Items tagged with 'Julie Madsen'

Hiking the Mid-Hudson Valley

mid hudson valley hiking composite

By Julie Madsen

The Capital Region is blessed with mountainous surroundings, both the Catskills and the Adirondacks, and places to hike.

But if you're looking to change things up, the Mid-Hudson Valley is less than two hours from Albany. And one area there is particularly rich in good hiking. Over the few miles between Beacon and Cold Spring along the Hudson there are numerous trailheads for hikers at every skill level.

Pack water, snacks, put on a good pair of shoes, and head south!

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Day trip: New Paltz

new paltz composite

By Julie Madsen

An hour in any direction from Albany is bound to bring you somewhere interesting, but heading south down the Thruway to New Paltz has to be my favorite daytrip of all.

I love the funky, alternative vibe and there are so many options no matter what you are looking to do. And the location is almost equidistant between the Capital Region and NYC, so it can be a perfect middle ground meeting spot for friends who live in different cities.

After your first time visiting, you'll surely be planning your second...

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Odd museums and roadside attractions

odd museums and attractions composite

By Julie Madsen

With pleasant foliage all around us, this time of year is perfect for heading out in any direction in search of something unexpected.

And there are all sorts of weird museums and strange roadside attractions across this region, you never know what you may find when you hit the road!

Here are handful of them...

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Places for playing pinball

pinball places julie composite

By Julie Madsen

When I was a child, we practically lived in the arcade, playing pinball. It was the one place my brother and I could agree on -- and get along. But life happens, you grow up, and you find other hobbies (like travel). And more than a decade passed since I had last touched a pinball machine.

Then I found myself in Budapest at the Flipper Museum, an interactive pinball exhibit. I excitedly entered the space. The blinking lights, the clinking sounds, the focus in the players' eyes as they were completey immersed in the moment... the nostalgia. I was in a foreign country and felt completely at home.

Just like that I was hooked again, remembering how fun it is to play.

Now I'm happy to combine my past and present pastimes everywhere I travel, always on the hunt for pinball machines. Here are a bunch of places around the Northeast...

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Weekend Destination: New Hampshire

weekend new hampshire composite

By Julie Madsen

Why: the shore, shopping, history, seafood
How far: 3.5 hours

The New Hampshire coastline -- all 18 miles of it -- is often overlooked as a summer getaway. You always hear about people traveling to other New England beach hotspot such as Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Newport in Rhode Island, or Ogunquit in Maine.

But perhaps Portsmouth, New Hampshire likes it that way -- and its charm is reserved for just those in the know.

Head east on I-90 and north on I-95 and discover the beauty of New Hampshire in the summertime...

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Weekend Destination: Thousand Islands

thousand islands weekend destination composite
By Julie Madsen

Why: nature, water sports, romance
How far: 3.5 hours

The origin of Thousand Island dressing can be controversial, but legend has it that it was the wife of a fishing guide in the Thousand Islands region of New York who first served the condiment during dinners for her husband's tours. Prominent visitors from New York City tried and loved it, and it spread from there.

Of course, the Thousand Islands area is more than simply a famous salad dressing -- it's also a place of beauty and adventure. And close enough for an easy weekend trip.

To be precise, there are 1,864 islands in the Saint Lawrence River, which separates New York from Ontario. In the summer months it is a water lover's playground with options including fishing, swimming, boating, and diving. And on land there's a castle paired with a love story, many wineries -- and pirates!

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Weekend Destination: Finger Lakes

weekend destination finger lakes composite

By Julie Madsen

Why: lakes, waterfalls, and wine
How far: 3-3.5 hours

The land surrounding the eleven long and narrow lakes resembling fingers in Central New York is filled with much natural beauty to behold -- and many libations to sample.

The Finger Lakes region is New York's largest wine producer, boasting over 100 wineries. There are also plenty of little towns to explore, as well parks and lakes to take in. And it's an easy summer weekend getaway from the Albany area.

Here are a few ideas to get you started...

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You're New Here: Day trips

YNHW day trips composite

By Julie Madsen

It's You're New Here Week on AOA. All this week we'll have stuff to help get you acquainted with the Capital Region -- whether you recently moved here, or just want to see this place through new eyes.

It's kind of funny that one of the good things about Albany is how close it is to other places! There are a bunch of interesting, fun towns, villages, and areas that are all within day-trip distance. So you can get out of town -- and be back home that evening.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started...

YNHW in-post ad Linium

YNHW in-post ad CDPHP

YNHW in-post ad Columbia County Tourism

YNHW in-post ad ACCVB

YNHW in-post ad Downtown Albany BID

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Birding in Washington Park

wood ducks in Washington Park

A pair of wood ducks in the Washington Park lake this week.

By Julie Madsen

The Capital Region is a very wild place -- and not just on Lark Street around 2 am.

Many colorful and fascinating birds call this place home. And spring is a migratory season for birds, a time in which a lot of our noisy old friends rejoin us from the south. If you take a closer look you'll get to know quite a few avian residents.

A great place to start birding is Washington Park, right in the middle of the city of Albany...

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Sculpture parks to explore

sculpture parks composite

By Julie Madsen

You want the arts and the culture that come with a museum, but it's finally getting nice out. Who wants to be cooped up inside in the springtime?

The solution: sculpture parks. You get your arts and culture, you get your fresh air, and hey -- you might just get some exercise while you're at it, too.

