Albany, New York

In just a few days we had been able to visit quite a few placed in our Upstate New York visit and on one of our last days it was late afternoon and we decided to pick a spot to get a hotel and rest for the evening.  We were coming up to Albany, NY and figured that would be a pretty easy place to find a hotel.

Albany Sign

We headed downtown and found a reasonable hotel that had a vacancy.  My family wanted to stay and rest in the room so I took the car out and decided to see if I could find any nearby penny machines.  As luck would have it there was one not too far away, I just had to hope the place was still open.

NY State Museum

The New York State Museum as you can see from the above picture is a very unique building.  They have some great exhibits and admission is free but donations are always welcome.  By the time I got inside they were actually starting the process of closing everything up.  I asked the security guard as nicely as I could if it would be okay for me to just stop over by the gift shop and use the penny machine.  He waved me through and I felt like I was getting away with something.

NY - New York State Museum

I fumbled some change out of my pocket and pressed a set of coins.  They all came out nicely even though the machine was a little rough rolling.

NY State Museum Pennies

In this set you will get a I Love (Heart) Albany, a Carousel Horse, a Wooly Mammoth, and a Trilobite.  I stored my new pennies away and thanked the guard again as I left and heard the doors being locked behind me.  After the short drive back to our hotel I was greeted by my family that seemed ready to go and find something to eat.  Having a secret up my sleeve I mentioned that we should go to the Crossgates Shopping Mall as they would have a varied selection of places to eat.  Everyone was on board and a sneaky grin crossed my lips.

Crossgates Mall Albany NY

The mall was a bit of drive away but we drove around the parking lot checking out the available restaurants.  We ended up choosing The Melting Pot which is a fondue restaurant.  All I’ll say is their desert Chocolate fondue is to die for.  Yes you do technically cook your own food, but the experience is still pretty cool and fun for the entire family.  Once our meal was over and we were completely stuffed with melted cheese and chocolate we figured it was a good idea to walk around the mall for a bit.  Eventually on the second floor we came across the food court and my plan fell into place.

NY - Crossgates Mall

A penny machine was are the changes?!?!  My family just laughed and realized how I had orchestrated this entire side trip.  You’d think they would know better by now.

Crossgates Mall Albany Pennies

I pressed my coins and we finished our after dinner stroll.  With the bloating feeling in our bellies starting to subside we eventually made it back to our car and then back to the hotel to get some sleep.  It was finally time to admit that our trip was over and time to head back home to Jersey.  Spending this time with my family was really a treat and we came back with some great memories and a pocket full of new pennies.  Overall it was another great family trip.


Lake George, New York

Continuing our family tour of Upstate New York we came across another hidden gem Lake George.  Now I will admit that years ago before our first daughter Hanna was born my wife and I took our Babymoon here.  Babymoon you say?  Yes we never heard of it either but were told by the doctor that once my wife made it to her second trimester it was the perfect time to take a Babymoon which is like a honeymoon only you take it before your first child is born.  I guess it’s kind of like a “kiss your sanity goodbye” final vacation.  We initially stayed for a long weekend which was the perfect amount of time to hang out on the lake and just enjoy the quaint little town.  This time unfortunately we were just visiting for one night before heading finally making our way back to Jersey the next day.  But we didn’t let that scare us away from taking in the beauty of the lake.

Lake George 01

By the time we wandered around a bit, everyone was pretty exhausted so we checked into our hotel.  After a short rest everyone was getting hungry but no one really wanted to go back out so I offered (wink wink) to head out and pick up some food.  Using my trusty Yelp! app on my phone I found a pizza place at the top of Canada Street that runs along the west side of Lake George.  Why did I do this?  Because there were a bunch of penny machines located nearby.  What a crazy questions I’m surprised you didn’t think it of.  Anyways, after placing our food order I had about 30 minutes to wander around and collect everything I could.  My first stop was the Village Emporium.

Lake George Village Emporium

As with most of the stores on this street they were jammed packed with T-shirts, sweaters, shot glasses and all sorts of other things you would usually find in this type of souvenir store.

