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Plan the Perfect Saratoga Springs Weekend with These 10 Things to Do

Discover things to do in Saratoga Springs, NY. Check-out Saratoga Springs attractions and activities for the perfect Saratoga Springs weekend.
How did we come to plan a Saratoga Springs weekend? When I think of New York State, I usually think of the anchors. 

At one end you have New York City, a sprawling metropolis where you could spend days exploring and eating your way through Manhattan, Brooklyn, and beyond. 

At the other end, you have Buffalo in Western New York where I grew up. Buffalo is full of amazing architecture and decadent things to eat and has some of the most ardent sports fans you'll ever meet. 

Saratoga Springs is "upstate" between the two approaching the Adirondacks. 

Downtown Saratoga Springs: The Saratogian Building

We needed to travel to Buffalo to take care of some family matters and there are no international direct flights from Europe to Buffalo, so we decided to fly to New York City and embark on a New York State road trip with a weekend pitstop in Saratoga Springs to get over our jetlag. 

What is Saratoga Springs famous for? Saratoga Springs attractions include a world-class state park and a quaint town that hearkens back to the heyday when the rich and famous would descend on Saratoga Springs resorts every summer. 

For a time, visiting Saratoga Springs was the ultimate thing to do on vacation in the United States. 

Today, Saratoga Springs is still known for the Saratoga race course and fans from around the world come to check out the horse racing and associated action. In fact, did you know that the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame is located across from Saratoga race track?

Getting to Saratoga Springs

The closest major airport to Saratoga Springs is in Albany, NY, the state capital. 

How far is Saratoga Springs from Albany? About 45 minutes by car. 

It may actually be more efficient to take a direct flight to Newark Airport like we did and drive from there. It takes about 3 hours to drive from Newark to Saratoga Springs. 

When you factor in the additional cost of a connecting flight as well as layovers and risks of delays, it is likely faster to drive from New York.
Things to do in Saratoga Springs, NY

Where to Stay in Saratoga Springs

There are a number of Saratoga Springs hotels to choose from along Route 9. It's advantageous to stay slightly outside of town if you have a car since parking is generally free. 

If you stay in Saratoga Springs proper, you'll be able to walk everywhere, but will pay for the privilege to park your car. 

You could even consider staying at the Saratoga Casino Hotel which is co-located with the horse-racing track.

We opted to stay at the Homewood Suites by Hilton which is very close to the Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Automobile Museum, and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. This hotel is just a 5 minute drive from historic Downtown Saratoga Springs with metered parking on the street and in small municipal parking lots once you get there. 

We paid about $225 a night in mid-October for our hotel. It was prime Fall foliage season over a weekend so rates were higher than at other times of year. 

Rates drop below $150 USD per night during the week in the Fall and any day in the offseason.

Things to do in Saratoga Springs at a Glance

Let’s start with an overview of what to do in Saratoga Springs NY to help you plan your weekend away. Use this list to better understand why Saratoga Springs is worth visiting. I've marked free things to do in Saratoga Springs with an asterisk.
  1. Take an Architecture Photo Walk*
  2. Shop Local at the Saratoga Farmers Market
  3. Walk Broadway End-to-End*
  4. Explore Congress Park*
  5. Tour the Saratoga Springs History Museum
  6. Take a Drive to Ballston Spa*
  7. Visit an Apple Orchard in the Fall
  8. Make a Craft Beer Pitstop
  9. Hike Saratoga Spa State Park*
  10. Visit Roosevelt Baths and Hall of Springs*

Saratoga Springs Attractions: Broadway

Things to do in Saratoga Springs Map

Click on the image of the map below to open up an interactive version in Google Maps to help you navigate to various Saratoga Springs attractions and get to the fun things to do near Saratoga Springs.

Map of Things to do in Saratoga Springs New York

Things to do in Saratoga Springs in Detail

Now let’s take a deeper dive into this Saratoga Springs weekend itinerary with more detail on all that this picturesque town in Upstate New York has to offer.

1. Take an Architecture Photo Walk

Saratoga Springs is an Instagrammer's dream so make time for a photo walk. I absolutely loved the architecture which has a distinct turn-of-the-20th century Victorian feel. 

No surprise for those who follow me on Instagram, I adored all the ornate and colorful doors of Saratoga Springs! Saratoga Springs' definitely gave my Dublin doors a run for their money. 

When we visited, the stately homes and associated doors were decorated with pumpkins, Autumn wreaths, and other seasonal decorations.
Saratoga Springs doorSaratoga Springs doorSaratoga Springs door

2. Shop Local at the Saratoga Farmers Market

Shop local at the Saratoga Farmers Market which conveniently runs from 9 am to 1 pm on Saturdays from May through October.  We picked up a Saratoga Chocolate Company bar with toasted sesame, some Muddy Trails chili seasoning, and a bottle of Yankee Distillery rye whiskey. 

