21 Best Things to Do in Schenectady, NY

Schenectady, NY
Jacob Boomsma / shutterstock.com

From the historic brownstones that line the streets to the exuberant culture that thrives within, Schenectady is a city with energy and character.

Stick around, and join me as I share the best things to do in Schenectady, New York.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Sheila Graham, Dalia Jones, Angela Thomas, Rhonda Long, Lester Marron, James Kilburn and Callie Anderson.

Experience Broadway in My Backyard at Proctors Theatre

Exterior of the Proctors Theater.
Brian Logan Photography / Shutterstock.com

Stepping through the doors of Proctors Theatre, I'm immediately whisked away into a world of glamour and spectacle - right here in the heart of Schenectady.

The theater has a vibrant history.

Once a vaudeville house, it now hosts Broadway tours, comedy acts, and an array of other musical productions on its two stages.

I've enjoyed catching performances like Lion King and Fiddler on the Roof, which left me spellbound.

The productions are fantastic, with brilliant sets, props, and performances.

It's always thrilling to see the magic of Broadway right on my doorstep.

The convenience of the location, complete with easy parking, is another draw.

No need to worry about long drives or tricky city parking - Proctors has it sorted.

Name sign and the street at Proctors Theater.
Brian Logan Photography / Shutterstock.com

The building itself is a treat - beautifully decorated and well-kept.

Besides, there's a charm to the old-world narrowness of the halls, a whisper of the theatre's vaudeville past.

Every visit to Proctors Theatre culminates in a bit of a rush as the crowd makes its way out, but a little patience and you're back on the streets of Schenectady in no time.

So, whether it's big Broadway productions or local events like the annual Fandom Fest, Proctors Theatre is a gem that keeps me coming back for more.

Exterior view of the Proctors Theater.
Brian Logan Photography / Shutterstock.com

Go on an Adventure at Mountain Ridge

If you're looking for an exhilarating quest that will get your adrenaline pumping, I highly recommend Mountain Ridge Adventure.

Nestled right in our backyard, I have been there twice, and each visit was a unique experience.

The first time was with my family, with an age range from 10 to 65.

We plunged headfirst into the Whole Challenge and the Zipline, and let me tell you, the thrill was indescribable.

This extraordinary experience indeed left us with unforgettable memories.

On my second visit, we celebrated a birthday.

The birthday girl was old enough this time to focus on the zipline park and loved it.

Meanwhile, the place, as always, was clean, well-organized, and safe.

I've had my fair share of adventures at Mountain Ridge, but the Treetop pass is something else.

Three hours of intense fun was more challenging than I expected but in a good way.

Even with a fear of heights, tackling this course gave me a newfound confidence in my abilities.

So, if you're up for an adventure and want to taste what it's like to soar in the treetops, visit Mountain Ridge Adventure and book your spot.

Check Out the Van Gogh Experience

Last week, I immersed myself in Van Gogh's world in Albany!

It was a day full of unexpected revelations and artistic beauty that I can't wait to share.

I had my out-of-state family over, and we decided to explore something unique together.

That's when I remembered I had bookmarked 'Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience' on my browser.

Walking in, the atmosphere was calm and soothing.

What caught me by surprise was the quality of the audio-visual narrative.

The first part of the exhibit was an informative journey through Van Gogh's life and art, providing rich context to his iconic works.

But it was the second part that genuinely took my breath away.

We were seated comfortably amidst the art, surrounded by the most beautiful paintings in the world.

The artworks weren’t simply displayed on walls.

They had been transformed into a large-scale, 360-degree spectacle that effortlessly transported us into Van Gogh's world.

It was a wholly sensory experience - music enhancing the visual treat, creating a magical and moving environment.

What's more, there was a Virtual Reality exhibit, too.

It was like nothing I'd seen before, a must-try for all visitors.

My family was equally enchanted.

The day spent at Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience was one of our most memorable family outings.

It's an opportunity to step into the shoes of a remarkable artist and view the world through his eyes.

If you're in Albany, I highly recommend a visit.

Enjoy a Cozy Retreat at Arthur's Market

Let me tell you about my favorite hideaway in the heart of the Stockade, Arthur's Market.

