique!

I’ve lived here my whole life and what I would want someone new to know is that there are tons of local, annual events that really make me love living here. Each year I look forward to Tulip Fest, the Troy Pig Out, the release of the Alive at Five line up, the Upper Union Street Festival, the holiday parade in Schenectady, SPAC and the Saratoga Race Course in the summer… just to name a few. It’s important to look at not only the town you live in, but the Capital Region as a whole and really take advantage of the community, history and experiences that are offered.

I've lived here for the past 17 years, and nothing takes my breath away like the 10 mile bike ride around the Saratoga National Battlefield.

I have lived in downtown Albany for almost 3 years and it has quickly become my home. I love this city and all the great things that are available to do around. From walking to the bars to get a feel of the nightlife, to taking a trip to one of the many hiking trails surrounding the city. You get the city feel with the smaller town community. I would recommend anyone that is new to the city do a couple things:

1. Spend a day in Saratoga during racing season.
2. Take a day to go lazy river tubing near Lake George.
3. Visit the New York State Museum and get lunch at one of the food trucks near the Capitol building.

There is so much more in the area than it might look like on the surface; don't get discouraged if you don't see it right away. And there's something for everyone, at all times of the year. You might have to do a little digging, but the area truly is a network of sights, sounds and experiences. And AOA is definitely a good place to start your research.

The capital region is actually far enough away from other major cities (though big enough itself) that is has to be culturally self-sustained, all within a 30min drive! Asian groceries, broadway theater, gourmet restaurants, and lots of cultural activities. In that way it's way more accessible than being in the extended NYC area!!

I've lived in Albany my whole life, went to college here and have since worked here. I'll never leave. The most unique thing to this area is the change in seasons and the fun local activities to go along with them. Here's what someone new to Albany should try out:

In the summer we have beautiful parks unlike any others such as Thatcher Park and Plotterkill Preserve, amusement parks for all ages such as Huck Finn's Playland and The Great Escape, and beautiful lakes and mountains within an hour drive.

The fall is all about leaf peeping, cider doughnuts from Indian Ladder Farms, and getting scared at the Double M Haunted Hayride.

When the winters are snowy, it's time for my favorite activity, skiing! There are plenty of ski mountains within an hour of Albany, and many offer snow tubing as well. You can snowshoe at Five Rivers, or do some ice skating down at the Empire State Plaza after work.

In the spring, all the local ice cream shops like Kurver Kreme and Bumpy's open, and people flock to the Jumpin Jacks hamburger stand with the excitement of the arrival of warm weather.

I have lived in Albany for 10 years now and I absolutely love it. I work downtown and I love walking the plaza everyday for lunch with my coworkers. There is so much to do such as farmers market and various events in the summer, and Christmas gift shopping and food festivals in the concourse for winter.

Albany is a great place. A city with enough restaurants, plays, concerts and museums to keep it interesting; but, a small town feel that lets you know your neighbors and many people throughout the City. If you make an effort, get out and say hello, people are friendly and make you feel at home.

I honestly have learned so much and found so many cool places just by visiting this site everyday.

I grew up around Albany but never really found a reason to go into the city much. I moved to the pine hills area a few years ago and have grown to appreciate all that the city has to offer.

One of my favorite spots is Buckingham Pond. A place that I think many people still don't know about.

I think a lot of people underestimate the pride the people from the Capital Region have for this area. I am a lifelong resident and couldn't be prouder to live here! I think it's important to get to know the history of Albany and the surrounding areas because we are so rich with it. So many people I know have left for one reason or another but have come back after realizing the grass was not greener and that the Capital Region has so much to offer year round - beyond just being a short drive from NYC/Boston/Montreal/etc.

Albany City Schools are awesome and get a bad rap.

Definitely read All Over Albany and other local blogs to find things to do and places to try/visit. There's truly things going on every weekend (and every night if you want!).

I was born here and have lived in the area my whole life besides college away. I felt like a new resident at times since I've started reading this blog because of all the new places, events, history, ideas, and other aspects of the area it's uncovered for me. When you're from here, you can get into a local Capital Region mindset on everything that can sometimes lack perspective.

But man do I love talking to the people here. Whether your family has been here for generations or you just arrived last week, there's something about this place that makes people want to gab. And there's so many great places (and bars) to converse with people.

And the Smallbany thing? I understand why people don't like it, but I love it, especially that feeling when you make a connection with someone through someone else.

Lastly, if you love the history of this area or want to learn a more colorful history, and haven't read O Albany by William Kennedy yet, go do it. It really brings the history of that city to life and you'll never walk the streets again without feeling like you're a part of it.

