- New York
It was an easy drive from New York City to the charming community of Saratoga, located in the picturesque foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.
With a couple of extra days to spare during my autumn holiday, I planned to squeeze as much as possible out of this all-season destination. The air was crisp and smelled clean. The skies were blue with just the odd cloud grazing my view of the surrounding colourful countryside.
Horses in Saratoga
Horseracing is the heart of Saratoga, and Saratoga Race Course is the place to be seen during the summer racing months. This is known as the oldest continuously operated sporting venue in the United States, and for more than 150 years, has brought the rich and famous to town. Now, not just for society’s elite, nearly 1 million people from all walks of life come to cheer here. Spectators can also enjoy a lively polo match or harness racing nearby.
Mineral Springs and Spa Relaxation
Like Bath in England, Saratoga is known worldwide for its underground mineral springs and their widely professed healing powers. Dating back to the 1700s, the 18 public mineral springs can be found throughout the city, and locals, as well as visitors, enjoy the waters regularly.
My first morning was spent at the Roosevelt Baths and Spa, part of the Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa at Saratoga Spa State Park. I’d signed up for a spa experience and looked forward to relaxing in a treatment room with a step-down bathtub that from the brochures, could have been lifted straight out of Downton Abbey. On first inspection, I thought the waters were somewhat dubious-looking. But after it was explained to me that the rather murky yellow colour is a chemical reaction between hot water and the mineral water, I decided to give it a go and lowered myself into the warm water. I lay back and enjoyed the tingling feeling of the waters as they moved around my body for 30 minutes. When I got out and dried off, I felt refreshed and sparkling clean.
After lunch in downtown Saratoga Springs, I explored Congress Park and found a few fountains to drink from, while stopping every so often to sit on a bench and watch the numerous Mallard ducks pottering around.
Fountains in Congress Park, Saratoga Springs
History and the Battles of Saratoga
Finally, I ended my day at Saratoga National Historic Park on the banks of the Hudson River in nearby Stillwater. I took a self-guided auto tour of the historic battlefield, stopped by The Nielsen House and The Great Redoubt before heading north to Victory Woods and the Saratoga Monument. Victory Woods was the last encampment site of the British Army before they surrendered to the American forces on October 17, 1777. The British army managed to hold camp for just seven days here before having to admit they were defeated. Many historians believe the Battles of Saratoga and this surrender by the British led to the overall success of the American forces in the Revolutionary War.
There you have it! This is a wonderful holiday destination that will only complement your next big city adventure. Throw a few items into your suitcase and get going.
Neilson House in Saratoga