Westmere/N Bethlehem – Albany, NY

Westmere and North Bethlehem are two neighboring suburbs in the town of Guilderland, which sits just outside the city of Albany. Both neighborhoods are located southwest of the busy downtown area of the city just off the two main highways routes: 87 and 90. This small area attracts tourists due to its high concentration of parks and recreation areas. Normanskill River runs along the southwest sides of both neighborhoods, providing many water activities for kids and families. Two large malls also fall within close proximity to both neighborhoods and are easily accessible by car or bus. Both neighborhoods also have many options for lodging to accommodate visitors to the area, from low-end, affordable motels perfect for families or couples on a budget to high-end hotels like the Marriott for those wanting to stay in style. A beautifully landscaped golf course and country club located southeast of North Bethlehem also attracts tourists and has become a popular hangout for the locals as well. Normanside Country Club is kid- and family-friendly and regularly hosts special events and weddings.

Schools in Westmere/N Bethlehem

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Restaurants & Nightlife

In Westmere, check out local favorite Akanomi Japanese Restaurant which serves traditional hot dishes such as chicken or beef teryaki and plenty of hibachi dishes featuring shrimp or tofu. Box lunches are available on the menu alongside other options such as traditional sushi rolls and sashimi. Akanomi's gyoza is a crowd favorite. Prices here are comparable to other Japanese restaurants in the area: A traditional dinner entree costs between $7 and $10. Akanomi is open Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Mondays. The restaurant is located on Western Avenue and is easily accessible from downtown Albany and routes 87 and 90 to the east. Peaches Cafe just outside of North Bethlehem has been a local favorite for more than 30 years. The cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is open until 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, until 8 p.m. on Sundays. The cafe features daily specials and diner-style classics such as burgers, soups and sandwiches. Omelets and other breakfast items are served all day long. Prices run a little higher than at the average cafe or diner; a turkey club sandwich is $14.95. The Comedy Works is a very popular night spot and destination for out-of-town visitors. Located just east of the towns of North Bethlehem and Westmere, the club is easily accessible by car, taxi or bus from routes 203 and 204 as well as route 87. The club offers dinner and show packages starting at $39.95 per person in advance or $44.95 per person day of show. The club, which has been in operation for more than 30 years, provides a fun and upbeat atmosphere an has become a central night spot for locals.

History & Culture

The town of Bethlehem, including North Bethlehem, is said to have been the first landing place of Henry Hudson in the mid-18th century as he sailed up the river that now bears his name. The town of Westmere, just north of North Bethlehem, was established some 50 years later. Both towns lie just west of downtown Albany. Historic attractions in Bethlehem include the Bethlehem House and the Adams House, both of which feature Victorian-era architecture. The houses also act as museums with artifacts and pieces from the 18th century on display. The New York State Museum in downtown Albany is the closest cultural center to both neighborhoods. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday and admission is free. The museum is home to a carousel that children can ride for free, and special exhibitions run year round.

Transportation

Westmere and North Bethlehem are quiet neighborhoods that provide the perfect atmosphere for taking a stroll or getting around by foot. Both towns are safe for bike riders as well. The streets do not have designated bike lanes, but locals know to be on the lookout for riders as this is a popular mode of transportation in this area. Amtrak's nearest train stations are located inside the downtown area of the city of Albany. The nearest station is about a 15-minute drive or bus ride from the town of Westmere and about 10 minutes from the town of North Bethlehem. Train tickets vary depending on the destination and start at $13 to travel to the next town. CDT city buses, as well as larger bus services like Greyhound, are also an option for traveling short and long distances. A one-way bus ticket on a local bus starts at $2.50. A Greyhound ticket price depends on the destination; they start at $9.50 when purchased at the station and $7.50 when purchased online. Albany's Yellow Cab company is the closest taxicab service to both Westmere and North Bethlehem, with fares starting at $8 for a trip inside the local area. Fares increase as the destination gets farther outside of the downtown Albany area.

Cost

The cost of living in Westmere and North Bethlehem can be inexpensive, with a few places on the higher end. A typical one-bedroom apartment in a duplex or shared building runs between $800 and $1,500. One-bedroom apartments in townhomes or brownstones run higher at prices between $1,000 to more than $2,000. Rent often includes amenities like electric or water as well as trash pickup. Transportation to downtown Albany is quick and easy, since routes 203 and 204 run directly through both neighborhoods. Route 87 runs to the north and east of both neighborhoods and provides easy access to all Amtrak stations in the downtown Albany area. Taxicab services and private car services are also available for trips into the city of Albany or farther. Beer prices at the local watering holes range in price depending on the type of beer and the establishment. A typical brew can cost around $5, with imported or specialty craft brews ranging to $8 and up. Gas prices in Westmere and North Bethlehem run about 10 percent lower than the national average and about 5 percent higher than the New York State average.

Shopping

Crossgates Mall in Westmere is a popular shopping destination for locals and visitors alike. With an abundance of local shopping malls and strip malls near Westmere and North Bethlehem, finding niche boutique shops is fairly easy. Stuyvesant Plaza is another popular shopping destination with specialty shops and boutiques inside. Unique home goods stores like Different Drummer's Kitchen Company and gift shops like Pearl Grant Richmans provide a stimulating shopping experience. Specialty food and gourmet shops like Oliva, which features hard-to-find exotic olive oils and vinegars, and Primal, a local specialty butcher and gourmet meat store, are local favorites. For people who like adventure and outdoor fun, Eastern Mountain Sports is the place to see. Eastern Mountain Sports carries all types of outdoor activity equipment, including kayaks and canoes, as well as climbing and hiking gear for reasonable prices. With all the parks and nature preserves in this area, Eastern Mountain Sports is a popular shop. Price Chopper grocery store, located on Western Avenue, lies between the towns of Westmere and North Bethlehem and is only a few minutes drive from both neighborhoods. The grocery store stays open 24 hours every day of the week for added convenience and also houses a pharmacy department. The closest farmers market to both neighborhoods is located in Delmar, just south of North Bethlehem and about a 20-minute drive from Westmere. The market is open on Saturdays only and moves indoors during the cold fall and winter months. The market is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Local foods and fare can be found here, with vendors selling handmade clothing and soaps as well as homemade foods.

Parks

Westmere and North Bethlehem are situated near many parks and reserves. North Bethlehem Park, in the town of North Bethlehem, is a kid-friendly park with a clean and well-kept playground. Admission is free. The playground features slides and swings as well as monkey bars and bridges. The traditional playground is set back from the road in a semi-wooded area for a safe play environment. No dogs are allowed in this tobacco-free park. Henry Hudson Park features a boat launch that is open daily to the public on the banks of the Hudson River. The park has ample space for children to play and features a clean playground with modern play equipment. Admission is free. The park also has a large area designated for picnics. Fishing and other water activities are also permissible at this park. No dogs are allowed in this tobacco-free park. North Bethlehem has a 1.3-acre dog park for those wishing to bring their furry friends for a day out. The dog park, located on Elm Avenue, requires residents with dogs who use the park to purchase a permit for each dog at City Hall in downtown Bethlehem. The park is open every day all year round, and rules are posted at the entrance of the park. Thacher State Park, located in Westmere, provides a wonderful day hike experience. The park is located along the Helderberg Enscarpment and provides breathtaking views of Upstate New York, Massachusetts and Vermont. This park features six miles of limestone cliffs and caves to walk through, with beautiful waterfalls throughout the park. The park also has volleyball courts and other sports fields, as well as a playground for children. This dog-friendly park provides ample space for picnicking or sunbathing with friends and family. Admission is free, and the park is open in the spring and summer seasons.
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