Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Rensselaer County, NY

  • Published 2023/02/26

Rensselaer County is a stunning region nestled in the state of New York.

Step into the green paradise of Rensselaer County, named after its abundance of pine trees.

From family-friendly activities to relaxing farm adventures and serene hiking trails, this county has something for everyone!

Spread across 665 square miles, it offers a range of well-known communities for all sorts of recreational excursions.

Enjoy everything from water happenings to peaceful walks in nature.

Get to know more about this county’s culture by checking out these 15 best things to do in Rensselaer County, New York:

Watch a Performance at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

Exterior of the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

UpstateNYer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The beautiful national historic theater of Troy Savings Bank Music Hall is in downtown Troy.

Since it was opened in 1875, it has been recognized as a national historic landmark.

The music hall is one of the few 19th-century remaining concert halls still in use in the U.S.

The building’s combination of second empire and Italianate styles adds to its great acoustic wonders.

This town’s gem offers fantastic concerts for large crowds in a cozy yet opulent venue of a 1,200-seat concert theater.

Facade of the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

BenFrantzDale, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Numerous legendary performers, including those well-known in the theater and music world, have performed here, along with countless other world-famous artists.

A great iconic performance on its theater stage is what you can anticipate in your visit.

You will enjoy the music performances, which range from classical to folk to adult contemporary and comedy as well as touring pop-up theater shows.

They also have a refreshment bar with soft drinks, beer, wine, and appetizers.

Visit Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and experience a fun night.

Meet Adorable Alpacas at Alpacas of Maggie’s Brook Farm

The lovely 28-acre Alpacas of Maggie’s Brook Farm is located at Averill Park in the Sand Lake neighborhood of Rensselaer County.

Take the perfect family escape and see Alpacas at the farm, where you can get up close and personal with these delightful creatures.

Not only will your kids be entranced by the beautiful landscape, but they’ll also love the charming animals.

In addition to the petting zoo, Maggie’s Brook Farm also provides viewing of Alpaca breeding and birthing opportunities for visitors.

Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop to buy some souvenir crafts and other items.

You can’t take home the alpacas, but you can buy a replica from their gift shop.

Enjoy your visit to this pasture of adorable Alpacas.

Enjoy an Extraordinary and Filling Boating Experience with Captain JP Cruise Line

Take a lovely Captain JP Cruise Line tour around the Hudson River in Troy City.

You can embark on a tranquil and beautiful journey down the Hudson River with Captain JP Cruise.

With three spacious decks and one outdoor deck, the dinner boat can accommodate 450 passengers.

On a cruise, you can admire the city lights while walking or simply standing anywhere on the open deck.

Whether you’re looking for cruise entertainment or the ideal date night adventure, with Captain JP Cruises, you can have a blast.

Step aboard this magnificent vessel and enjoy entertaining amenities, from full-service bars to spacious dance floors.

Indulge in appetizers, drinks, and main dishes as part of an all-encompassing hot/cold lunchtime buffet plus a dessert bar and optional entrees such as chicken or veggie lasagna, followed by prime rib dinner!

Prepare yourself for an unforgettable cruise along the Hudson River.

Keep Active With Your Loved Ones at Prospect Park

The view from Prospect Park

Wmccah, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a trip to Prospect Park, one of Troy’s three main parks in Rensselaer County.

You can explore 12 large leisure spaces on its 80 acres of land.

If you wish to pick up a new hobby while on vacation, you can take advantage of its free tennis lessons.

Enjoy a good workout at one of the 14 tennis courts available.

You can also access two basketball courts, four handball courts, softball fields, and soccer fields.

There’s also a 9-hole disc golf course.

Your kids will also enjoy the playground and splash pad.

There are also picnic grounds with picnic pavilions.

The historic park is also home to the renovated Garnet Douglass Baltimore Trail that connects to the Little Italy and South Troy districts.

Visit Prospect Park and experience the city’s hidden gem with your family.

Indulge in Recreational Activities at the Capital District Wildlife Management Area

You can enjoy various family-friendly recreational activities at the Capital District Wildlife Management Area in the Petersburg neighborhood in Cherry Plain.

