New York’s capital region boasts more than the Governor’s mansion to attract visiting families. “And the capital of New York is…” The class fell silent. “Albany!” I shouted in triumph. For the longest time, the only thoughts I had about Albany were from my 4th grade Social Studies class. As far as my Middle-School-Manhattanite mind was concerned, New York City was the real capital of New York, and this whole Albany business was some kind of hush-hush conspiracy. As I grew older, and as the state capitals I had so diligently studied slowly slipped from my mind, Albany began to play a more central role in my life — my understanding of the city was only as deep as the green reflective signs that marked it on the highway to our annual vacations at Lake George and beyond. Here are place you must visit if you are chanced to be in Albany

Albany’s Own Greenwich Village
Perhaps my favorite stop on my trip was our visit to Lark Street. Known as the “Greenwich Village” of the Albany Capital region, the 19th century brownstone-lined street offers an eclectic array of shopping and dining. The vintage feel of the area has a selection of vintage shops to match, where you can find antiques, retro clothing, and unique jewelry.

New York State Museum
This unique museum features a hodge-podge of exhibits and programs for all ages involving science, history, education, art, and more; like a Natural History-Children’s Museum hybrid, except completely New York—centric. Popular permanent exhibits include: Ancient Life of New York: A Billion Years of Earth History; a pre-WWI Carousel; a Cahoes Mastodon; and Black Capital: Harlem in the 20s. (Admission is free; Open daily 9:30am to 5:00pm.)

Norma Jean Madison Theater
Although no longer showing the screen gems of early Hollywood history (including those of its namesake, the famed Marilyn Monroe), the Madison holds a significant place in Albany’s cinema history First opened in 1929, it is one of the city’s oldest movie “houses.” Following a difficult period during which the theater was closed for a few years, it returned strong in 2005 with a showing of Star Wars: Episode III. The theater is now open for good, and a great place to stop if you’re in the mood for a flick.