Saratoga Springs, New York

When asked where I'm from, I typically respond, "Upstate. Suburbia. About halfway between Albany and Saratoga." And while I was itching to escape the suburban landscape for most of my childhood, I have fond memories of Saratoga and am lucky to have grown up so close to the quaint town. 

It has a rich history, with over 1000 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, and may be most recognizable for the 1777 battle held there, when American forces defeated those pesky Brits and, in doing so, gained support from France (what up, Frenchies - merci). This is cool, and you can check out the battlefield if you so choose. But Saratoga offers plenty even if you're not a history buff, perhaps most notably the Saratoga Race Course that just opened for its summer season.

Food/Coffee

Drink

  • Cantina: it's a restaurant so lunch and dinner are options, but the margs are the stars.
  • Druthers Brewing Company: for the beer lovers of the world. They also have a great outdoor bar with live music during summer months.
  • Thirsty Owl: wine bar great for an evening drink and small bites.
  • 9 Maple Ave: an intimate jazz bar.
  • Desperate Annie's: for when you just need a little dive in your life.

To Do

  • Race Course: host to the Travers, one largest races outside of those in the Triple Crown. The season just kicked off and is a short one, so get up there soon.
  • Yaddo Artist Retreat: founded in 1900 and set on 400 acres in Saratoga, parts of the scenic grounds are open to the public.
  • Roosevelt Baths & Spa: built in 1929 at the request of Governor Franklin Roosevelt, you can go soak in a porcelain tub filled with emerald-green, mineral-rich water for $30-$40. 
  • SPAC: oh, the (alcohol-blurred) memories from this place. I tailgated many a Dave Matthews concert on its grounds, graduated from high school in its amphitheater... sigh. Check out the Saratoga Performing Arts Center's events line-up here. The space really is the perfect setting for a concert.
  • National Museum of Dance: established in 1986 as one of the world's only museums dedicated solely to dance. The Saratoga Opera also performs here.

To Stay

Just call up my parents... lol jk, here's where to stay. Note that accommodation prices jump during track season, but it's also the most fun.

Have a reliable recommendation or sweet spot to share? Go crazy in the comments section.