Saratoga Springs is a city that has reinvented itself many times throughout history. Since before Colonial settlers arrived to this New York city, its mineral springs have drawn visitors for the water’s reportedly restorative properties. Then it became known as a hotbed of gambling and horseracing.
In the time since, Saratoga Springs has once again become a sought-after resort destination, one that combines the best of its past iterations to create something altogether new and welcome.
Stay: If you want to explore where aristocrats cavorted but don’t exactly feel like a Rockefeller, consider staying at the Springs Motel. The centrally located motel offers basic amenities and an outdoor pool. The service here is consistently high-level.
Do: There are plenty of vineyards, breweries and distilleries nearby. The Saratoga Winery manages to appeal to both wine and beer lovers, while the Thirsty Owl bistro has a tasting room for wines. Try the Olde Saratoga Brewing Company if you want to sample some brews.
Dine: Get greasy at Hattie’s Chicken Shack. The legendary joint serves up Southern hospitality cooking year-round in two Saratoga Springs locations. You’d be remiss for not trying the fried chicken, but the rice and beans, jambalaya and bloody marys also draw raves.
Stay: The antique amenities at the Inn at Saratoga provide a glimpse into 19th century hospitality. Modern amenities include Wi-Fi, on-property parking, and passes to a nearby pool and YMCA. Draw a pint at the inn’s tavern or take the antique Roadster bikes out for a free spin.
Do: See the town’s namesake features at Saratoga Spa State Park. There, you can partake in several pools fed by the mineral spring water. There’s also great golfing to be found here, as well as plenty of nature trails for warm-weather hiking or snowshoeing in the winter months.
Dine: Max London’s Restaurant and Bar prides itself on fresh local ingredients; ink-written additions to the menu reflect daily availability. Brunch fare and cheeses, including homemade mozzarella, are what make the vibrant bistro memorable, but the weekend DJ doesn’t hurt, either.
Stay: Elegance is the operating word at Saratoga Arms, a boutique hotel that prides itself on concierge-level service. The rooms are both stately and cozy, and the downtown location allows visitors to walk to many attractions. As a bonus, breakfast is included with your stay.
Do: If you’d like a bird’s-eye view of the region, get in the basket with Adirondack Balloon Flights. On a day of good visibility, you can see the Adirondacks and Vermont’s Green Mountains. If you’re in the area in September, travel to Queensbury for the Adirondack Balloon Festival.
Dine: 15 Church is an elegant, relatively new restaurant that immediately won the hearts of locals by saving a historical building from demolition. The restaurant draws equal praise for its food, ambiance and service. Steaks, burgers and desserts are all sure bets.
Sample Saratoga Springs for yourself by booking a stay at AAA.com/SaratogaSprings.
By Craig Idlebrook