Food and drink
Best Dining on a Budget
Applebee’s, Various Locations
Appetizers are used to stimulate the appetite and Applebee’s definitely has a selection that does just that. With mouth-watering dishes like boneless buffalo wings, cheesy bacon tavern chips and Nacho’s Nuevos, you’re sure to clean your plate and be ready for more. Combined with the fun and friendly atmosphere, and prices that don’t break the bank, it’s no wonder this restaurant is a stop for all ages.
2. TGI Friday’s 3. The Cheesecake Factory
Bruegger’s Bagels, Various Locations
Started in 1983, Bruegger’s Bagels has since expanded into a thriving bagel company. It’s no wonder, with over 20 different types of bagels and 13 flavors of fresh homemade cream cheese. This bagel shop is a bagel heaven and a perfect (not to mention healthy) way to satisfy your bagel cravings.
2. Panera Bread 3. Dunkin’ Donuts
Best Italian Cookies
Bella Napoli Italian American Bakery, Latham
It takes 50-60,000 pounds of sugar a year to keep the sweet side of the bakery going. In business for over 40 years the Mainella family continues to provide the Capital Region with delectable Italian cookies, just like Nonna used to make. From sweet granules to delectable confections, one glance into the bakery case and your eyes become much larger than your stomach. It’s worth the many trips back to try all of your favorites, or even discover something new.
2. Vanilla Bean Baking Co. 3. Villa Italia
Best Italian Cookie
2. Villa Italia 3. Vanilla Bean Baking Co.
Best Beer Selection
Albany Pump Station, Albany
American, Irish, Scottish, German, Bavarian. With all these styles of beer on tap at the Albany Pump Station, you’ll wonder if you’re sitting down for a beer or for a meeting at the UN! Once an actual pump station drawing billions of water from the Hudson, this brewery is now tough competition. They’ve won multiple awards including the 2004 World Beer Cup Bronze Award for American Brown Ale with their on tap version, “Kick-Ass Brown”.
2. Sutters Mill and Mining Co. 3. Mahar’s
Best Birthday Cake
Vanilla Bean Baking Co., Latham and Troy
When celebrating your special day, you need the right cake to top off the day. In business for over 20 years the Vanilla Bean Baking Company has found the perfect recipes for the best tasting birthday cakes.
2. Hannaford Supermarkets 3. Schuyler Bakery Inc.
Best French Restaurant
Nicole’s Bistro at the Quakenbush House, Albany
Located in one of Albany’s most historic landmarks, the Quakenbush House, Nicole’s Bistro is a family owned and operated restaurant. An Albany staple for over 20 years, the bistro offers a taste of all things French, from the décor to the food. With plates such as Coq au Vin (organic chicken breast with red wine, tomatoes and mushrooms) and desserts like Vanilla Bean Créme Brulee, you’re sure to leave Nicole’s pleased.
2. Cella Bistro 3. Chez Sophie
Perreca’s Bakery, Schenectady
At Perreca’s the baking of the bread begins at 5am. This has been the tradition since 1913 at this family owned business. With a variety of choices (try the Italian bread, it’s some of the best around), the bread today is just as fresh, warm and crusty as when the business first started.
2. Panera Bread 3. Bountiful Bread
Best Late Night Dining
Denny’s, Various Locations
The words “breakfast” and “Denny’s” are synonymous. With a multitude of egg options and an array of bacon, ham and French toast platters (not to mention the pancake options), you can have breakfast whatever time you like at this franchise. With many locations open 24 hours you can also choose from their lunch, dinner and kids menu anytime of the day or night. With 1,600 restaurants nationwide, Denny’s has been serving up food that satisfies for over 50 years and looks to continue to do so for 50 more.
2. Starbucks 3. IHOP
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Latham & Clifton Park
With 307 restaurants nationwide, Red Robin isn’t the typical burger joint. The franchise offers colossal size burgers, with not-so-typical names. From the gourmet menu you might pick the Sauteed ‘Shroom Burger with fresh mushroom, garlic parmesan butter and melted swiss cheese. The gourmet lover might even opt for something more adventurous like the Grilled Salmon Burger. No matter the choice, you won’t leave here wanting for anything more.
2.Sutters Mill and Mining Co. 3. Beff’s Tavern
Best Chicken Wings
Wings Over Albany, Albany
Started in 1998, this franchise is wild about providing flavorful boneless and jumbo wings. Offering a wide variety of flavored sauces like honey barbeque, teriyaki, garlic parmesan, west text mesquite, and the ever popular original barbeque with varying degrees of spiciness, these wings will leave you licking your fingers like all good wings should.
2. Scubbers Hot Wings 3. Buffalo Wings & Rings
Best Place to Spend a Rainy Day
Starbucks, Various Locations
This international best selling coffee house offers a cup of java for everyone. The business elite can grab something hot before work and college students can spend the day surfing the web and sipping on a latte. Rain or shine, this is a great spot to catch up on the social scene. Brewed coffees, espressos, frappuccino’s and Tazo tea will leave you in drink heaven.
2. Dunkin Donuts 3. McDonald’s
Best Place to Spend a Rainy Day
2. Colonie Center 3. NYS Museum
Chili’s Grill & Bar, Colonie & Glenmont
With a name like Chili’s it’s a safe bet that the winner of this category was in the bag. Their mouthwatering sides of chili will leave you wanting more. Their Terilingua chili is slow cooked and adds a special ingredient that you wouldn’t imagine—peanut butter! For non-beef lovers, try the Chicken Chili Blanco.
2. Wendy’s 3. Ruby Tuesday
Gershon’s Deli and Caterers, Schenectady
This older well-established deli offers everything from cold subs to salads to knishes and a line of gourmet foods and desserts. With a New York City feel, Gershon’s does deli style eating right with fresh bagels, every meat possible and a slice of pickle on the side. In business for about 50 years, it has everything you could ask from a deli and then some.
