49 Albany, NY

PopulationMetro: 886,188
A city of about 90,000 on the shore of the Hudson River, Albany might be overshadowed by a certain metropolis downstream, but it’s here where you can find the Empire State’s true power center.

A city of about 90,000 on the shore of the Hudson River, Albany might be overshadowed by a certain metropolis downstream, but it’s here where you can find the Empire State’s true power center.

New York’s Capital Region is not all politics, though—Albany’s also a capital of culture, and it boasts an enviable central location, with the Berkshires, Adirondacks and Finger Lakes, and yes, the Big Apple, all just a few hours away.

Running the Empire State may be big business, but Albany’s also a college town, home to a State University of New York campus that helps the city earns a #29 ranking for University and its citizens a #28 for Educational Attainment. All those brains are fuel for a growing tech sector, and Albany is increasingly mentioned as one of the next generation of Silicon Valleys.

CITY PERFORMANCE
Place
Place 36
Product
Product 30
Programming
Programming 24
People
People 57
Prosperity
Prosperity 30
Promotion
Promotion 34

The gorgeous neo-renaissance New York State Capitol is an obvious must-see for visitors. But so are the Empire State Plaza Art Collection, which displays modern art associated with New York, and the performing arts venue affectionately known as “The Egg,” a striking, organic edifice that has become an Albany icon. Put it all together, and there’s no wonder Albany earns a respectable #24 ranking for culture, with a #38 ranking for Promotion (driven by an #18 for Google Search).

Albany prides itself on its history, and its 18th and 19th-century homes and compact, walkable core help earn it a #26 ranking for Neighborhoods. But while it’s possible to live here without a car—especially since one of Amtrak’s busiest stations provides an easy connection to New York City—you’ll want one to fully enjoy all the region has to offer, whether it’s weekends in the mountains or a day at the races in Saratoga Springs.