Hard to not repeat what's already been said, but I will add that even on a budget there is a ton of things to do here. Countelss free concerts in the summer, parks, libraries, museums, events at the may colleges. I have often said to visitors and new comers and those whining that there is nothing to do: There is always something going on, but you do need to put forth the effort to find it. AOA is a great starting point as well as the Thursday newspapers.

I would tell anyone new to take the time to explore the area. There are so many great places, restaurants, and shops around, and they're all worth trying!

You can easily go for a hike, visit a beach, stop at a brewery, and be downtown for dinner and drinks all in the same day.

The best things in Albany are what could be considered "hidden gems". While we have great restaurants that are more well known such as New World Bistro and Yono's, there are so many diverse local small restaurants like The Empanada Llama, The Dutch Pot and Mr Pio Pio. New people to the area need to be try new things to get the most out of Albany.

As a relative newcomer from DC, my expectations of the capital region were low. I missed my DC life and longed for the diversity, nightlife and culture I had left behind. It took me longer than I had hoped to realize the beauty of the capital region and that there is SO much beyond it in the Northeast to enjoy and explore. I have lists of places that I'd love to explore now that I've embraced my new home!

When people think about environmentalism in this country they usually think Oregon or Washington State. When they think about New York they think "the largest city in the country." What many don't know is that while we have NYC, we also have the largest state park in the country. Adirondack State Park is the largest publicly protected area in the United States, and it is larger than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks combined. The Adirondacks are about 6 million acres and they are protected as “forever wild” forest preserve. So, yeah, a perk to here is living close to all of these major cities (as many mentioned), but here in the Capital Region we've got some great oxygen.

The capital region is like a crossroads for the Northeast. You are essentially 3 hours from 3 major cities in the northeast (NYC, Boston, Montreal) and a little longer to Philly.

The Capital Region's culture, community, and dedication to preserving heritage and history makes it a truly special region to live and visit. The region is surrounded with breathtaking parks and architecture, wonderful museums, colleges, farmers markets, arts-food-music festivals, and the local food scene is exploding.

I agree, there is so much to do around here!
And so much history!
One thing I recommend is to read about the Erie Canal and why it was important to the state, the country, and the world. Then start looking for its ruins or its route from the Hudson River points north and west. You will be surprised by what you might find!

I've lived in Saratoga for 9 years, which puts me between new and an old timer. My advice when you come here for the summer is to make the most of our beautiful outdoor attractions by parking your car and staying out of crowded restaurants with long waits.

Walk everywhere--to the track, Spa Park (it's ok to take the shuttle that runs on Broadway, just don't get in your car and get stuck in traffic), North Broadway, the many mineral springs. Get a picnic at Park Side Eatery, Putnam Market or Four Seasons and eat it in the park. You will have more fun and less frustration, trust me.

For one, read AOA! And the comments, too. But you're already doing that so you're off to a terrific start. This site is a great portal into so many regional things and you'll learn about things to do and what's happening in the communities around you.

My advice is that Albany is reflective of you. It can be cranky and boring if you are. It can be fun and adventurous if you are. It can be challenging to make friends or find things to do, but if you try, you'll be rewarded. Just be yourself, and pursue your interests. You'll find opportunities. If you don't, take the lead and start something yourself. Make it what you want it!

I was born and raised in this area and still reside here after 58 years. It's hard to pinpoint just one local experience since the tri-state area has so much to offer from food to theater to history. From the history of Uncle Sam Wilson in Troy, to the battlefields in Saratoga.

I relocated to Albany about five years ago. Before I moved here, I had no idea how easy it would be to travel from Albany! I am able to travel everywhere within 2 hours. 2 hours to home, 2 hours to the city, 2 hours to CT, and hiking everywhere within 2 hours!

I'd show them alloveralbany.com and then they can see just how much the area has to offer! I have found so many great places and things to do from the site, it is a great resource for those new in town.

I've lived in Albany (Center Square/Hudson Park) for six years and the longer I've lived here, the more friends and interesting people I meet. Once you start meeting folks, they introduce you to more, and before you know it, you've met everyone in your neighborhood!

People need to stop complaining and accept this region for what it is. Yes, it sometimes feels like "don't rock the boat" and "at least we got halfway" are the mottoes, but the fact folks will fight over their hometowns is a sign people care about these communities - despite how much they take joy in trolling them. Any given day you'll here ____ (insert place) is on the way down / ____ is making a comeback. This ain't NYC or Austin. You may feel "stuck here" but in reality, it's not a place where good things come to you because you're here -it's a place you must seek out enjoyment; be it the Adirondacks, Catskills, good shows, hip eateries, dive bars, great parks, or bike trails. We get winter blues because we appreciate summer. Need a sure for winter? Ski, snowshoe, suffer together and build camaraderie. the District won't kill you, it will make you stronger. If and when you do leave I bet you'll miss it. But stay. even though we troll each other, we're in the same boat and in the end, we're glad one another is here.