This charming cafe is a treasure trove of specialty foods and wonderfully prepared dishes.

Every time I step in, I'm greeted with the rich, intoxicating aroma of their top-tier coffee.

I've tried my fair share of brews around town, but Arthur's has a way of making the coffee taste better than anywhere else.

Their menu offers many choices, from hearty sandwiches to delicate quiches. And let's not forget about their scones - they're simply heavenly!

I can't begin to count the times I've popped in for a quick breakfast on the go or grab a treat for a mid-day pick-me-up.

And not just the food makes Arthur's such a special place.

It's the ambiance, too. With its historic charm and warm service, it's no wonder I find myself there so often, working remotely or simply unwinding after a long day.

You wouldn't believe how good their hot chocolate is, either.

It's ridiculous, especially with a shot of espresso for an extra kick!

Arthur's Market is a part of my routine, a community staple, and a place my three-year-old enjoys.

It's safe to say that Arthur's Market is a home away from home.

Enjoy an Afternoon at the Central Park Rose Garden

A walkway framed with roses at Central Park Rose Garden.
JackSpot / Shutterstock.com

No place in town captures my heart quite like the Central Park Rose Garden.

Just imagine stepping into a world where the air is filled with the sweet, intoxicating scent of vibrant roses.

Every visit feels like stepping into a zen garden, tranquillity washing over me as soon as I cross its threshold.

The Central Park Rose Garden is a labor of love that brings so much joy to our community.

It's meticulously cared for, and you can feel the dedication and passion that goes into maintaining it with every step you take.

One of the things I adore about our rose garden is that it's not only a feast for the eyes but for all senses.

With every gentle breeze, I can hear the rustling of leaves and birds' sweet, melodic chirping.

The soft petals of roses feel almost velvety to the touch, and the scent? There's nothing quite like the fragrance of blooming roses.

Parking is also quite convenient, with lots set aside for garden visitors.

It's truly a gem in our community, and I find myself stopping by more frequently than I ever thought.

The Central Park Rose Garden is my haven whether to admire the stunning roses, enjoy the peace and tranquillity, or escape everyday life's hustle and bustle.

Walking through the picturesque Union College campus has always been my favorite pastime.

Nestled amongst the campus's splendid buildings, you'll find the Mandeville Gallery, a gem worth more than just a glance.

I remember my first visit to the gallery years ago - I was just a wide-eyed elementary school student, amazed by the incredible architecture and beautiful artwork surrounding me.

It's been a while since that visit, but memories of that day still linger, reminding me of the gallery's compelling allure.

Mandeville Gallery is a sanctuary where you can sit back and let the world pass by as you immerse yourself in the captivating world of art.

The artwork is carefully curated, and the exhibits change regularly, always offering something new and exciting to discover.

If you're around Union College, don't just walk past the Mandeville Gallery.

Step inside and let its enchanting atmosphere work its magic on you.

It's certainly a must-see on the campus, and you might even find a pokestop or two!

Explore Rich History at Schenectady County Historical Society

Wandering through the streets of Schenectady, I stumbled across a treasure trove of history tucked away in the heart of my hometown - the Schenectady County Historical Society.

One sunny afternoon, I decided to pay a visit, and it's safe to say that my appreciation for my city has deepened ever since.

The charm of the place is undeniable.

Housed within an elegant historical building, the museum is a wonderfully curated space that chronicles the city's storied past.

If you're planning to visit, I'd recommend making an appointment beforehand and familiarizing yourself with their rules.

They also host many intriguing events throughout the year.

I remember attending a ghost story tour during one of their summer programs, which was a thrilling experience.

Each visit to the Schenectady County Historical Society is like a trip back in time.

It's where you can feel the pulse of the city's history and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Schenectady's past.

Spend Afternoons at Woodlawn Park

There's something about that sweet adrenaline rush when you're at the height of a great swing at Woodlawn Park.

Having lived nearby for years, the park has become my sanctuary, my little paradise where I can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

A few days ago, I brought my daughter to the park.

Her giggles filled the air as she excitedly clambered up the slides and beamed at the adorable ladybug on a spring.

These simple moments of pure joy make you appreciate the world around you.

