Recently I found myself in Saratoga Springs, NY. Located in the foothills of the Adirondacks, this luxurious little city has been a summer get away spot since the 1800s and is the perfect place to escape to during your weekend off. Below you will find a brief history of this great town, along with my type a tips for what to do and where to eat.
Saratoga Springs, now known for its horse racing, was once the “Queen of the Spas”. In the 1800s it flourished as a resort town where the wealthy of NYC and Boston could escape to relax and recharge in the multiple spas built there. Saratoga was originally the home of the Mohawks and other Native Americans who found the over 20 natural springs a source of healing. The city grew rapidly in the 1800s, and quickly became Gatsby-esque with gambling, drinking and jazz clubs on almost every corner. This period in Saratoga’s history has shaped this beautiful little city into what it is today. Many of the original 1800s buildings can still be seen, and walking down Broadway Street you can’t help but feel like you are back in the 1800s.
Today Saratoga Springs still draws an elite crowd from NYC and Boston since it is only a quick train or bus ride away. But don’t think you have to be wealthy to enjoy this great city: there is plenty to do for everyone.To me Saratoga Springs is perfect for a girls weekend away, with great restaurants, an abundance of boutique shops and plenty of fun activities to do.
Type A Tips on What to Do:
- Saratoga Race Course
The Saratoga Race Course has been in use since 1864, and many of the original features still stand. Walking in you feel like you have traveled back in time. For six weeks out of the year (July to Sept) you can find thoroughbred horse races here. All you need is a folding chair, and a cooler (no glass) to have a lovely day at the race track! If you want a seat in the stands then it cost $5 in advance, and $7 at the gate.
If you go in the mornings you can see the horses during their workout. But if that is too early for you, arrive before the race starts and you can see some of the horses up close.
FYI: there are no races on Tuesdays!
- Explore Broadway Street.
This is the “downtown” of Saratoga Springs. This street is lined with Victorian buildings hosting restaurants, boutique shops, and hotels. Most of the shops, and restaurants are within four blocks, making this a very walk-able city. Phila Street off of Broadway has some great restaurants that are “off the beaten track”. If you just walk and window shop you could explore this street in about 15-20 minutes. However with all the cute shops and restaurants you could easily spend a couple of hours shopping and enjoying this charming city.
- Explore Congress Park
Head south on Broadway and you will hit Congress Park. This quaint little park has lots of ducks, and a large pond. Also located inside the park is the gorgeous Canfield Casino, which dates back to the 1870s when it was used as a casino. Today the Canfield Casino can be rented out for weddings, and it also houses the Saratoga Historical Museum. For just $5 you can explore some of the gorgeous rooms and learn about the history of this incredible city.
- Roosevelt Bath & Spa
The Roosevelt Bath and Spa, located in the Saratoga Spa State Park, still uses its original 42 treatment rooms. They offer the whole spa treatment including: mineral baths, massages, facials, pedicures and manicures. I strongly recommend making a reservation in advance, they run out of spots quickly, especially during the peak season.
- Visit the Various Museums
Saratoga Springs, despite its small size, has a lot of museums. Some of my favorites were the National Museum of Dance, National Museum of Racing, and the Saratoga Historical Museum/Canfield Casino. Though there are plenty of other museums if none of these sound interesting to you.
While I was in Saratoga I was lucky enough to attend an exhibit opening at the National Museum of Dance. This gave me a unique view of this great museum and a greater appreciation for all the exhibits on display.
- Saratoga Spa State Park
Inside this state park you can find the National Museum of Dance, the Gideon Hotel, and the Roosevelt Spa & Bath. There is also miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, a golf course and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Parking is free at the various parking lots.
Type A Favorite Eats/Drinks:
This award winning hot spot serves up some amazing southern fried chicken. Hatties has been open since 1938, and still remains a favorite amongst local and tourist alike. Personally I loved their Chicken & Waffle. This is a popular spot so I recommend either getting there early since it is first come, first serve. You can find Hatties on Phila Street, just a block from Ravenous.
- Olde Bryan Inn
A bit out of the way from the main eating spots, but worth the trip. This great restaurant serves American food in an old colonial style building. The atmosphere is warm and inviting and the staff are friendly and helpful. This is a hopping place filled almost to the brim with locals. If you don’t want to wait for a table you can grab a spot at the bar and order some food and drink. Or even better you can call ahead and make a reservation. It’s open for lunch and dinner.
This amazing little restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. They serve up some amazing crepes, both sweet and savory. Their pommes frites are to die for! They have an almost endless list of sauces to dip them in. The only problem you will run into is picking which crepe and dip you want!
- Mrs. London’s
Walking in you will think you were transported to Paris. This bakery smells AMAZING and the baked goods are just as good if not better. This is a must eat spot. I enjoyed a relaxed morning drinking coffee and eating pastries!
- Uncommon Grounds
This coffee shop makes some damn good coffee and bagels! They have a ton of bagel sandwiches, and you can make your own if you don’t find one you like. This is a great spot to stop by and get an energy boost while wandering Broadway.
- Saratoga Coffee Trade
This cute little coffee shop offers organic coffee, baked goods and sandwiches. Make sure you check them out! I recommend grabbing a sandwich to take with you to Saratoga Spa State Park.
I hope this has helped you plan your trip. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. I would love to hear from you!
-Teresa, the Type A Trekker