|Albany, New York
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Albany is the capital of New York state in the United States of America.
A vibrant scene downtown is currently underway. Revitalization keeps more workers around after hours and crowded bars/restaurants are not uncommon.
Albany can offer some unique historical perspectives, if a traveler is willing to look. As the start of the Erie canal, and as the location of the historically famous Fort Orange, Albany was important in early American history. During the Prohibition era, Albany was a center for the smuggling of alcohol from Canada. Pulitzer Prize winner William Kennedy wrote a series of novels about Albany that brings it to life, and will make the visit of any casual traveler far more engaging.
Albany International Airport, 737 Albany-Shaker Road (Exit 4 off I-87), is hardly international, except for a few flights from Canada. Several expansion projects since 1995 have transformed this once dowdy little airport into one of the most attractive and efficient in the nation. The addition of low-fare carrier Southwest has made this airport quite popular. Getting from the airport to the city is best done by pickup from a friend or by taxi; in 2006, a taxi to downtown Albany is about $20 to $25. See also "By bus" below.
Amtrak, 525 East St., Rensselaer, 1-800-872-7245. The Albany-Rensselaer station is Amtrak's 10th busiest. Unfortunately, it is not in Albany itself but directly across the river in the small city of Rensselaer. Amtrak is the best way of reaching Albany from New York City, and offers frequent service, although it is expensive compared to other modes. Cabs from the train station are expensive because one company has an exclusive contract. It is far better if you can arrange for someone to pick you up. CDTA routes 14 and 24 connect downtown Albany to the station, Route 14 running more frequently including nights and weekends. Trains serving the stations include the Maple Leaf (New York-Albany-Toronto), the Adirondack (New York-Albany-Montreal), Empire Service (New York-Albany-Niagara Falls), the Ethan Allen Express (Rutland-Albany-New York), and the Lake Shore Limited (Chicago-Buffalo-Albany-New York/Boston).
Interstate 90 (I-90), the strip of highway that crosses the upper United States, cuts right through the north side of Albany. There are many exits into Albany from I-90. The Arbor Hill exit is probably the least-scenic entrance to the city since it runs through a poorer area, although like much of Albany there are some nice, if decaying, historical buildings to see including the Ten Broeck Mansion.
Interstate 87 (I-87), which connects New York City and Montreal, intersects with I-90 in Albany. South of Albany, I-87 is a toll road called the Thruway. North of Albany, it's a free highway known to locals as the Northway.
Greyhound Bus Lines, 34 Hamilton St, +1 518 434-8461, . The station is located in downtown, near the waterfront. The area around the station can be seen as seedy so using a taxi or a friend to get to your hotel (if it is not near a bus line) may be a safe bet.
Capital District Transit Authority, +1 518 482-8822 . CDTA offers scheduled commuter and ShuttleFly service. ShuttleFly buses leave the Airport M-F several times each hour between 6AM and 11:10PM. ShuttleFly operates from Sa 7:10AM-11:10PM and Su 7:40AM-11:40PM.
Getting around Albany and the capital region entirely depends on where you are staying and what you want to see. If you plan on spending most of your time within the city of Albany, most downtown sights are within walking distance of each other. Many sights outside of downtown and even outside of the city of Albany can be reached by the public bus system, the CDTA. If you are traveling to Saratoga Springs or the Adirondacks, however, renting a car would probably be easier. Having access to a car is helpful in this region - The area is served by an efficient auto infrastructure, and traffic is not often encountered except during rush hour.
Yellow Cab, +1 518 434-2222, offers a flat fee between different areas of the city.
Capitaland Taxi, +1 518 455-8888, is metered, and should only be used to go short distances from the airport.
Great Western Staircase, State Capitol building.
New York State Capitol, +1 518 474-2418, . Free guided tours, M-F 10AM, noon, 2PM, and 3PM; Sa & Su 11AM, 1PM, and 3PM. Free selfguided audio tours M-F, 9AM-3PM (driver license or passport must be left as collateral for audio player). Plaza Visitor Center, Rm. 106 Concourse, Empire State Plaza. Security screening will confiscate pocket knives and other sharp objects. You will also be patted down to check for concealed breasts and/or a big booty.