Village Emporium Machine 01

Just inside the main front entrance was the penny machine.  Just like I wrote about previously when visiting a store in Saratoga Springs this machine is a little unique.  I won’t go into details again, but please heed my warning “READ THE INSTRUCTIONS”.  Don’t just jam your coins in, the machine works just a little differently than you may be used to.

Village Emporium Lake George NY Blog

The machine offered 3 designs.  The Minnie Ha Ha Ship, I Love Lake George NY with a Teddy Bear, and My Lucky Lake George Penny with Shamrocks.  I felt like I was playing beat the clock as my dinner was going to be ready before I knew it and I still had quite a few places to check out.  Thankfully just a few stores away was my next stop the Waterfront Living store.

Lake George Waterfront Living

When I was doing some research before our trip I saw that this machine was a recent addition to Lake George.

Waterfront Living Machine 01

The machine isn’t right inside the main store, but out under the covered area near the street.  I don’t know if this is left open while the store is closed so make sure to go during business hours to make sure you can access it.

Waterfront Living Blog

These had some cool images on them.  The four designs available included I Love (heart) Lake George, a couple of Black Bears, Laid Back at Lake George, NY and Enjoying the View with some Hot Air Balloons.  Tick tock, tick tock time to get moving.  Just another short walk away was Riley’s at the Lake.

Lake George Rileys

My wife and I used to have a cat named Riley and we always think of her when we visit this store.  Before you get any ideas it’s not a pet store just another Lake George Souvenir shop with a penny machine inside, oh and some t-shirts and a giant stuffed black bear out front.

Rileys at the Lake Machine 01

This machine had quite a few quarters and pennies laying in the bottom of the machine.  I was a little nervous it wouldn’t work right but that was all for nothing as the machine worked perfectly and out popped my four new coins.


The coins rolled a little long but the images were all intact.  The designs were I Love NY, Adarondak Mtns (Yes this is how it’s spelled on the coins take a look yourself), a Moose Lake George NY, and My Lucky Penny Lake George NY.  I left the store and continued heading down to the next traffic light and made a left onto Beach Road.  This is where you can sign up to enjoy a dinner cruise, or other boat excursions out onto the lake.  They also have a really nice walkway that follows the southern end of the lake with a beautiful view of the entire lake and surrounding mountains.  As with the main street there are also many different shops and restaurants along this road.  One of those was the Olde Curiosity Shop.

Lake George Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

There wasn’t much in here I hadn’t already seen in other nearby souvenir shops, but as I made my way to the back of the store I found the penny machine hidden inside.

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop Machine 01

This machine worked fine except it wasn’t level so it kept tilting to one side each time I turned the handle which took a little doing to not crack my skull on the corner.  But with some coordination I pressed the coins without permanently hurting myself.

Ye Old Curiosity Shop Pennies

The coins at this l location had designs of a War Drum, a Cannon, one of the River Boats, and a Colonist with a Native American.  This last coin is a perfect segue into the final stop on my quick penny squishing mission.  At the top of the fairly large hill located behind the store was Fort William Henry which is now a museum.

Lake George Fort Henry 01

As I quickly made my way up the hill there are a few various pathways that all lead towards the museum.  As you get closer you can hear the sound of marching and gun fire all from the battle reenactments that take place at various times during the day.

Lake George Fort Henry 02

Fort Henry was constructed in 1755 to command the southern end of Lake George.  It was a British outpost to protect colonies further to the south.  Since I was rushing against the clock and my food was getting very close to be done I didn’t have time to really check out the museum in all its glory.  Instead I ran in to explore the gift shop.

Lake George Fort Henry 03

As you can see from the above picture just outside the gift shop was a penny machine.  I headed over but quickly noticed the large sign tape to the top.

Fort Henry Machine 01

“Out of Order” how could they do this to me.  Oh well no biggie sometimes this happens and you just have to roll with it.  After we got back home from our trip I waited about a week and sent a letter to Fort Henry Museum with some quarters and pennies asking if someone could press me a set when the machine was back up and running.  A very short time later I received my self addresses stamped envelope back with a nice set of coins.