After three years in the area, I've come to appreciate the breadth of what the Capital District has to offer. It's my first experience of a mid-sized metro area--it's neither a small city nor a major metropolis--and it delivers a full spectrum of opportunities in an accessible way that I hadn't experienced before. There's great architecture, a wide range of culinary choices, ample bars, community events, parks, live music, theater, storytelling, open mics. Each of the anchor cities has its own array of distinct neighborhoods that are worth exploring, while the proximity to both major metros and great hiking/climbing/camping is a huge asset.

While the depth of options within any given category may not be on par with a big city, the sheer breadth of opportunities is something that'll leave you feeling like there's always more to explore if you're dedicated to experiencing it all. In short, delve in! Peruse AOA and other local blogs, get out and drive/walk/bike around, talk to people, looks at some maps, and employ some creativity and openness.

there is SO much to do here. you need to dig, you need to go places, sometimes you need to drive. there is so much music happening, so many local bands that are really good and would love your support at a random wednesday night show. there are beautiful places in all directions. the hard thing is to choose.

"Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question ...
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit."

The capital region really has it all..great location, great community, tons of things to do! Keep exploring!

I think the Capital Region offers the best of both city life and the outdoors. You can find super shops, restaurants and venues in Albany, Troy, Schenectady and Saratoga but you are also just a short drive away from many awesome outdoor areas/parks including the Adirondacks and Catskills! I would recommend exploring it all!

I grew up here, left for school, and then came back a few years after graduation. What I would tell someone who is new here is to go outside and really enjoy the seasons. We truly get to experience all four seasons in a way that not many places get to. Go outside to Tulip Fest in the spring, the Track and hiking/boating in the summer, apple picking in the fall and skiing in the winter. There is so much to experience and soak up here if you're looking for it!

Albany is an incredible city to wander. Spend a day walking around to become familiar with the hidden treasures of this small city. I've lived here for 8 years and still find myself wandering around and end up meeting new people and trying new foods and shops. Great restaurants, shops, cultures, entertainment and people.

When I travel outside of Albany, I appreciate how interconnected cities like Albany, Troy, Schenectady, Saratoga (etc.) are. If you want upscale shopping and dining, maybe you head to Saratoga or if you want to go to a dinner and a show you head to downtown Albany or Schenectady. Each pocket of the capital district has it's own flavor and the proximity of these areas to each other make us unique.

Don't buy, or build a house with a flat roof, or basement if you live midtown, or downtown!

Albany is a small city, but it'd close enough to a lot of big ones. Take a train to NYC, Boston, or Montreal for a weekend - you'll appreciate it's relative size and access to bigger things, mountains included.

For those new to the area, I would recommend reading up on the history of the region, particularly the Dutch influence. (Also helpful for understanding the origin and pronunciation of places such as Coeymans...)

I would tell someone to explore all the great restaurants in Albany. Especially the hole in the wall ones that are less known. Thats where you find the best stuff!

Many people whose ancestors are European who grew up here since WW2 are of Irish and/or German extraction.

spend the day in albany then ride the bike path to troy for early evening drinks or dinner before biking back.. or vise versa!

I think too few people get a chance to learn about local history! The Hidden City House and Garden tour is great- there's so much you can learn about the various neighborhoods in the city, even just relating to something like the buildings themselves. You'd be surprised what you can learn!

Check out one of many FREE outdoor live shows this summer, get the the Troy Farmer's Market and go out for TNO.

Several commenters have mentioned that the Capital Region is in a great location - it's the crossroads of the Northeast. On a smaller scale, the cities within the Capital region offer such a great diversity of cultures and activities. Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Saratoga have a rich tapestry of offerings, across the spectrum: architecture, cuisine, the arts, music, outdoor spaces, sports, universities, you name it. While the Capital Region is a great launching point for Boston, Montreal, New York, and more, it's not necessary to leave to find what will make you happy. The Capital Region has it all.

I've heard a lot of people who don't know any better say things like "Don't go into unless you wanna get robbed." Ridiculous. Like any collection of cities, there is crime in the region, and a lot of it is often centered in the same places you find urban poverty. But it's still a gross over-generalization, and if you think like that you'll miss out on quite a lot worth experiencing.

