So here we are, spring has sprung, the winter of discontent is behind us and we set our sights on the part of the year where it’s actually fun to live in the Capital Region. But, hey, if it were sunny and 70 degrees every day we wouldn’t truly appreciate summer and fall the way we do, right? To help you make the most of it, we turn our attention this month to the annual Best Of issue and my chance to impart a little bit of wisdom being a lifelong resident. My picks are based on nothing but personal opinion, so take them with a grain of salt or a 10-pound bag, whichever suits you best.
Best place to get a ticket – The Northway between exits 7 and 9. This is state trooper central and they write them all day long.
Best place to meet a cop in Troy – South end near the Menands bridge. Any HVCC student will tell you as you cross the river to come into Troy the police like to hide on the right not 10-feet from the bridge. By the time you see them it’s too late.
Best name for a section of road – The SPUI. It’s that circular thing they built on Route 7 in Latham. DOT says SPUI stands for ‘Single Point Urban Interchange’, but I like to call it ‘Some People Urge Indigestion’, as in the way they drive gives me heartburn.
Best place to get into an accident – The Crossgates Mall ramp on the Northway. It goes from 70 to 7 mph in about seven seconds. Bam!
Best way to blow $15 bucks on water – Hoffman’s full service car wash. Expensive, but there’s something fun about peeking through the window and watching your chariot get a bath.
Best way to wash a car for free and get a workout – a garden hose and your driveway.
Best place to stare at cars you can’t afford – The red light on Route 7 in front of Keeler.
Best way to shop for a car you can afford – The Internet. With photos and information online, there really is no reason to leave the house anymore.
Best feeling in the world – When you mail in your last payment from the car loan coupon book.
Best chance your car will break down – Five minutes after you’ve made your last payment.
Food and Drink
Best hot dog- Gus’s in Watervliet. Not much to look at, but these dogs bark.
Best hamburger for the money – Jack’s Drive-In in Wyantskill. They call them ‘sliders’ and they’re a little slice of heaven.
Best milk shake – If it was 1970, I’d tell you the Puritan in downtown Troy. My mom took me there every Saturday for a chocolate malted. Today, I tip my hat to Johnny Rockets in the mall. Oh, and when the staff dances to Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’, consider it a bonus. One can have a blast for next to nothing.
Best ice cream – If there’s anything better than the cake batter ice cream at Cold Stone I’ve yet to taste it.
Best take-out when I want to be bad – Popeyes Chicken. Those Cajun mashed potatoes are sinful.
Best place to slam a lot of calories and not realize it – The Cheesecake Factory. The Bistro Shrimp Pasta has 2,290 calories and that’s before appetizers, bread or dessert.
Best happy hour – Creo any Friday between 4pm-8pm. This restaurant has quietly become the must-stop place for the movers and shakers in local business.
Best sports bar to watch sports – Wolf’s 1-11. A screen for every team and a rocking game room in the back.
Best sports bar to watch the waitresses – Graney’s. Not just gorgeous, but nice too.
Best sports bar to watch Albany skyline – The Sports Grill in East Greenbush. The deck has an amazing view.
Best place to watch a soccer game – Wolff’s Biergarten. You have to love a place that encourages you to eat free peanuts and toss the shells on the floor.
Best place for a drink before a show at Proctors – Aperitivo Bistro.
Best place for fun after a show at Proctors – Pinhead Susan’s.
Best place for a drink before a show at the Palace – DP’s in the Hampton Inn.
Best place for a drink after an Irish parade – McGeary’s Pub.
Best place to trip over a lobbyist – 677 Prime.
Best place for a bite on a beautiful night – The Waters Edge Lighthouse in Glenville. Positioned on the Mohawk, you’ll feel like you’re in some harbor town on the Cape.
Best place for a drink during track season – Saratoga National. Fire pits burning bright, jazz music fills the night and more wine than an Italian vineyard.
Family and Kids
Best park – The Crossings in Colonie. The maze alone is worth the drive. There is also a pond, miles of paved walkways and top-notch facilities if you’re changing a baby or having a baby shower.
Best bargain for under $30 bucks – The Tri-City Valley Cats. The stadium is gorgeous, there’s not a bad seat in the house and where else can you see a guy dressed up like the Easter Bunny shooting marshmallows into the crowd from the back of a moving ATV?
Best bargain for under $20 bucks – Guptill’s Arena. Celebrating their 60th season, Skip Guptill and the gang still offer a healthy, family-friendly environment for the young and old alike.
Best bargain for under $10 – Chucky Cheese. With free admission and four tokens for a buck your little one can have a blast for next to nothing.
Best bargain for under $5 – Michaels or AC Moore. Both craft stores offer all sorts of little projects for little hands that only require imagination.
Best bargain for nothing – The State Museum in Albany. It’s free, huge, and I promise if you went three times in a week there are still things you’d notice for the first time. Plus, the 9-11 exhibit is special.
Best way to connect with friends – Facebook.
Best way to screw up your relationship – Facebook.
Best time to start your diet – Swimsuit season arrives.
Best time to blow your diet – Girl Scout cookies arrive.
Best way to get fired – Date the boss’s daughter.
Best way to get promoted – Be the boss’s son.
Best way to lose your money – Play slots at the Racino.
Best way to lose your mind – Play golf.
Best show on TV- Californication.
Best chance I’ll turn up the radio – Boston is on.
Best chance I’ll punch the radio – Ke$ha is on.
Best song when I’m feeling up – “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green.
Best song when I’m feeling down – “Your Love” by Brandon Heath.
Best movie you’ve never seen- “August Rush”.
Best movie you should see again – “Meet Joe Black”.
Best movie to screw-up a date – “True Grit”. (SPOILER ALERT) It ends with everyone dead and a woman in black, with no arm, walking into the sunset. Trust me, there will be no kiss goodnight.
Best way to not screw-up a date – Skip the movie, get a picnic basket and take her to any nearby lake at sunset.
Best thing in the world – Being a parent.
Best thing about being a parent – Carrying a sleeping child in your arms up to bed. Words can’t describe it.
Best thing about this magazine – you. Thank you for sharing this moment with me.
John Gray is a Fox23 News anchor and contributing writer at the Troy Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.