Crossgates Mall Albany Pennies

The pennies had some similar images to ones I had already collected but were still a great addition to my collection.  The coins showed a Colonies and Native America, I Love Lake George, a Cannon, and a Steam Powered Paddle Boat.

Now back at  Fort Henry I took a quick look around the gift shop and then headed outside.  Our takeout order was just about ready so I made a mad dash back to the restaurant, paid for our food and jumped in my car.  Somehow I had made it and our food was still hot which my family would appreciate.  Once I got back to our hotel we quickly dug into all our food and had a great time just lounging in our room, laughing and reminiscing about the trip so far.  Sometimes those are the best moments of family vacation, not waiting in lines or fighting crowds but just enjoying each others company.

Riley’s North – Lake Placid, NY

Being originally from Canada the winter Olympics were always more my cup of tea, but I have definitely been enjoying the 2016 Rio games.  With the Rio Olympics recently completed and my family driving through Upstate New York we jumped at the change to check out Lake Placid.  Home of the 1932 and more recently the 1980 Winter Olympics.

Lake Placid 01

After arriving in Lake Placid we found a nice parking spot right near the lake and decided to walk around Main Street and take in the Olympic Spirit still alive and well.

Lake Placid 05

Of course the most memorable event during the 1980 Olympics was the Miracle on Ice USA Men’s Team miraculous win over Russia.  I was only a few years old when it actually happened but in the years since have always been completely overwhelmed with the story behind that USA team and what they accomplished.

Lake Placid 04

After visiting some of the Olympic facilities and souvenir shops we were getting hungry and had lunch at a quaint little place called the Black Bear Restaurant.  It overlooked the Lake which a breathtaking view and the food was really good.  The interior of this place was cute with lots of reference to black bears which Hanna really got a kick out of.

Lake Placid 03

On our way back to our car we checked out on last gift shop called Riley’s.  We had visited another of their locations in Lake George years ago and found some great gifts to bring back.

Lake Placid Rileys Store

As soon as I walked inside the front door I was greeted by the familiar sound of a penny machine being cranked.  Just inside was a nice four design hand crank machine with some great designs.

Lake Placid Machine 01

There were a few people using it ahead of me but once my turn came I rolled my designs and checked out the finished products.

Rileys of Lake Placid Blog

The designs had images of the 1980 Men’s Hockey Miracle on Ice (Really cool), Skiing Whiteface Mountain, a Moose, and a Figure Skater.  With these pennies collected I tried to remember if I had any other Olympic coins and couldn’t remember any.  My fingers are crossed that somewhere someone is working on a special set to commemorate the 2016 games.

Once we were back in our card with Lake Placid faded behind us we were off to our next stop in the Adirondack’s.  Stay tuned to see where we end up next.

Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park – Pottersville, NY

Our next stop on our Upstate New York tour was thanks to  We were actually in the area to see a miniature train museum (I have loves these since I was a kid) but when we got there the train museum didn’t open for a few hours.  So I used my trusty penny finder app on my phone and as luck would have it only a few miles away was the Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park in Pottersville, NY.

Natural Stone Bridge 01

I’m not a geologist at all but this place was still pretty cool to check out.  We didn’t venture too far into the caves but they had a lot of interesting information available.

Natural Stone Bridge 03

Before we left we checked out the Rock Shop because I was hoping the pressed coin machines were there and not deep in one of the caves.  Thankfully my claustrophobia wouldn’t need to be tested this day.

NY - Natural Stone Bridge & Caves Park 02

This shop actually had two coin machines.  The first was a four design hand crank penny machine.

Natural Stone Bridge Pennies

The images included Brave Cave Explorers, two of the images were of cavemen but slightly different versions, and the four image had Adventure Tour Explore your World.  As you can see from the image above the machine rolled the pennies long and each came out with a bit of a tail, but the images weren’t distorted as all.

