By Paul Seth
Saratoga Springs is a special city in upstate New York just a 3-hour drive north from New York City. It is also easily accessible by rail with Amtrak’s Saratoga Springs station located less than two miles from downtown. The city is famous for being the home of America’s oldest and most popular thoroughbred racecourse attracting large crowds during the summer season. Local attractions include naturally carbonated mineral spas, harness racing and polo as well as 15 golf courses around the county, 10 historic museums and an award-winning downtown for dining, shopping and nightlife.
WORLD-CLASS HORSE RACING
The 2019 summer thoroughbred racing meet at The Saratoga Racetrack is 40 days long and runs from July 11th through Labor Day Monday, September 2nd with Mondays and Tuesdays being “Dark Days” as no racing takes place. There is General & Grandstand admission as well as clubhouse admission with children under 12 being admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Picnicking in the backyard grounds of the track is very popular and you can bring your own chairs and sit wherever you wish. If you want to get a picnic table it is advisable to arrive as early as 7am when the track opens for breakfast. The Saratoga Racetrack attracts some of the best jockeys and best horses in the country competing for large purses in the summer meet which features a multitude of stakes races. Travers day on August 24th is the most popular day of the meet and the best 3-year old horses in the country meet up to race for the coveted $1.25 million purse. There are many giveaway days and you are sure to enjoy the thrill of cheering on your favorite horse as it races to the finish line.
The Saratoga Hotel Casino and Raceway is home to harness racing in Saratoga. Now in its 78th season of live racing, the venue originally known to many as the Saratoga Harness Track is a half-mile harness track, where one can view live races outside at the rail, in the lower clubhouse or in the Grandstand while having dinner at Lucky Joe’s. Additionally, patrons can watch and wager on live racing in New York or from tracks around the country on one of many TV’s located in the Mezzanine. The Saratoga Casino Hotel is the place to try your luck at over 1700 exciting slots and electronic table games. The 117-room 125,000 square foot hotel with a grand lobby entrance has 13 luxury suites and offers guests a true Saratoga experience along with some of the best amenities including an indoor resort pool with a spa whirlpool and an outdoor terrace.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
Saratoga is filled with a host of high-quality restaurants and bars covering all types of cuisines and ranging from casual to the more upscale. Most establishments feature daily food specials and happy hour specials so get out and visit a few and enjoy yourself. Here is a short list to pique your interest.
15 Church Seafood is flown in fresh daily and the very best USDA prime aged beef is served mixing classic with exotic in a comfortable elegant dining room. Choose from starters (Hamachi Tartare Tacos, Buttermilk Crispy Oysters and Shrimp Calabrese) and mains (Wild Steelhead Salmon, USDA Prime Filet Mignon, and Church Burger with Crispy Oysters). Info: 15churchrestaurant.com.
Cantina Mexican restaurant/bar serving fresh, contemporary fare and creative margaritas. Features Specialty Burritos (go for the Catalina Chipotle Chicken), Enchiladas (Cheese, Chicken Mole and Spicy Beef), Quesadillas (Cheese, Carnitas, Portabella Asada) and Fajitas (Chicken, Carne Asada, Shrimp). Look for Happy Hour Monday through Friday at the bar. Info: cantinasaratoga.com.
Fish at 30 Lake In the Pavilion Grand Hotel, serving up a fine-dining experience of fresh, gourmet seafood. Start with the raw bar (Oysters, Clams, Colossal Lump Crab Cocktail) or starters (Fried Calamari, Grilled Octopus, Tuna Nachos). Entrees include Seared Sea Scallops, Pan Roasted Halibut, Seafood Paella, Steak Frites). Daily happy hour at bar. Info: fish30lake.com.
Harvey’s Restaurant & Bar Saratoga’s finest Irish Pub is the place to be when you are looking to have a good time. Harvey’s is “your home away from home,” serving apps (Irish Nachos, Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms, Short Rib Kabobs, Wings fried or smoked with sauces (Irish Gold, Sweet Chili and Maple Bourbon), Classic Irish (Fish & Chips, Monaghan Stew and Shepherd’s Pie). Info: harveysofsaratoga.com.
