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Readers’ Poll: People & Places

by The Staff on March 13, 2013 · 11 comments

Best Bar, Best Open Mic, Best Happy Hour Bar, Best Bar Staff: McGeary's Irish Pub. Photo by Erin Pihlaja.

Best Park

1. Washington Park

2. The Crossings

3. Thacher State Park

There is no shortage of parks in the Capital Region but these three easily took the top spots.

Best Playground

1. The Crossings

2. Central Park, Schenectady

3. Washington Park

The Crossings took an easy lead in this category, making even those of us without kids wonder what makes this place so much fun. Don’t be alarmed if you see some after-work adult playtime going on here in the near future.

Best Day Trip

1. Lake George

2. New York City

3. Thacher State Park

There was a surge in support for Lake George across a number of categories this year, but most of all here. We’re a little flummoxed that you jilted the Berkshires for the Big Apple—and that many of you consider Thacher Park a day trip.

Best Bike Ride

1. Corning Preserve

2. Mohawk-Hudson Bike Trail

3. (TIE) Thacher State Park, Erie Canal Path

The Corning Preserve just squeaked out a win here, making us grateful that the Capital Region has so many bike-friendly trails to ride.

Best Running Trail

1. Corning Preserve

2. The Crossings

3. Mohawk-Hudson Bike Trail

These are all great places to run, but there is something special about the majestic tree-lined run along the Hudson River that the Corning Preserve offers. If you need some convincing, check it out when the leaves start to change color.

Best Hiking/Nature Trail

1. Thacher State Park

2. Five Rivers Environmental Center

3. Plotter Kill Preserve

Thacher State Park toppled the competition in this category. Go see for yourself why it’s a Capital Region favorite. It’s only 15 miles outside of Albany.

Best Rock Climbing

1. Albany Indoor Rock Gym

2. The Edge

3. The Shawgunks

Here’s the beta on the best rock climbing in the Capital Region. Now go out and send!

Best Gym

1. Planet Fitness


3. Best Fitness

We’re eager to see some muscles flexed this summer, as it appears as though many of you like to pump iron and otherwise shape up.

Best Tattoo Artist

1. Eric Brown, Impulse

2. Tom Spaulding, Tom Spaulding Tattoo Studio

3. Dustin Horan, Dead Presidents

This was a pretty close contest. Looks like people are dedicated to their ink and the artist who lays it down.

Best Yoga/Pilates

1. The Hot Yoga Spot

2. Orenda Yoga

3. Heartspace Yoga

Another tough one to call. The Hot Yoga Spot took top honors by only a few extra votes. Bonus for the region: lots of great yoga studios to choose from.

Best Golf Course

1. Saratoga National Golf Club

2. Capital Hills Golf Course

3. Stadium Golf Course

Not even close. The stately elegance of Saratoga National won going away.

Best Miniature Golf

1. Oasis Family Fun Park

2. Pirate’s Cove Mini Golf

3. Hoffman’s Miniature Golf

Oasis, with its thoughtful design and unusually varied terrain, has become a perennial family favorite; while the elder statesmen of mini-golf in Lake George and Latham continue to win fans.

Best Skiing/Snowboarding

1. Gore Mountain

2. Jiminy Peak

3. Maple Ski Ridge

While many of you are obviously making the most of what’s available within an hour’s drive, Gore seems to be a clear favorite.

Best Ice Skating

1. Empire State Plaza

2. Swinburne Skating Park

3. Conway Ice Rink at HVCC

He’s been getting flack for some of his other moves lately, but this landslide win shows that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to reopen the Plaza ice rink remains wildly popular.

Best Bowling Alley

1. Playdium

2. Sparetime

3. Del Lanes

Whether it’s the slick lanes, the rented shoes, or the pastel colored balls, it’s clear to see that the Capital Region hearts bowling—especially at the Playdium.

Best Pool Hall

1. Trick Shot Billiards

2. Golden Cue

3. Diamond Eight Billiards

Looks like there’s no better place to hustle than Trick Shots.

Best Bar

1. McGeary’s Irish Pub

2. The Ruck

3. City Beer Hall

Tess Collins’ downtown hotspot wins again—but the equally bustling Ruck and City Beer Hall weren’t far behind.

Best Hook-Up Bar

1. Bootlegger’s on Broadway

2. The Ruck

3. McGeary’s Irish Pub

We ask, again: Doesn’t anyone go to Lark Street to get laid any more?

Best Gay Bar

1. Oh Bar

2. Water Works Pub

3. Rocks

It wasn’t a total runaway, but Oh Bar still has what it takes to conquer this category.

Best Wine Bar

1. Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark

2. Charles F. Lucas Confectionery

3. The Wine Bar Saratoga

Newcomer Charles F. Lucas Confectionery took a good chunk of the votes here, but not quite enough to take the lead from the Wine Bar & Bistro—an Albany mainstay.

Best Happy Hour Bar

1. McGeary’s Irish Pub

2. Bootlegger’s

3. Bombers

There are so many reasons why you’ll get happy at McGeary’s—but we’re gonna let you head down there and figure them out for yourself.

Best Bar Staff

1. McGeary’s Irish Pub

2. The Ruck

3. Bootlegger’s

They’re more like an extended family than a bar staff at McGeary’s.

Best Strip Club

1. DiCarlo’s

2. Double Vision

3. Nite Moves

The debate is still on whether stripping is an art form or not, but the Capital Region thinks that DiCarlo’s—which, sadly, lost its namesake and founder Sal DiCarlo last year—is the best place to do the research.

