Winter, spring, summer or fall this park is gorgeous throughout
the changing seasons of the Northeast, and yeah we know what
you’re thinking—it’s in Schenectady—but get over it; it’s
worth the pain it takes to get there. Huge playground, clean
facilities, large pavilions, grills and enough open fields
for Frisbee play. Be sure to check out the rose garden; it
Best Park (Sports Enthusiast)
It seems as though there’s always something going on in Lincoln
Park that has fans lining the crateresque lower fields with
lawn chairs. Whether it’s cricket, rugby, flag football, or
plain old soccer and baseball, there’s always a match of some
sort—and there’s always a crowd of spectators to join. And
with the many slopes to choose from, you can privately enjoy
the events upon a grassy knoll.
Best Park (Key Necessary)
What can we tell you about Washington Park in Troy? Well,
it’s got a great perimeter. You need a key to get in it, à
la Grammercy Park in NYC, but who needs to do that? It’s just
as enjoyable to enjoy a post-prandial stroll along the sidewalk
that abuts this lush jewel. And if you hang out around this
park enough, we’re sure you can make friends with someone
who can gain you entrance.
Best Hike (Back Pack)
High Peaks Region, Keene
Mount Marcy is just one of the nine peaks that comprise the
High Peaks, and it’s the highest. This is a hike not for the
faint of heart. But if you are in reasonably good shape, you
can take it on. Different trails will test your mettle, but
one thing is for sure: When you get to the summit on a clear
day you can see forever, almost. The best way to do it is
plan an overnight stay, grab a lean-to and enjoy the night
sky; you’ll never feel closer to the stars.
Best Hike (Picnic Pack)
Prospect Mountain, just outside of Lake George Village, is
a nice family hike. It’s challenging, as the trail is pretty
much straight up the mountain, but it doesn’t take a whole
afternoon—and the big payoff of a beautiful vista and place
to rest at the top is never that far off. And if there’s someone
among your party that just won’t do the walk, they can drive
to the top and meet you.
Best Hike (Pack a Day)
John Boyd Thacher State Park
So you want to get some of that great outdoors everyone’s
squawking about, but don’t think you have the lung capacity
to take on a colossal uphill climb? Well, we’ve got one for
you hackers. John Boyd Thacher State Park is covered with
footpaths of varying degrees. Yes, there’s the Indian Ladder
Trail, but across the street there are also many routes, including
an interpretive nature trail, for easygoing meandering. Head
to the top of the easy-sloped hill and you’ll hit Beaver Dam
Road—across which wait many more miles of woodsy walks.
Best Golf Course(Public)
After years and years of renovations, this course is really
showing it’s worth. This is a good track for beginners and
will also challenge the low cappers. Over the years many holes
have been lengthened and bunkers added (this year they added
real beach sand to the traps), and the greens—one word—fast!
Albany residents get a big discount and tee-time priorities,
but even the non-Albanians have to get a run at this course;
you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Best Golf Course (Private)
Mohawk Country Club
Union St., Schenectady
We’ve voted this course the best for so many years you’d think
they would give us an honorary membership, but no, we still
have to test it out by bribing the kid in the pro shop. Just
kidding—we actually get out there with a legit member and
we love it. If you ever wondered what it’s like to play a
course like the pros play, this is the best this area has
to offer. Even professional John Daly, on his recent visit
to Capital Region, had a hard time with greens and managing
this tough track. So what are you waiting for? Go bribe that
kid in the pro shop.
Best Golf Course (When the Boss Is Paying)
Saratoga National Golf Course
Union Ave., Saratoga Springs
Our boss is very generous, and we love him very much, but
yup—you guessed it—he doesn’t pick up the greens fees. Regardless,
this $100-plus round of golf (prices vary based on day) is
well worth the cost. Get out and play it now, because after
next week this track will be packed, and you’ll have to wait
till September. Wetlands and water hazards are in play on
all 18 holes, and there are enough sand traps to start a public
beach, and the greens? Well, let’s just say we spend a little
extra time testing the greens. This course is a must-play
for any avid golfer.
Best Miniature Golf
9, Lake George
Truly Lake George’s best mini-golf scene, Pirate’s Cove takes
golfers on a fantasy tour of pirate life, complete with ghoulish
staged vignettes between holes, while affording them a challenging,
Best Tennis Courts
It’s where the pros play when they come to town—’nuff said.
Tons of green-covered macadam, and rarely a wait, all in a
setting that is just beautiful. Make sure you check out the
Buzz, Schenectady’s own professional tennis team.
Best Place to Mountain Bike
Grafton State Park
2, Grafton, New York
The multi-use trails at Grafton have long been the site for
many a mountain-bike epic, but thanks to the continued advocacy
and trail work of the Mohawk Hudson Cycling Club, this killer
network has been expanded and linked to other trail systems
(including Pittstown State Forest). From the craggy, technical
switchbacks of Bonnie & Clyde to the more vanilla Spruce
Bog, there’s something here for everyone—and hey, it’s actually
all legal! The park is also the site of a great Mountain Bike
Festival every September.
Best Scenic Drive (West)
Yes, it’s a superhighway—but that’s why it has such terrific
views. The hills and valleys of Leatherstocking country are
gorgeous in any season (though snow squalls can get in the
way on this route), but never more than in the fall, when
they simply dazzle. Those winds out of the west bring the
leaves into color earlier, making a nice alternative to the
ever-more-crowded Berkshires/Vermont region in early leaf-peeping
Best Scenic Drive (South)
Route 144 to Selkirk
Do this sometime: Leave Albany through the South End (from
which you can get a cool view of the city) and travel through
Glenmont, Selkirk and Coeymans along Route 144. The scenery
of the woods, fields and river, mingled with the beautiful
houses along the route, makes this drive one of our favorites.
Best Scenic Drive (East)
Almost any road into Berkshire County
Try Route 2 over Petersburgh Pass and absorb the breathtaking
view as you come down the mountain into Williamstown. Or take
bucolic Route 43 through a break in the mountains and enjoy
the pastoral vistas of Berkshire farmland. Or follow 22 to
71 into Great Barrington, weaving in and out of splendid woods
as you go, and seeing some fine country homes in the process.
Any way, you’ll get a feast of nature’s eye candy.
Best Scenic Drive (North)
Route 9N, North Shore of Lake George
Heading North with no particular place to go? Try cruising
up around the north shore of Lake George. Once you get up
to Diamond Point, you will forget that you are just 15 minutes
from the hustle and bustle of touristy Lake George Village.
With its rolling hills that spill into beautiful Lake George,
you almost feel as if you’re driving down the coast of Highway
1 in California—well, maybe only for a brief second—but even
still, this is one of the most beautiful drives the North
Country has to offer.
Best Walkable Downtown
We’re not talking retail shopping to compete with the likes
of Saratoga Springs, but when it comes to being truly walkable,
Troy’s got it going on. For instance, you can stroll from
the funky antique and gift stores on River Street, to City
Hall, to the Arts Center of the Capital Region, to Riverfront
Park—all without even crossing the street. And if you do need
to cross the street, there won’t be a lot of traffic to get
in your way.
nature: the Grafton Peace Pagoda..
Photo by Shannon DeCelle
The Grafton Peace Pagoda
off Route 2, Grafton
OK, so it’s the only peace pagoda, but even if there were
others around, we’re sure this one would still be the best.
With a woodsy approach trail (but alternative access for vehicles
carrying the less-physically able), a sweet view of the Berkshires
to the east and the life of the Buddha in monochromatic tiles
encircling it, this monument rewards all seekers with its
stately, meditative presence. Nearby gardens and the equally
impressive Buddhist temple next door complete the picture
of tranquility that can and will soothe the troubled soul
that comes to Grafton.
Best View of Albany
the Hudson River
Even with the new walkway, you can’t really appreciate the
Hudson from Albany, but then again, maybe that’s because the
city has spent decades forgetting it even has a riverfront.
The best place to soak in the sights and feel the awesome
majesty of this great river is, well, on the river. Rent a
boat or hitch a ride with a nautically minded friend, cruise
to a desired location, set anchor, and just . . . enjoy. Albany
never looked better.
Best View of Troy
It’s a nice close view of the Collar City from West Hall,
the huge old building that houses the art department of Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute. The onetime hospital (and what a creepy
hospital it must have been—High Anxiety anyone?) sits
atop a hill, and when you’re sitting on the steps of the grand
structure, you may enjoy the neighborhoods that are spread
out before you (close enough to make out the details, which
is nice) in relative solitude—as passers by rarely think to
look up from the sidewalk.
Best View of Schenectady
Mayor Al’s bus tour
You have to get up pretty early to get the best view of Schenectady
and—oh, yeah—it helps to be from Guyana. But if you shuffle
up the steps of City Hall on a Saturday morning and hop on
Mayor Al’s bus tour, you’re sure to see all the highlights
that the city has to offer. Mayor Al started these weekly
bus tours two years ago as a way to woo Guyanese immigrants
to his city. He takes them through Schenectady’s Central Park
and shows off everything from Richmond Hill to the GE plot.
The bus tour usually ends at his in-laws home, where the guests
are treated to homemade vino.
Best View of the Hudson River
And if you stick a cement plant in the way, you think anybody
will ever paint this view again?
Best View of the Guilderland Industrial Park
Thacher Park Overlook
It’s uncanny how when you bring a potential paramour to the
overlook at Thacher Park, you can’t help noticing that sprawling
complex of the Guilderland Industrial Park smack dab in the
middle of the view. Oh, and you can see the State Campus from
Best Ski Area
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort
Jiminy Peak is the winner among skiers and snowboarders alike.
It’s right in our backyard—go to Averill Park, and keep going
a snitch, and you’re there—and it’s a challenging and beautiful
mountain. Snowboarders really dig the snowboard park, and
one rarely has to hoof it along the flats—the mountain almost
always points down. Another big plus is the large amount of
lit trails for nighttime activity.
trails: Five Rivers Environmental Education Center.
Photo by Teri Currie
Five Rivers Environmental Education Center
Farm Road, Delmar
Just past the hustle and bustle of the big city sit 400 acres
of beautiful nature trails known as the Five Rivers Environmental
Education Center. It’s at the edge of Delmar, south of Albany,
and we can’t get enough of the center’s woods, fields and
wetlands—all covered with interpretive trails aplenty. You
can take a leisurely stroll in the warmer months or a snowshoe
or ski trek in the winter, and you won’t leave without a wildlife
siting. There’s even a covered pavilion to rest your weary
A perennial winner. There’s a big patch of grass for sunning,
a really big sandbox for the kids, and water that lives up
to its name. If anyone tells you to go jump in a lake, this
is the place to do it.
Best Swimming Pool
Spa State Park
Still the crown jewel of area pools, even if recent slippages
in upkeep have caused a save-the-pool uproar. Graceful, elegant,
and laid-back. With drinks. The word “lolling” was invented
Best Swimming Hole
The stunning surroundings of the swimming hole at Waconah
Falls makes it the most serene, peaceful swim you’ll ever
experience (granted, of course, you’re smart and go there
during the week when it’s pretty void of other people). The
rushing waterfalls provide the expected meditative hum to
serve as a backdrop for your refreshing swim; after you dry
off, go for a hike in the surrounding foothills of the Berkshires.
Best Indoor Rock Gym
Electric City Rock Gym
State St., Schenectady
Are you sick of climbing the walls at work? Try an alternative
way of exercising your body and mind. Electric City has great
30-foot walls, and more routes to climb than you can shake
a stick at. And for all you bouldering folks, there’s a big
new room for you, too.