Morrissey’s Lounge Upscale lounge at The Adelphi Hotel with an extensive sushi menu featuring specialty rolls, sushi, sashimi and sushi boats (all sushi ½ off every Wednesday). Try casual menu favorites like Crispy Calamari, Korean BBQ wings, East Coast Oysters, salads, and burgers. Featuring a daily happy hour. Live Music often. Info: morrisseyslounge.com.
Mrs. London’s Bakery Boutique bakery and café that uses only the best quality ingredients in creating its famous pastries, cookies, delectable desserts and fresh breads. Also offering salads, quiche, soup and signature sandwiches. Menu items are complemented by a selection of hot and cold coffee and tea selections. Info: mrslondonsbakery.com.
Sperry’s Serves a rich combination of classic and contemporary American cuisine with a bit of Global flare! Mouth-watering cuts of steak, and a wide array of fresh, local seafoods. An award winning wine list and signature cocktails served in the historic Bar Room or any of three other warm and inviting dining rooms. Lovely Garden Patio. Info: sperrysrestaurant.com.
Uncommon Grounds Community café serving fresh-roasted coffee, house-made bagels and other delicious foods. Over a dozen bagel types to select from (banana nut, pumpernickel, salt, jalapeno and cinnamon raisin). The Flying Pig featuring Roast Turkey, Monterrey Jack, Mayo, Onion, Lettuce and Tomato on a bagel is a house favorite. Info: uncommongrounds.com.
Wheatfield’s Restaurant & Bar Italian restaurant featuring handcrafted pasta dishes(Linguine & Clams, Chicken & Sausage Scarpetta, Baked Lasagna), hand-stretched wood stone pizza and market salads. Feature family meals to go that feed 4 people for $29.95; 6 people for $44. Info: wheatfields.com.
SARATOGA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) is located in an idyllic park setting surrounded by hiking trails, geysers and natural mineral springs. The main stage has a 25,000 person capacity with sheltered seats for 5,200 people and a sloping lawn that holds approximately 20,000 people. The stage is home to a full season of performances including resident companies New York City Ballet and The Philadelphia Orchestra in addition to Live Nation shows and new global music programming like SPAC on Stage and YAMATO: The Drummers of Japan. Below are some highlights for the 2019 season.
42nd Annual Freihofers Saratoga Jazz Festival featuring an extraordinary roster of 22 musical groups highlighted by the festival debut of Grammy® award winning artist Norah Jones and the return of jazz legend George Benson and festival favorite Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Fifteen emerging artists making their Saratoga debuts include Kandace Springs, Diane Grantis and the, Joey DeFrancesco Trio. The festival will also feature a record number of women artists highlighted by Alison Miller, Veronica Smith, Ruthie Foster and Youn Sun Nah. Performances are slated for Saturday, June 29th and Sunday, June 30th with performances beginning on the Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery Stage” at 12pm and 11am respectively and the SPAC Amphitheater page stage at 2pm and 1 pm respectively.
New York City Ballet’s residency from July 16-20 will feature four distinct programs including the story ballet Coppélia which was premiered at SPAC, an evening dedicated to Balanchine and Tschaikovsky, and a program showcasing three SPAC premieres by 21st century choreographers, highlighted by Kyle Abraham’s The Runaway which fuses modern and classical technique and an eclectic soundtrack mixing composer Nico Muhly, singer James Blake and hip-hop artists Jay-Z and Kanye West. The annual New York City Ballet Gala on Saturday, July 20th will showcase George Balanchine’s Apollo, Christopher Wheeldon’s This Bitter Earth and Principia, a new work by NYCB Resident Choreographer and soloist Justin Peck.
The Philadelphia Orchestra’s three-week residency from July 31-August 17 will be highlighted by 19 SPAC Premieres ranging from classical masterpieces to innovative contemporary compositions. They range from Aaron Copeland’s to Mason Bates’ Anthology of Fantastic Zoology. SPAC’s “Cinema Series,” will be back to delight audiences of all ages as the Orchestra accompanies, live to picture, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets™ in Concert; Disney • Pixar’s Up in Concert and Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights in Concert. This season will, once again, showcase two weeks under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Music Director of both The Philadelphia Orchestra and The Metropolitan Opera. Nézet-Séguin will conduct the closing night performance of Mozart’s Requiem. A highlight to the season will be the premiere of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performing with The Philadelphia Orchestra.
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS) returns August 4-20 with a roster of internationally celebrated artists which includes performances by David Finckel and Wu Han, Co-Artistic Directors of CMS. Audiences will experience the return of the Escher Quartet plus debut appearances by four artists including Chinese Violinist Angelo Xiang Yu, British Flutist Adam Walker, Bulgarian violinist Bella Hristova and renowned American cellist Keith Robinson.
WHERE TO STAY
Pavilion Grand Hotel Offering a taste of Europe with old world glamour, modern sophistication and the excitement of downtown just steps away. Built in 1819, the original Pavilion Hotel was one of Saratoga Springs most opulent hotels and a favorite city getaway. As General Manger, Susanne Simpson states, “The new Pavilion Grand Hotel reflects the history of its namesake as a gathering space, boutique oasis and chic retreat all rolled into one. The hotel stands out with its curated, concierge service through every step of your stay and the accommodations are truly like no other”.
The hotel feature 54 luxury suites and rooms with each hotel room reflecting the hotels modern elegance and every room featuring a unique design and layout. Rooms range from 300 to 2300 square feet, from traditional king rooms to full suites. The Penthouse Loft Suites, are a high end luxury apartment style space stretched over two floors, boasting 1800-2300 square feet of indoor living space with up to a thousand square feet of landscaped rooftop garden or private walkout terrace featuring outdoor furniture, plants, and sweeping views of Saratoga Springs. All of the suites have 9 foot ceilings with crown molding and feature fully-equipped gourmet style kitchens, luxury linens, bathrobes complete, in suite safes and everything you need to feel completely at home. Other hotel amenities include on-site dining at the Blue Peacock Bistro for breakfast and lunch and dining at Fish at 30 Lake Restaurant for dinner. Make Me fabulous Salon and Spa(with nationally recognized owner, hair stylist and make-up artist) will meet all your pampering needs. Additional amenities include a 24-hr fitness center. Info: paviliongrandhotel.com.
The Adelphi Hotel A historic boutique hotel with 32 rooms centrally located in the heart of downtown Saratoga right on Broadway. The hotel offers a selection of rooms ranging from a Premiere King to the Premiere Broadway King with a four-post king bed and five-fixture bathrooms. All rooms feature beautiful hardwood floors, custom designed furnishings and antiques from the Adelphi’s history. The hotel is famous for “The Adelphi Perfect Night Bed” which allows for a comfortable night’s sleep so you wake up raring to go the next morning. In-room amenities include custom designed throws, lush robes, slippers, complimentary mini-bar, and a Nespresso machine.
The hotel is centered around vibrant contemporary dining and The Blue Hen Restaurant is where chefs create daily dishes from fresh local ingredients and the staff is known for their impeccable service. Morrissey’s Lounge is nestled within The Adelphi and is known as a place where good friends come to hang out for good conversation, great drinks (local beer, craft cocktails and a top-notch wine list) while dining on small plates, shareable dishes and the new upscale sushi offerings. Morrissey’s has a little bit of history, having been named after John Morrissey—a prizefighter, gangster, entrepreneur and congressman who was credited for bringing racing to Saratoga by personally organizing and financing the town’s first thoroughbred contest in 1863. Info: theadelphihotel.com.
For more information on Saratoga, visit ilovesaratoga.us