Drawing from its 1836 origins as a trading and shipping city, Albany overflows with cultural and historic spots. Outdoor destinations and an accessible downtown area enhance the tourist appeal of this Southwestern Georgia city, known as the “Pecan Capital of the World.”
Distinguished from the same-named city in New York by pronunciation, “Al-bain-ny,” Georgia, covers approximately 56 square miles along the banks of the Flint River. The whimsical flow and frequent floods have prompted city managers to discourage residential infill and concentrate on less-vulnerable construction improvements that just happen to entertain visitors.
Popular things to do in Albany include a visit to the Riverfront Walk, a six-acre site that safely capitalizes on the Flint River’s beauty. Highlights include the historic Bridge House, a visitors’ center listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Flint Riverquarium, an innovative aquarium focused on the natural workings of the Flint River. Turtle Grove is a collection of interactive play spaces for kids.
Poised at the mouth of the Flint River, Greenways are a local network of parks Ray Charles Plaza, which adjoins Riverfront Walk. The tribute to the Albany native and musical genius features a rotating bronze statue of Ray Charles seated at a piano, accompanied by amplified recordings of his music.
Explore history at the local museums. The Thronateeska Heritage Center is a hub of Albany attractions, including a planetarium, railcar display, science museum and history museum. The exhibits delve into the diverse groups that have inhabited and shaped the area, from the Creek Natives onward.
The Albany Civil Rights Institute documents the African American civil rights movement of Southwest Georgia. Located next to restored local landmark Old Mt. Zion Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in 1961, the institute’s collection includes photographs, recordings and other artifacts.
Architecture lovers will find many things to do in Albany, a city with a plethora of buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Carnegie Library of Albany, built in 1906, is a Classical Revival structure located next door to the Albany Municipal Auditorium, also acknowledged on the register. The restored 1915 brick concert hall is the site of live performances by the Albany Symphony Orchestra and Albany Ballet, among other groups.
Outdoor attractions in Albany are varied and plentiful. Chehaw is a nature preserve and wild-animal park spanning over 700 acres. Visitors can spot an American bald eagle or observe cheetahs and zebras from an elevated boardwalk that winds through the natural landscape. Camping and canoe trips add to the unique outdoor adventure. Counted among the state's “Seven Natural Wonders” is Radium Springs.
Located south of downtown, the spring’s mild, clear blue waters densely flow into the Flint River. Named for the touch of radium found in the water, the area includes underground caverns and the remains of a once-luxurious casino. An adjacent botanical garden, with walkways among plants and flowers, is a fitting enhancement to the area’s charm.