Best Ice Skating/Ice Hockey Facility
The B.I.G. Arena
Delaware Ave., Delmar
Two rinks, a store, birthday parties, public skating sandwiched
in-between lessons and leagues, an upstairs bar and viewing
area—even special events geared toward local teens. What more
do you want? Karaoke?
Best Street Name
not the place you want to try your hand at driving drunk.
Then again, if you got caught, it might make a handy excuse.
and Tubbs: Albanys N. Pearl Street.
Photo by Joe Putrock
Street Masquerading as an airport runway
North Pearl Street from Clinton Avenue to State Street
What’s with those new lights along North Pearl Street? It’s
also the best place to do your deer-caught-in-the-headlights
impersonation, as it’s virtually impossible to do anything
Best Town Name Juxtaposition
Climax and Surprise
It’s a short drive from Climax to Surprise. Boy, who hasn’t
had that feeling? Am I right? Anyone?
Best Street Name (Ego Division)
MASS MoCA WAY
Look, we like MASS MoCA quite a bit, but was there anything
fundamentally wrong, anything inherently anti- artistic, with
the name “Marshall Street”?
Best Place to Steal Gas in the Capital Region
City of Rensselaer
Just ask the mayor. In May, Rensselaer Police Chief Rick Fusco
charged Mayor Mark Pratt with 32 misdemeanors for allegedly
stealing $456.93 worth of gas on a city credit card, despite
the mayor’s claims that he submitted receipts for reimbursement.
Is this just another chapter in an ongoing melodrama among
Rensselaer’s public officials, or did the mayor really try
to get over on the public’s dime? Judicial proceedings are
ongoing, but we know one thing for sure: Rensselaer civil
servants beware: They’re keeping a close eye on the office
Best Impersonation of a Monkey Wrench
Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings
We can’t help but wonder what the hell Mayor Jennings was
thinking when he decided it would’ve been better to scrap
a voter-approved school facilities plan in favor of his own,
oh-so-vague plan when the district was having difficulty finding
a home for its third middle school. If memory serves, at issue
was time—as in not having enough. Jennings thought it would
have been better to begin the facilities plan anew—with all
the accompanying citing, zoning and environmental review headaches—rather
than help the city school district find a new place to cite
its third middle school. Huh? Uh, Jerry, you’re a retired
education administrator. Stick to public works projects—they
seem to be right up your alley.
Best Candidates for a Coup in the Capital Region
Troy City School District Administration
Years of poor financial decision making came to a head this
year for the Troy City School District when Gov. Pataki issued
a barebones budget rife with cuts to public-school funding.
The school board offered Troy taxpayers a 37-percent tax increase,
which was resoundingly defeated by 86 percent of voters, and
the board relied on Uncle Joe Bruno for a bailout—again!
Best Local Politician
Albany Alderman Dominick Calsolaro (Ward 1)
Dominick Calsolaro, who represents Albany’s South End, is
an old-school politician who takes his public service seriously
and wears his heart on his sleeve. Calsolaro puts the interests
of his constituents before his politics, even when doing so
means losing control of whatever it is he’s trying to accomplish—like
the gun violence task force and the resolution opposing the
Patriot Act. Both ideas were co-opted by others before coming
to light in the Common Council, but we remember with whom
Best Community Activist
Erin O’Brien, Women Against War, The Women’s Building
Erin O’Brien has been very busy this year—organizing the protests
at Crossgates Mall after the T-shirt arrests, participating
in the Fast for Peace, maintaining the Women’s Building, attending
the international peace and justice conference in Chicago
and planning for a local event. Whew. There are surely
a number of other things we’ve missed, but we’re sure she’s
on top on them.
