Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Saratoga Springs, NY

  • Published 2023/03/10

New York is famously known for its ultra-modern lifestyle and buildings as tall as the sky.

But beyond the concrete jungle of New York is a place of respite known as Saratoga Springs.

As the name suggests, the place has several natural spring baths that are induced with minerals.

People from all around the globe frequent this place to enjoy the benefits of these mineral baths, which successfully reduce stress and only leave a soothing sensation behind.

Congress Park provides a much-needed respite from everyday life by bringing people close to nature.

The city is also home to several museums that give visitors a glimpse into the past and hold special exhibits that provide educational insights.

Saratoga Springs is just a three-hour drive from the main center of New York, which makes the place easily locatable and accessible to tourists.

These are the best things to do in Saratoga Springs, New York:

Take a Leisurely Stroll around Congress Park

A statue at Congress Park

Theresa Lauria /

Congress Park, situated by Broadway, is internationally acclaimed for its mineral spring that can be easily accessed by the public.

The park has several well-maintained paths meant for taking a leisurely stroll while admiring the greenery all around.

The pavilion is another source of attraction, as it provides a resting place for visitors and is solely built following the Greek tradition.

Benches along the Congress Park grounds

Tyler A. McNeil, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Canfield Casino, which is part of Congress Park, holds historical significance, even if it is not used for gambling purposes.

Its architectural significance makes it popular among the masses.

The ancient wooden carousel is more than a decade old and is still functional, promising ultimate fun.

Congress Park is filled with numerous springs, such as Hathron Spring, Columbian Spring, and the Deer Park Spring; each is decorated with unique art pieces.

Statues at Congress Park's italian garden

Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Watch a Race at Saratoga Race Course

Horse racing at Saratoga Race Course

Cheryl Ann Quigley /

Built in the year 1863, Saratoga Race Course has been a point of attraction for tourists as it hosts thoroughbred horse races.

The racing course is active every summer for nearly six weeks.

This vast stadium can accommodate 50,000 at a time, and the place is the third oldest track in the United States.

Exterior of Saratoga Race Course

James R. Martin /

The venue’s atmosphere has an electrifying effect on people and helps them socialize with fellow attendees.

Every part of the track is shrouded with immense historical significance; hence, apart from the races, regular tours are conducted on the grounds, demonstrating its unique architecture.

Horse racing at Saratoga Race Course

Dennis W Donohue /

Enjoy a Nature Retreat at Saratoga Spa State Park

Waters of a creek at Saratoga Spa State Park

Carolyne Parent /

Saratoga Spa State Park offers visitors a much-needed break from the commotion of everyday life.

The park has several recreational activities to keep people occupied.

Picnic tables along Saratoga Spa State Park's forest

Steph Couvrette /

The well-maintained garden and segregated paths exude a romantic aura fit for the place.

Within the boundary of the park, there are several sightseeing attractions, such as Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Victoria Pool, the Roosevelt Baths, two golf courses, the Peerless Pool complex, and running trails.

An open stone corridor at Saratoga Spa State Park

Warewardson /

Take the Kids to the Children’s Museum at Saratoga

Saratoga Springs has more to offer than just springs induced with beneficial minerals.

The Children’s Museum at Saratoga promises to offer the best experience to families with children.

Even though it is said to be a museum, some consider this place an enormous playground for the kids as it offers numerous interactive activities.

The place is specially designed for kids under the age of seven, but there are some activities that both parents and older siblings can enjoy.

The place includes a humongous tree house, a silly science center, a fire station and a little theater.

Trace Saratoga Springs’ Racing History at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame

Jockey statues at National Museum of Racing and hall of fame

RozenskiP /

Saratoga Springs has been overflowing with museums from the beginning of time.

The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame was built in 1950 to honor the trainers, thoroughbred horses, and jockeys who have contributed to its history.

Exterior of National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame

Peter Flass at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It showcases trophies, photographs, paintings, video recordings, sculptures, and dresses of famous dancing stars.

The museum traces the evolution of racing from the 18th century to the present time.

At regular intervals, special exhibits are also held, which has an educational benefit.

Watch a Show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center

Interior of Saratoga Performing Arts Center

UpstateNYer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This place welcomes and celebrates art in all forms.

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center is a prominent place located within the bounds of Saratoga Spa State Park, which has earned internal significance within the artistic community.

The famous New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra perform here every summer and recruit various talented artists, giving the visitors a chance to delve into the world of magic and music.

The groups do not stick to a single form or theme each summer; they have a vast range of themes, starting from Indiana Jones to classics.

Exterior of Saratoga Performing Arts Center

UpstateNYer., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Famous musicians like Dave Matthews frequent the amphitheaters, attracting massive crowds.

