Summer in Saratoga Springs. There’s nothing like it. Horses, restaurant patios, shopping… and crowds. Sometimes I crave an outing that’s a little less populated, so I’ve put together a few ideas on what to do in Saratoga Springs that are a bit more off the beaten path. Here are six of my favorites to get you started…
Commune With Nature
Among my top 6 things to do in Saratoga Springs includes a visit to the Kayak Shak. Nothing says summer to me more than being out on the water. In Saratoga Springs, we’re lucky to have Saratoga Lake and Fish Creek, which provide us with miles of scenic waterways, and they’re just a few minutes from downtown. Don’t worry if you don’t have a boat, Saratoga’s Kayak Shak rents kayaks (singles & doubles) and stand-up paddle boards to the public every day of the week. Make reservations before you arrive, and sign their waiver before boarding your kayak. Masks are required while pushing off from docks and returning to shore.
After I’ve worked up an appetite, I like to sate that hunger with a delicious wood-fired pizza at Harvest & Hearth. They are located in the same parking lot as Kayak Shak, so you can go directly from the workout to the reward. Their BBQ chicken pizza is other-worldly. (Gluten-free crust available. Woohoo!)
When I hear “state park,” I think hiking, green spaces and nature. All of that is in abundance at Saratoga Spa State Park, that’s only just a small sliver of what there is to do. Take a swim or catch some rays at the Victoria (my favorite in an old school glam setting) and Peerless Pools (water wonderland for families and kids), soak in healing waters in a mineral bath at the Roosevelt Baths & Spa (reopening August 20th), take an outdoor wellness class and more. There’s also the Saratoga Automobile Museum on site if you want to spend some time inside and an 18-hole golf course if that’s more your thing. No matter what you choose, you won’t run out of things to do at Spa State Park. Pack a picnic, fill your water bottle at the Geyser Spring and spend the day!
Helpful hint: I prefer to see the park by bike (and avoid dealing with parking). If you do too, but don’t have a bike or feel like bringing yours with you there are plenty of CDPHP bikes for rent around Saratoga. Click here for a location map.
Brush Up on History
Taking an historic tour is another one of my 6 things to do in Saratoga Springs. For example, Greenridge Cemetery. I know this might seem morbid, but Greenridge Cemetery is a favorite of mine for a beautiful, peaceful walk, and especially great for history buffs. Dating back to 1844, there are monuments to those that fought in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. As well, there are notable figures including poets, philanthropists, statesmen and horse racing dignitaries. Even the main gates located on Lincoln Avenue are worthy of your time. I like to wander on my own, but if you want to learn the history of some of the gravesites, download a cemetery map here. Afterwards, head around the corner to the The Thirsty Owl to grab a bite and sample their award-winning wines. Outdoor seating is available and reservations are recommended.
One of the first things that made me fall in love with Saratoga Springs is the beautiful and significant architecture all over town. I have lived here three years, and am still stunned by homes I hadn’t noticed before. Saratoga Springs has 8 Historic Districts that make up the fabric of the town. I highly recommend the historic homes dotted along Circular Street and Union Avenue on the East Side.
From small cottages to sprawling mansions, the architecture and history of the homes make a tour a Saratoga Springs must-do. Whether you go by foot, bike or car, you will not be disappointed. There are several neighborhoods and plenty to see, so you might not be able to cover all the neighborhoods in one day. Thankfully, Saratoga.com has created self-guided tour maps broken out by neighborhood to help you plan. You can find them on their site by clicking here.
Located just outside of Saratoga Springs in Stillwater, NY, Saratoga National Historical Park is where wildlife, nature and history come together. Walk or bike along the grounds where, in 1777, American troops defeated the British army. This is battle that is credited with turning the tide to America ultimately gaining its independence. My husband and I visited back in April for a hike. We chose to stay on the paved roads but were still able to see some deer and stopped along the way to brush up on our history. There are many options for routes and you can download a map to help you plan here. Please note that vehicles are allowed to travel through the park as well, so stay aware and alert.
Slightly Outside of Town: Wines and Brews
Racing City Brewery – I don’t know about you, but I think there are very few things as refreshing on a hot summer day than an ice cold beer. The Capital Region has great local breweries, and one of them is located right here in Saratoga Springs. Racing City makes the list of 6 things to do in Saratoga Springs for more than a dozen beers on tap. (Wine and cocktails are also available.) They offer contactless ordering and pickup with their online system.
Want to watch the races while sipping on a local brew? Racing City will be showing the races daily on the 23’x14′ TV (the largest projection screen in the area) on their patio. Reservations for stakes races can be made online. And what goes better with beer and ponies than pizza? Place an order from 9 Miles East (for great farm-grown salads, too!) for delivery right to Racing City Brewery.
Beer is great in the summer, but so is a chilled glass of wine. As with the brewery, I like to support local and Saratoga Winery is an easy spot to get behind. Situated on the site of a former farm stand, Saratoga Winery offers 15 locally-crafted wines in a charming backyard setting. Whether you want to try a flight of wine along with your perfectly curated cheese plate, or settle on one varietal to help wash down your short rib grilled cheese, Saratoga Winery has you covered. There is also beer & cider for sale. They are also the official tasting room for Saratoga Courage Distillery, so there’s something for everyone. They’re currently only open on weekends and reservations are required. Keep updated on their current hours and offerings on their Facebook page linked here.
Written by: Rachel Dunn
Rachel Dunn is a Marketing & Branding Specialist, one half of CapGirls NY and an avid explorer of New York’s Capital Region.