Best Comedy Club

1. The Comedy Works

2. The Lounge at Water Works Pub

3. MOPCO at Proctors Underground

The “king” of comedy clubs wins again.

Best Drive-In Movie Theater

1. Malta Drive-In

2. Jericho Drive-In

3. Hollywood Drive-In

We’re a region that’s blessed with quality drive-in cinemas, but the Malta Drive-In is your clear favorite.

Best Sports Venue (Spectator)

1. Times Union Center

2. Joe Bruno Stadium

3. (TIE) Glens Falls Civic Center, Saratoga Race Course

Joe Bruno Stadium keeps inching closer to winning, because the TriCity Valley Cats games are that much fun. The decline of Siena men’s basketball had to hurt the TUC in this category.

Best Bar/Restaurant to Watch a Game

1. Recovery Room

2. Wolf’s 1-11

3. Bootlegger’s on Broadway

You must really love the Recovery Rooms in Albany, Troy, Colonie, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Malta and Queensbury, because they’re going to open one in Guilderland soon, too.

Best Public Official

1. Jerry Jennings

2. Paul Tonko

3. Andrew Cuomo

Jerry wins again—Jerry always wins. Will this foreshadow the election?

Best Citizen Advocate

1. Alice Green

2. (TIE) Kathy Sheehan, Barbara Smith, Charlie Muller, Willie Bacote

There were a lot of nominees in this category, but Alice Green wins again for her longstanding and tireless work for social justice.

Best Animal Advocate

1. Steve Caporizzo

2. Dr. Holly Cheever

3. Brad Shear

With his Pet Connection segments on News 10, meteorologist Steve Caporizzo has helped a whole lot of dogs and cats find forever homes. He’s your clear winner, but let’s also salute vet Holly Cheever, and Brad Shear, executive director of the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society.

Best Local Charity

1. Mohawk Hudson Humane Society

2. Food Pantries for the Capital Region

3. The Extraordinary Project

These are all worthy—if very different—organizations, and when you donate to any of them, we’re all winners.

Best Swimming


2. Lake George

3. Grafton Lake

Looks like many of you like a good heated pool; two of our most prominent lakes also held their own.

Best Campgrounds

1. Thompson’s Lake

2. Moreau State Park

3. Lake George

Next time you’re planning on pitching a tent, let us know. We always love a good adventure.

Best Suburb

1. Delmar

2. Colonie

3. Guilderland

Don’t be too smug about your repeat win, Delmartians. The people of Loudonville are just too snooty to vote in our little poll.

Best Downtown (Living)

1. Saratoga Springs

2. Troy

3. Albany

This category was closer than expected. Troy really must be getting more awesome every day.

Best Downtown (Partying)

1. Saratoga Springs

2. Albany

3. Troy

Only three votes separated the Spa City from the Capital City this year. If Saratoga ever goes ahead and moves closing time up to 1 AM, we predict Albany will finally win.

Best Up-and-Coming Neighborhood

1. Troy

2. Delaware Avenue, Albany

3. Downtown Schenectady

Does the fact that Albany’s Pine Hills neighborhood dropped out of the top three have anything to do with Metroland relocating there? We hope not.


Anonymous March 14, 2013 at 12:49 am

Can’t believe you people were brainwashed into thinking Planet Fitness is not only a good gym, but the best one. Well it’s alright if you’re trying to get into shape, but horrible with its dumb rules and tootsie-roll giveaways.

Michael March 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Dont forget about the pizza!

greg March 14, 2013 at 9:09 am

AIR sucks. It’s got half the routes of The Edge, and not even half the quality. The staff is negative, the vibe isn’t friendly. Don’t waste your time there, go to the Edge instead.

Chad9976 March 14, 2013 at 11:48 am

Obviously a lot of Metroland readers don’t live in Schenectady. Otherwise they’d know The Bier Abbey has by far the superior beer selection not just in the Capital District, but in a 250-mile radius.

Melissa March 14, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Really, Tom Spaulding? Apparently no one in this area has respect for artists that do their own work and not just flash.

jane doe March 15, 2013 at 11:03 am

Ok I have to ask — why the (2-years in a row) love for Loudonville and the hate for Delmar?? I do not understand this at all, and I’m not a huge fan of either – or any suburbs for that matter. But at least Delmar is very walkable, there are old houses with character, almost no chain stores…what the hell gives, Metroland??

Josh Potter March 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Bear in mind, Jane, that these are the Metroland readers speaking…

Kristy March 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Tom Spaulding is one of the worst in the area, the Metroland readers must love dirt work. Dustin is good but I haven’t seen much good work out of Impulse neither. After seeing that I don’t trust anything that I read in Metroland.

Jane Doe March 20, 2013 at 2:57 pm

No, Josh – the readers are the ones that voted, the Metroland writers are the ones who added the comments that I am asking about.

The Staff March 21, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I wrote that one. “Snooty” is not exactly an expression of “love” for Loudonville. And there are much nastier Delmar digs floating around.

–Shawn Stone

Natasha Pernicka March 21, 2013 at 11:41 am

We are thrilled that your readers chose The Food Pantries for the Capital District as #2 for Best Local Charity! Thank you for the love! As a coalition, we are honored to help 53 local food pantries provide enough food for over 2.5 million meals annually. The need is great – if you would like to work together with us to feed our neighbors struggling with hunger please reach out!