By KATIE HOPSICKER
It seems that nowadays, people all over the world have caught the “travel bug.” Students are studying internationally, bloggers are full time travelers and living nomadically, and families are itching to introduce their kids to new cultures. But what happens when time, money and responsibility keeps you from getting on the plane?
No worries. Albany’s capital region is home to a multitude of opportunities, events and culture. One may lust for exotic adventures, but a little research, creativity and imagination can provide a series of mini vacations fit for any savvy traveler. Here are some ideas to make your summer a trip around the world, while staying at home:
The Hills are Alive
Who needs the Swiss Alps when you have the Adirondacks? Trade in the Matterhorn for Mount Marcy and discover the stunning views of upstate New York. For beginners, start with Buck Mountain or Sleeping Beauty Mountain for great views of Lake George, and hike up Hadley Mountain to explore a restored fire tower. For a challenge further north, climb all 46 high peaks and join the ADK 46er club. Conquer the Adirondacks and you will be ready for any peak in the world!
Gelato or Ice Cream?
On a recent trip to Italy, I noticed that gelato is the choice for a frozen dessert. With stands and shops on every corner, the one thing clearly lacking was ice cream!
Instead of taking shelter in the shade, embrace the summer heat and cool off with an abundance of creamy concoctions made locally. For a sweet soft-serve make the rounds and visit Jim’s Tastee Freeze in Delmar, Control Tower in Latham, Kurver Kreme on Central Ave., or Dairy Haus in Saratoga.
Enjoy your cone or cup and relax with a movie at the Jericho Drive-In theatre in Glenmont. For extreme ice-cream lovers, get a group of friends and take a bite at the Emack Attack, a challenge for guests to eat a scoop of each flavor offered at Emack & Bolio’s in Albany.
Making a Splash
Wouldn’t we all love to swim and sail in the crystal blue waters in Southeast Asia? Stay closer to home and make a splash in your own backyard! Gather the kids in your neighborhood and turn on the sprinklers, fill up some (or many) water balloons, or create your own slip and slide! If you wish to further combat the summer sun, visit a local beach, such as the Million Dollar Beach in Lake George or Thompson’s Lake Campground in East Berne.
The Luck of the Capital District
Ireland is famous for its green landscapes and great drinks— at home, try your luck at one of the Capital District’s many craft breweries. In Albany, check out Nine Pin Cider, the Pump Station, Fort Orange Brewing, or Emporium Farm. Troy is home to 518 Craft and Brown’s, and Schenectady holds Druther’s, Frog Alley and Great Flats. For outdoor ambiance, visit Indian Ladder Farms in Altamont. Is wine more your style? Take a weekend trip out to the Finger Lakes Region. Explore the multitude of vineyards and relax while soaking in the scenery of the beautiful lakes and rolling hills of Central New York.
No need to visit Africa or the Amazon for an adventure. While Albany may not have lions and elephants walking the streets, there are plenty of places to go on safari. Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar offers trails and hikes fit for any expedition, and VIA Aquarium in Schenectady has enough fish and sea mammals to rival any reef. Many would be quite surprised at the bounty of species and the beauty of life available in the Capital District.
Cobblestone streets… we have them too
Sometimes the best part of traveling is the wanderlust that ignites from aimlessly walking down cobblestone streets. Cafes, boutiques and specialty shops make up an unspoken aesthetic from the wears and tears that history traces on a street. Forget the roman roads in Italy, the creperies in Paris, or the bazaars in Morocco… we have them too. Grab a snack at the farmers market before wandering downtown Troy. See a show at Proctors, and head down Jay Street for a bite to eat. Venture through Empire Plaza, stopping by Washington Park or Lark Street on your way home. And of course, Broadway in Saratoga is home to a vibrant atmosphere for any occasion.
Savory or Sweet? Spanish style
Many will agree that memories are made better when they include family and friends. So, in true Spanish style, host a tapas style potluck this summer. From savory to sweet, have each guest bring a small dish to share. Better yet, create a theme for the night’s cuisine, or plan a smorgasbord with a different cuisine for each dish. Food brings people together, so travel around the world with your favorites, one plate at a time.
As Albert Einstein once said, “imagination encircles the world.” Sure, you won’t be leaving the country, and your bucket list may not be completed, but with imagination and a fun-loving outlook, your summer in the Capital District is sure to be sweet.