And to have this cute little place so close to home is a blessing.

Woodlawn Park is not just for the little ones, though.

It has something for everyone.

With plenty of things to climb on and vast fields to run around, it's a haven for adventure seekers of all ages.

But if you're one to enjoy a quiet afternoon or perhaps a good book, you'd be delighted by the ample shadows where you can sit, offering just the right amount of serenity.

In all its simplicity, Woodlawn Park is a testament that you don't need fancy attractions to have a good time.

It's clean, decently sized, and, most importantly, it's fun.

So, whether you're a local like me or just passing through, do yourself a favor and visit this park—you won't be disappointed.

Spend the Day at the Schenectady Greenmarket

Man selling goods at Schenectady Greenmarket.
Henry Bellagnome from Troy, New York, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Schenectady Greenmarket features stalls filled with fresh and organic produce, artisan breads, and pastries, which is always a delight.

It is my little slice of gourmet paradise tucked away in the heart of Schenectady.

The aroma of freshly baked Sunflower Millet Flax bread and croissants from Our Daily Bread bakery greet me as I waltz into the buzzing market.

It's impossible to resist their flaky, buttery pastries, perfectly paired with coffee from nearby vendors.

Euro-Delicacies has become another favorite of mine. Their Moussaka, Stuffed Peppers, and Dolmas are nothing short of divine.

I make sure to bring home a bunch for dinner.

The vendors at the market are not only about food.

They offer a treasure trove of unique handmade items, from hand-woven baskets to artistically crafted jewelry.

It’s a visual feast that never fails to inspire me.

The wait time is also surprisingly reasonable for a place as popular as this.

Cider bottles at Schenectady Greenmarket.
Henry Bellagnome from Troy, New York, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

And the icing on the cake? The market is dog-friendly! My pups adore our outings to the Greenmarket.

It's a joyous melee of wagging tails, happy faces, and the delightful bustle of locals enjoying their day out.

Finally, the Schenectady Greenmarket is my favorite place to indulge in locally sourced treats.

From infused ice cream to tasty tacos and delicious sweets, it's an experience that revives your senses and leaves you eagerly waiting for the next visit.

So, if you’re around, do drop in – it's a must-visit experience you wouldn’t want to miss!

Maple syrup stand at Schenectady Greenmarket.
Henry Bellagnome from Troy, New York, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Discover the Jewel of Schenectady - The Central Library

There truly is no place like home; for me, the Schenectady County Public Library - Central Library embodies this adage.

When you enter the doors, you are greeted with a wide selection of new and classic books, an absolute sanctuary for an avid bookworm like myself.

One of the features that sets this place apart is the impressive collection of adult mystery and thriller books.

It's easy to be drawn into a world of suspense and intrigue, losing track of time. But the cherry on top is the remarkable audiobook section.

Whether you're an old hand at audiobooks or just starting to explore them, the library has you covered.

Borrowing is as easy as pie.

A self-checkout system allows you to enjoy your books without fuss.

What's more, the library has a no overdue fee policy, a happy respite for those of us who may sometimes forget to return a book on time.

Just replace the book, and you're good - no debts hanging over your head.

Moreover, the library often hosts fun exhibits and activities. A recent visit had me marveling at a display of Star Wars toys - a delightful surprise.

If you're looking for a place to relax, learn, and have fun, the Schenectady County Public Library - Central Library is an excellent choice.

Whether it's to lose yourself in a good book or attend a fun exhibit, this library has it all.

Enjoy Ski Adventures at Maple Ski Ridge

When the first snowflakes fall, I love nothing more than gearing up for a day at Maple Ski Ridge, a place that's grown incredibly close to my heart over the years.

It's where everyone makes you feel like you're part of a big family, right from the moment you're buying tickets to the point you're renting ski equipment or grabbing a hot cup of cocoa at the cafe.

I usually go there on Sundays when it's not too crowded, leaving much room to ski at my own pace.

Likewise, I swear by their Blue Cheese Burger - it's an absolute must-have after a day of hitting the slopes.

And nothing compares to their hot cocoa; it's the perfect way to warm up after a cold day on the slopes.