There is so many great places to eat! Everyone should try somewhere new to eat

I have lived her for almost 7 years now, and there are still things I am learning. There is a lot to explore, and I would say get outside while we have this beautiful weather! Especially if you are into walking, hiking, kayaking, etc., the options here are endless. The history of this area is also fantastic, and I would strongly encourage new folks to check out the many museums and historic sites.

There are so many great things to do/places to see in and around the Capital region. I love exploring all the great little towns in the Hudson Valley, taking advantage of the vast amount of hiking trails available in the ADKs, Catskills, and many nearby state parks, kayaking on one of the many nearby bodies of water, and skiing on the many decent mountains within 1-3 hr drive. Great area for outdoorsy folks.

Its an easy place to live, when you compare to bigger metro areas. Small enough to navigate but there's plenty to do. A well balanced lifestyle is achievable.

The Mohawk and Hudson Rivers are so important to this region's history and development and there are so many ways to enjoy them. Go for a walk in Corning Preserve or on Peebles Island, sit on the deck at Dinosaur or do the free yoga at Troy's Waterfront Park on Sundays this summer, check out the Cohoes Falls and the locks at Waterford. If you need a little more adventure, go kayaking or tubing on the North Hudson up in the Adirondacks.

I grew up in the Albany area, and have lived in Albany the majority of my life....and this area really does have a little bit of everything.

Unique food (friends from out of town were amazed at how many different types of cuisine we could choose from for take out alone, and they live within 45 minutes of Boston!), unique adventures (within driving distance of major cities, and major natural desinations like the Adirondacks and the Catskills, not to mention the theaters, music venues, museums, and other local entertainment), and unique people!

Oh, and I'm a history buff, and I think my early interest in history was inspired by the unique Dutch Colonial history of the area that was so easily accessible.

To help them understand capital region, people should know about the tons of great small businesses in the area. They can get to know the locals at Manory's, Guss' Hot Dogs, or City Beer Hall. See a nostalgic movie at the historic Madison, Palace Theaters. Heck, just strolling along the Empire State Plaza and Washington Park can enhance the understanding of this unique and diverse region.

Before the capital district I lived in the mid-west, mid-Atlantic, and the deep south. We've been here almost three years and I still think the region's best assets are the gorgeous trees covering rolling hills and the great vistas associated with them. Viewing the fall colors while eating cider donuts at Indian Ladder Farms is one of my favorite activities and an experience you are unlikely to find outside the region.

If there's only one thing I could do with a visitor to the area, it would be to bring them to Thatcher Park. The Indian Ladder trail has been one of my favorite places since childhood.
Standing under the water fall, looking for fossils or salamanders, taking in the amazing view.
I miss the pool, but there's still a ton to do up there - fly a kite, have a picnic, take a hundred pictures.
Stopping to get ice cream on the way back is also a tradition.

For me, its the Saratoga Race Course on Travers Day. While it may be crowded, the energy is palpable. For the rest of the year enjoy the food, beautiful architecture, landscapes, and history of the Capital Region!

1. Read some William Kennedy books
2. Get lost driving in Troy
3. Visit every local brewery
4. Find a place to pick your own _____
5. Learn a little about the local colleges
6. Realize that the state is a major employer in the area
7. Walk around the plaza and the Central Square neighborhood

I grew up in the Hudson Valley, but lived out of state for 16 years before coming back a few years ago. Moving back has allowed me to appreciate the amazing number of outdoor recreation opportunities in the Capital Region. Until my return, I had somehow never been to the Berkshires, the Adirondacks, the Green Mountains. I'm only now beginning to explore the Catskills beyond the ski hills. Needless to say, it's good to be back.

Albany is a reverse Tardis...it looks much bigger from the outside.

Think about how easy it is to live here. Now this is a good thing and a bad thing. There is no grinding, manic hustle and bustle. You can live here pretty cheaply and travel 3 hours in any direction to the biggest cities and some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. The downside is, you can get caught in a rut. Stay active and participate in the community.

This place is one amazing hodgepodge! Not only do you have small city living but a short distance in any direction is a wonderful country side with beautiful mountains, we really get the best of both worlds here.

I have lived here my whole life and I love that this area is so filled with the Atrs. There is so much high quality theater, dance, music and fun cultural events.
I would also tell someone they have to walk through downtown Saratoga in the summer. One of my favorite places. Has such great energy.

Collins Park in Scotia ...

Everyone should know about Capital Hills - great golf and hiking, plus sledding and snow shoeing in the winter

I moved here nine months ago. I love it so far. I'm from big cities, so I had to understand that this is a REGION, not a single city. Once I started thinking of it that way, I fell in love. Wouldn't live anywhere else!!

