Saratoga Springs is a small Upstate New York town with a cultural scene that rivals much bigger cities. The upscale, pedestrian-friendly downtown has a Norman Rockwell feel, its leafy streets lined with independently owned shops and restaurants. And, of course, there are its famed racetrack and mineral springs. Visit in the spring, before the summer horse-racing season crowds descend, and you’ll have plenty of room to roam.
Saratoga Spa State Park (19 Roosevelt Dr., 518-584-2535, parks.ny.gov/parks/saratogaspa) is a maze of hiking trails, tennis courts and seasonal swimming pools punctuated by potable natural mineral springs (bring a water bottle to sample).
The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (108 Avenue of The Pines, 518-584-9330, spac.org), set among the park’s tall pines, offers quality music, dance and theatrical performances.
Saratoga is the New York City Ballet’s summer home, so it’s a fitting location for the country’s first museum dedicated to the art form. At the interactive National Museum of Dance (admission $10/adults, $8/seniors and students, $5/ages 12 and under, closed Mondays; 99 S. Broadway, 518-584-2225, dancemuseum.org), located within the state park, there are tap shoes and ballet slippers in an assortment of sizes, so get ready to practice your plié.
Learn about the town’s start at the Saratoga Springs History Museum (admission $8/adults, $7/seniors, $5/students; 1 E. Congress St., 518-584-6920, saratogahistory.org), located inside the historic Canfield Casino in Congress Park.
The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery (FREE admission, closed Mondays; 815 N. Broadway, 518-580-8080, tang.skidmore.edu), aka the Tang, is an interdisciplinary art space at Skidmore College. Its collection features more than 5,000 works, including pieces by Andy Warhol and Kara Walker.
Northshire Bookstore (424 Broadway, 518-682-4200, northshire.com) leans local, with numerous titles focused on New York State and Northern New England. Author readings and literary events cram the calendar.
Where to eat
Cantina (408 Broadway, 518-587-5577, cantinasaratoga.com) serves contemporary Mexican cuisine in a festive setting, including street food favorites like charred corn on the cob sprinkled with crumbly Cotija cheese and a squeeze of lime.
Boca Bistro (384 Broadway, 518-682-2800, bocabistro.com) offers an ample menu of traditional tapas like garlicky baby shrimp, spicy chorizo and marinated anchovies and hearty paellas perfect for sharing.
Save room for a homemade sweet at Mrs. London’s (464 Broadway, 518-581-8100, mrslondonsbakery.com), a popular local bakery and cafe. The pastries, cakes, cookies and flaky croissants are worth every calorie.
GOOD TO KNOW
Getting there: It’s approximately a 3 ½-hour drive from New York City. Riding Amtrak is an alternative.
Getting around: You can walk to many attractions, so it’s an excellent car-free getaway.
Where to stay: Located in the heart of town, the restored Adelphi Hotel (365 Broadway, 518-678-6000, theadelphihotel.com) was a favorite with Gilded Age millionaires and well-heeled racetrack regulars. The serene Gideon Putnam (24 Gideon Putnam Rd., 866-890-1171, gideonputnam.com) inside Saratoga Spa State Park has cozy charm with rocking chairs on the wide front porch and a spa with a mineral bath.