ALBANY – My family and I recently spent a few days in Albany, the capital of the State of New York, on our way to the Big Apple. Albany has attracted visitors for 400 years with historic sites, fabulous attractions, family-friendly amenities, and entertaining events.

There is an abundance of professional theatre, music, dance, sports, two large malls and a backyard full of recreational splendors. I also heard very good things about the Albany Aqua Ducks & Trolleys (albanycarservice.com), an amphibious tour and trolley tour company featuring historic tours of Albany.

This was our first stop in Albany in about eight years and we found a new place to stay. The Cresthill Suites (www.cresthillsuites.com) is an extended stay hotel located at 1415 Washington Avenue. It turned out to be most convenient for us. There were large Hannaford’s and Price Chopper grocery stores nearby, as well as plenty of restaurants, the Crossgates Mall, the Colonie Center and two movie theatre complexes. Cresthill is in fact part of a small chain, with other locales in Syracuse, NY and Wichita, Kansas.

I would strongly recommend this place for families.
Our spacious two bedroom suite had all of the comforts of home, including a fully equipped kitchen with a fridge and appliances and free wireless internet. We had a comfortable living room, with a couch, chair, table and chairs, three flat screen TVs and plenty of cupboard space.

Whether you’re staying for a night or a month in any one of these suites, the hotel offers an array of services to accommodate your travel needs. In the morning, you can enjoy a complimentary breakfast, and in the evening, a light fare reception and social hour is available every Monday through Thursday. There is daily housekeeping, same-day valet service, a grocery shopping service, free guest laundry, a fully equipped fitness center and a seasonal courtyard with a pool, patio and grills. General Manager Lisa Druckreier notes that the 10 year old property has a regular clientele who stay there for long periods of time., be it people working on big projects in town and in construction, those relocating, fire victims and of course vacationers who want to enjoy all of the comforts of home.

I found the staff at the front desk exceptionally helpful. While the room was very comfy, I also enjoyed spending time in the large lobby area and sinking into the big sofa in front of a TV, A self service coffee, tea and hot chocolate is available 24 hours a day. For more information call 1.888.723.1655 or email info@cresthillsuites.com. You can also register online.

For dinner one evening we went to Kelsey’s, located at the downtown Crowne Plaza at the corner of Lodge and State Streets. All day dining here features paninis, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, fish, salads and other lighter fare. The dinner menu features epicurean treats created by their award winning chef and the newly enhanced wine list offers 16 wines by the glass, a broad selection by the bottle, and wine flights that showcase some truly spectacular choices. This Blarney-themed pub offers an extensive beer list, featuring eight on the tap and over 10 by the bottle.

As it turned out there was a special menu the night we made our reservation. For $30 you had a choice of one of these appetizers (mixed green salad, deep fried Maryland crab cakes with chipotle lime aioli or sweet potato bisque); an entrée (Herb Crusted Filet over Blue Cheese Gratin, Fresh Grilled Asparagus With Red Wine Sauce, Pan Roasted Red Snapper, Parsnip Puree, Wilted Spinach and Sherry Vinaigrette Or Grilled Cornish Hen over Truffled Potatoes with Brussels sprouts and Sage Jus). I chose the latter and it was absolutely sensational. For dessert the options were eggnog rum cheesecake, linzer torte or chocolate cake. For more information call 518-462-6611.

The Albany area has some wonderful movie theatre complexes, each operated by the Regal Entertainment Group (www.regmovies.com). We went to the Regal Colonie Center Stadium 13. This nearly four year old movie complex encompasses around 64,000 square feet, with more than 2,800 seats in a total of 13 auditoriums. It is right next to two of my favorite restaurants, PF Chang`s China Bistro and the Cheesecake Factory and a huge Barnes & Noble, great to know when you are planning an outing. The seats at this theatre are very comfortable as they swivel. We showed up early, not knowing whether there would be a large lineup. As it turned out we got our tickets very quickly. Once in the theatre we were entertained by a feature called First Look, which included previews of upcoming film and DVD releases and a series of very amusing commercials. You can also log on to www.fandango.com and purchase your tickets online.

Mike Cohen’s email address is info@mikecohen.ca.
Log on to his travel advice column www.sandboxworld.com/travel
and on Twitter @mikecohencsl.

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