The 3,982-acre Capital District Wildlife Management Area offers an all-out wildlife management area and game refuge adventure.

It was acquired in 1928 from a housing game management area and transformed into wildlife management in 1944.

The Rensselaer Plateau is housed in this tranquil setting of red oak, black cherry, sugar maple, yellow birch, and red spruce trees.

Experience the thrill of an ATV ride down flat Dynamite Shack Road, or if you’d rather take it slow, observe wildlife like deer, turkeys, squirrels, and songbirds.

Watch in awe as migratory birds soar through the skylines above!

For anglers, don’t forget to pack your fishing gear and head to Black River Pond for some excellent catches.

This area has much to offer if you’re looking for a trekking adventure with a whiff of hunting or trapping.

Just keep in mind to abide by the safety regulations of the wildlife management area.

Visit Troy Waterfront Farmers Market

On River Street in Troy’s Monument Square, you can find the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market.

It serves as a community hub for both family-friendly recreational activities and shopping.

Here you can enjoy live music from the busking community and local musicians.

You can enjoy the myriad of delicious food options as well as fun activities available in the area.

From May to October, Europe’s stunning landscape is highlighted through an open-air street fair that everyone can enjoy.

Revelers from near and far flock here for a taste of scrumptious meals, captivating scenery, and vibrant melodies emanating from downtown Troy’s core.

A stroll around the historic downtown of Troy has some of the oldest buildings in the nation as well as other astounding structures.

Explore the County through Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak Station

Exterior of Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak Station

UpstateNYer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rensselaer Rail Station, also known as Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak Station, is easily accessible in Rensselaer City.

It boasts an intermodal facility made of red bricks, a waiting room that is light and airy, and a clock tower recognized as a local landmark.

Customer facilities like a coffee shop and bookstore are available in the 20,000-square-foot public lobby to keep you occupied while waiting for departure.

Facade of Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak Station

Benjamin Turon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are 13 trains every day that arrive at Rensselaer Rail Station and 13 trains that depart each day for locations throughout the Northeast, Canada, the Midwest, and elsewhere which you can also consider exploring.

Enjoy a panoramic view of the Albany skyline, which includes the 44-story Erastus Corning Tower and the multi-tower Empire State Plaza from your railroad adventure across the Hudson River.

Witness Breathtaking Views at Taconic Crest Trail

In the Petersburg neighborhood of Rensselaer County, you can start your Taconic Crest Trail adventure in any of the four seasons.

In the 1940s, the Taconic Hiking Club laid the groundwork for establishing and managing the Taconic Crest Trail.

You can enjoy breathtaking views of three states, including New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont, along the 37-mile Taconic Crest Trail.

Hike up and try the Taconic Crest Trail’s 30-mile “End-to-End Challenge” for a wilderness adventure.

Head to the Taconic Crest Trail and discover Snow Hole, where you can marvel at snow in the heat of summer.

Make sure to dress appropriately by wearing sturdy hiking gear.

Don’t forget to pack water and a camera so that your day trip is complete with amazing photographic memories!

Knock Down Pins at East Greenbush Bowling Center

Knock down all the pins at East Greenbush Bowling Center in East Greenbush.

Ease up and hold your bowling bowls to strike and take down the pins in its classic bowling lanes.

East Greenbush Bowling Center also offers a fun and lively cosmic-theme bowling experience from Friday to Saturday.

With contemporary music, you can experience a light show while rockin’ your bowling strikes.

Your kids will enjoy its child-friendly bumper bowling lanes and plenty of lightweight bowling balls.

Unlimited pizza slices and pitchers of sodas are also available for snacks.

Come in and enjoy a terrific time with family and friends!

Appreciate the Beauty of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

A building at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Jay Yuan /

In Troy, you can tour the beautiful campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

This school provides world-class education and a stunning view of the surrounding natural beauty and impressive architectural structures.

With its long history dating back to 1824, you can learn about the significance behind this institute before taking in Troy City’s picturesque sunset alongside an exquisite view of the Hudson River nearby.

In addition to a great stroll, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute offers a lot of others things to do.

The Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Jay Yuan /

You can watch ice hockey, basketball, and a Valley Cats minor league baseball game.

The Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center also collaborates with RPI to bring in well-known avant-garde music and theater performers.

You’ll have unique encounters on this tour, making it different from other campus tours.

Buildings at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Andrea Catenaro /

Explore Nature while Biking at Uncle Sam Bike Trail

Troy City is home to both off-road and on-road bike trails of Uncle Sam Bike Trail.

The seven-mile Uncle Sam Trail offers waterfront views connecting North and South Troy.

Whether you want to get a good physical workout or simply take in picturesque views of the city, Uncle Sam Bike Trail is perfect!

With its three-mile route along the former Troy & Boston Railroad line and connection with New York’s Empire State Trail via Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, this area gives you an unrivaled experience.

Be sure to check out the iconic Troy–Menands Bridge for some breathtaking sights.

Enjoy your journey as you explore an off-the-beaten-path!

Don’t miss out on this scenic retreat!

Create Some Amazing Crafts at The Arts Center of Capital Region

If you want a remarkable art collection from your travel, The Arts Center of Capital Region in Troy must be on your bucket list.

It offers classes for various local arts, including pottery, jewelry, stained glass, carpentry, photography, dancing, writing, and more.

Here, you can craft your own souvenirs that will remind you of your getaway.

There are also art exhibits and displays.

Explore Troy’s downtown and see the various public art installations created by the Arts Center of Capital Region.

If you visit Troy during December and January, you can catch the temporary public art light festival hosted downtown.

Stop by Oakwood Cemetery

A chapel at Oakwood Cemetery

UpstateNYer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Head to Oakwood Cemetery, which is the pinnacle of living history, art, and architecture, as well as recreational opportunities in a stunning setting.

The 300-acre cemetery in Troy City is home to Earl Chapel, a world-class architectural treasure.

You can also see an 1893 historical Meneely Bell gracing the facade of Earl Chapel.

Visit the graves of America’s ancestors and see magnificent monuments of notable figures who shaped the nation’s history.

Fuller monument at Oakwood Cemetery

UpstateNYer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It also offers a fantastic panoramic vista of the Hudson River Valley.

Step into the serene atmosphere of Oakwood Cemetery and take a journey through its time-honored grounds.

Whether you are here to mourn or seek comfort, this place offers solace amongst nature’s beauty.

There are also trails, ponds, and waterfalls nearby.

A mausoleum at Oakwood Cemetery

Ryan Amann, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sharpen Your Aim at Bullseye Jim’s Archery Inc.

Experience the 20-yard indoor range at Bullseye Jim’s Archery Inc. while in East Greenbush.

Bullseye Jim’s Archery Inc. provides the best archery experience, including bowstringing and tuning services.

If you’re looking to improve your archery aptitude, Bullseye Jim’s Archery Inc. is the place for you!

They can help anyone, from amateur beginners to accomplished pros, boost their shot.

Bring your friends along and enjoy a friendly game of wagering with some added thrill.

Visit the establishment and try your hand at shooting!

Live like a Farmer for a Day at Engelke Farm

Engelke Farm near Troy City offers wonderful farm experiences with its friendly animals and breathtaking scenery.

You can pick your own fruits and vegetables that the farm has grown during the summer.

With a free tractor and wagon trip to the pumpkin patch, corn stalks, and straw bales, you can pick your own pumpkins.

Spend your fall season on the farm and get lost in a corn maze.

The finest cider donuts are available in the capital region at Engelke Farm.

You will also enjoy your fresh donuts hot out of the oven.

A pony, hens, ducks, rabbits, goats, and pigs are among the adorable animals you can feed.

They can be fed grass, some hay, or farm-available feeds.

Take your kids to Engelke Farm, and they will undoubtedly want to come back.

Final Thoughts

There are lots of exciting things to do and places to visit in Rensselaer County.

Enjoy the beautiful neighborhoods, which are home to exciting attractions right by the Hudson River, a thriving arts and cultural scene, and historic landmarks.

This county guarantees a memorable vacation in a developing neighborhood poised to transform from a hidden treasure to a popular tourist attraction.

Make the most out of your visit to the region by trying these best things to do in Rensselaer County, New York!

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