2. Gorman’s New York Deli 3. Genoa Importing Co.
Best New Restaurant
Cheesecake Factory, Albany
Not even a year old to the area, the long-awaited Cheesecake Factory located in Colonie Center is the hot new place to enjoy everything from appetizers to pizza to steak and seafood, not to mention breakfast. Of course, one of its biggest draws is the dessert its famous for…cheesecake. Choose from 32 varieties ranging from the original recipe to the new Tres Leches Cheesecake, a cream soaked vanilla cake topped with Tres Leches Cheese and Bavarian cream and fresh strawberries.
2. Grandma’s Country Restaurant 3. Vanilla Bean Baking Co.
2. MezzaNotte Ristorante 3. LT’s Grill
Tops American Grill, Bakery & Bar, Rotterdam
With a brand new, updated look, Tops is giving diners a run for their money. The new expanded design, with an art deco feel, is combined with your classic diner fare—burgers, fries, steak, seafood, pasta, and of course, an extensive breakfast menu. With large serving sizes and a friendly atmosphere, Tops is at the top for diners.
2. Latham 76 Diner 3. Alexis Diner
Best Early Dining
Canali’s Resaurant, Schenectady
Sometimes our food cravings hit a bit early on in a day. When this happens, Canali’s is your restaurant. A menu boasting jumbo shrimp cocktail, homemade cavatelli, chicken marsala and veal sorrento among other mouth-watering dishes, would leave even the pickiest eaters satisfied. And with dinner beginning at four o’clock, Canali’s is the ultimate in early dining.
2. Butcher Block Steak & Seafood 3. Alexis Diner
Best for Fine Dining
Angelo’s 677 Prime, Albany
This upscale steakhouse offers a great atmosphere while serving delicious seafood and desserts. Not to mention their steak, which is only the finest USDA Prime Aged beef. The walls are adorned with local artwork, which you can admire while sipping on one of their fine wines. With two private dining rooms, any celebration can be made more intimate.
2.McGuire’s 3. Jack’s Oyster House
Best Fish Fry
Ted’s Fish Fry, Various Locations
Specializing in fried fish platters since the 1950s, this restaurant knows its fish. Always served fresh, your mouth will water at the fried options. And, of course, with prices that won’t break the bank, you’re sure to have an enjoyable and affordable experience.
2. Bob and Ron’s Fish Fry 3. Harbor house
Best French Fries
McDonald’s, Various Locations
First opened in 1955, the telltale arches seem to call from every direction. And who can resist the ever-tempting French fries? Golden and delicious, it’s no wonder that Capital Region residents, as well of those all over the world, are drawn to them as a snack or to complete their meals.
2. Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries 3. Wendy’s
Best Happy Hour
JT Maxie’s Bar and Grill, Colonie
A repeat winner for best karaoke, Maxie’s is a Wolf Road hide-away worth exploring. Owner Margaret “Max” Baggetta works long hours traveling to industry trade shows and working behind the bar welcoming locals. Hard work, dedication and fun make the “Cheers”-like atmosphere one you’ll want to return to again and again for food and drink specials and big-screen karaoke.
2. Applebees 3. TGI Friday’s
2. Valenti’s Pizzeria & Pub 3. Bourbon Street Bar & Grill
Best Homemade Pie
Grandma’s Country Restaurant, Albany
Remember when your grandmother would bake homemade pies? Enjoy that feeling again with Grandma’s, a three-time winner. With over 20 different assortments, every fruit, cream and nut variety of pies is available.
2. Lakeside Farms 3. Kristy’s Barn
Best Hot Dog
Gus’s Hotdogs, Watervliet
This small hotdog stand serves up big flavor sausages, sandwiches and hamburgers for fair prices. But, it’s their tiny hot dogs that they’re famous. Which taste scrumptious with their
2. Mike’s Hot Dogs 3. Charlie’s Famous Hotdog
Best Ice Cream Stand
Kurver Kreme, Albany
One of the first signs that spring is right around the corner is the opening of Kurver Kreme in late March. Flavors change weekly, so be sure to ask for the dates when your favorites will be available (chocolate and vanilla are mainstays). In addition to the delicious soft custard, they also have yogurt and fat free, sugar free flavors. There’s good news this season: the coffee hazelnut twist is back!
2. Toll Gate Ice Cream & Coffee Shop 3. Curry Freeze
Best Kid-Friendly Dining
Friendly’s Ice Cream Shop, Various Locations
The sounds of this restaurant are always a loud mixture of kid’s enjoyment, adult’s chatter and laughter from everyone in the family. With a menu that caters to adult’s hunger and kid’s picky appetites, Friendly’s is the perfect place to bring the whole family. Besides, who can resist their Happy Ending Sundae?
2. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers 3. Jeepers
Testo’s Italian Restaurant & Pizza Parlor, North Troy
Who can resist the ultimate in pasta dishes— lasagna? It’s the ultimate food and no one does it better than Testo’s. A true Italian restaurant and pizza parlor, their sauce is delicious and their specials are awesome. Stop in on Thursdays when lasagna is the special; get a heaping plate with a tossed salad for only $9!!
2. Verdile’s Restaurant 3. Moscatiello’s Italian Family Restaurant
Best Lunch Spot
Greenhouse, A Chopped Salad Company, Albany
If you’re looking for a different lunch spot, Greenhouse is a perfect choice. With a large variety of salads they offer all the fixings to make it just as you like. Add this to their soup selection and sweet and salty dessert menu and you have a healthy alternative to the fast food lunch stops.
2. Panera Bread 3.Lunch
Bombers Burrito Bar, Albany
This small student hangout is one of the best in the area for the perfect margarita. With 12 different types of frozen margaritas available, you might not know which one to choose. Your birthday entitles you to one of the largest margaritas around, but even if it’s not your birthday, it’s still worth the trip downtown to sip on one of these marvelous margaritas!
