Beyond the Race Track: 10 Essential Things to Do in Saratoga County This Summer

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Every summer, thousands of visitors descend on the town of Saratoga Springs, lured by the spectacle of live thoroughbred horse racing at a beloved Victorian racetrack. But there’s more to Saratoga than the 40-Day Encounter, which runs from mid-July to September 5, and those looking to explore will find plenty to see and do.

Here is a list of fun activities for tourists looking to experience Saratoga County’s wealth of natural, artistic, and historical beauty.

Adirondack Cruise & Charter Co. in Saratoga Springs.

Get out on the water

It’s hard to think of a better place to beat the summer heat than a trip to Lake Saratoga, located southeast of Saratoga Springs. With its breathtaking views and peaceful ambience, the lake is a great place to take a boat ride, swim or have a picnic. Adirondack Cruise & Charter Co. offers public and private cruises on two boats: a vintage fantail launch replica and a nine-passenger pontoon boat. If you want to get even closer to the water, head to Kayak Shak in Saratoga Springs, rent a kayak, paddleboard, or hammocraft, and hang out at Fish Creek. Swimmers will want to visit Brown’s Beach, Lake Saratoga’s only public beach, or check out Lake Moreau State Park Beach in Gansevoort.

The Saratoga Automotive Museum

The Saratoga Automotive Museum at Saratoga Spa State Park.

Go to a museum

Whatever your interest, there’s probably a museum for you in Saratoga County. Story? The New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center in Saratoga Springs is a treasure trove of artifacts dating from the Revolutionary War to the Global War on Terror. The Ballston Spa-based Brookside Museum, housed in a resort hotel dating back to 1792, is a great place to learn local history. Sports? There is the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, which celebrates thoroughbred racing in America. Art? The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs is a showcase of the richness and diversity of contemporary art. Cars? The Saratoga Automotive Museum offers a rich tour of automotive history. To play? The Saratoga Children’s Museum reopened this summer in a new location, the Lincoln Bath building at Saratoga Spa State Park.

Saratoga National Historical Park

Saratoga National Historical Park, Stillwater, NY. Photo provided

Visit Saratoga National Historical Park

A must-see for Revolutionary War enthusiasts, this scenic national park preserves the site of the Battles of Saratoga, a turning point in the war. Park visitors can take self-guided tours of the Saratoga Battlefield, visit Revolutionary War General Philip Schuyler’s field plantation, see the Saratoga Monument, which commemorates American victory in the Battles of Saratoga, and explore Victory Woods , 22 acres constituting the last encampment of the British. the army before their surrender in 1777.

Saratoga Spa State Park

Island Spouter Spring at Saratoga Spa State Park. David Lasmann | [email protected]

Explore Saratoga Spa State Park

A National Historic Landmark, Saratoga Spa State Park is more than just a nice place to stroll or picnic. There are two places to swim: the Peerless Pool complex, which includes a children’s pool and waterslides, and the historic Victoria Pool, built in the early 1930s. Visitors can swim in the naturally carbonated mineral waters of Saratoga at the Roosevelt Baths & Spa or drink from one of the park’s many free-flowing springs. Music lovers will want to check the schedule – the Saratoga Performing Arts Center is one of the best outdoor concert halls in the country and also the summer home of the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Village of Schuyler

The village of Schuyler, provided by Mayor Daniel Carpenter.

Spend a day in a village

Saratoga County is home to many charming villages. You’ll find distinctive restaurants and shops, attractive waterfront parks, and an abundance of recreational opportunities in Schuylerville, which sits on the Hudson River. In Round Lake, you can catch a theatrical or musical event at the Round Lake Auditorium, home to a pipe organ designated a National Historic Landmark in 2016, walk or bike the 11.5-mile Zim Smith Trail, or bask in the calm and beauty of the Round Lake Reserve. Enjoying a unique position at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, Waterford is considered the gateway to the Erie Canal and is a great place for boat watching.

Go out in Congress Park

Located in the heart of downtown Saratoga Springs, Congress Park is a beautiful place to relax for a few hours. There’s a historic wooden carousel, mineral springs where you can taste Saratoga’s waters, and free concerts in July and August. Guided walking tours provide a crash course in Spa town history, and the Saratoga Springs History Museum tells the town’s story through three floors of exhibits.

Yaddo

Yaddo Gardens, an artists retreat in Saratoga Springs, NYRSY

Smell the flowers at Yaddo Gardens

A historic haven for artistic luminaries, Yaddo is accessible to the public through its beautiful gardens, which include rose gardens and rock gardens, statues and fountains. Visitors can take self-guided tours or join a tour led by a guide on weekends.

Grant's Cottage

After suffering a painful diagnosis of terminal throat cancer, President Ulysses S. Grant died on July 23, 1885, at a cottage in Wilton, Saratoga County.Patrick Chaisson on flickr

Take a trip to Grant Cottage Historic Site

Named a National Historic Landmark in 2021, this serene mountaintop cottage in the Saratoga County hamlet of Gansevoort is where former President Ulysses S. Grant completed his famous memoir shortly before his death in 1885. The cottage remains essentially the same as during Grant’s stay, and visitors can view original furnishings and personal items belonging to Grant, including the bed where he died.

Cafe Lena

Caffe Lena in Saratoga County.

Watch a show at Cafe Lena

Considered the oldest folk music venue in America, Caffe Lena offers a premier concert experience in a warm and intimate setting. The schedule is packed and the lineup is adventurous, featuring established names, up-and-coming artists and acts in a variety of genres, including jazz and world.

Peebles Island State Park

Peebles Island State Park in Saratoga County.

Head to the great outdoors

Saratoga County is rich in natural beauty, and those looking to get off the beaten path will find plenty to enjoy. Highlights include Vischer Ferry Nature Reserve in Rexford, a birding hotspot, Peebles Island State Park in Waterford, which offers stunning river views and the chance to spot eagles white-headed eagles that nest nearby, and the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, an ecological park with a diverse mix of fields, forests and ancient sand dunes.

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