We have a little bit of everything around here--cities with great food, music, art, events, beautiful wilderness, charming small towns--but the people and communities doing small but wonderful thibgs will blow your mind! You're new here--welcome. You'll find your people.

As a newbie to Albany I love the access to great hiking and farms. When the weather is good, I'm happy with all the area has to offer. When it's cold or rainy, I wish for more indoor interesting opportunities. There are only so many times one can go to the state museum!

Outdoors, close to NYC, Vermont, Boston, the Finger Lakes and Montreal, cider donuts, great places to eat along Central Ave, the changing business on Lark and Downtown Troy, breweries and hiking. I attended SUNY Albany and have lived in Albany, now Troy for the past ten years (whoa). I'm still discovering new places to explore.

It's home.

Albany is such a great location! I have lived here all of my life. It is incredible how close it is to anything someone would like or want to do. There is so much history in the area, but yet you can easily drive to New York City or take a hike in the Adirondacks or Thatcher Park. It is a great place to live or visit!

Anyone looking to visit Troy should visit during a summer farmer's market, it is when the entire city is at its best and all in the name of local business.

Growing up in a very small town about 2 hours North of Albany, I always saw it as the big city. My boyfriend and I relocated just over a year ago and I am pleased to say we have become quite comfortable in our new little city. Albany has the perfect mix of happenings/ "buzz" and quiet, rural country outskirts. With everything happening just around the corner and not miles away as we are accustomed to, we have never been more active in our community. We love trying new restaurants, visiting museums, going to shows and events.

People here are so very kind. When my family was in need, we were fed (sometimes by people we barely knew), our children were cared for, and we received calls, cards, letters, visits when possible. It changed our view of the place.

Newbie here, from downstate. I don't understand this place yet! There is definitely somewhat of an inferiority complex, for no reason. If you're comparing the Albany region to NYC, it is apples to oranges, with the obvious tradeoffs. I am realizing if it isn't rush hour, this place is really not all that big. One can hop in the car and go to something that sounds interesting without too much effort. As for understanding the city of Albany proper, the grave planning mistakes of creating the Empire State Plaza as an isolated platform and overbuilding 787 and the other elevated highway ramps and curlicues continue to astonish me. I would like to learn more of the history of what was there before to understand the continuing impacts on neighborhoods today. And I would also like to know more about the current fiscal conditions of the capital region cities, the interrelationship between state and the city of Albany, the growth of the suburbs, and the history of segregation and immigrant communities in the area.

I was skeptical about Albany at first, since I was born and raised in NYC; but since I've moved here (two weeks ago), I'm finding more things that are making me feel right at home.

Free events/concerts, nightlife, accessibility/proximity to other cities, and a much slower pace is to name a few things I like about Albany

I grew up in the area and you should know that the food scene has greatly expanded and diversified over the past 20 years. It may seem like "Smallbany" to some but Albany has really grown.

As an aspiring Adirondack 46er, I'd want someone new to the area to know how lucky we are to have the Adirondack Park just a short drive away. Take advantage of it and its beauty!

I think something that would be helpful for new folks to understand about the Capital District is that we have everything here - and I mean that is the most positive and challenging ways. We have urban, rural and suburban communities within a short drive of each other. You can go kayaking in the morning, apple picking in the afternoon and be at a live show in a city bar at night - all within a 30 minute radius.

It took me some time to explore Albany, but it really is such an interesting city. For being a state capital, there's a bunch of state buildings but once you get into the surrounding areas, there's so much variety in housing, food, entertainment, places to visit. It's a versatile place to live.

I grew up in Delmar and enjoyed exploring downtown Albany as well as the more rural areas of South Bethlehem on bike.

I currently live in Schenectady and I'm lucky now to be able to explore more areas . The Stockade has amazing architecture and is full of history!! I also have enjoyed getting to know Troy more and the surrounding towns of the Capital Region. It's great to be able to take a day trip in any direction and enjoy a hike. There are a ton of breweries as well in the Capital Region (Rare Form!) and a small trip away (Chatham!).

I also enjoy the Capital District YMCA system. I am fortunate enough to be able to travel to the newer buildings and take advantage of the classes. If you are a Bethlehem resident you can purchase a pass (season, pay as you go) to use the Town Pool.

And there is so much more!

3 things:
1. Among the "hidden gems" that's a great place to explore -- Albany Rural Cemetery. You can get in a nice walk, with beautiful views and it's a great place to see fall colors. You can also get a good sense there of the region's history. It was the late nineteenth-early twentieth-century place to venture to get fresh air and think about your place in the world, and can be for twenty-first century residents, too.

2. There's lots of free stuff -- NYS museum, theater in the park in the summer, First Friday nights at the Albany Institute.