NY - Natural Stone Bridge & Caves Park 01

The second machine only had one design but was a rare find in our hobby.  This machine pressed dimes.  The cost was $0.75 plus your dime for a total of $0.85.  The machine is set up with a fancy cabinet that advertised Dime “n” Mine which I thought was pretty cool.

Natural Stone Bridge Dime

The image on the dime was another caveman which as you can probably tell was a theme here.  I stored the new coins away and hear the call of the model railroad.  I was glad to have found this place and had a great time here.  Be sure to get the Penny Finder App for your iPhone’s, I think it’s about $2 but comes in handy when you need to know if there are penny machines lurking nearby.  Happy collecting!!

Impressions of Saratoga – Saratoga Springs, NY

For the last few years my family has been going back to our Native homeland Canada the first weekend in August for a family reunion.  After the family festivities we have been taking little side trips on our way back down to Jersey and this year we decided to check out upstate New York.  One of our stops was in Historic Saratoga Springs.

Saratoga Springs NY 02

Obviously this quaint town is known for horse racing which is event everywhere you go. The main street downtown is really great to just park nearby and take a nice leisurely walk checking out the little shops along the way.

Saratoga Springs NY 01

One of those great little shops was called Impressions of Saratoga.  This had tons of great souvenirs and the people working there were very friendly.  Just inside the front door near the checkout area was the only pressed penny machine in town (what are the odds we would stop into this place?!?!).

NY - Impressions of Saratoga

I have used this type of machine a few times in the past and it can be a little confusing if you are used to the other more standard style machines.  Most of the ones like this always have a hand written sign from the merchant trying to clearly explain how it works as I’m sure they get a lot of refund requests because the customer didn’t read what to do.  Unlike most other machines there is only 1 (ONE) button and you press it first to highlight the little light beside whichever design you are interested in pressing.  Once the selection is made you pop in your change and the machine does the rest.  My assumption is people just put in their money and try pressing the light beside their design which does absolutely nothing and they end up with whatever design the previous user had requested.  In any case it’s not difficult just different so please take this “life tip” and read the darn instructions before using it.

Impressions of Saratoga

The first image says Lucky Penny and has a Jockey and Horse in mid-race, next is the Columbian Spring, and lastly the Battlefield Monument.  With my new pennies safely stored away we picked up a plush horse for Hanna and headed outside.  It was a beautiful day and I wish we had more time schedule in Saratoga Springs it really was great to check out.  But we had other places to visit and not a lot of time.  Check back soon to see where we headed next.

2016 Subway Series – New York, NY

As a baseball fan with a family split down the middle of Yankee and Mets supporters every year there is an event that allows us to temporarily settle the dispute of who is better.  The New York Subway Series.

NY Subway Series

I’ve posted in the past that my parents are big Mets fans, and my sister’s family and my wife and I are Yankees fans.  We all go into this series with a lot of big talk and put downs, but at the end only one group of fans can be left standing.

The four game series started on August 1st at CitiField the home of the Mets.   Game 1 went to the Yankees (yay). Game 2 to the Mets (boo).  Games 3 and 4 were now a nice Subway ride away in the Bronx at Yankees Stadium.  Game 3 went to the Yankees, and finally game 4 went to the Mets.  A 2-2 series tie was a little disappointing my family was left without bragging rights over the other.  What a rip off!

Thankfully the great people over at put together a special limited edition pressed penny set commemorating the 2016 Subway series.

2016 Subway Series Blog

The first penny has an image of both Yankees Stadium and CitiField with the team logos.  The second coin has an iconic New York City Subway train and says Subway Series with the team logos.

Now sort of semi-related to these coins is another special design that was included with this set.  To celebrate Famed New York Mets Catcher Mike Piazza being inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame a coin was created with his image.

2016 Mike Piazza HOF

All these coins were really cool and a great addition to my Baseball coin collection.  As far as I know these coins were not available at either New York team stadium and can only be purchased through the online store.  These were listed as having a very limited number available so get yours before they are all gone.

