SPOTTED: Alive at Five, June 22, 2017
#FunSummerActivities #518Fun #Summer #Activities #KatieHopsicker #TheSpot518
By KATIE HOPSICKER
The sun is shining, the temperature is rising, and school is ending. Students of all ages are cleaning out their lockers, packing up their dorms, and returning home to three months of fun. Many students take the Capital District for granted, and soon become “bored” and “broke.” Never fear! Albany’s Capital District offers free activities and adventures for all ages, guaranteeing a summer of fun without breaking the bank.
Waterfalls and swimming holes provide an excellent refuge from a hot summer’s day.
Located off of NY Rte. 144, about a 20 minute drive from downtown Albany, Hannacroix Creek Preserve is a hidden gem for all ages. The Preserve offers hiking trails for all skill levels, ending at a waterfall and natural pool. The water is deep enough to jump off the lower level rocks, and one is able to sit and climb under and behind the falls. With picturesque nature views, Hannacroix is the perfect place to swim, explore, or relax.
In the summer months, beautiful weather beckons everyone outside. Washington Park in Albany and Thompson’s Lake in East Berne are spots that are perfect for a relaxing weekday lunch break or weekend family reunion. Bring a blanket, frisbee, book, or your lunch for a stress-free recluse from a busy day. Washington Park offers a variety of walking paths through gardens of beautiful flowers and large grassy areas allowing room for a game of frisbee or catch. Thompson’s Lake provides a lakefront beach. It’s a great spot to swim or play in the sand after a delicious picnic.
Rainy days are not desired, but don’t let the weather affect your fun! The Capital District is home to a multitude of museums and historic buildings that are perfect destinations for a rainy day. The New York State Museum, located in Empire Plaza, enlightens visitors on the history of their beloved state. Delve deeper into our state’s history while exploring the Capitol Building, where you can take a tour or explore on your own, admiring the amazing architecture and in some cases, secret hallways. Whether you enjoy art, history, or adventure, Albany has a museum for you.
Empire State Plaza
The iconic Empire State Plaza is always a must-see. Finished in 1978, the plaza is home to New York State’s government buildings, and creates views from afar as part of Albany’s skyline. The Plaza is a beautiful place to visit, and one can take time to appreciate the beauty and importance of our city. By day, visit Corning Tower for spectacular views of the Capital District. By night, sit on the steps and become immersed in the lights of the skyline accompanied by the stars above.
Summer not only brings warm weather, but also brings fresh and delicious local produce. Start your weekend off on a good note and visit a Saturday morning Farmers Market. Featuring nearly 100 local farmers, fresh food vendors, and artisan booths, the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market in downtown Troy is a treat. Open year-round, the market moves outside for the summer months, giving the market a beautiful view of the Hudson and a natural, charming atmosphere. Many Troy shops and restaurants are also open for the duration of the market, letting visitors shop and eat to their heart’s content and take in the vibrant community. Colonie also hosts a Saturday morning market, held at The Crossings Park in Colonie. With over 38 vendors, visitors may find products of all types, including organic produce, craft beers and more.
Bennett Hill and Normans Kill
Hiking is a great way to get exercise and get outside. The Adirondacks may be famous for their high peaks and steep summits, but the Capital District has its’ fair share of hikes as well. Bennett Hill, near Feura Bush, and Normanskill, in Bethlehem, are both dog-friendly trails great for a morning or afternoon adventure. Bennett Hill features a 2.7 mile loop and features a 400-foot rise above Clarksville. The trail runs along a dairy farm then curves up the hill, resulting in views of downtown Albany in the distance. Normans Kill Preserve West Trail is located near Delmar, and features a 1.1 mile loop perfect for running or walking. It runs along the Normans Kill Creek, and dogs are also welcomed.
There is no better way to get exercise with friends than a bike ride. A favorite is the Albany County Rail Trail. Running on the path of the old Delaware & Hudson Railroad, this nine mile stretch connects the Port of Albany and Voorheesville, and is ideal for biking or other recreation. The trail passes by forests, fields, creeks and bridges. Another option is the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Trail. It is a 36.7 mile trail perfect for running, walking, or biking.
Music & Theatre
Albany plays host to plenty of free concerts and entertainment to keep you busy all summer! For music check out Troy’s Rockin’ on the River concert series on Wednesdays at Riverfront Park, or Albany’s Alive at 5 concert series on Thursdays at Jennings Landing. Both provide free concerts from renowned artists, along with food vendors and booths. For theater lovers, Park Playhouse in Washington Park offers free, open air performances in drama and musical theatre. These events are a cheap way to keep arts lovers entertained and are a great activity for summer nights.
Summer isn’t complete without at least one sleepless night and John Boyd Thacher State Park is certainly able to check that off the list. Thacher Park is home to hiking, camping, hunting, and picturesque picnics. However the best view at Thacher Park cannot be found at any time of day. The best view is at sunrise. The lookout off of Thacher Park Road provides a direct view east, providing a dazzling sight. As the sun comes up over the Capital District, it’s hard not to be thankful for the amazing place we call home.