2. El Loco Mexican Café 3. Jose Malone’s Mexican Irish Restaurant
205 at the Turf, Colonie
“Shaken, not stirred” 205 at the Turf can serve up your martini ala James Bond style, or any other way you’d like. Cosmopolitans, Appletinis or Original gin, whatever your preference, 205 will make it right. Located in the Holiday Inn Turf on Wolf Road, 205 is a three-time winner for best martini bar, so there’s no question about where to get your martini fix.
2.Noche 3.TGI Friday’s
Best Outdoor Dining
Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-in, Scotia
Where else can you eat a whale-fry, Indian, 747 or a whistle? Opening day at Jumpin’ Jack’s on the Mohawk River has been a rite of passage for area locals since 1952. Second owner, Mark Lansing, bought the business in 1976 and is proud of its history. “I grew up here and worked here. We were established in the 50’s and maintained the same décor. We’re family-oriented with good service and reasonable prices “we’ve been around longer than McDonalds.” Jumpin’ Jack’s is so popular that the nearby Burnt Hills and Scotia schools don’t let kids leave during school hours because they wind up skipping class on opening day!
2. Beff’s Tavern 3. Sutters Mill and Mining Co.
Villa Valenti, Wynantskill
If you’re in search for perfect pasta, look no further. With a menu that boasts fettuccini balognese and alfredo, cavatelli, manicotti and lasagna, you may not know what to choose first. Add one of their eight specialty sauces and top it with peppers, sausage, capers and more, and you have just created the perfect plate of pasta. Are you hungry yet?
2. Romano’s Macaroni Grill 3. Testo’s Italian Restaurant & Pizza Parlor
Paesan’s, Various Locations
Pizza. A favorite food for millions, everyone is in search of the best slice, and in the Capital Region you need look no further than Paesan’s. Not only do they offer steaming hot cheese pizza, and all the common toppings to choose from, they also have specialty pizzas like white pizza with broccoli and tomato, deluxe and chicken parmesan.
2. I love NY Pizza 3. DeFazio’s Pizzeria
Beff’s Tavern, Albany & Delmar
When it comes down to pubs you want to find one that’s close by, has friendly staff and offers you an array of drinks and food that will satisfy you, which is exactly what Beff’s does. With a large draft beer selection and an even larger menu of food, Beff’s is the perfect pub stop for everyone.
2.Valenti’s Pizzeria and Pub 3. Parting Glass
Smokey Bones Barbeque and Grill, Colonie
It’s a sure bet that you won’t leave here hungry. This two-time winner has a menu that boasts award winning ribs that are smoked for 12 hours and then hand pulled, making them delicious and tender. With three varieties, the Smoked St. Louis, Baby Back Ribs and 50/50 Rib Combo that come in half or full racks, you know you’re going to leave satisfied.
2. TGI Friday’s 3. Giffy’s Bar-B-Que
Best Romantic Dining
Nothing says romantic more than dim lighting, a din loud enough so that others cannot hear your conversation, but not so loud you have to shout, cozy booths and candlelight. This is what you’ll find at Provence. Combine the ambiance with French cuisine and an extensive wine list and you’re sure to leave in the mood for love. Bon appetite!
2.Arlington House 3. Nicole’s Bistro
Panera Bread, Various Locations
Fresh baked bread, great tasting meats, cheeses and vegetables and a unique style of soup, all that in one eatery. Panera (the four time winner for soups!) offers the best for your soup/sandwich style with choices like Frontega Chicken Panini, Pepperblue Steak Sandwich or Boston Clam Chowder and Vegetarian Creamy Tomato soup. Just right for curbing your appetite and stimulating your taste buds.
2. Genoa Importers 3. Debbie’s Kitchen
2. Everybody’s Café 3. McDonald’s
Best Special Occasion Dining
Looking for that special place to celebrate a birthday or anniversary? The service at McGuire’s will make you feel like a star and the food is on par with the service. A great place to order from soup to nuts—and be ready for some exotic choices. Reservations are a must.
2. Angelo’s 677 Prime 3. Glen Sanders Mansion
Best Sports Bar
The Stadium Café, Saratoga Springs
This unique sports bar/café is family oriented while still giving sports fans what they want. Boasting 25 various-sized televisions, sports memorabilia and hearty, delicious food it’s a sports fan’s dream. Spend quality family time, while not missing a moment of the latest game or stop in with your friends after a hard day’s work.
2. JT .Maxie’s 3. Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill
Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse, Albany
With 16oz. thick, center cut New York Strip Sirloin, Sliced Sirloin, and the mother of all steaks—Filet Mignon—there was no question about best steak. As if that weren’t enough, if you’re brave (and hungry enough) try their pound-and-a-half house steak that’s seasoned and seared flawlessly.
2. Angelo’s 677 Prime 3.Barnsider Restaurant Co.
Koto Japanese Steak House, Latham
Since sushi now resides somewhere between familiar and exotic on the dining out spectrum, Koto is the place to go for those looking for a more adventurous take on sushi. They offer the expected sushi rolls, but also venture into the more creative realm, with innovative ingredients prepared so artfully you feel a tiny bit bad about eating it — but you just can’t stop!
2. Ichiban 3. Okinawa
Sunny Wok, Troy
In business for five years, this small Chinese restaurant is the ideal place for take-out food. Always served fresh, orders are made fast and efficiently and delivered in the same manner. Their large menu includes all your favorites like egg rolls, sweet and sour chicken and crab rangoo. And don’t forget the restaurant’s most popular order, General Tso’s chicken.
Vin Santo Tapas Wine Bar, Latham
With the heavy burden of being the Capital Region’s introduction to Tapas, Vin Santo can now rest easy knowing they have impressed the public. Vin Santo combines traditional Spanish Tapas with American fare served in the Tapas style and a raw bar to boot! Being a restaurant venture of the owner of All Star Wine and Spirits the wine list is impressive. This restaurant is best enjoyed with friends who are in the mood for a gastronomic adventure.
2.Cella Bistro 3. Antica Enoteca
Best Troy Restaurant
LoPorto’s Ristorante, Troy
With competition stiff among the many new restaurants popping up in Troy these days, it’s no wonder that it’s the long-established LoPorto’s that takes the award. This very Italian restaurant offers old-world cuisine that delights the taste buds. With a seafood menu and authentic pasta dishes you know you’ll leave satisfied. Combined with an open and welcoming atmosphere, it’s not wonder this was voted best restaurant in Troy.
2. Verdiles Restaurant 3. River Street Café
Best Wine List
Cabernet Café, Albany
Upon entering this classy restaurant, look down at the glass floor and check out the wine cellar which houses wine from all over the world. With more than 2,000 bottles, you’re sure to find something for even the most discerning wine tastes. With a wine to fit every meal, you can choose to have a bottle or savor the house wines by the glass.
2. The Gingerman Wine Bar & Restaurant 3. Vin Santo Tapas Wine Bar
Best Bed & Breakfast
Saratoga Rose Inn & Restaurant, Hadley
A unique location between Lake George and Saratoga Springs makes this place the perfect bed and breakfast. With six guest rooms, each with its own unique Victorian theme, anyone could feel like royalty here. Combine this with fine dining and plenty of nearby activities and you have the perfect B&B.
2. Stockade Inn 3. Mansion Hill Inn & Restaurant
Best Bike Trail
Mohawk-Hudson Bike/Hike Trail
Albany and Schenectady County are connected by this long beautiful trail. Paralleling both the Hudson and Mohawk River, the off-road paved bike trail allows riders the ability to have peace while taking their time to ride through the beautiful surroundings. The 60-mile Mohawk Hudson Bikeway is the perfect respite for cyclists who love biking with no hassles.
2. Colonie Town Park 3. Corning Preserve Trail
Best Day Trip
How lucky are we to live within an hour’s drive to one of the top 10 cleanest lakes in the country and a huge tourist spot for thousands? Boaters can enjoy the 32-mile lake with breathtaking views of the Adirondacks. There are numerous waterside restaurants to dine at, plenty of shopping, and of course, Million Dollar Beach. With so much to do, Lake George is the perfect spot for multiple trips throughout the year.
2. Cooperstown 3. Saratoga Springs
Best Public Golf Course
Town of Colonie Golf Course, Colonie
Originally established in 1969 as a smaller, nine-hole golf course, The Town of Colonie Golf Course has since been expanded to include a 36-hole layout. If you want to practice a different swing, there are five tennis courts. Either way this two-time winner offers the best golf course that’s available to everyone.
2. Saratoga National Golf Club 3.Stadium Golf Club
Best Private Golf Course
Troy Country Club, Rensselaer
Established in 1925, this 18-hole golf course will challenge even the most experienced players. The Troy Country Club, the only private golf course in Rensselaer County, offers a variety of membership categories. With a course designed by famed golfer and architect Walter J. Travis, members are sure to have a great golfing experience. Add to this tennis courts a swimming pool, a restaurant and snack bar, it is everything you could want a day at the country club to be.
2. The Edison Club 3. Wolferts Roost Country Club
Best Hiking Trail
Best Picnic Spot
John Boyd Thatcher State Park, Voorheesville
Always a winner in our survey, Thatcher Park, is a wonderful place to enjoy nature. Located along the Helderberg escarpment just minutes outside of Albany, this state park is a great place to steal away for the day. Set up your picnic at one of the many tables or spread out a blanket on the grass. No matter which spot you choose, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the view. Be sure to walk the Indian Ladder Trail, open May 1-November 15, weather permitting. The park itself is open year round 8am until dusk.
2. Adirondack Park 3. Pebbles Island State Park
Best Picnic Spots
2. Cooke’s Park 3. The Crossings
The Desmond Hotel, Albany
Conferences, weddings, dinner and drinks or just a night away, the Desmond is the right hotel for any occasion. With 18th century décor, comfortable rooms, indoor landscaping and an amphitheater conference room with the latest technology, this hotel combines comfort, style and business flawlessly.
2. Holiday Inn Turf 3. The Sagamore
Best Kid’s Camp
Camp Chingachgook Lake George
Every summer deserves to be special and at camp Chingacook kids are sure to have a memorable one. With special programs for teens, children, and even adults, this camp brings a sense of unity and fun for all ages. Located on Lake George, its beauty and tranquility offers a one-of-a-kind experience.
2. Camp Love Joy 3. Albany JCC Camp
Cook’s Park, Colonie
With 55-acres, Cook’s Park is a great place to spend family time. Want something to do? Plenty of events are held in the park like dances, concerts and soccer events. Are you into competition? Why not watch a Colonie little league game? When you want to relax, enjoy cookouts, picnics, softball or just a game of tag in this cozy park.
2. Washington Park 3. John Boyd Thatcher State Park
Best Place to Go for a Walk
The Crossings, Colonie
Outdoor concerts, crafts vendors, bike paths, wildflowers and so much more. With its multiple paths and trails, The Crossings, is the perfect place to take a short (or long) walk. Whether with your friends, the kids or going it solo, you will soon find yourself returning here over and over.
2. Washington Park 3. Saratoga State Park
Best Place to Meet Singles
Single’s Square Dance Club, Colonie
With dancing all the craze lately, it’s no wonder that Single’s Square Dance Club was voted the number one spot to meet singles. But don’t think this is a new organization; its been around for 42 years! Every other Wednesday of the month single people get together to form friendships (and sometimes more) through the art of square dancing. Singles Square Dance club has actually seen quite a few marriages over the past years. So if you’re single, stop on by and let someone dosey doe into your heart.
2. Singles Outreach Services
Best Place for Sledding/Tubing
Frear Park, Troy
This beautiful and historic park has many different features, a golf course, hockey rink and plenty of open space. The layout makes it an excellent place for sledding and tubing during the winter.