All the vendors were incredibly friendly and generous with samples. Yes, even some whiskey samples. 

I also picked up some TogaNola pumpkin spice granola and Saratoga Peanut Butter Company Adirondack Jill almond and peanut butter with blueberries, pepita's, and chia seeds at Saratoga Farmers Market. 

I got to sample spicy garlic peanut butter too. I wish I had more room in my luggage for that one! I loved the savory flavor but figured it was less practical for our trip than the one we chose. The blueberry flavored peanut butter was delicious smeared on fresh seasonal apples.
Things to do in Saratoga Springs: Shop the Saratoga Springs Farmers MarketStorefront in Downtown Saratoga Springs

3. Walk Broadway End-to-End

Walk Broadway in Downtown Saratoga Springs from end to end. You'll find lots of fab architecture and places to shop. We picked up some local sweets at Saratoga Candy Company including a "horse apple" (chocolate covered marshmallow with coconut) which seemed to be a local delicacy.

Downtown Saratoga Springs: James and Sons Tobacconists

4. Explore Congress Park

Take some time to explore Congress Park in Saratoga Springs. Congress Park is a great place to walk and leaf peep in the Fall.
Things to do in Saratoga Springs: Congress Park

5. Tour the Saratoga Springs History Museum

After your Congress Park walk, head inside to the Sarasota Springs History Museum ($10 per person at the time of writing). We were just in time for a docent-led tour. 

The museum is homed in the Former Saratoga Springs Clubhouse which was actually an illegal members-only casino serving the ultra-rich of the late 19th century.

Did you know that the former Canfield Casino and Congress Park are designated a National Historic Landmark District? 

Things to do in Saratoga Springs: Saratoga Springs History Museum

We had fun exploring the Saratoga Springs History Museum. Apparently, the building is one of scariest in America and is allegedly haunted by associates of Ellen Hardin Walworth. 

I was not surprised to learn this after reading about the horrors she survived. The husband who she ultimately divorced abused her and once bit her finger to the bone. 

There was a special ghost hunters tour getting started as we were finishing up our own tour.
Things to do in Saratoga Springs: inside Saratoga Springs History Museum

The ballroom at the Saratoga Springs History Museum is absolutely show-stoppingly stunning. Small stained glass panels shine in the sun. The ballroom is a popular spot for weddings and is booked out at least a year in advance.
Things to do in Saratoga Springs: Stained glass ceiling at Saratoga Springs History Museum

6. Take a Drive to Ballston Spa

We also took the opportunity to explore things to do near Saratoga Springs. Take a drive to the  town of Ballston Spa in Upstate NY. Ballston Spa is about a 15 minute drive from Saratoga Springs. 

It takes about 10 minutes to walk end to end. The architecture of Ballston Spa is Victorian-era eerie. Pause to take photos of some of the lovely homes. Many are well-preserved, some have seen better days.
Things to do near Saratoga Springs: Ballston Spa
We enjoyed a hearty American lunch at The Factory Eatery in Ballston Spa. A chicken parm grinder with French onion soup plus a spicy southwest chicken sandwich with fries was super-filling. We washed it all down with a bucket of Diet Pepsi.
Things to do near Saratoga Springs: Eat a chicken parm grinder in Ballston Spa

7. Visit an Apple Orchard in the Fall

The ultimate thing to do near Saratoga Springs in the Fall is visit an apple orchard. We sampled fresh apple cider doughnuts at Riverview Orchards. 

We bought an apple pie to take home for later. Bonus! Riverview Orchards also has a petting zoo so you can get up close and personal with the cows and goats. Riverview Orchards is just a 30 minute drive from Saratoga Springs.
Things to do near Saratoga Springs, NY. Visit Riverview Orchards in the Fall.
We also drove out to Hicks Orchard which is about an hour's drive from Saratoga Springs. Apple cider doughnuts and hot cider really hit the spot. We also bought a half peck of Pink Luster Apples. There were many apple varieties available in half-peck, peck, and bushel quantities.
Things to do near Saratoga Springs NY: buy apples at Hicks OrchardThings to do near Saratoga Springs NY: buy apples at Hicks Orchard

8. Make a Craft Beer Pitstop

Saratoga Springs has some great craft beer breweries on its doorstep. Make a craft beer stop at Active Ingredient Brewing Company. I loved their tagline: science by the pint. 

We enjoyed a refreshing kolsch and a cold brew Porter. We had also wanted to visit Unified Beerworks but the place was mobbed and we couldn't find parking.
Saratoga Springs Activities: craft beer at Active Ingredient Brewing Company
Minogue's Beverage Center in Malta, NY sells some craft beer by the single can or bottle. This is a great option if you want to try a variety of beers and ciders from the comfort of your hotel. We picked up some local brews to sample.