3. It can grow on you. There's lots of rough edges and things to be disappointed about, but there's also lots of people working to make a difference in small and big ways. Align yourself with the latter rather than complaining about the former, and you'll be happier here.

I moved to Albany about four months ago for a job. For people looking to understand the area, I'd recommend volunteering and exploring nature. Volunteering will immediately immerse you in the community, and taking advantage of the opportunities to explore nature will help you connect with yourself.

Great to have a blog like AOA to keep you in the know about all the fun things that the Capitol Region has to offer. Thanks AOA!

The Saratoga Racetrack.

Moved here two years ago and the one thing I've learned about this place is that first impressions are poor indicators of the Capital Region's charms. At first, we weren't impressed by the food options or the activities. Once we met some folks who had lived here a while, they let us in on some of the secrets. From cider donuts to our many taverns and a few gems, the food is quirky and really great. With lots of outdoor activities and proximity to major cities (without the traffic), there are lots of fun weekend activities. It's all about finding the right people. AOA certainly helps.

Eddie Money loves us. He plays here ALL the time. Seriously, he should change the song to "Two Tickets to Albany".


I think it's been more than a year since his last show. Can someone check on him, please?

Take advantage of the interesting events at local colleges and universities, especially The Writer's Institute! Summer at Skidmore and Winter at UAlbany- there are such amazing readings and lectures for free!

Living in Center Square in Albany for about 3.5 years now, my advice to newcomers would be to not be afraid to talk to your neighbors! A smile and a "hello" is a great way to break down the barrier between strangers who live nearby.

As someone relatively new to the area, I've found that each city/suburb has it's own vibe and unique gems. It seems like with all the different microcosms there is always something new to try or an old favorite to explore!

There are amazing privately owned restaurants. Sure we have some great chains...but if you do a little bit of research you can find some amazing food in areas that you would never imagined. Troy is becoming a gourmet destination. There are also some great places in downtown Albany and Schenectady. Don't be afraid to try them out!!!

THANK YOU AOA!!! Thanks for creating this massive love letter to the place I call home.

Go to the Troy Farmer's Market! Go apple picking! GO!

As a lifetime resident of Albany I would have newbies to the city take a day to either bike or drive the main strips of Albany (e.g. Central, Western, Madison) from end to end to appreciate the diversity of the demographics in our small city. From international markets, to a variety of houses of worship Albany offers an environment that is welcoming to people from all walks of life.

Well, whenever I hear of someone moving to the area, I always point them to AOA to hear about what is going on in the region!

You're new here? Check this out:

I think reading O'Albany by William Kennedy is a great starting off point to understand how Albany developed into what it is today, and to provide some context as to how some of that past is being reclaimed as part of Albany's rebirth.

I came to Albany for college and never left. Twenty year later, I say that Albany remains a small city with hidden finds and great people. I love that in twenty years, the city has remained relatively stable with slow growth and great food.

Community and networking is very important here. You can build yourself an amazing support system if you just network and meet people. It's pretty amazing. That's where living in a small city pays off. Yes it's smallbany and everyone knows everyone, but if you foster community then everyone is there for each other.

I lived all throughout the U.S. growing up, but the greater Capital Region has always struck me as being one of the very friendliest places around.

To someone new to the area, I would tell them to meet someone's eye -- at the park, at the supermarket, walking around the concourse, at a farmer's market -- and just say hello. Even the mildly curmudgeonly among us are pretty friendly -- you'll more likely than not get a smile and hello in return. And, if pressed, folks around here will happily chat you up and give you advice on places to go and things to see/do.

I think reading O'Albany by William Kennedy is a great starting off point to understand how Albany developed into what it is today, and to provide some context as to how some of that past is being reclaimed as part of Albany's rebirth.

Don't waste your money on fancy restaurants in Albany - most cater to lobbyists and politicos with more cash than taste. Our best food comes from the cheap ethnic places and taverns.

Hello all Hudson Valley newcomers and established-resident folks,
Something about this area I'd love to share with you all is that the D and H rail used to extend for miles throughout the area. In Delmar NY on Delaware going toward Albany, there used to be a particularly large section of track where townspeople commuted back and forth every day from home to work. It is now repurposed, after much of the funding for the train diminished in the 90s, as a rail trail which stretches 9 miles total from vorheesville to Albany. It's a great hike!

For the newer people to the area, don't let the naysayers discourage you. There are great aspects about living in this area and great people as well! Get out there and give it a little time. Opportunities will not come knocking at your door; get out there and explore!