Here are a bunch of sculpture parks within a day trip of the Capital Region...

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Waterfalls to explore this spring

spring waterfall hikes composite

By Julie Madsen

Spring is in full swing. The birds and frogs are singing, snakes and turtles are out sunbathing, wildflowers and new life are cropping up everywhere. It's great to be outside again, and spring just happens to be my favorite season for viewing waterfalls!

While we don't have a lot of snowmelt this year, we are certainly getting some great spring showers which help make waterfalls even more mesmerizing. Maybe you have already gone to check out the falls at Thacher Park, that's a great start. If you're looking for some different spots to go chasing waterfalls, here is a list to get you started.

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Spending a winter day in the Pioneer Valley

winter day pioneer valley composite

By Julie Madsen

I love western Massachusetts because there are so many little towns to discover, all with unique personalities. Perhaps you've explored the Berkshires before -- Lee, Great Barrington, North Adams, and other nearby places.

So why not head to the far side of the Berkshires, in the area known as the upper Pioneer Valley, for a change? The car is warm, gas is cheap right now. Give some of these indoor activities a try on a winter's day (or any day!) to forget about the world outside...

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Spending a winter day in Saratoga Springs

winter day saratoga springs composite

By Julie Madsen

Gray skies and freezing temperatures are outside. You don't want to leave the house because you have to layer yourself like a lasagna and the air hurts your face. Oh no, it's happening again. The winter time blues.

I crave the warmth and sunlight of summer just like you do, but it's no excuse to hibernate through winter! There are plenty of things to do warmly in and around the Capital Region to help shake off the wintertime sluggishness.

Let's start in Saratoga Springs. Forget about the track, SPAC, and Yaddo until summertime. Give some of these warm inside activities a try to forget about the world outside...

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Holiday gifts: Julie Madsen

Julie Madsen - tulips

Julie and the tulips.

Gifts and giving are on most everyone's mind this month. So, once again, we thought we'd ask a few people to share some thoughts on presents, past and present.

Next up is Julie Madsen -- a lover of new experiences, author of Julie Journeys, and a contributor to AOA.

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Day trip: Utica and Rome

utica rome composite

By Julie Madsen

Utica and Rome are like Albany and Troy. They go together and when visiting one, you may as well visit the other to double your fun.

These cities rose with the canal and railroad connecting eastern New York with the Great Lakes region. But, like many other upstate cities, the last half century has included some rough times as they lost manufacturing and population. Today they are doing their best to come back.

You can reach the cities with ease -- just an hour-and-a-half drive on I-90 will get you into Utica and an additional 20 minutes to get to Rome. (Just about an hour farther west and you're in Syracuse, but save that for another day.) You can also take the Amtrak train into either of the cities.

There is a lot to see here, fine food, history, and fun to be had. Just head west.

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Day trip: Syracuse

day trip syracuse composite

By Julie Madsen

When you think Syracuse your thoughts probably shift towards collegiate sports, or the image of a snowbound post-industrial city.

But Syracuse is reinventing itself and has a lot to offer. The drive from Albany is a little more than two hours on I-90, so why don't you see what's going on there for yourself?

Here are a few ideas to get you started...

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Exploring New Hampshire

new hampshire composite

By Julie Madsen

New York and New Hampshire are separated by Vermont, but it's still only a two-hour drive from here to the state of "Live Free or Die."

And it's worth making the trip over -- whether it's just for the day or a whole weekend -- because there are also sorts of things to see and do, from natural wonders to the world's largest arcade.

Here are a few spots you might want to check out...

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Four fall hikes (and post-hike bites)

fall hikes composite

It's all about the view.

By Julie Madsen

The leaves are starting to change, the days are getting chilly, fall is inarguably in the air.

Hiking and fall go together like peanut butter and jelly. Cooler weather makes the exercise comfortable and the forests in our region are bursting with color. We are lucky.

So, to take advantage of this glorious season, go take a hike! Here are some hikes to get you started, along with places to east post-hike...

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12 hours in the Berkshires

12 hours berkshires composite

By Julie Madsen

Take a ride an hour east of the Capital Region on I-90 and you will find yourself over the state border in the Berkshires. Western Massachusetts is saturated with culture and nature, with many different things to see, do, and eat.

Here's one way to spend a day immersed in the local flavor.

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12 hours in the Catskills

12 hours catskills composite

By Julie Madsen

Sometimes it's easy to forget just how close the Catskills are to the Capital Region. The northern edge of the area is in Greene County, immediately to the south of Albany County. And it's just an hour's drive away.

So you can head out to the Catskills for a day full of hiking, shopping, and eating -- and still be back home to sleep in your own bed...

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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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Whenever I drive into the Warehouse District, things get eerily quiet. If I get out of my car, I can't see anyone else around, and I get the sense that Nipper is watching me... sometimes I feel like I can just barely see his tail wagging out of the corner of my eye. That's crazy, right? I always get an urge to pick up a tree branch and throw it... but there aren't any trees. When I feel the first playful bite on the back of my leg, that's when it's time to get back in the car and drive. #nipperisalive

Drawing: Murder Mystery Night at Takk House

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Walking Myrtle Ave, end to end

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"This may seem like an obsession, but it is not. This is the residue of an obsession."

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Troy Summer Square starts this week

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