Best Way to Make John Ashcroft’s Shit List
Hang Out at 98 Grand St. in Albany
This is the home of the Ironweed Collective, Albany’s autonomous
community of resistance working to end empire by practicing
self-reliance and grassroots activism. The Collective hosts
activities ranging from self- sustainability workshops and
discussions on the practicality of anarchism to Mumia potlucks
and stitch & bitch sessions. If the FBI, INS, CIA and
DOJ haven’t placed taps on their place yet, it won’t be too
Best Pale Imitation of South Miami Beach
North Pearl Street, Albany
Fake tans, fake boobs, fake attitude, and tricked-out cars
cruising real slow. . . . In Albany’s version of Guys’n’Girls
Gone Wild, bar-fortified Pearl Street at night crawls with
would-be players strutting their stuff (whether they got the
stuff or not). Our only question is, how can you walk in those
things after four cosmopolitans?
Best Hook-Up Bar
N. Pearl St., Albany
Itching to get your freak on? Head down to Mad River, where
you’ll find mini-skirts, leather and barely-there tops, and
where patrons can get pretty nasty on the dance floor. At
Mad River the bartenders not only get in on the action, they
are a main attraction as they dance, flirt and entertain their
guests while keeping everyone in the booze. Ready to take
the party upstairs? This multilevel club has an additional
dance floor and bar surrounded by cushy velvet couches—perfect
for PDA’s that are entirely acceptable in this hot nightspot.
If you can’t hook-up here, the problem isn’t the club!
Best Dive bar
Dim lighting and dark furniture? Check. Ridiculously cheap
drinks? Check. Bartenders happy to ease your transition from
sober to staggering? Check. Whether you’re one of the regulars
or a first-time visitor, the drinks are always strong, and
the next round is there before you realize you need it. Simplicity
is the key, so if you’re in the mood to distance yourself
from the trendy masses, just pull up a seat at the bar. There’s
a jukebox filled with songs you’ll recognize, and fried food
that you won’t. It’s not a dance club, a martini lounge, or
a wine bar—it’s a dive bar, and it’s a damn good one.
Best Gay Bar
Lark St., Albany
Whether you’re being subjected to the latest from Britney
Spears or a heartwrenching ballad from Les Miserables,
“fairaoke” at Oh Bar can’t be beat on any given Thursday.
Almost as colorful as the drinks is the array of clientele:
You’ll see gay men, women, cross-dressers, heteros and metrosexuals
all joining together to enjoy the laid-back ambience.
Best Place to get Hammered Without Ordering a Single Drink
Madison Ave., Albany
If you’re a regular and Susie knows you, all you have to do
is walk in to the Lionheart and stand by the bar and voilá!
Your beer of choice is in front of you in 5.2 seconds (OK,
so we didn’t really time it, but you get the idea). Susie
has the memory of an elephant, and if you order the same drink
from her a couple times, she’s got it down. It always makes
us feel special when all we have to do is catch her eye and
she just knows.
Best Strip Club
Central Ave., Colonie
Yeah we know, your friends dragged you there, they have very
good lunches, you were entertaining an out-of-town client—we’ve
heard them all. But the reality is Sal DiCarlo has assembled
an incredible cast of strippers, er, exotic entertainers,
and we all like going there. The place is clean, the sound
system is killer and the atmosphere is pleasant. So go get
yourself some singles and stop making excuses. I wonder when
that client is coming back to town?
Troy Pub & Brewery
2. Bayou Café Downtown
2. Ferry St. Pub
Tim White - Ferry St. Pub
2. Chris Ryan - Troy Pub & Brewery
2. Jack's Oyster House
Becky Weller - Olive Garden
2. Katie Lurie - Larkin
Frank Silvaggio - Plum Blossom (tie)
2. Lake George
2. Thacher Park
2. Voorheesville Elementary
Washington Park (tie)
Place to have a cigarette
Local celebrity (got out)
Chris (Kapostasy) Jansen
2. David Hyde Pierce
Local celebrity (still here)
2. Melanie Krahmer (Sirsy)
Joe Mele (tie)
2. Jack McEneny
2. Alan Chartok
Henry Malbey (tie)