I moved to Albany for college and ended up loving it so much I stayed. I think the best way to understand Albany is to take part in an event such as Tulip Fest, Larkfest or the Troy Victorian Stroll. Albany really knows how to celebrate!

The area is a true gem. It's not worth trying to convince others. If you know, you know, and you're better for it. Newcomers should know that once Moxie's runs out of a flavor, it's out until next summer. It's a must visit.

Having only moved here last weekend from NYC, I'm already shocked at how much nicer people are. The UPS delivery guy helped us unload our U-Haul! Seriously, the Capitol Region is truly becoming a world-class destination and we're very excited to be a part of it.

Having lived in larger cities most of my life, I found it interesting how quickly Albany transitions from city to country. When hanging on lark or pearl, I feel like I could be in any major city. But hop in a car and take 90 for 10 or 15 minutes and it's straight farm land.

Albany is a great place. Right between too large and too small, nature everywhere. So beautiful in spring, summer and fall that the winters are worth it (I'm not a cold weather guy).

I moved to Troy about 8 months ago, from New York City. I've found the local NPR station, WAMC, to be very helpful in understanding local everything, from events, to culture, to politics. It's a great radio station

One word: eclectic!

Albany has a lot of character, just have to dig around to discover it. All the amenities of urbanity with the beauties of nature within reach after about a 20 minute drive!

There is always something interesting going on! Music, museums, festivals, farmer's markets, 5k's...I can never make it to everything. Missed the Ren faire last week. And if you are tired of Albany you can drive to NYC, Boston or the Adirondacks. Lots of great options!

Albany truly is a walkable city. Citizens only realize this when there's special events (Tulip Fest) or a parade. Check it out on foot or bike!

I've lived in Albany for about 9 months...
Something that I've learned about this place that's helped me understand it better is that the state government is JUST MASSIVE. The number of employees, buildings, and city-wide functions that somehow relate to the state workers is huge. Also, Albany loves a good parade. I love the community pride that comes out for nearly every holiday! Who doesn't love a good marching band?!

I have lived in Schenectady my whole life, I would offer for some advice is enjoy the simple things in life. It has gotten alot better than what it used to be especially the downtown Schenectady area. I try to support local before considering doing something outside the area. Instead of seeing the movie at crossgates I'll see it at bowties for example.

There are so many schools in the area I've already lost count- and I just moved here! SUNY Albany, the Med School, Law School & Pharmacy School, St. Rose, Excelsior, Sage, Maria, SUNY Nanoscale, RPI, & others I know I'm forgetting! As a law student myself, understanding where the college hang-out area are, the bars students frequent, and the college culture of the area is helping me adjust to life in the Capitol Region. This is such a great time to be in such a diverse area with so many young people striving to build their careers (:

Mini hot dogs!!! We got Gus's, Hot Dog Charlie's, Famous Lunches, they are everywhere. Get out and check them all out, some of the best grab and go dogs anywhere. While your at it find Snowman's in Da 'Burg and have the best soft serve in the Capital District. It's a foodies paradise around here.

I grew up in the area, moved away, and came back to raise a family. This is a great place to raise a family, there are great public schools, an awesome sense of community, and so many activities between parks, museums, Adirondacks, Catskills, and on and on.

The city has great access to live music and a wide range of unique restaurants, while at the same time providing easy access to pristine naturue.

I also love going to Troy Farmer's Market and the Indian Ladder Trail at Thacher Park. And Iron Gate Café. And walking around Buckingham Lake early in the morning. And The Illium. And and and and -- New World Bistro.

And -- TFW Stewart's ice cream is on sale.

My wife and I are going on 10 years in the area (which seems crazy! Wasn't 2006 just yesterday?) and my best advice would be to spend time walking around. Heading to Troy Kitchen? Awesome! But don't just park your car as close as you can, eat your meal, then get back in your car and leave. Spend some time walking around and discovering the rest of what the city has to offer, not all of which gets as much attention as it deserves. Same advice goes for downtown Saratoga, Delaware Ave, Jay Street, etc. Taking the time to really explore the area is crucial to really understanding everything it has to offer.

Stewart's Breakfast Sandwiches, Jack's Clam Chowder,
The Best Happy hour deal ANWHERE (LionHeart, All the back row is 3 bucks from 4--7 and all day on Sunday, there's like 20+ craft beers back there)
The Plaza Farmers Market during the day. The Plaza at Night!
Just a few of the many awesome things in Albany.
Also, Henry Johnson was from here, which is badass in its own right!

