Saratoga Springs, New York

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Exciting and elegant, Saratoga Springs is a marvelous fly-in destination best known as the horse racing capitol of the Northeast. The 1996 racing season extends from July 26th to Labor Day. Besides the racetrack, the city features a wonderful performing arts center, several fascinating museums, and plenty of places to stay and eat.

Horses thunder around the far turn, their hooves beating almost as fast as your heart. You watch your favorite colors come into the homestretch, just a wish and a nose behind the leader. Win or lose, you leave elated at your first visit to Saratoga racetrack.

In it's heyday in the 1890's, the racing season at Saratoga was the social center for New York society. It still is. When you finish your day at the track you can stroll along Broadway, Saratoga's main street, with its turn-of-the-century buildings and intriguing shops. Or explore the menus of the dozens of restaurants in the downtown area. At the Olde Bryan Inn, a short block off Broadway, you can relax in a cozy room that has hosted diners since 1773.

Flying to Saratoga County

A pleasant flight on a summer afternoon, Saratoga is easily overlooked as a destination for New Englanders, yet it's right in our backyard. To approach the airport, stay on the east side of the Hudson river until you're north of the Albany Class C Airspace. Saratoga County Airport lies just beyond Albany's Airspace, so once you cross the river, keep below 2000 feet. While you'd expect the Hudson to make an easy landmark, remember that you're not looking for the mighty river you see flowing under the George Washington bridge. North of Albany the Hudson is seldom more than a narrow stream; from 2000 feet it looks like a country creek.

Saratoga County Airport is located 23 miles North of the Albany VOR, on the 06 radial. Runway 5/23 is 4700' x 100'; runway 14/32 is 4000' x 100'. Lying on the broad, flat plain of the Mohawk Valley, Saratoga has easy approaches with no obstacles, but watch out for gliders in the vicinity of the airport. Saratoga is one of the prime gliding centers on the East Coast. If you come from the northeast, you'll pass over the city of Saratoga Springs with its oval racetracks. The airport is five miles southwest of the city. The unicom at 122.8 is monitored during business hours, from 7:30 in the morning until dusk, seven days a week, year round.. Jet A and 100LL fuel is available at Richmor Aviation, the FBO, and there's plenty of tiedown space in front of their building. During August there is a $5 landing fee for twins and a $10 fee for jets. Overnight tiedowns are $5. Richmor does have a courtesy car, and they can usually provide a ride to and from a restaurant. Several are within a mile of the airport.

Getting Around

If you're planning on going into town for the day, its best to go by taxi. The cost is around $10, plus $2 a head for additional passengers. Tom Miller, the airport manager, says that if you call when you're about 15 minutes out, the folks at Richmor will have a cab ready to meet you when you land..

Enterprise Rent-a-Car offers pick up and delivery at the airport, but you must call ahead for reservations. The cost for a car is from $32.99 to $69.99 per day with unlimited mileage.

Places to See

Saratoga boasts of both a harness and flat track, each with a separate season. The Saratoga Harness Raceway operates year round, except December. Post-time is 7:45 PM. You may call for racing days. Flat track racing is held at the Saratoga Race Course which is the nation's oldest thoroughbred track founded in 1863. The thoroughbred races start the last week in July and run through the last Monday of August. This is Saratoga's high season. Races are held from Wednesday to Monday with a post-time of 1 PM. The season's culmination comes with the Travers Stakes and the Hopeful, which run on the last two Saturdays in August.

Editor's note:
The 1996 racing season has been extended from July 26 to Labor Day.

Be sure to make reservations ahead of time if you're planning on staying overnight in track season. Not only do hotels and guest houses fill up, but you may find some August prices are more than double their off-peak rates!

While the track is Saratoga's most famous attraction, Richmor reports that many pilots head for the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Located just over three miles from the airport in the Saratoga Spa State Park, SPAC, as it's commonly called, is a favorite destination for bikers. SPAC is the June home of the New York City Opera. In July it hosts the New York City Ballet, in August the Philadelphia Orchestra. Guest artists, offering everything from classical to jazz to rock, perform throughout the warm months. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the lawn while the orchestra plays.

The National Museum of Dance lies around the corner from SPAC, next door to Lincoln Baths, where you may still "take the waters," as society matrons did a hundred years ago. The museum has four spacious exhibit halls devoted to professional American dance. There is also a shop and cafe on site. The museum is open from May to September from 11 AM to 7 PM.

With a similar eye for convenience, The National Museum of Racing is just across from the main entrance to the thoroughbred racetrack. Here you will find racing memorabilia as well as paintings, photos and trophies from some of the most famous thoroughbred horses. The museum is open daily from 10 AM to 4:30 PM and Sundays from 12 to 4:30 PM.