The place has an outdoor venue option as well, which makes the atmosphere more enticing as music mingles with nature.

To encourage younger minds, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center gives children under the age of 12 free passes to certain events.

Apart from the musicals and cultural events, the place has natural springs, hiking trails, and geysers.

Learn about the City’s Past at the Saratoga Springs History Museum

Canfield building at Saratoga Springs History Museum

Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Saratoga Springs History Museum is located in Congress Park.

This three-story museum preserves the old memories related to Saratoga Springs.

It has more than 15,000 artifacts and more than 300,000 photographs on display.

Saratoga Springs has quite a dark chapter of history linked to smuggling and gambling from the 1800s, and the museum showcases this side of the city as well.

The tourists can visit the Canfield High Stakes Gambling Room, which is kept in its original state so that the present generation can learn about past times.

Visit the New York State Military Museum

Exterior of New York State Military Museum

Theresa Lauria /

Visitors who have an active interest in weapons and their technicalities must surely visit New York State Military Museum.

The museum acts as a window to the military world, as it displays more than 1o,000 weapons and artifacts.

Exhibit inside the New York State Military Museum

Theresa Lauria /

It also gives a detailed account of the war fought by the United States, showcasing preserved uniforms, maps, and other devices used at the time of the war.

The state-of-the-art library, which is located within the New York State Military Museum, preserves photographs, videos, letters, and maps.

This museum preserves the honor of the military.

A display on the grounds of New York State Military Museum

Theresa Lauria /

Explore the Streets of Downtown Saratoga Springs

Buildings along Downtown Saratoga

Steve Seepersaud /

Downtown Saratoga Springs has a charm of its own, as it is packed with beautiful restaurants, small but pretty boutiques, cafes, bookstores, antique shops, bars, and a lot more.

This is the place where the term “nightlife” gets its meaning, as there are several spots where gigs are performed.

Buildings and shops of Downtown Saratoga Springs

Brian Logan Photography /

There are art galleries for art lovers, as well as spa centers that promise the best treatment.

This place, with its eccentric taste, caters to the different needs of different people.

Treat Yourself to a Pampering Session at the Roosevelt Baths & Spa

Exterior of Roosevelt Baths & Spa

Dennis W Donohue /

Due to its abundance of natural springs induced with minerals that have beneficial qualities, Saratoga Springs has several spa centers; one such place is the Roosevelt Baths & Spa.

Located in Saratoga Spa State Park, the spa comprises a total of 42 treatment rooms.

There are a plethora of treatments offered.

Visitors are provided with a menu offering a wide range of treatments, facials, massages, body scrubs, and more.

The mineral water comes from the natural spring, which is then mixed with warm tap water and other minerals to provide the best treatment to the public.

Apart from this, Saratoga Springs’ two oldest spa centers—the Roosevelt Bath and Spa and the Lincoln Bathhouse—have historical significance.

These two were built to protect the springs from depleting due to the local gas company’s excessive use of the minerals.

The bath centers were established in the year 1935 to preserve nature’s gift.

Grab a Drink at the Saratoga Winery

Saratoga Winery is located four miles from downtown Saratoga Springs.

Several wineries are scattered around the city, but what makes the Saratoga Winery special is its rustic atmosphere.

The place employs the best winemakers who do not shy away from talking about their love of wine and passion.

This is the best place to be if one wants to gather knowledge about wines in general.

The seating area is tastefully decorated, and they serve splendid wines.

The grapes used to make the wine are all collected from the Finger Lakes region, and they make famous wines like Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Semi-Dry Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir.

There is a wine called Melomel, which is their signature offering.

This is a century-old recipe made by fermenting honey; no extra minerals are added to it, thus, making it healthy.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Stewart’s Shops

The name Stewart’s Shops is not unfamiliar to the people who live in the areas of New York and Vermont.

The famous ice cream shop was first established in Saratoga Springs almost 70 years ago, and since then, it has only spread its roots.

This family-run business offers the best ice cream and provides a plethora of flavors on its menu.

Check Out Vintage Cars at the Saratoga Automobile Museum

It is not in every city that people come across an automobile museum.

The Saratoga Automobile Museum is situated within the boundary of Saratoga Spa State Park and houses several vintage cars that are no longer manufactured.

The collection of cars ranges from basic household cars to high-end racing cars.

Among the museum’s main attractions are the paintings made by George Frayne and Stu Eichel.

Special exhibits are held in the museum at regular intervals, wherein other unique and antique cars are showcased.

Search for Artistic Inspiration at Yaddo Gardens

A walkway at Yaddo Gardens of Saratoga Spring

Rupert Krapfenbauer /

Saratoga Springs’ Yaddo Gardens covers an area of 400 acres.