But Maple Ski Ridge is also an excellent place for beginners to learn the sport.

Their inexpensive season rentals and lesson packs make it the perfect place for first-timers or those looking to improve their skills.

Plus, they offer low prices on season passes, which is a great deal if you're a regular like me.

While it may not be the biggest ski mountain on the East Coast, it's a diamond in the rough, even boasting some challenging black diamond trails for the more advanced skiers.

And for those seeking adventure, I've noticed several park features stashed behind the shed, just waiting to be set up!

Maple Ski Ridge feels like home.

It's a small and cozy mountain that delivers a unique skiing experience.

Whether you're a proficient skier looking for a new challenge or a family wanting to introduce their little ones to the joys of skiing, this place is priceless.

Uncover the Wonders at miSci | Museum of Innovation & Science

Every time I step into the miSci | Museum of Innovation & Science, it's like unearthing a treasure trove of knowledge.

The museum is teeming with engaging exhibits catering to the young and old.

A recent highlight for me was the AI exhibit - a fascinating display that immerses visitors in artificial intelligence's wonders.

The museum makes learning interactive and fun.

Moreover, the hands-on exhibits are always a hit, especially among the young.

Who can resist the excitement of making their scientific discoveries?

Besides, it's not just the kids who are having a blast.

I've seen adults with wide-eyed fascination at the old movie cameras display right at the entrance.

The comic book area was a pleasant surprise, too.

I didn't expect it to be educational, but it added an unexpected layer of enjoyment to my visit.

And, of course, the planetarium shows are always a treat.

The explanations are clear, and the experience is simply out of this world.

However, I would advise future visitors not to set their hearts on specific exhibits.

The museum updates its displays regularly, and some of your favorites might not be there on your next visit.

While this can be disappointing, I believe it's also a testament to the museum's commitment to constantly bringing us fresh and relevant content.

The $12 admission fee is reasonable, considering the wealth of experiences it offers.

With the additional option to host birthday parties, it's an excellent spot for families and school outings.

I find myself returning to miSci repeatedly. It's a place where I can explore, learn, and have fun. And isn't that the best kind of museum experience?

Walk Around Union College's Nott Memorial

Exterior of the Nott Memorial Hall.
Brian Logan Photography / Shutterstock.com

As I stretch my legs across Union College’s grounds every morning, the Nott Memorial never ceases to amaze me.

This iconic Victorian rotunda, the campus's centerpiece, symbolizes the college's long-standing history and tradition.

Bathed in the soft morning sunlight, it stands tall and proud, a building that oozes character and charm.

Each of its sixteen sides is a testament to its unique architecture - a feature that makes it the only building in North America.

Many years ago, I remember it served as a theatre in the round, and I even had the joy of having an art studio on the second floor.

Closer view of Nott Memorial Hall's exterior.
​English Wikipedia user Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As I continue my walk, I can't help but peek inside through its glass-paned doors.

It's hard to miss the students huddled in corners, engrossed in their books amidst the quiet calm.

I think how lucky these young minds are to have such a beautiful place to study.

The space transforms into a vibrant hub for art exhibits every so often, adding another layer of charm to this stunning rotunda.

If you're ever around, take a walk on the campus. The Nott Memorial is a sight you wouldn't want to miss.

Enjoy Delicious Encounters at Morrettes King Steakhouse

You haven't tasted a steak sandwich until you've been to Morrettes King Steakhouse, a gem of our town.

The place has been around forever, and even though the original owner sold it years ago, the flavor and quality of the food haven't changed a bit.

Moreover, the town's favorite steak sandwich is still as delicious as ever.

Each bite promises a hearty, juicy steak between soft, fresh bread.

Portion sizes are generous, ensuring everyone leaves with a full stomach and a satisfied grin.

But Morrettes is more than just the food.

The ambiance calls back to simpler times, with vintage local photos adorning the walls and the old-world charm of a counter.

It's one of the few places in town that still offers the warmth of nostalgia while serving a mouth-watering meal.

Every time I eat at Morrettes, it's like revisiting my childhood.

The taste of the steak sandwiches brings back a flood of memories.

And it's always a joy to see that Morrettes has maintained its standard and charm, even after all these years.

