Albany, New York
Because Albany is nearly 400 years old and features a mix of architecture, from 18th-century Dutch buildings to the midcentury modern Empire State Plaza, the downtown “tells a cool story of Albany,” said Schuyler Bull, marketing manager for the Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In downtown, the City Beer Hall, a gastropub with 16 craft beers on tap, will host private parties, including a “wild game night,” Bull said. Or guests can go downstairs to Speakeasy 518 to enjoy Prohibition-era cocktails in a strict no-cellphone environment.
Just blocks from downtown, bars, distilleries and restaurants are popping up in former factories, warehouses and lumberyards on the Hudson River front, Bull said. One of the Albany Distilling Company’s first recipes for rum came from an old recipe that was used to make rum to pay soldiers. The recipe called for Hudson River water, “which, thankfully, they did not use,” Bull said with a laugh. The distillery is right next to Albany Pump Station, a brewpub and restaurant.
Just northwest of downtown is Lark Street, famous for its bars, head shops and tattoo parlors, Bull said.
“We call it ‘the Village in the city,’ and that’s a cool place for people to go and walk around,” he said.
Groups can have a reception in the state Capitol or tour distilleries and breweries, Bull said. The CVB also puts together dine-around programs; in the summer, food trucks line up around the Capitol, and visitors can have lunch in the park, he said.