Everyone knows you go to Saratoga Springs for the horse racing but many of the best reasons to visit Saratoga Springs get lost in the drinking, the gambling and well… need I go into all of our sins?
StarLadies Racing originally created our “Top 25 Things to Do in Saratoga” list in 2017. This is our update and revised version compiled with input from the Starlight and StarLadies Racing partners who live in Saratoga Springs either full or part time.
The thing we love most about Saratoga is that it’s a small town. So while you’ll see all the big names in west coast racing at the track when you go to Del Mar at the end of the day, everyone sort of goes their separate ways. Not in Saratoga Springs. When the races are over—the action really heats up! Everyone’s gotta eat, right? And so when you come to races at Saratoga not only will you see all of the big names in racing at the track, you’ll see them later in town or in the morning working out… just follow our guide below. Click on the links for more information.
1. Go to the races! Yes, of course this is the reason you’re in town. We get it. Pro tip: the 1863 Club is opening this summer. This is the newest “must see” hospitality and event facility at Saratoga Race Course. Located at the Clubhouse turn, the 1863 Club offers premium experiences and breathtaking views throughout this three-story, climate-controlled facility. Click here to learn more about it or here for general Saratoga Race Course tickets and events.
2. Walk the Avenue of the Pines loop at the Saratoga Spa State Park. Or, better yet, walk the trails. Just depends on your preference for an asphalt paved path vs. pea gravel and dirt. Either way, you can’t go wrong. The lithium emitted from Saratoga’s natural springs is alive and well at the park and you’ll just feel better for having spent some time there. The asphalt paved path around the golf course is 1.8 miles. You can park in the parking lot between the Gideon Putnam Hotel and the Roosevelt Baths.
3. Roosevelt Baths and Spa: Naturally, a spa destined to serve generations with healing experiences would evolve at such a powerful place as Saratoga Springs NY, a haven infused with history and hydrotherapy. Established in 1935, the Roosevelt Baths & Spa resort opened thanks to President Franklin Roosevelt’s visionary act to preserve the Saratoga Springs. Authentic and historic, today the Roosevelt Baths & Spa offers a variety of spa services but none would be complete without soaking in the healing waters. Make your reservations well in advance of your visit—they book up fast!
4. Morning training. Even without a racing license you can watch the horses train either from the Whitney Viewing Stand at the Oklahoma Training Track or the grandstand at Saratoga. You’ll be glad you did.
5. The Horseshoe Inn, across the street from the track on Nelson. It is a laid back local restaurant with happy hour & live music. It’s a great spot for breakfast after morning training and/or to go before or after the races. Rumor has it that they have the best Philly chicken sandwich ever and are known for the coldest breakfast beer in town. Don’t judge. You’re in Saratoga.
6. Spring Street Deli. A great spot to see the trainers between the morning workouts at the Oklahoma track and the races in the afternoon. Spring Street Deli is a local corner deli with great pizzas and all-day breakfast and lunch. They deliver or you can dine in with tables inside and out. Lots of sandwiches named for famous racehorses and trainers. They are located at 132 Spring Street in the heart of downtown, just a short walking distance from the Shoppes of Broadway, local hotels and the famous Saratoga Race Course.
7. Putnam Market for lunch—carry out. Big sandwiches, hearty and healthy salads. There are more decadent food items and pastries, too, if that’s what you’re in the mood for. And, best of all, the wine market is right next door.
8. Three consecutive restaurants—it might be time for a workout! Yoga at The Hot Yoga Spot, 75 Woodlawn Ave. Really. Hot. Yoga. Ok, don’t go if you don’t like really hot yoga. But if you’re into the heat and sweating (let’s call it “detoxing” to make us feel better about those Saratoga nights) this is your spot. They do offer some “warm” vinyasa classes too so you don’t have to kill yourself.
9. For those who love yoga but hate sweating—Yoga Mandali is for you. It says it right there on their website: Yoga for Everybody. And it’s located in the heart of Saratoga Springs, right on Broadway. Coffee first at Uncommon Grounds. Yoga. Juice after at Saratoga Juice Bar. The yin to your sin (or yang) from the night before or the day and night to follow.
10. Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC): An amphitheater located just on the edge of town on the grounds of Saratoga Spa State Park. It presents summer performances of classical music, jazz, pop and rock, country, comedy, dance, opera, as well as a Wine & Food Festival. Some of this summer’s concerts include acts like Old Dominion, Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley, Train, The Goo Goo Dolls, Hootie and the Blowfish, Dave Matthews Band, Santana, KISS and the Zac Brown Band.
