It takes persistence to find an available or affordable room in Saratoga Springs during the racing season (this year, July 25 to September 3), when even mid-range chain motels charge close to $200 a night. Plan well ahead, and make use of the lodging links at www.saratoga.com.
Situated right on Broadway, the 31-room Saratoga Arms (518-584-1775; www.saratogaarms.com) combines the intimate feel of a bed-and-breakfast with the crisp service of a boutique hotel. Housed in an 1870 building with a wraparound porch, it’s within easy strolling distance of downtown restaurants, bars, and shops.
Just down the street, the historic Adelphi Hotel (518-587-4688; www.adelphihotel.com) has a superbly haute-Victorian feel, but without gratuitous frills, and features a second-floor piazza for people-watching. On the downside, the guest services, plumbing, and air-conditioning can at times hark back to an earlier era.
The Gideon Putnam Hotel (800-732-1560; www.gideonputnam.com) is located in Saratoga Spa State Park; part of the enjoyment is seeing guests wandering in robes on the walkways between the hotel and the pools and spa. The rooms in this Georgian-style hotel are more basic than luxe.
Dine (26 Henry Street; 518-587-9463) is an elegant, upscale fusion eatery in a former Freihofer bread outlet. It has a jazzy, up-tempo sound track and an inviting selection of globally influenced dishes, with entrées like Thai duck breast and veal Sorrentino.
Hattie’s Restaurant (45 Phila Street; 518-584-4790) is a casual, New Orleans–inspired eatery that’s gone through two owners since the eponymous Hattie passed, in 1998. Happily, the quality of the food has remained undimmed, and the fried chicken still has a small but cultlike following.
9 Maple Avenue (518-583-2582) is a jazz club with the feel of a well-heeled European drinking establishment, and features dozens of bourbons, Irish whiskeys, and single-malt scotches.
The Saratoga Race Course (518-584-6200; www.nyra.com/ Saratoga) is open daily except Tuesdays. Post time is 1 p.m. Admission to the grandstand is $3; clubhouse admission is $5; reserved seats are available.
The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame (518-584-0400; www.racingmuseum.org), founded in 1950, tells the story of racing in Saratoga Springs and beyond. More than 300 horses, jockeys, and trainers are enshrined in the hall. Admission is $7.
The Roosevelt Baths and Spa (518-226-4790; www.gideonputnam .com) offers a range of services, including manicures, algae wraps, waxing, and massages (hot stone, Swedish, and deep-tissue). A simple soaking in the mineral baths is $20; an herbal bath is $26.
A free brochure laying out a self-guided mineral-waters tasting tour is available at the Saratoga Springs Visitor Center. It includes maps and descriptions of the 17 mineral springs in and around the city, not all of which are active all the time. Among the most popular are the two found at the Joseph Bruno Pavilion, in the state park, where visitors can contrast the mild State Seal water with the more powerful—some might say nasty—waters of Geyser Spring.