On the western outskirts of Albany  near the airport is America’s first Shaker settlement (875 Watervliet Rd./Rt. 155, off Albany-Shaker Rd./Rte. 151, 518/456-7890, 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Sat., free admission), established in 1776. A religious sect founded in England in 1758, the Shakers later established 24 American communities from Maine to Florida.
In Albany eight sturdy, clean-lined Shaker buildings still stand, grouped around a crossroads. Seven are used by a geriatric nursing home, giving the place an off-limits feel. But the splendid 1848 Meeting House has been converted into a visitors center where you’ll find a small exhibit area, gift shop offering Shaker crafts, and the large hall where the Shakers once held their meetings.
The bleachers in back were set aside for the “World’s People”—nonbelievers—who often came to the meetings to watch and listen to the Shakers’ music. Today the hall is used for Shaker-related concerts, workshops, and crafts shows.
Free walking-tour maps are available in the gift shop. Nearby is the cemetery where the sect’s founder, Mother Ann Lee, and 444 others are buried.