If you'd like a sense of the glories of Saratoga's past, stroll down Union Avenue from the track to Congress Park, enjoying the colorful beds of flowers and the Victorian homes that line the street. In Congress Park the Casino Museum, which was once a working Casino, gives you a taste of the luxury of that era. The exhibits show 19th century resort life in Saratoga. During high season the museum is open daily from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

With so many enticements within walking distance, you may want to check on the getaway packages offered by local accommodations.

Where to Stay

It's no exaggeration to say that the Saratoga area boasts hundreds of places to stay. The ones listed below are personal favorites, within walking distance of both the track and downtown Saratoga.

  • If a romantic bed and breakfast is your first choice, check out The Westchester House, a Gothic Victorian home with antique furnishings. In fine weather enjoy your breakfast on the patio in their side garden. Rates are from $70 to $200 per night depending on the season booked and breakfast is included.

  • Right across from The Clubhouse entrance to the thoroughbred track, Six Sisters Bed and Breakfast offers you a fantastic view of Union Avenue from the balcony of its Master Bedroom Suite. Host Steve Ramirez enjoys whipping up hearty country breakfasts served with candlelight during the winter months! Rates are $70 to $100 per room except during special events. This price includes breakfast.

  • The Inn at Saratoga, on Broadway in the heart of the downtown area, can promise not only comfortable rooms but a Live Jazz Brunch Buffet on Sunday from 10:00-2:00. Described below, their restaurant is worth a trip in itself.. In the off season rooms are priced from $85-$145 per night. During track season this becomes $196-$245 per night.

  • Across Broadway from The Inn at Saratoga and almost a hundred years newer, a Holiday Inn boasts a swimming pool, all the modern conveniences, and friendly service. In winter the rooms run from $56 to $66. In mid season the rates are $76-$86 and during track season rooms are $189 per night.

Where to Eat

Saratoga, compact though it is, offers all the eating places of any city. There are, within walking distance along Broadway, a Dunkin' Donuts, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Friendly's, Brueggers' Bagel Bakery, Subway and several pizza places. In addition to these we have some favorites:

  • The Inn at Saratoga which was mentioned above as a suggested place to stay is also a recommended place to eat. It is located on the south end of Broadway and the closest restaurant to the airport. Open only for dinner, this restaurant offers fine cuisine in a Victorian atmosphere. Chicken Joseph is $13.50 and poached salmon is $17.50. On Sundays the Inn offers a Jazz Brunch from 10 AM to 2 PM at $14.95. It is served buffet style with omelets made to order.

  • Just up the street is Lillian's which is open for both lunch and dinner. Lunch begins at 11 AM and it is priced from $3 to $9. Dinner is offered from 5 PM to 10 PM and prices range from $12 to $16. This restaurant has both a children's menu and a light menu on weekends.

  • Professor Moriarty's is also located on Broadway. It boasts a very cozy pub built around a solid cherry bar, right in the heart of downtown Saratoga Springs. This eatery opens for lunch at 11:30 AM and prices range from $5-$8. Dinner begins at 5 PM and the average cost is $50 per couple. Moriarty's offers and Sunday brunch throughout the year at $9.95 which is served from 11 AM to 3 PM. During track season this restaurant also serves breakfast.

  • At the far end of Broadway at the corner of Maple Ave. and Rock Street is the Olde Bryan Inn. This restaurant serves lunch and dinner from 11:30 AM to midnight (1 A.M. in season). Lunches are from $5 to 7.95and dinners are from $11.95 to $16.95. The menu offers a wide selection of pasta, chicken, fish and meats. The prime rib arrives at 4:30 PM. We think it's the best meal in town.

All of the restaurants above accept credit cards.

Saratoga Springs Information

  • Area Code: 518

  • Zip Code: 12866

  • Saratoga County Airport: 885-5354

  • Richmor Aviation: 885-5354

Tourist Information

  • Chamber of Commerce (518) 584-3255 494 Broadway Rental Cars

  • Enterprise Rent-a-Car 587-0687 Lodging

  • Holiday Inn-Saratoga Springs 584-4550 or (800)465-4329 Broadway at Circular St.

  • The Inn at Saratoga 583-1890 231 Broadway

  • The Six Sisters Bed & Breakfast 583-1173 149 Union Ave.

  • The Westchester House 587-7613 102 Lincoln Ave., PO Box 944 Recreation

  • Casino Museum 584-6920 Congress Park on Broadway

  • Lincoln Baths 584-2011

  • National Museum of Dance 584-2225 S. Broadway in Saratoga Spa State Park

  • National Museum of Racing 584-0400 Union Ave.

  • Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) 587-3330

  • Saratoga Race Course Thoroughbred Racing 584-6200 Union Ave.

  • Saratoga Harness Raceway Harness Racing 584-2110 Nelson Ave.