Ellen’s Stardust Diner – New York, NY (Update)

Awhile ago I had visited Manhattan (New York City) to visit with my cousin who was in town.  He had his own agenda for that day so I took the opportunity to visit some penny machines that were new, or some old friends that I hadn’t visited in quite a few years.  I wrote about all the different places I visited that day in numerous posts which you can view in the archives.  However one of the places I visited that day had a broken machine and I wasn’t able to get the coins.

Ellen's Stardust Diner 01

Ellen’s Stardust Diner is located at 1650 Broadway right in the heart of Times Square.  You can read my short post about my quick visit to this place here.  As I mentioned when I visited this location the machine was jammed and I wasn’t able to use the machine.  When I got back home I waited a couple of weeks and wrote a quick letter to the Diner explaining what happened, and asked of someone would mind pressing a set of pennies for me when the machine was repaired.  I send these letters from time to time when I’m unable to get the coins, and in most cases there is always someone kind enough to help me out.

As I always do I included a little bag with the appropriate number of quarters and pennies along with a self addresses stamped envelope for them to ship the coins back to me.  I appreciate their assistance but would never expect them to pay for the return shipping.  I find the easier you make this on these places the better results you will get.

I visited this place back in November 2015, and here it is June of 2016 and I had pretty much written these coins off at this time.  But I came home from work today and found the familiar self-addressed envelope sitting in my mailbox.  I quickly tore into it and was surprised to see the Stardust Diner pennies, along with a very sweet hand written note by one of the staff.


As you can see from the picture above there are four designs at this location.  The designs are of Ellen’s Stardust Diner famous singing and dancing wait staff, NYC Times Square, I Love New York / Statue of Liberty, and We Will Never Forget World Trade Center.

It’s nice to finally be able to complete this set of New York City coins from that trip.  However I check on from time to time for any changes and already see new machines are available in the area.  Looks like I’ll be making a trip into the City real soon.

Liberty Empire, Inc – New York, NY

What a long day I’d had so far.  It started early at the Natural History Museum and has been non-stop since.  Thankfully I was moving away from the busy area of Times Square as I walked towards my last penny machine.

Liberty Empire 01

Located on 5th Ave between 33rd and 34th Streets is one of many NYC souvenir stores.  This just is actually located right across the street from the Empire State Building which makes it a pretty busy location.

I’ve been up in the Empire State building in the past and it’s a really cool experience.  When you’re at the top in the Observation area you get the most amazing views of New York City, but be forewarned it does get pretty windy way up there.  On this trip I wasn’t heading up to the top but instead just to the gift shop across the street to use the penny machine located right outside on the sidewalk.

Liberty Empire Machine 01

The machine itself had some really nice New York themed artwork, and especially liked the topper with the manhole cover stating Collectible Pennies.

Liberty Empire Pennies

The designs available at this location included the New York City Skyline, ESB (Empire State Building, the New York Yankees, and Ellis Island.  With this coins stored away I stood there for a few moments enjoying the fact that I had managed to visit all the places I had wanted to see.  I was also able to get almost all the pressed pennies I wanted and only missed 3 sets due to broker machines.  Not too shabby.

My cousin had sent me a few txt messages as they had spent most of their day visiting Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.  He then walked across the Brooklyn bridge and back to the Manhattan side which is where I ended up meeting him right near New York City Hall.  We sat on some benches near a few street performers and watched the show while getting caught up on things since our last visit together.  With the sun starting to go down we headed to the subway station and took a train over to Brooklyn and came up to street level right by the Barclays Center.

Barclays Brooklyn 01

Once the gates opened we headed inside and made our way to our seats.  This was my first time visiting this new arena and it was beautiful.  Really a great place to watch a hockey game.

Barclays Brooklyn 02

The New York Islanders were playing the Buffalo Sabres and for most of the game it was close.  But by the end the Sabres had pulled out the win with a 2-1 final score.


It had been a really long and busy day.  Unfortunately we still had about a 2 hour commute back to Jersey before I finally got into bed.  Luckily I had taken the next day off from work so I was planning on sleeping as long as possible.