2. Schenectady’s Central Park 3. Maple Ski Ridge
Best Reception Hall
Franklin Plaza, Troy
When celebrating an event as monumental as your wedding, you of course, want it to be at the finest place around. At Franklin Plaza in downtown historic Troy, you and your guests will enjoy homemade hors d’oeuvres, customized menus and the very best wines.
Large windows, chandeliers, fireplaces and high ceilings add to the warm ambiance of their halls that will make every guest feel welcome.
2. Glen Sanders Mansion 3. Hall of Springs
Best Romantic Getaway
Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid
Transformed in 1924 out of an old country estate, Mirror Lake Inn offers all the beauty of the Adirondacks with the service of a New York City five-star hotel. Sanctuaries, spas, fireplaces and whirlpools make it the most relaxing and romantic places to steal away to. Share a dinner for two at one of the three restaurants or sit back and relax in a specialty suite perfect for a second honeymoon or just some much needed alone time.
2. The Sagamore 3. Saratoga Rose Inn
Best Ski Area
Jiminy Peak, Hancock, MA
Forty-four amazing trails on 170 acres of terrain await you at this mountain! Not a skier? You could always drop by and take a few lessons available throughout the season. There’s something for every age group and skiing ability.
2. Gore Mountain 3. Lake Placid
Best Weekend Getaway
Everything under the sun—that sums up what there is to do on a weekend in Lake Placid. Museums, golfing, fishing, boating or shopping—so much to do it will make your head spin. The natural beauty of the Adirondacks gives breathtaking sights and adventurous opportunities like ice climbing and white water rafting. Of course, you can always decide to sit back and relax in one of the many beautiful hotels or Inns and enjoy some quiet time.
2.New York City 3. Saratoga
Best in Culture
Best Children’s Museum
The Children’s Museum at Saratoga, Saratoga Springs
Need a place to go that will stimulate your child’s mind in a fun, creative way? Here, your kids will learn the wonders of science, art and history. Programs like “Lasting Impression”, which teaches kids about fossils or “Stuff”, a seven-foot doll that unzips to teach kids about health, make learning fun and exciting.
2. Children’s Museum of Science & Tech. 3. Schenectady Museum
Best Comedy Club
Comedy Works, Albany
When you’re looking for a night of side-splitting laughter, make reservations at Comedy Works. The club’s stage has been graced by big names such as Ray Romano and Robin Williams early in their career. Enjoy a great show for $20 or make it an event and add dinner. Either way, their performers will definitely leave you with that great feeling you get after a night of laughs.
Best Concert Hall
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy
A historic landmark, the Troy Music hall has been in existence since 1823. For years, world renowned artists have graced the stage with concerts and operas. Artists have included Grammy-award winning violinist Joshua Bell and most recently, Grammy award winning Taj Mahal Trio. Home to the Albany Symphony Orchestra, a trip here brings you art, history and beauty all wrapped into one spectacular building.
2. SPAC 3. The Palace Theatre
Best Summer Fair
Altamont Fair, Altamont
Established as a permanent fair in 1893, this fair has been entertaining families for generations. As you stroll through the fairgrounds, you can visit an authentic Dutch barn, visit the farmhouse museum, learn about the development of the automobile or stop at one of the many vendors to purchase crafts and other wares. And of course, no trip to the fair is complete without going on the scrambler and throwing your diet rules away for a day to enjoy fried dough and corn dogs.
2. Schaghticoke Fair 2. Freihofer’s Jazz Festival
Lark Fest, Albany
Music, food and fun are what you find each year at Lark Fest. The Festival held on Lark Street brings together families, hundreds of vendors and restaurants. One of the largest street festivals in upstate New York, you can stroll down the street stopping in shops, to shop, eat and enjoy the live music.
2. St. Anthony’s 3. East Durham Irish Festival
Best Live Music
Alive at Five, Corning Preserve, Albany
The City of Albany comes alive every Thursday evening from June through August by the river with free outdoor summer concerts. Now in its 18th season, this summer you can grab your friends, enjoy a cold drink and vendor food and simply dance around like a kid again.
2. The Ruddys 3.SPAC
Best Local Band
Burners UK, Albany
Though they are now on hiatus, this band has burned up many of the local stages in the Capital Region. For those of you looking to get your fix, log onto their website and find out about purchasing one of their CDs or learn what’s coming up for each individual member.
2. Hair Of The Dog 3. Mojo Magic
Best Movie Theater
Spectrum 8 Theaters, Albany
Locally owned, this independent movie theater offers the blockbuster hits as well as independent and foreign films. While having all the things you love about the larger theaters, the Spectrum has its own sense of uniqueness before each movie, there is a slide show of local artists and the snack bar offers up more than just popcorn and candy. Here, you can get brownies, cakes, tea or coffee. Oh, and PS: the popcorn has real butter!
2. Regal Crossgates Cinema 18 3. Scotia Cinema
New York State Museum, Albany
Upon entering this museum, you’re greeted by the Cohoes Mastodon, which dates back to the Ice Age. Understand the Native American culture better through a unique collection of crafts. Or learn about the diverse and rich culture of Harlem in the 20’s. As you explore the different exhibits you’re sure to learn something new about art, culture, history and sometimes things you wouldn’t expect like…chocolate. Don’t forget to check out the carousel on the third floor that was originally built in 1912.
2. Albany Institute of History & Art 3. Schenectady Museum
Best Theater Plays/Musicals
Proctors Theatre, Schenectady
Proctors Theater has it all. The theater holds two stages that are no stranger to big names, some of which include Tony Bennet, Duke Ellington and Mariah Carrey. Also available is a GE multiple purpose theater where mainstream movies like “Babel” and “Kill Bill Volume Two” have run with ticket prices as low as $3! With an arcade in the works, thereÍs everything you could ask for in a night out.