I was born and raised here, and spent 18 years planning my escape. I got out...moved away for college, and then spent 5 years in New York City and found myself always missing Albany. Now I'm back, by choice...something that surprises both me and people who knew me. The thing I always missed most about Albany was the people. The kind of people who stick around Albany tend to be people who are close to their families, who are also in Albany, and those are the kind of people I like to be around. There's nothing I love more than walking into a place and seeing 3 or 4 people I know. Second best thing about Albany: Fountain Pizza.

I have lived here for 17 years and what I love about the area is how you can be so close to a city yet feel like you are so far away. I live in a quiet rural town but I am only a 15 minute drive to Albany or Troy.

Gus's Hotdogs. They're tiny. They're great.

I have lived here all my life (minus my four years at college in Vermont) and I think that something people should understand is the sense of community. The people make this area what it is- lots of people who grew up here either stay here or come back for a reason-

I have lived here over 3 years and my list of things to try in the area continues to grow! I lived in Center Square and loved going on runs in Washington park on Western/Madison and near the Corning Preserve. Even though we moved away from downtown Albany, it is one of my favorite places to go out to eat and for walks. I enjoy the sometimes gritty character of the city, very clear that everyone has a place in the community.

Lived here a while. We get all of the weathers.

I have lived here for less than two years and I've been enjoying it quite a bit! The best advice I can give a new person is to get on a bicycle. There are a few streets that are more friendly than others. Find those streets. Bike the path to Troy and enjoy both spaces. The river view is amazing.

I've lived here 17 years, and what strikes me most about the area is the variety of choices for outdoor activities. You can be in the heart of downtown Troy, enjoying the Farmer's Market, then drive an hour north and be in the Adirondack Park, with not a soul around.

If you're new here and already reading AOA you've got a great start.
Keeping following the site and you'll learn tons about this wonderful place.

Albany has a lot going on, you just have to look around! But one thing I would think people form out of the area should know is some background of the city. From the former Dutch colony there springs a load of interesting history. There are historic mansions, the Underground Railroad had stops here, there are amazing hikes and views....lots of great stuff to be explored!

The region is a little-big town. I love pushing myself to shop locally here, because even though being mostly suburban, there's so many local owned places to do business with. And it's such a fun way to meet your neighbors!

The greatest times I have hear as a newcomber, is when my parents visit and I want to show them the best time possible. One of our greatest days was spent touring Washington Park and then the state capital building and surrounding parks. There is so much history in both places and the capital building is without a doubt, the most ornate and gorgeous government building I've ever seen. In the same area, there are countless wonderful locally-owned restaurants and so much to do and see. I find myself in a rut much of the time with work and weekly exhaustion, but having my folks here really allows me to see the area through their eyes and enjoy parts of it I would have never seen otherwise.

Each of the cities of the Capital Region has a very unique charm. If there's one amazingly meaningful place a newcomer should check out, it's the Stockade Historic District in Schenectady. It has an unremarkable aura of a rich and lengthy history. I've lived here for several years and will never tire of it. Especially with the exploding downtown restaurant scene and Riverside Park just a short walk away. Come enjoy it while it's still reasonably quiet before the casino crowd comes!

Much as previous commenters have stated, the Capital Region has much to offer, but requires you to work a little for it. To understand it, I would recommend taking one of your existing interests and exploring the groups who are doing that here. From foodies to outdoors people to musicians or theater, the Capital Region has a niche for almost everyone, but unlike bigger cities, IMO, you have to actively seek them out. When you do, though, so much opens up.

Something that I've done in the past to share the area with folks is to create a scavenger hunt around Troy that highlights the Collar City's history, unique architecture, fun quirks, and some of my personal favorite spots (the Confectionery, for one). It gets us out in Troy and forces you to look at the city from a new perspective, even if you grew up here. It's easy to take the area for granted; sometimes having guests is the best way to rediscover all that the area offers.

This area has something for everyone . Great places to eat from fine dining to just hot dogs or pizza . The venues for music and theater are fantastic. When the college students are in town it is even a more lively atmosphere . There is always something to do.

The access to the outdoors in the Capital District is amazing, with everything from close, short hikes to more intense ones farther afield. I love the ability to get outside all year and really enjoy the beauty of each season.

Albany is the real deal - the perfect package! Warm and friendly people, museums, shopping, farm fresh food, art, music, parks and recreation. Lived here three years now and couldn't be happier. Best move I ever made!

One thing I really like about Albany is how easy it is to find great day/weekend trips. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy hanging out and finding stuff to do in town. But it's also a quick jaunt to Montreal, Adirondacks, Boston, and NYC. Just to name a few. These things make Albany a great place to live.

I've grown to love this place. Found a great job and a great husband... and now we both work near the Plaza so I can bother him at lunch. Super convenient to get around and enjoy all Albany has to offer - which is a lot!

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What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.


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