We have so many options for food and shopping, shows and culture here in the Capital Region! This area is so unique because we have five cities within 40 miles that all offer such amazing things.

In my life I've lived in a few different places and have developed a likeness to a few spots to eat and shop that we don't have here in the Capital Region. So, if I were able to ask Santa to bring me these businesses this year for Christmas, I would!

1. Sweet Tomatoes a.k.a Souplantation

If you know me at all, you know I'm a sucker for a delicious salad! The more crazy the toppings, the better!  Beets, zucchini, peas, sesame seeds, funky cheese, crazy dressing... yummy!  There is no better place in the world to have a salad than Sweet Tomatoes! We need one right now! In that new Latham Circle situation so I can walk there!

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2. IKEA

There aren't too many stores that I'll drive out of my way to get to. IKEA has cheap, cute stuff for your house and, if you're willing to put it all together, your pad will look amazing. When I lived in New Jersey IKEA was 20 minutes away, and in Tampa it was 10 minutes from my house, so, since I've lived in the Capital Region, I've been going through Swedish meatball withdrawal! IKEA! Come here now!

Michael Nagle

3. Tim Hortons

It's a Canadian company that was recently purchased by Burger King, so, what better time to spread the coffee love to the Capital Region! I love Dunkin', don't get me wrong. And, on payday I can sometimes afford Starbucks, but Tim Hortons is the way to go. When I lived in Buffalo, Timmie Ho's was life! I have met so many transplants from Buffalo since I've been here in the Albany area who would agree with me, I'm sure. Plus, so many people who went to college out west—I know they'd all love a little taste of the Southern Tier.

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4.  Wegmans

God's gift to grocery stores. I know I'm not alone on this one! WGNA polled people a couple of years ago when the Latham Mall was ripped down and Wegman's was the #1 answer to "What should be put in it's place?' So, I'm not sure what we're waiting for! Although I did hear an urban legend that may or may not be true about Price Chopper icing them out and banning the grocery store chain from ever making it's home in the Capital Region. Whoa! Too bad, too, cause they have pretty great sushi for a grocery store. And great prices, too.

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5. Costco

One of my co-workers took the day off last week and drove to an entirely different state just to go to Costco. I must confess, I've never actually been to a Costco, but I am told it's way, way, way better than Sam's Club and BJ's. I can't believe it, of course, until I see it with my own eyes, but people tell me it's true. So, come on Costco, bring it! Set up shop here in the Capital Region and prove to everyone how strong your bulk goods game really is.

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