2. Capital Repertory Theater 3. The Egg
Empire State Youth Orchestra, Albany
Empire State Youth Orchestra is comprised of over 75 students from the eastern New York States, western Massachusetts and southern Vermont who come together to make beautiful music. There are two full orchestras, wind orchestra, string Ensemble, two Jazz ensembles, three percussion ensembles and a city strings training program. After long months of practicing, the students perform about 30 public concerts a year and are featured on CBS6’s Melodies of Christmas.
2. Philadelphia Orchestra at SPAC
Albany Symphony Orchestra, Albany
Founded in 1930 by Professor John F. Carabella, this orchestra records the work of both established composers and up and coming American composers to constantly bring different sounds to their audience. Performing at the Troy Music Hall their beautiful sound is a treat for anyone who appreciates amazing classical music.
Best in Services
Best Car Wash
Hoffman’s Car Wash, Various Locations
Tom Hoffman, Sr. was a professional bowler in Albany and purchased car wash equipment in 1965 after his grandfather’s bowling alley was destroyed by lightening. Current owner Tom Hoffman Jr. says, “It’s all the good people I work with that make our business great. We’re committed to servicing the car-care needs of their customers whether through Jiffy Lube or Hoffman’s Car Wash. It’s a family run, local business and we work really hard to hire and train good people and learn new ideas and implement them into our business to exceed our customer’s expectations.”
2. Colonial Car Wash 3. Rain Dancer Car Wash
Classé Catering, Albany
The only caterer that handles off-premises catering exclusively, these caterers are able to handle any event at just about any location. From wedding receptions to cocktail parties to business functions, you know you’ll be pampered with Classé Catering. With a wide array of menu items from Mediterranean Chicken & Pecan Encrusted Salmon to cheesecake and crepes, every need can be met. They handle the cooking, set-up, serving and cleanup. All you have to do is show up and enjoy yourself.
2. Old Daley Inn 3. Glen Sanders Mansion
Best Dating Service
Okay, so it isn’t exactly local. But, as the popularity of online dating has risen tremendously in the past few years, it’s Match.com that is the most popular site for Albany singles. Just log on, set up your profile and get ready to meet more people than you’ll ever meet out on a Friday night. Be prepared to meet your perfect match!
2. It’s Just Lunch 3. e-Harmony.com
Best Day Spa
Kimberley’s…A Day Spa Ltd., Latham
When you need a pick me up in a beautiful upscale atmosphere, Kimberley’s Day Spa is the perfect place to go. The menu offers traditional services like haircuts, facials and massages and not-so-traditional services such as the Triple Chocolate Decadence Manicure and Cucubita Pumpkin Masque Float.
2. Jean Paul Day Spa & Hair Salon 3. Serenity Day Spa
Best Fitness Center
Curves, East Greenbush
In today’s busy world, it’s hard to find time to work out. But, at Curves, all you need is 30 minutes to help get you in shape. With machines specifically designed for women you’ll be inspired by the other members to stick to your workout and live a healthy life.
2. Gold’s Gym 3. YMCA
Frank Gallo & Son Florist, various locations
The freshest flowers and prompt delivery is the promise made by Frank Gallo & Son Florist. In business since 1930, their arrangements are beautiful and appropriate for any occasion. They guarantee their flowers, plants and gourmet baskets, which ensures you that you’re ordering the best.
2. Price Chopper 3. Fleurtacious Designs
Serenity Day Spa and Salon, East Greenbush
The warm weather is finally here so get your feet sandal ready! Here, pedicures are truly relaxing experiences complete with exfoliation and massages. Serenity is the perfect place to relax as professionals gently exfoliate, massage and polish your tired hands and feet. And don’t think it’s just for women; Serenity Day Spa and Salon offers separate men’s packages.
2. Fresh Face Forward 3. Kimberley’s…A Day Spa, Ltd.
Norm Stahlman’s Mobil, East Greenbush
Many will agree that finding a mechanic you trust is important. For the second year in a row, Capital Region residents agree that Norm Stahlman is the mechanic of choice. Open for inspections, auto repair, lube jobs and any other aspect of car upkeep, you can definitely trust your car to Stahlman’s Mobil.
2. Larry’s Foreign Auto 3. Lia Toyata
Best Men’s Hair Salon
Rumors IV Men, Latham
The ultimate man salon where you can sit back and watch TV with the guys as you get the perfect hair cut. Treat yourself to hot shaves and skin care or get in style with coloring and a variety of grooming products. Top off your visit with a shoe shine and you’ll leave looking like a million bucks.
2. Gregory’s Barbershop 2. Sal’s Barbershop
Best New Salon
Shelley Salon and Day Spa, East Greenbush
Whether you’re in need of a new look or just a trim, trust your tresses to the professionals. Prices vary by who is cutting your hair, but with a well trained team you can be sure you’ll leave looking great. Any look is possible, from perms to flat ironed sleek looks. They offer beard trims, for men and Shelley’s special children’s prices.
2. Cleopatra Salon & Specialty Boutique Tied 3. Signatures Salon & Spa, Shapes & Colours
Best Pet Groomer
PetSmart, Various Locations
“PetSmart started in the late eighties as a warehouse-concept pet retailer, but the needs of our “pet parents’ changed as pets became more accepted as family members,” said Michelle Freidman, spokesperson for PetSmart, Inc. “We provide total lifetime care for pets including all services, products, information and advice. Grooming including teeth cleaning, nail trimming and health care is certainly a part.” Friedman noted the extensive training program as being key to their success and adapting breed-specific training for the growing hybrid-breed market including labradoodles and puggles.
2. Petskleen 3. Pet Spa
Best Pilates Center
The Movement Lab, Troy
Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates to help wounded soldiers during WWII, but it has exploded over the last decade as a mat or machine based workout that centers on your core. At the Movement Lab you have a 55 minute workout, either by yourself or in a group. Move, stretch and breathe with classes that help improve your health and your physique.
