Saratoga Springs, New York is a beautiful little town in upstate New York that offers all sorts of activities for people who like their vacations to include a lot of walking. Of course, it may be getting a little cold in upstate New York to do much strolling, but it is still warm enough in Saratoga Springs to take a brisk walk. I was reminded of how beautiful and walking friendly Saratoga Springs is when I read an article that mentioned it as one of the most walker friendly towns in the US.
In Saratoga Springs you can walk around the grounds of the race track during the thoroughbred racing season which runs for about 6 weeks from late July until Labor Day. I am not much of a gambler, but being a rail bird for a day was a lot of fun. The National Museum of Racing & Hall of Fame is within walking distance of the race track and offers a number of different activities. The Racino, a harness track and casino all in one, is also located in Saratoga Springs for those who like to mix gambling with their gambling.
If you do happen to be in Saratoga Springs during the racing season, and you are feeling particularly brave, you can stop by the fountain located on the grounds outside the track. Here you can get a taste of water from the springs. Be forewarned the water has a strong smell and taste of sulfur, but you do get a cute little keepsake cup.
There are somewhat less than 30,000 permanent residents of Saratoga Springs, but the town swells to much more than that during the racing season. With the racing crowds come higher hotel prices and the small town can become gridlocked with all the extra traffic.
The campus at Skidmore College is pretty and is worth walking around if you are in the area. I always have fun wandering around the campuses of local colleges and universities in the cities and towns I visit. Most colleges with campuses are ideal for walkers.
The mineral springs at Saratoga Springs have been known for their medicinal powers since Native Americans were the only inhabitants of the area. The Saratoga Spa State Park has the original bath houses that attracted tourists to the area in the 1800’s.
Walking through the center of town you will find a large number of cute and unique shops you can wander in and browse around. There are a number of small non-chain restaurants that offer great meals. We ate at an excellent Indian restaurant, but I have long since forgotten the name. The food was as good as what I have eaten in New York City and London.
On one of my spring trips to the area I spent the day walking around Fort William Henry and then drove over to Lake George for lunch at a restaurant overlooking the lake. The fort is open from May1 through October 31 and has guided tours. I thought the tours had a odd slant to them and kept wondering if the tales that were told would have a different tone if told by a Native American guide.
Fort William Henry is in James Fenimore Coopers’ “The Last of the Mohicans” though the history presented in the book is apparently inaccurate. The Fort is from the French and Indian wars which lasted from 1754 – 1763.
At Saratoga National Park you can tour the battlefield from the Battle of Saratoga, the first significant American military victory during the Revolution.The British defeat here in 1777 led France to recognize the independence of the United States and enter the war as a military ally of the Americans who up until then had been struggling.
In addition to the battlefield you can visit the Schuyler House, a restored country house of an American General and the Saratoga Monument a 155 foot obelisk that commemorates the American victory in the Battle of Saratoga.
For those who prefer culture over history there is The Saratoga Performing Arts Center located in the State Park. It is the summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the NYC Ballet, the Lake George Opera Festival. The Center also offers jazz, pop and rock music performances.
As if all that is not enough, the National Bottle Museum is located in nearby Ballston Spa, New York.
Legend has it, and every town has to have at least one legend, that Don McLean wrote his classic song “American Pie” in an afternoon spent at Café Lena in Saratoga Springs.
I have been to Saratoga Springs twice once in August for the races and the temperature was in the low 40’s at night. But, I think that was an unusually cold week. I was also there in May one year to attend graduation at Skidmore College and it was never warmer than 50 during the day. I think the lesson here is that whatever time of year you visit Saratoga Springs, bring a jacket along with your walking shoes.
Flickr Photo Courtesy of dougtone