11. Lake George. I know, it’s not the track … but they don’t race on Tuesdays and you can’t sleep all day. Well maybe you can but just in case you wake up… Head to the lake and enjoy some time in the sun. Reconnect with nature, you have a long week ahead of you. They have their very own “Top Attractions” list.
12. Siro’s. It’s changed ownership a few times and may have lost some of its luster along the way but we still love a good 2 a.m. night/early morning spent with the revelers there. Love the piano man! (The outdoor patio is the happening spot right after the races but after dinner you need to hit the indoor bar.) I’d be remiss not to mention that the food has also been good year after year. It’s not cheap though—so make sure you have a sponsor.
13. No trip to Saratoga is complete without a drink from the Big Red Spring. While it may not be the tastiest beverage you have while in town, it’s a tradition. Big Red can be found toward the back of the picnic area at Saratoga Race Course, situated beneath a large white pavilion.
14. Visit the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame across the street from the track. If you love horse racing there’s so much to see here you may need to give it a day of it’s own but it is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. so there is also plenty of time to go before the races start.
15. Hattie’s Fried Chicken. This is the best friend chicken north of Tennessee and we may have even gotten a vegetarian or two to admit to this.
16. Encounter Boutique. “Quite possibly my favorite boutique in the world.”, offered Donna Brothers, COO for Starlight and StarLadies Racing. Ladies clothing (and hats and fascinators) only. You will definitely find that perfect something at Encounter. You heard it here first.
17. Osteria Danny on Henry Street. Not easy to get into so call ahead. Like 6 months ahead (2 might work). Best. Italian. Food. Ever. And as good as the savory foods are, the desserts may be the best in New York. Fresh made daily, in house. What are you waiting for? Call now: (518) 423–7022.
18. 15 Church at, yeah, 15 Church Street. Has only been open for a few years but has quickly become a staple and iconic restaurant for Saratoga Springs residents year round and, of course, for those coming to visit Saratoga Race Course. Be sure to make your reservations well in advance and note that the patio menu is slightly different from the indoor dining menu. They are both amazing, just depends on what you’re in the mood for.
19. Calling all runners – there are some fantastic running routes throughout the city. One of our partners enjoys taking a spin through Congress Park then Centennial Park (which is a “pocket park” within Congress Park. While at Centennial be sure to pay homage to the Native Dancer statue that sits where Union Ave. t-bones into Circular) then heading down Union Avenue and looping back behind some of the stables at the Oklahoma Training Track. Yeah, she runs more than I do too. While you’re at Congress Park, visit the carousel and then toss a couple of coins in the fountain for good luck – you’ll need it later at the races!
20. The Wishing Well Restaurant is a local stalwart with a great happy hour, live piano music and lobster night on Thursdays! The family style heirloom tomatoes and corn on the cob are always fresh (during the summer season) and the butter poached lobster… I mean really? I need to say more?
21. Saratoga Lake – this is another great activity for a Tuesday afternoon. Rent a kayak, try your hand at paddle boarding or just hang out and enjoy the sunshine. You can even bring a Daily Racing Form with you and study for the next racing day.
22. Solevo Kitchen & Social. A new Italian restaurant in Saratoga Springs that opened shortly after the 2018 racing season and has quickly became a Top 5 restaurant for Saratoga residents. The owners are Giovannina Solevo and her chef-brother, Ronald Solevo, who are fourth- generation restaurateurs from Connecticut. They brought their recipes and their skills to Saratoga Springs because they loved Saratoga. Saratoga loves them back.
23. Visit Yaddo – getting into the main house for a tour can be difficult, especially now with their recent reopening following a multimillion dollar restoration. If it is open for an event or private tour, seize the opportunity and do it! Otherwise, the rose garden is a beautiful spot for a walk and reflection.
24. Saratoga Farmer’s Market – this farmer’s market is one of the best around, hands down. Stop by and pick up breakfast, lunch or some handmade local items. It’s located at High Rock and open Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and Wednesday 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. If Sunday is better for you check out Spa City Farmer’s Market at SPAC on Sundays 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
25. Check out the Fasig-Tipton Sale. The prestigious yearling sale is held Aug. 5 & 6 this year, and it could be your chance to see the next big star of the sport before he or she makes it big. American Pharoah actually passed through this sale in 2013 and was not purchased by anyone. Again, you just never know when and where that next Big Deal will appear.
Saratoga Auto Museum
Saratoga Spa State Park Bird Conservation Areas
National Museum of Dance
Saratoga Spa Golf
Blueberry picking (and other berries too)
Four Seasons Natural Foods and Cafe
The hiking trails at The North Woods of Skidmore College