This place acts as a safe haven for people, especially artists looking for creative inspiration.

Rose bushes and tall trees at Yaddo Gardens

Henry Bellagnome from Troy, New York, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In an earlier time, the garden was visited by famous people such as Sylvia Plath and Truman Capote.

From mid-June, the garden goes through a natural transformation as the rose gardens are in full bloom.

Water fountain at Yaddo Gardens

Henry Bellagnome from Troy, New York, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Attend the Annual Saratoga Wine & Food Festival

Saratoga Springs is active throughout the entire year.

On every other weekend and even on weekdays, outdoor events are usually held, keeping the masses engaged.

One such event is Saratoga Wine & Food Festival.

Since the event is not held in an enclosed space, it gives the visitors an opportunity to interact with nature while spending time with their loved ones.

More than 80 vendors come to this event to exhibit their special items, and more than 30,000 people take part in this event.

After the tasting period, visitors get an opportunity to vote in for their favorite items.

The visitors also get to interact with the chefs and wine experts directly.

Saratoga Springs also holds an outdoor jazz festival that features performances by top-notch artists.

Meet the Locals and Shop for Fresh Produce at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market

More than a shopping center, the Saratoga Farmers’ Market is a place where people come to socialize in addition to buying goods.

The products sold in the market are a hundred percent fresh and are grown by the people who reside in nearby areas, such as Washington counties, Saratoga, Rensselaer, and Schenectady.

The market street is always overflowing with music and laughter, which appeals to tourists.

The farmers’ market is active from May to October, but it shifts to the indoor quarters of the Lincoln Baths Building after that period.

Admire the Displays at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery

The mission of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery is to raise art lovers up above their seats and onto their feet.

The museum does this by providing a space where art lovers can learn new things as they interact with various artworks.

At the core of this lovely museum is an aspirational exhibition program offering a unique experience to every visitor.

The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery endeavors to bring audience exhibitions unlike any other museum in the city.

This art space often involves faculty and students as curators and advisors for unique, one-of-a-kind shows fit for even the most discerning admirer’s taste.

Here, you can explore artwork from across the globe in every form of expression, from various maps to scientific equipment to Rube Goldberg cartoons to Hudson River School landscapes.

On display are individual pieces of Shaker furniture, conveying a sense of community and harmony.

Admission to the museum is free, and it only takes about an hour and a half to walk through all sections with descriptions.

Hike the Geyser Creek Trail

Saratoga Springs is a dream for nature lovers with its several different trails.

One of them, the Geyser Creek Trail, offers hikers a beautiful view.

Whether you’re an environmentalist, a bird enthusiast, or just someone who appreciates a good bit of unadulterated nature, there’s no better way to spend your weekend than on the Geyser Creek Trail.

Generally considered an “easy” route, this hiking trail is 4.7 kilometers long and takes about an hour to traverse.

The Geyser Creek Trail is an incredibly popular trail for hiking, birdwatching, and walking, but there are also plenty of quiet moments during the day when you may enjoy some solitude here.

This trail is most accessible from April through November; however, even in wintertime, when it snows, you can still appreciate what a treat this park offers its visitors.

Dogs are allowed on the trail, provided they are kept on their leashes.

Roll a Strike at Saratoga Strike Zone

Signage of Saratoga Strike Zone

Tyler A. McNeil, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll always enjoy your time at Saratoga Strike Zone.

This is a unique place to bring the whole family without anyone getting bored, and there’s something for everyone.

You can grab a bite or bowl a few frames while the kids play arcade games and get pumped up in the bumper cars.

The admission for a whole afternoon of fun rarely breaks $10 per person, which means an afternoon at Strike Zone is a nice treat that doesn’t break the bank.

If you arrive early in the day, the best part is that it usually won’t be too crowded, so you can easily spend some quality time with your friends here.

Come and Visit Sunnyside Gardens

Flowers at Sunnyside Gardens

Theresa Lauria /

Whether you’re looking for plants and garden essentials or want to enjoy some family activities, drop by Sunnyside Gardens.

They’re located on Church Street and have been in the business since 1982; this family-owned and award-winning establishment is also open all year round.

You can explore the 20 greenhouses and see plants and botanicals you might like.

If you’re visiting in the spring season, you’ll catch the colorful annuals and perennials, and find plenty of vegetable plant varieties.

Tour the Heirloom Tomato area and Herb Section, choose from assorted house plants from orchids to African violets and get your garden decors, tools, and supplies at the shop.

The fall season offers more fun activities like hayrides and small train rides; find pumpkins in the patch, walk the jack o’ lanterns’ Hall of Flame, and see the monarch butterflies in the butterfly room along with train models on display.

