One of my favorite summer getaways is to drive up to pretty Saratoga Springs, a small upstate city 45 minutes north of Albany and less than four hours from New York City and Boston. Known for its period charm, world-class horse racing, mineral springs, outdoor activities, and diversely rich cultural calendar, Saratoga Springs was a health resort and gambling center for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. But here are some of the delightful must-sees and dos in this century:
In summer, the Saratoga Race Course offers its thoroughbred racing season – bringing city dwellers and socialites in a mix of past and present. There’s more glamour here in this old-school venue than at just about any other course. The vintage charm adds immensely to the experience, and the retro atmosphere is hard to find at most tracks in America.
Saratoga Performing Arts Center is one of America’s premier arts and entertainment venues which headlines Live Nation Concerts (Kendrick Lamar, Keith Urban, Dave Matthews Band) and features annual residencies by The New York City Ballet, Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. One of my favorite memories is watching a ballet rehearsal right after seeing a horse race: a nice combo of graceful thoroughbreds.
Saratoga Spa State Park offers recreational activities for all ages including swimming, golf courses, walking, running and biking trails, and fishing. The park is also home to two museums, a resort and spa, and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. This region of America is especially beautiful in summer and fall, and here at the park is where nature and culture combine.
Saratoga Springs was originally called “the Queen of the Spas,” and the scene goes back to the beginning of American history. Known as Serachtague, “place of swift water,” the area was sacred to the Mohawks and other Native Americans. Roosevelt Baths & Spa was established in 1935 thanks to President Franklin Roosevelt’s visionary act to preserve the Saratoga Springs. Authentic and historic, today Roosevelt Baths & Spa offers a hydrotherapy spa experience which begins with a private soak in Saratoga’s naturally effervescent water.
Where to Stay: The Adelphi Hotel, is a landmark boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown. Built in 1877 during Saratoga’s Golden Age, the city’s oldest hotel underwent a five-year renovation and has been reimagined as a modern luxury property where Victorian style meets cool elegance. The Adelphi Hotel was recently listed on Travel + Leisure’s 2018 It List and Conde Nast Travel’s 2018 Hot List.
The Inn at Saratoga, Saratoga Casino Hotel and Pavilion Grand Hotel are excellent choices if you want to avoid the many chain hotels in and around the area. Favorite B and B’s include The Inn at Five Points and Saratoga Farmstead.
Where to Eat: The American potato chip is said to have been invented here in Saratoga Springs in 1853 by George Crum, a Native American/African American chef at the Moon Lake Lodge, when a diner complained that the fries were too thick. For chips or fries, check out Scallions or Mrs. London’s restaurants for classic American cuisine; Church for steak and seafood; Ravenous, for crepes; Longfellows for American creative; Osteria Danny for Italian.
Where to Shop: The historic downtown shopping district of Saratoga Springs offers boutiques and quaint shops tucked among eateries and cafes. There are only a few chain stores, so window-shopping makes for a nice walk.
And the Saratoga Springs nightlife scene includes bars, nightclubs, entertainment spots and late-night dining options. So you can play day into the long summer night.