Enter the Heart of Nature at Woodlawn Preserve

The first time I stepped into Woodlawn Preserve, I was greeted by the fragrance of pines and the sound of chirping birds.

It was as if I had stumbled upon a hidden sanctuary right in the heart of Woodlawn Neighborhood.

Though it's nestled comfortably in the concrete jungle, Woodlawn Preserve is a beautiful world away from the city's hustle and bustle.

A constant chorus of birds serenaded me as I walked along the well-maintained trails.

I saw robins, sparrows, and even a few bluejays.

Wildflowers burst with brilliant colors alongside the path, making it a real-life canvas of natural beauty.

It’s a hidden gem, as one could easily overlook its charm amidst the urban sprawl.

The pond at Woodlawn Preserve is another favorite spot of mine.

It's a perfect place to unwind, with its calm waters and tranquil surroundings.

I've spent countless afternoons there, fishing rod in hand, waiting for a catch.

It's also quite secluded, so it's a great place to teach kids how to fish without the usual crowd.

One of the most cherished moments at Woodlawn Preserve is enjoying the early morning views.

The sight of mist hovering over the wetlands as the sun gently climbs the sky is truly magical.

There's even a small deck to relax and enjoy this spectacle of nature.

Woodlawn Preserve is a refuge away from home where I can escape the everyday grind and reconnect with nature.

Whether it's a brisk hike through the pine forest, a quiet afternoon of lake fishing, or just watching the wildlife, Woodlawn Preserve offers a serenity in our ever-busy world.

Visit the VIA Aquarium

Just last month, I had the privilege of taking a trip to VIA Aquarium, a fascinating journey into the world of marine life.

When I stepped in, I was utterly captivated by the diversity of local and international aquatic species in 25,000 square feet of meticulously maintained water tanks.

The first thing that caught my eye was the Sting Ray pool.

Indeed, the rays were astonishingly friendly and interactive, providing a uniquely personal experience rarely encountered in similar establishments.

I also cherished the chance to touch the Koi, a delightful surprise that enhanced my visit.

One of my favorite aspects of the aquarium was the variety of fish, sharks, and other marine life visible through the viewing tunnels.

The range of species on display, coupled with the health and liveliness of the creatures, was genuinely impressive.

Initially, the entry price seemed steep, but I understood its necessity after witnessing the level of detail in their care for marine life and facilities.

Even though VIA Aquarium might be on the smaller side compared to others, its quality, cleanliness, and the range of experiences it offers are second to none.

As someone who enjoys interacting with animals and deeply appreciates sea life, I found the occasional kid-friendly events to be a delightful touch.

This aspect made VIA Aquarium an educational outing and a fun-filled adventure for younger visitors.

My visit to the VIA Aquarium was a memorable experience.

Whether you're a marine life enthusiast or simply looking for a fun, interactive day out, I recommend visiting this wonderful local gem.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Discover History at Mabee Farm Historic Site

Exterior of the Mabee Farm Historic Site.
Schenectady County, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nestled on the picturesque banks of the Mohawk River, the Mabee Farm Historic Site is a treasure trove of American history waiting to be explored.

Walking around the grounds, I'm often struck by the 300-year-old stories whispering through the historic farm and homestead.

It's a must-visit for anyone interested in pre-revolutionary America, as it offers a unique insight into the past.

The museum is a favorite stop of mine, displaying various artifacts that narrate the area's history.

Moreover, the gift shops carry an array of unique souvenirs, perfect for remembering my visits or gifting to loved ones.

Venturing outdoors, the site is so easy to navigate, with farm animals scattered about, truly recreating an authentic historic farm ambiance.

The informational signage throughout the grounds is impressive, offering exciting details about the site and its history.

Now, the 4th of July celebrations at Mabee Farm are something I look forward to each year.

The fireworks display over the river is stunning, and the live music brings a vibrant energy to the evening.

Coupled with the delicious food available, it's a joyful community event I hope continues to be an annual tradition.

Experience the Magic of Freedom Park

Have you ever danced under the open sky while the sun sets on the horizon, casting a glow on the Mohawk River?

That's precisely what Freedom Park offers and much more.

Whenever I need to escape the hustle and bustle, I head to Freedom Park and let nature do the rest.

There's ample space for everyone and everything - playing tennis, sitting on the terraces enjoying a live music performance, or simply letting my kids loose in the swing area.

I usually park my car at Collins Park across the road, as parking near the food establishments by the park is generally reserved for their customers.

Live music is one of the most enchanting experiences at Freedom Park.

With its grass terraces, the natural amphitheater allows you to take in the performances in the most relaxing way imaginable.

You can sit on the ground, bring a chair, or even dance on the lawn.

And the best part? The sun sets to one side so no annoying glare will disturb your evening.

You might even catch the water ski team in action behind the stage if you're lucky.

Then, if you need a break from all the excitement, you can always retreat to quieter spots.

I often find myself fishing rod in hand by the water's edge, enjoying some quality me-time.

Sometimes, I quickly stop at the Scotia Branch Library, pick up a good book, and lose myself in the world of imagination in the park.

Freedom Park is like my little haven.

Whether you're visiting for the first time or are a regular like me, this place never surprises me.

Remember to respect the parking rules, and you're in for a treat!

Enjoy an Afternoon at Collins Lake

Just a short stroll from the heart of my hometown, Scotia, lies the serene retreat of Collins Lake.

I've spent countless afternoons there, savoring its tranquillity and the chance to escape the rush of life.

Although the lake has seen its fair share of struggles, like the hurricane that flooded the park and polluted the waters with heavy metals, it still holds a special place in my heart.

I wouldn't dare to swim or eat the fish from there now, but I still enjoy sitting on its banks, holding a fishing rod, even if I release whatever I catch.

The peace draws me in, the silence only disturbed by the occasional birdcall from the sanctuary on the lake's island.

I often bring my family to the lake, too.

For those not interested in fishing, the park offers many other activities.

Picnic spots with grills are scattered across the park, perfect for those who enjoy a good barbeque with a view.

The nearby Collins Park is ideal for a game of baseball or tennis.

And, of course, an evening at the lake is incomplete without witnessing one of its stunning sunsets.

Seeing the sky painted with hues of pink and orange the water reflecting the spectacular show never gets old.

After sunset, we often head over to Jumpin Jacks, our local ice cream joint, to end the day on a sweet note.

I cherish the hours I've spent there, watching the fish that dare to come close to the shoreline, and the thrill of kayaking, somehow, becomes even more adventurous with the algae challenge.

Collins Lake might have its quirks, but our quirks add to our little town's charm.

Enjoy the Day at Collins Park

A distinct charm radiates from Collins Park in the heart of Scotia, a pleasure that has made it the go-to spot for my frequent family outings.

I marvel at the park's immaculate cleanliness with each visit, from the playground to the courts and cycling pathway.

The splash pad, situated conveniently near the restrooms and parking lot, is a delight for the little ones, providing a fun and safe way to cool off during those hot summer days.

Even though the park is bustling with activity, it still offers tranquil spots for those seeking peace, like the boat ramp perfect for fishing.

The aquatic vegetation is thick and lush, teeming with fish and wildlife, making the fishing experience remarkable.

As a parent, I appreciate the family-friendly amenities that Collins Park offers, like the playground and the splash pad open in the summer.

A stage by the water holds live performances, adding to the park's vibrant atmosphere.

Plenty of picnic tables are scattered around, perfect for a family lunch.

On top of these, Collins Park offers sports fields and courts for those seeking physical activity.

And if you're planning a party, there's a pavilion available for rent, making any celebration more memorable.

But perhaps one of the best features of Collins Park is its proximity to Jumpin Jacks.

After spending hours at the park, a juicy burger or a delicious soft-serve ice cream from Jumpin Jacks across the street is the perfect way to cap off the day.

These combined elements make Collins Park a hub for relaxation, fun, and community – a true gem in Scotia.

Final Thoughts

There's never a dull moment in Schenectady, New York.

Whether you're a thrill-seeker, foodie, history buff, or art lover, you'll find an activity or place that piques your interest.

So, if you're in town, explore these gems.

After all, there's a reason why I and so many others are proud to call Schenectady hom

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.