2. Kula Experience 3. Albany Pilates Center
Best Women’s Hair Salon
Jean Paul Day Spa & Hair Salon, Albany
Every woman is special at Jean Paul Day Spa, where the mission is to provide excellent customer service and a great and welcoming attitude. No matter what the occasion, weddings, parties or just an everyday wash and cut, this salon is ready to cater to your needs. Is it any wonder that they’ve won best women’s hair salon?
2. Rumors 3. Fantastic Sams Family Hair
Best Yoga Center
Albany Kripalu Yoga Center, Albany
Kripalu offers over 40 varieties of yoga for every level of expertise. For your convenience, the Center has multiple class sites, with the main location off of Wolf Road. AKYC also offers a Sunday Sadhana, which is complimentary to members, as well as weekend classes on a variety of topics from drumming to meditation. There is also a yoga class for mom and baby!
2. Soluna Yoga Studio
Best in Shopping
Bournebrook Antiques, Troy
Located in the old Thomasville Furniture Store, Bournebrook Antiques has over 12,000 square feet of space packed full of treasures from long ago from nearly four dozen dealers. Quality is the key when buying antiques and Bournebrook is at the top of the list when it comes to finding the perfect antique from any era, be it furniture, mirrors or paintings. Open seven days a week, you can go antiquing whenever the mood strikes you at this extraordinary antique center.
2. Eagle Mills Antiques 3. River Street Antiques
Christmas Tree Shop, Colonie
As the familiar jingle asks, “Don’t you just love a bargain?” With such low prices, everyday is like Christmas at the Christmas Tree Shop! You can find everything from wrapping paper to toiletries to home décor, all at wallet-friendly prices. Whether you’re shopping for a friend, your home or just browsing, the Christmas Tree Shop truly has the most unrivaled bargains in the Capital Region.
2. Target 3. Marshalls
Downtube Bicycle Works, Albany
Since its opening as a small shop in 1996, Downtube has grown to the largest online bicycling resource center. With some of the best service and a very knowledgeable staff you know you’ll find the right bike for you. They’ll also teach you how to take care of your bike to keep it in great shape! Whether you’re an old pro looking for the best new bike, or a newbie looking to break in a brand new bike (as well as purchase all your safety gear), Downtube is the right shop for you.
2. CK Cycles 3. Plains Bike Ski Snowboard
Borders, Various Locations
With multiple locationl, book lovers don’t have to travel far to find what they want. With hundreds of titles in stock, as well as a huge selection of books and movies, Borders has something for everyone.
2. The Book House of Stuyvetsant Plaza 3. Bookmark of Latham LLC.
Uncle Sam’s Candy, Schenectady
Customers travel from several states just to try Uncle Sam’s Candy. There’s a candy to fit every occasion, hobby and craving. Try the delicious fudge, turtles, chocolate bark and more. There are also plenty of tasty sugar-free options to choose from as well. You can visit the shop or order online from the comfort of your own home.
2. Krause’s Homemade Candy 3. The Chocolate Gecko
ME Fashion Boutique, Loudonville
New to the area for only six months, ME Fashion Boutique is the place for women to go for that perfect outfit, no matter what the occasion. Owner Lindsay Phillips chose the Newton Plaza location because “it gives the boutique much more personality” and sets her apart from her department store competitors. “I really like the plaza and the smaller home like community.” With a sleek Manhattan feel, there are even couches to rest your tired feet after a long day of shopping.
2. Circles 3. Some Girls Boutique
Liz’s Closet, Albany
For gently used clothes, Liz’s Closet is the place to go. With a huge selection of clothing, you can find a great wardrobe staple that you’d never find at the mall for a fraction of the price! Who doesn’t love to look great at half the price?
2. Something Olde Something New
Kristy’s Barn, Schodack
Open May through Thanksgiving, Kristy’s Barn offers a large selection of high quality produce, flowers and plants. Unique to many farm stands, Kristy’s Barn also offers fresh meat and poultry, raised hormone-free, right on their farm. You can also shop for baked goods, jams, cheeses and honey syrups.
2. Calhoun’s Farm Stand 3. Gade Farm
Troy Waterfront Farmer’s Market
Each Saturday, over 50 local farmers and vendors gather to offer fresh and locally produced products from meat to baked goods to farm fresh fruits and vegetables. So rather than trudging to the grocery store each week, head to the Troy Waterfront Farmer’s Market for some of the freshest goods around.
2. Kristy’s Barn 3. Rensselaer County Farmers Market
Hewitt’s Garden Center, Various Locations
For the past 40 year’s Hewitt’s Garden Centers have been providing the Capital Region with garden products, tools and services. With eight different locations in the Capital Region, Hewitt’s has grown to be the fifth largest independent retail garden center in the country. Stop in at any location to check out their large selections of perennials, annuals trees, shrubs and all the things you’ll need to make your garden fabulous.
2. Faddegon’s Nursery Inc. 3. Becker’s Farm
Wit’s End Giftique, Clifton Park
Aside from having the area’s largest selection of collectibles, shopping at Wit’s End is an experience in itself. The inside of the store is complete with cobblestone “streets” leading shoppers to different areas containing new and interesting treasures. Be it unique or old classics, if you’re looking for that perfect gift you’ll find it here.
2. Pearl Grant Richmans 3. Krafts By Kim
True Value, Various Locations
For home repair to weatherproofing to building a tree house, True Value has what Capital Region residents are looking for. With several locations you won’t have to travel far to find one. Whether you’re sprucing up your garden and need the latest tools or performing major surgery on your bathroom, True Value is the place to go for all your questions and tool needs!
2. Lowe’s 3. The Home Depot
Health Food Store
Honest Weight Co-Op, Albany
The Honest Weight Co-Op is member-owned and-operated, committed to providing the community with affordable, high quality natural foods and products for healthy living. Breads, produce, organic foods and much more are available.