Sometimes I think I overdo these trips with trying to fit too many places into one day, but as I heard my pocket jingling with all those new pressed coins I knew I had made the right choice.  My feet were going to be killing me for the next few days, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Toys ‘R Us – New York, NY

In the heart of Times Square is one of the biggest toy stores I have ever been in.  I remember as a kid the town I grew up in didn’t have one of these mega toy stores so the only time I got to visit one was when we went on vacation.  Now they seem to be everywhere and even though I’m no longer a kid I still could spend hours in this store.

Toys R Us 01

This Toys ‘R Us is really amazing.  As soon as you walk in off of Broadway you are greeted by a huge ferris wheel.  Yes the ferris wheel is inside the building.

Toys R Us 02

There are multiple floors that have every toy you could think of.  I found an entire area just dedicated to the biggest Lego collection I have ever come across.  I started at the bottom and worked my way up.  Down near the area where you can get on the ferris wheel I found the first penny machine in the store.

Toys R Us Machine 01

The machine was kind of located in the middle of the pathway so I caused a bit of a traffic jam while I used the machine.

Toys R Us 01 Pennies

This first set of designs were sports related which seemed kind of strange for a toy story.  They included the Toys ‘R Us Logo, NY Sports Fan, New York Yankees, and the New York Mets.  I quickly moved out of the way to let the crowd behind me pass by.  Then I began my tour of each floor checking out each floor.  After picking out a few items for my daughter I went through the checkout and then towards the side exit.  This is where I finally found the second machine.

Toys R Us Machine 02

After waiting a few minutes for a couple of people to finish using the machine I moved in to press my set.  The machine worked nicely, but a couple of the coins came out a little misshapen.

Toys R Us 02 Pennies

These designs also didn’t have any toy related designs, but were still New York themed which was a nice addition to my collection.  The images were the Toys ‘R Us Logo with the New York Skyline, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square New York, and New York’s Bravest.

With my pennies and gifts in hand I headed outside and was greeted by the Naked Cowboy who was singing and playing his guitar right in Times Square.  He’s not technically naked but does wear a tiny little bathing suite type bottom.  You can feel free to google him if you are really interested.  He has been located here for years and has become quite the attraction for tourists to take pictures with.  I waved at him and walked on by as I had one last place to go before meeting up with my cousin for the Hockey game.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream – New York, NY

Even though it was November and with a slight chill in the air I still had the urge for some ice cream.  After finishing my lunch I walked around the corner and hit up the next place on my list to complete to tasks at once.

Ben & Jerry's 01

Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream was founded in 1978 in Burlington Vermont by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.  Their ice cream is known for being very chunky and having very unique combinations.  I don’t have their ice cream all the time as I find it’s pretty rich with all the things mixed in but every so often it just hits the spot.

Ben & Jerry's 02

As soon as I walked in there was a display cooler filled with Ice Cream cakes, and the smell of fresh waffle cones was intoxicating.

 Ben & Jerry's 03

This location did also offer some fresh-baked goodies like chocolate chip cookies, brownies and chocolate covered pretzel rods.  But I was here for one thing, the biggest Cherry Garcia I could get my hands on.  It’s their edible tribute to guitarist Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.  It’s cherry ice cream with cherries and fudge flakes coursing throughout.  With my waffle cone in hand I sat by the window and indulged.  After cleaning myself up I headed towards the door where there was a penny machine.

Ben & Jerry's Machine 01

A few years ago my wife and I took a trip up to Vermont for a weekend and visited the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory.  They also had a penny machine with similar designs but as you can see below these did have a nice New York touch to them.

Ben & Jerry's NYC Pennies

The pennies included images of the New York Skyline, Peace Love and Ice Cream NYC, Rockefeller Center NYC, and the Statue of Liberty holding an ice cream cone.  With my craving satisfied I headed back out into the busy New York street and headed towards my next destination would help work off the ice cream and let me be a kid in a huge toy store.