Nestled at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains—a region with thousands of acres of wilderness, miles of hiking trails and dozens of accessible high peaks—the city of Saratoga Springs is a top vacation destination in New York's spectacular upstate region. In contrast to the Big Apple's skyscraper-lined urban landscape, upstate New York is renowned for rolling green hills, picturesque views of the Hudson River and quaint, family-oriented towns.
Named after the therapeutic mineral springs that eventually turned this area into a popular resort spot for the affluent, today Saratoga Springs is best known as the home of the Saratoga Race Course. While the historic racetrack is a must-see attraction, Saratoga Springs has a lot to offer to all types of travelers, from delicious dining at upscale restaurants and high-end shopping, to one-of-a-kind outdoor excursions in untouched nature.
The second-oldest raceway in the nation, Saratoga Race Course has been a major attraction for visitors from all over the country since it first opened back in 1863. Whether you want to try your luck with bets on your favorite horses or just relax and take in the upbeat energy of the crowd, coming here is a great way to spend an afternoon. In the warmer months, take advantage of the large, open area behind the built-in seats by bringing your own fold-up chairs and a cooler packed with drinks and snacks. Spots can't be reserved, so plan to arrive early if you're coming to see a big race.
If horse racing isn't your cup of tea, you can still win big at the neighboring Saratoga Casino, a state-of-the-art facility with 1,700 gaming machines. For the perfect end to an exciting day, enjoy a meal at one of the trendy on-site restaurants before you dance through the night at the entertainment complex's exclusive Vapor Night Club.
A National Historic Landmark, Saratoga Spa State Park preserves the city's history as a medicinal resort while serving as a modern, family-friendly recreation center. In addition to sampling Saratoga's famous healing springs, visitors can explore numerous hiking trails, grab a bite to eat at designated picnic areas and reap the benefits of a variety of guest-friendly services and amenities, including two seasonal swimming pools, ongoing activity programs, tours, tennis and winter sports.
Another reason for visiting is the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, or SPAC, a premier entertainment space located in the park's eye-catching Beaux-Arts building. Special events and performances are held here throughout the year, ranging from interactive pre-show workshops for all ages, to live concerts from world-famous artists. Big-name concerts can sell out fast, so be sure to book tickets early if you'd like to secure a seat.
The nearby Adirondack wilderness provides plenty of opportunities to get back to nature and embrace your adventurous side. Tubing, whitewater rafting, hiking, golfing and camping are fun summer staples, while snowboarding, sledding and skiing at the top-rated local ski resorts are absolute must-dos in the winter.
If venturing into the great outdoors doesn't quite make your to-do list, you'll find a wide selection of shops, eateries and bars just minutes away from many of the best Saratoga Springs hotels. From hunting for treasures at antique stores to sipping the finest wines at local vineyards, filling your itinerary here is easy even if you don't plan on venturing far from the comforts of your hotel suite.
Thanks to its famous raceway and healing springs, the city of Saratoga Springs is a major destination in the region, so getting here is a breeze no matter where you're coming from. If you're flying directly into the area, plan to arrive at Albany International Airport (ALB). Albany, the state capital, is located about 45 minutes to the south and is connected via highways and public transportation. From New York City, you can easily reach Saratoga Springs by bus, car or direct Amtrak service out of Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan.