Lark Street, Albany N.Y,
Over the past two weeks I’ve been spending some time off campus due to my friends coming home from college, my desire to visit my parents, and a need to take a breather from campus life. This campus is a wonderful place, but after a while you can begin to go stir crazy as it doesn’t have shopping plazas, movie theaters, and other misc. places to amuse oneself. It was time for me to go out and experience the world, or in this case neighboring towns, around Union. I grew up in Albany, a twenty five minute drive from campus, so I know the surrounding area pretty well. I figured now would be a great opportunity to list a few attractions outside Union and outside Schenectady for those students or prospective students who aren’t familiar with the area. I will discuss a few of my favorite locales and what merits them this title.
One place you can’t really go wrong is Crossgates Mall or Colonie Center. Both malls offer a variety of stores from J. Crew, Coach, Forever 21, H & M, American Eagle, Macy’s, Old Navy, and, my personal favorite, the Pet Center. These malls are stock full of endless possibilities for the college student and due to the fact that we are all (for the most part) 18 years old, we won’t get kicked out by mall security after 4 pm! The Forever 21 at Crossgates is absolutely massive and it is possible to get lost in there for close to 3 hours. Beware, once you go in it is very hard to come out without spending over a 100 dollars. Both malls also have their own movie theaters playing a bunch of new releases and serving the most disgustingly delicious and chemical filled popcorn. The seats are also really comfortable, but make sure to get there early when going to see a newly released movie because it fills up very quickly with screaming teenagers. The Cheesecake Factory at Colonie is also a hot spot due to the delicious food and the bustling atmosphere. I love going there just to eat the red velvet cheesecake they serve. If that isn’t enough entertainment there is always the Pet Center where you can take out puppies to play with. Every time I go to either mall I have to take out a puppy. It is so much fun to pick out one of the squirmy little guys to play with, especially when you go with a friend to share in the cuteness.
Another locale I would highly suggest is downtown Albany. I LOVE downtown Albany and all the awesome, quirky shops it has. I would have to say that my favorite street hands down is Lark Street as it has a bunch of cool little shops and restaurants like Bomber’s Burrito Bar, The Daily Grind, Lark Street Flower Market, Lark Tattoo, Lark Vegas Piercing, Lil’ Buddha Tea, Psychic Gallery, Seasons Skate Shop, Shining Star, Svengali Studios, etc. Each place is unique in its own way and offers a different service to all visitors. The port in Albany is also beautiful. I have spent numerous summer days down by the river walking along the foot path with family and friends. It is a great atmosphere, especially when it is nice and sunny, and many times bands come to perform there. I also love Washington Park. When I was younger I used to tan on the grass and play on the jungle gym there. Nowadays it is just nice to walk through and look at all the flowers.
For the more adventurous students I would suggest going hiking at Thacher State Park in Voorheesville. This was one of my favorite places to go as a kid in order to hike, bike, and picnic with my family. Growing up, this hasn’t changed. I love to be outside whether it is to hike, swim, etc. The trails aren’t too difficult to hike and the views are worth any amount of sweat or grim. It is a bit difficult to get here without a car, but if you can work out a way to get there you won’t regret it.
The last place that I really like off Union’s campus would be the Spectrum 8 Movie Theater in Albany. Now I am biased as I have worked there for the past 4 years, but it is by far my favorite movie theater out of the many I have been to. It is so much smaller and more comfortably intimate then going to the gigantic movie theaters at the mall. Plus it also has a small art gallery upon entering and I always thought that component of it was very cool. It is essentially an art house complete with many independent and foreign films while mixing in a few main stream every now and again. The food is also delicious as the theater serves popcorn with, get this, REAL butter and brownies, cookies, cake, and banana bread. My favorite movie time snack is a small chai tea and a slice of banana bread. You wouldn’t be able to get that anywhere else.
These are just a few of the places outside Union I suggest visiting. It was nice to get away for a bit and experience the joys of the great beyond, but I also realized how much I consider this campus my home. After being gone a few days, I experienced a sort of home sickness that could only be cured by my return to campus.