A Visitor’s Guide to Saratoga Springs, New York

The town of Saratoga Springs, New York sits conveniently between the state’s capital of Albany, to it’s South, and the majestic Adirondack Mountains, to the North. With fine dining, boutique shopping, museums, parks, venues for the arts, Skidmore College, a safe and vibrant nightlife, golf, world class spas and, of course, thoroughbred racing, Saratoga Springs has something to offer everyone. What’s more, all of these amazing activities fall within an enjoyable walk, or easy drive, from Broadway, Saratoga Springs’ centrally located main street. Few towns of this size afford visitors such an easy and dynamic vacation opportunity.

The first thing you should do after checking into one of Saratoga Springs’ many centrally located hotels or bed and breakfasts, is stroll over to Broadway. Walking Saratoga’s main street, you will get a fantasic introduction to the town’s beauty, energy and over all feel. On Broadway’s roomy, tree and flower lined sidewalks, you will be surrounded by wonderful restaraunts, cafes and boutiques. If you are hungry, choose one of the many restaraunts with an outdoor patio, relax, and watch the passerbys. During Saratoga Springs’ peak Summer months, people watching is an activity in its own right. This is especially true from late July through August, when the thoroughbred track is playing host to world famous race horses, and people. You will see visitors from all over the country,and the world, enjoying Saratoga’s quaint architecture and abundent sites.

If you aren’t ready to sit yet, grab an iced latte from Uncommon Grounds Coffee Shop and continue walking South to Congress Park. Here on the South West side of Broadway, you will find one of Saratoga Springs’ Victorian-era parks, treasured for its antique and fully functional carousel, duck ponds, pergola covered springs and the historic Casino building, which once housed classy gambling facilities. A stunning building in and out, it is now home to the Saratoga Springs Historical Society, and serves as a grand reception hall for many public and private events. As Congress Park sweeps you away to times past, you may forget that the shops you were just walking through are only a block away.

You may want to drive, but if you continue South on Broadway for about a mile, you will arrive at Saratoga Spa State Park. This historic park is home to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), which hosts the New York City Ballet, opra, world famous orchestras, the annual jazz festival and some of the most recognizable names in pop and rock music. Also within the borders of the park, you will find a great golf course, public pools, the Roosevelt Baths, the Saratoga Springs Automobile Museum, The Gideon Putnam Hotel , The National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame and a safe and lovely environment for getting a little excercise and fresh air. Can you believe Saratoga Springs has this much to offer in one of its parks alone?Before you leave the park, make sure you sample the water from one of its many springs. Some are quite delicious, while others have a strong taste of minerals. The later are reputed to be great for your health. The most popular spring is directly across from the Saratoga Springs Automobile Museum. Here you will observe a constant stream of locals, with multiple containers, lining up to bring some home.

Saratoga Springs is also home to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Here you can take in the rich history of thoroughbred racing. Conveniently, you will find the museum dirctly across the street from the Saratoga Racing Track. They are located on Union Avenue, which T- bones into Congress Park, East of Broadway. This is a great destination to walk to, as the avenue is absolutely gorgeous with its giant maples and its even larger Victorian homes. Another benifit of walking, is that you won’t have to deal with race-day traffic. The track is a wonderful place for people watching, family friendly and just a few dollars to enter. Here you can place bets, as low as two dollars, on world class horses competing for giant purses. By all means, one can easily spend the whole day at the track, or the season, but you also won’t feel guilty about showing up late and leaving early. The track is truly one of Saratoga Springs’ greatest entertainment values. If you want even more four-legged entertainment, drive over to the Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, which is on the Southern end of town. Here you can watch the dramatic sport of harness racing and try your luck at video poker and slots. The harness racing is the real draw, as the video gambling doesn’t compare to other, larger casinos. Now, jockeys on two-wheeled carriages, being pulled around a half-mile track at high speeds, just inches from one another, that’s exciting.

Located at the North end of Saratoga Springs, on the lovely Skidmore College campus, is The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery (The Tang). The Tang is a great place to spend a couple hours looking at great contemporary art. If you have time for a walk, head to Skidmore, via North Broadway, where you will pass some of Saratoga Springs most majestic homes. Once the summer retreats of some of this nations most elite, these amazing homes are now year round residences, well worth seeing for any lover of architechture. On the way back, take one of the “alleys”. These former service roads are home to some of Saratoga Springs’ finest carriage houses and secret gardens. One could actually spend a whole day exploring Saratoga Springs’ alleys. They lay behind the homes that make up Saratoga’s finest streets and are a whimsical and beautiful secret.

Saratoga Springs is a wonderful little city where a visitor could easily fill a weekend, or a week. Unlike many other towns, which are large, hard to get around, and thus, difficult to enjoy and relax in, Saratoga Springs is an easy, compact place to visit. Rich in attractions, natural and architectural beauty, excitement and culture, Saratoga Springs, New York has something for everyone.

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