2. Uncle Sam’s Good Natural Products 3. Earthly Delights Natural Food
Mayfair Jewelers, Scotia & Latham
Family owned and operated, Mayfair Jewelers was started by Frank Sosnowski in 1953, with brothers John and Victor buying into the business in 1989. Co-owner John, a graduate and certified gemologist said, “This validates something we’ve tried to do for a long time: to do the right thing for our customers. We’re straight, honest and supply competent information to our customers, plus we back our engagement diamonds up with a warranty that’s unmatched in the business.”
2. Frank Adams Jewelers Inc. 3. Hannoush Jewelers
For well over 80 years, Spector’s has been meeting men’s needs when it comes to dressing well. Originally located in downtown Albany, the store has changed locations over the years and now calls Colonie Center home. Every man with a sense of style should head over to Spector’s where they’ll find excellent quality suits, slacks, shirts, ties and jackets for special events, business and everyday wear.
2. Christopher’s Mens Store 3. JoS. A. Bank Clothiers
FYE, Various Locations
Whether you are in Crossgates or Colonie Center, FYE is the place to go for a huge selection of music and movies. You can spend hours sampling new releases or listening to golden oldies. Every sound track imaginable is housed here, not to mention a few cool movies, games and electronic accessories that you just shouldn’t do without.
2. Best Buy 3. Borders Books & Music
Saratoga Shoe Depot, Saratoga Springs & Delmar
Though the selection is enormous, Saratoga Shoe Depot offers more than just amazing shoes. Clothing, accessories, jewelry and even cool toys are all available, and at pretty reasonable prices. So when your feet are in need of pampering and you’re getting ready for a night out, Saratoga Shoe Depot is your one stop shop to glamorous.
2. DSW Shoe Warehouse 3. Macy’s Shoe Dept.
Sporting Goods Store
Sports Authority, Albany & Latham
No matter what your favorite sport is, Sports Authority has what you need. They offer athletic apparel and footwear, as well as fitness and sports equipment. With summer fast approaching you know you can get all your gear here and not miss a beat of the summer sports action!
2. Dick’s Sporting Goods 2. Goldstock’s Sporting Goods
Book Barn, Latham
For a huge selection of titles, Book Barn will surely have a book that suits everyone’s tastes. With a constantly changing inventory, the Book Barn has reading material that you can’t get anywhere else. And at a price much lower than the competition. It’s a steal!
2. Lyrical Ballad Bookstore 3. Good Buy Books
Wine and Liquor Shop
All-Star Wine & Spirits, Latham
Whatever your tastes, All-Star Wine & Spirits has such an impressive selection, you won’t leave here empty-handed. France, Italy, Australia and New Zealand are just a few places their wines are imported from. You can browse the shelves of the store to find something you like or you can order online.
2. Exit 9 Wine & Liquor 3. Vineyard Wine + Spirits
Local People and Media
Liz Bishop, CBS6
Liz Bishop began as a sportscaster for Channel 6 in 1973, while a sophomore at SUNY Albany, when there were only a half-dozen women sportscasters in the country. Though known as the first woman reporter allowed in the New York Yankee’s locker room, Bishop describes the defining moment in her career as going to NYC with the Capital District Search and Rescue Team following 9/11. Upon receiving her award she says: “This area is home and it’s so gratifying to be recognized for working as hard as I do.”
2. John Gray 3. Greg Floyd
Growing up in Hudson, Leo Tantillo knew from a young age that art would be a lifelong passion. His paintings with mostly nautical themes are breathtaking. Truly talented he recently won the Rudolph J Schaefer award for his painting “The Marigold at Raspberry Island”, 1939. His gallery in the heart of Albany is a full service gallery and frame shop that showcases his talent in multiple medias, including stain glass.
2. Harry Orlyk 3. Audrey Romano
Steve Caporizzo, WTEN News10
As people tune into the news each day, an always-burning question is, “What will the weather be like?” Enter Steve Caporizzo (a three-time winner) with up-to-date weather reports to help you plan your day. But this meteorologist has passions other than the weather. He spends his spare time raising money for local animal shelters both here and in Massachusetts and started the Pet Connection segment on News10 to help homeless pets find owners.
2. Steve LaPoint 3. Bob Kovachick
He played his first guitar when he was 13. After that, there was no turning back for this blues musician. Today, Ernie Williams is a seasoned blues veteran playing in various clubs in Albany, Boston and Chicago. He’s been the opening act for greats like B.B. King and Aretha Franklin, released eight CDs and has even been featured in a Cannon Printer commercial. There’s nothing Ernie hasn’t done, and there’s only more possibilities to come.
2. Brian Patenaude
Best Newspaper Columnist
When he’s not delivering the news, Fox23 anchor John Gray spends time writing a weekly column for the Troy Record (and a monthly column for CRL). He tackles many subjects in a witty, down-to-earth manner from politics to relationships to pop culture. His passion for writing is evident in every column and his connection with the people of the Capital Region through words is unmistakable.
2. Fred Lebrun 3. Carl Strock
As Republican Assembly minority leader, James Tedisco has been an active member of the Schenectady community for years. It’s no wonder that in 2005 he was unanimously elected into his position. He’s won numerous civic awards and honors and has proposed bills to make the government more accountable to its citizens.
2. Paul Tonko 3. Elliot Spitzer
Best Radio Personality
Bob Wolf, WPYX (PYX-106)
Bob Wolf, headliner of “Waking up with the Wolf,” which airs weekdays from 5:30am-10am, came to PYX in 1997 from WPDH Poughkeepsie. Together with sidekick Jesse Adams and flutist Ellen Z on news, the trio is well-known for involving their listeners in pulling off practical jokes and rallying around causes to make the area a better place. “The people here are tremendously generous,” said Wolf. “What they did for Extreme Makeover and the outpouring of support every year for PYX-mas wish is just amazing. And, I’ve seen that kind of giving here time and again.”
2. Don Weeks (WGY) 3. Chuck and Kelly (105.7 The Buzz)