Likewise, enjoy the live bluegrass band entertainment, take photos at the wacky cut-outs, and try some delicious, home-baked cider donuts.

If you plan to stop by during the holidays, you can get freshly cut Christmas trees, and ornaments like handmade wreaths, kissing balls, and poinsettias; you can also try drinks and sweets at the hot cocoa bar and pose for pictures at the selfie station.

Whatever the season, your Sunnyside Gardens experience will truly be memorable.

Shop for Unique Items at Crafters Gallery

Looking for artisan gifts and unique items? Check out Crafters Gallery on Broadway.

Since 1993, this downtown shop features a wide selection of local products and services.

Take your pick of fashionable outfits and accessories, or browse through some lovely home décor and oil paintings with different styles.

You’ll also find an array of handmade gifts and local food products you can give as tokens.

Find quality home furnishings to upgrade your home design or kitchen wares to add to your collection.

You’’ll surely get good finds at Crafters Gallery.

Spend Time at Waterfront Park on Saratoga Lake

Waterfront Park on Crescent Avenue is a nice place to spend a relaxing day with the family.

This four-acre public space opened in 2015 with the lower level built into a sandy beach.

You can go here for free and enjoy kayaking on Saratoga Lake.

You can also catch some events or shows at the small amphitheater overlooking the lake.

Relax and sit on the benches to enjoy the view or pack some lunch and eat at the picnic tables.

Waterfront Park is definitely one of the perfect spots to unwind and enjoy a warm sunny day.

Go Nature Tripping along the Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail

For some nature-tripping adventure, head out to the Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail.

You can access this trail from Route 29 or take Meadowbrook Road.

This scenic two-mile trail was developed by Saratoga PLAN in 1993 and is a popular area for visitors taking walks or jogging in summer and cross-country skiing during winter.

The path is also kid-friendly and you’ll even discover bits of history about the old passenger railroad that connected Saratoga Springs to other regions.

You’ll find numerous wildflowers like marsh marigolds, apples, spotted wintergreens, and many others.

The trail also goes through wetland areas where you can go birdwatching; migrating birds are abundant along the marsh and forest areas of the trail.

Spot some waterbirds like Great Blue and Green Herons and American Woodcocks, waterfowls like Ring-necked Ducks and Mallards, or raptors like Turkey Vultures and American Kestrels.

Different species of woodpeckers, warblers, and songbirds are also frequently seen in the area along with Ruffed Grouses and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

Get connected with nature at the Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail.

Enjoy All-day Breakfast Fares at Country Corner Cafe

You’ll enjoy breakfast fares any time of the day at Country Corner Cafe.

This cafe on Church Street serves great meals and offers superb service.

Opened in 1991, you’ll find this cafe housed in a historic building and feel the nostalgic country charm setting as you step inside.

Try delicious Breakfast Combination Sensations like the Country Morning Special or Bountiful Breakfast Bowl, or their all-time customer favorite, the Homemade Sausage Gravy & Biscuits.

Have some Flapjacks, Toasts, Waffles and different versions of Eggs Benedicts served with Grilled Home Fries or fried Tater Tots.

Go for Awesome Omelletes in Greek, Veggie, Western, Fiesta, or Irish varieties; likewise, you can go for healthy eats like Yogurt Parfait, Vegan Delight, Luscious Fruit Bowl, Hot Oatmeal, or Grits.

For lunch, you can have Farm-Fresh Salads, Specialty Sandwiches like “The New Englander”, “The Charleston” or “The Country Cristo”.

Enjoy Half-Pound Burger Barn Specials and Clubs plus other items on the menu like Old-Fashioned Milk Shakes, Beverages, and Sides; little ones can have their Kids Menu, too.

Country Corner Cafe also serves Adult Drinks including Seltzers, Ciders, Mimosas, Blood Marys, Beers, Wines, and Cocktails you can sip and enjoy.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Enjoy an Outdoor Cinematic Experience at the Malta Drive-In Theatre

Add a pinch of nostalgia to your trip by visiting a 70-year-old drive-in theater located in Malta.

The Malta Drive-in Theatre is located just 10 minutes away from Saratoga Springs.

It is only open seasonally, from April to October.

The drive-in theater is a setup from a past era that compelled—and still compels— people to make their own spot.

Some carry bean bags, while others utilize their cars for seating arrangements.

There are two screens, and the place has enough space to accommodate at least 800 vehicles.

There are also food centers on-site, making the place fit for enjoying a leisurely day out.

Final Thoughts

Saratoga Springs is a place to be explored at your leisure, with so many opportunities to discover throughout the area.

A number of this city’s hidden treasures are at one’s fingertips, or rather, just around the corner.

You’re guaranteed to want to visit every single place on this list—best of luck picking where to go first!

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