I love New York. No secret that I’m a huge fan. I could write an entire column just about the majesty, wonder and vitality of this great state. There is so much to see and do and experience that most weeks I have trouble narrowing down what I am excited about. 

This week I had a plan, and then my friend and colleague Bruce told me about his impromptu visit to Albany and how accessible and interesting it was.  He is originally from Connecticut, though, so I thought maybe that is why he hadn’t been there till now.  

I have been there, and all over the Capital District more times than I can count. I love our upstate epicenter of government and commerce. I recommend a weekend in the Capital District any time of the year as the perfect diversion for all ages. As the fall approaches, I’ve picked three events in the region that I’ve enjoyed and can be focal points for a great, quick getaway.

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Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival Sept. 8
Jennings Landing, 1 Quay St., Albany
www.albany.com/event /riverfront-jazz-festival
This is a full day event featuring well-known and regional jazz artists playing outdoors alongside diverse food vendors, and activities for kids. The packed schedule of performances typically includes traditional jazz, funk, swing, African jazz, hard bop, fusion and more. Admission is free!

Why I love it:
Because this is an expansive venue that somehow feels intimate. Because I’ll take any opportunity to listen to the Great American Songbook and outdoors, at summer’s end is just perfection.

The New York State Museum Cultural Education Center
222 Madison Ave., Albany
www.nysm.nysed.gov
If you can only do one thing in the Capital District, visit the New York State Museum.  It is a true gem; a repository for all things New York from prehistoric times to the present. Expand your knowledge of what makes our state so great and dig deeper into specific periods in our history. There are powerful permanent collections and exhibits about 9/11 and the World Trade Center and the archaeological history of Albany. There is so much to absorb, one visit is not enough. Admission is free!

Why I love it:
Do I need a specific reason? Because I guarantee you will learn things about New York State that you didn’t know. Because the museum hosts the Taste NY Holiday Market (I’ll recommend that as the holiday season approaches!) and I’m an unapologetic fan of Taste NY any time of the year.
 

22nd Annual St. Peter’s Cardiac and Vascular Center Albany Last Run 5K
Saturday, December 8, Downtown Albany
www.albanyevents.org/events/Albany-Last-Run-5K
Do not miss this event. It is not too early to save the date for this 5K. Just as the holiday party season is kicking off, this run combines health, wellness and seasonal festivities.  The 5 p.m. start is designed for runners to enjoy the Capital Holiday Lights in Washington Park.  Everyone ends up at Empire State Plaza for fireworks, awards and fun. There is free parking for all race participants.

Why I love it:
Because there is no 5K I don’t love during the holiday season, starting with the Thanksgiving turkey trot.  Because I love any healthy activity tied to holiday lights; Last Run, Jingle Bell Run, bring them on!  Kick off a seasonal holiday weekend with this guilt-free pleasure.