We also tried regional craft beers a little further afield from Saratoga Springs. We drove about 20 minutes to Glens Falls and stopped at Common Roots Beer. 

I loved the patio covered in red Adirondack chairs. We tried a 4-beer sampler with poutine and crispy bites (fried chicken tossed in Buffalo sauce).  

Rising Hope Hazy IPA with peach, passionfruit and guava along with the Tasteful Deception mixed berry sour were our favorites.
Things to do near Saratoga Springs, NY: Sample Common Roots beer

9. Hike Saratoga Spa State Park

We were early to rise on our trip to Saratoga Springs thanks to our jet lag. We made our way to Saratoga Spa State Park not long after sunrise. 

We met a park ranger near a fire pit who suggested that we do the Geyser Loop trail, a three mile walk. The park ranger advised us to follow the red trail markers and told us that the route was overmarked. We should be able to see the next marker from the previous one. 

We walked along Geyser Creek past Geyser Brook Geyser. Fall foliage was slightly past peak but the yellow leaves still glowed in the sun. 

We passed a small waterfall and then edged around Orenda Spring tufa, a huge mineral deposit with a slow sluice of water flowing down it. I especially loved the reflections in the puddles along the trail.
Things to do in Saratoga Springs: Orenda Spring Tufa at Saratoga Spa State ParkYellow Fall leaves in Saratoga Spa State Park

You can try the water at the various mineral springs in Saratoga Spa State Park. We tasted the water from Orenda Spring which is known to have a high potassium iodide content that can give rise to an antacid or laxative effect. 

The water was, shall we say, a bit pungent. It smelled sulfurous and was a bit fizzy. I have to say, this was one of the most unique things to do in Saratoga Springs!

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for U.S. vacation or workcation ideas in New York State? Why not go leaf-peeping and discover all the cool things to do near Poughkeepsie or experience life on the shores of Lake Erie in Westfield New York.

Geyser Loop Trail continued through a lovely forest with spectacular yellow leaves. At one point, we had a sense of deja vu on the trail. 

We had walked past a large swimming pool. When we passed the pool again, we realized we'd made a wrong turn and detoured from the red trail onto the orange trail (and onto the frisbee golf course!) The 3 mile walk we'd bargained for was now a bit longer.

Turns out the orange and red trail markers in Saratoga Spa State Park are practically indistinguishable. We soldiered onward and took a shortcut by the Ferndell Pavilion and back to our car.
Trail markers in Saratoga Spa State ParkRoosevelt Baths in Saratoga Spa State Park

10. Visit Roosevelt Baths and Hall of Springs

Since we didn't quite make it to the Roosevelt Baths and Hall of Springs on foot thanks to our unexpected detour, we drove over, parked, and took a quick walk around. We admired the lovely architecture in this corner of Saratoga Spa State Park and reflections in the picturesque pool.

Things Not to Do in Saratoga Springs in the Fall (if you are short on time)

We always talk about things to do in different places like Saratoga Springs, but it's rarer to talk about what not to do, especially if you are short on time.

Lake George

Lovely Lake George is a popular resort destination in Upstate New York in the summer. We decided to swing by in mid-October, park in town, and take a walk along the water. 

The colors and Autumn light were very pretty. The town was very much closed up for the season though. We were going to grab lunch on the water, but the lakeside restaurants were disappointingly closed.
Boat on Lake George

We did manage to nab a slice of pizza at Capri, one of the few places open in Lake George in October. The town itself is all motels, mini-golf courses, and tourist tack. I wonder what it's like during high season. 

Most of the shops were closed in October too. The ones that were open felt a little unwelcoming with American political slogans and imagery that some might find offensive.

I recommend giving Lake George a miss if you are in the area in the Fall.

Is Saratoga Springs Worth Visiting?

As you can see, Saratoga Springs is a lovely spot to spend a weekend during the Autumn season. You'll get a front row seat for the Fall foliage with beautiful walks and drives. 

Downtown Saratoga Springs is perfect for a photowalk and is a place where you can do some shopping for local treats. It's definitely worth spending a few days exploring things to do near Saratoga Springs on a New York State road trip.

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Things to do in Saratoga Springs NYA Saratoga Springs Weekend Itinerary

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Plan the Perfect Saratoga Springs Weekend with These 10 Things to Do
Plan the Perfect Saratoga Springs Weekend with These 10 Things to Do
Discover things to do in Saratoga Springs, NY. Check-out Saratoga Springs attractions and activities for the perfect Saratoga Springs weekend.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog